Currently, there is much interest in the ageing brain and how people can take measures to counteract the decline in mental function that appears to be an inevitable consequence of growing older. The World Health Organization predicts that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population aged over 60 will nearly double, from 12% to 22%. So more people are living for longer, meaning that age-related disease and disability is a major and escalating concern for society.
The term ‘cognitive decline’ is often used to describe the deterioration in some aspects of brain function that occurs with age. Dementia is used to define a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is characterized by memory loss and by difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or communicating. There are several causes of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type, followed by vascular dementia. Continue reading →
By Dr Shane Hegarty, University College Cork, Ireland
The brain is responsible for our experience of, and acts as the interface between, the self and the outside world. Everything we think, feel, remember and dream is written by a precisely-interconnected community of approximately 100 billion brain cells. Have you ever wondered where the different types of neurons in our brain originate from? Or how these brain cells then find their way to connect with other cells, up to a metre away in our body? These answers can be found in the developing brain, which arises from the microscopic, but miraculous, embryo.
Creation of our brain
Very early in human development, the embryo consists simply of three fundamental cell layers: outer ectoderm (becomes outer-body parts e.g. skin/hair/teeth); middle mesoderm (develops into muscles, bones and blood vessels); and inner endoderm (forms our inner-body compartments e.g. gut/lungs). That’s most of our body covered, but where does our brain come from? Continue reading →
By Anastasia Stefanidou, Communications Officer, Biochemical Society
According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2015/2016 stress accounted for 37% of all work-related ill health. It’s time for employers to support their staff and invest in giving people the techniques and guidance on how to cope with stressful situations.
To raise awareness of and encourage discussion around the issue, The Physiological Society held a “Under Pressure: Making sense of stress” panel discussion on Tuesday, 21 February 2017.
The Physiological Society is devoting all of 2017 to ‘Making Sense of Stress’ across all areas – events, outreach, education, policy, and communications – with the general aim of emphasizing the contribution, past and current, of physiology to our understanding of stress. Continue reading →
On a cold winter day in London on January 2017, Native Scientist celebrated a warm science outreach event for children in partnership with the Embassy of Ecuador in London. The meeting took place in the Ecuadorian Consulate located near King’s Cross St. Pancras in the very heart of the city of London. The event brought together 25 Ecuadorian pupils and 5 Spanish-speaking scientists from different disciplines.
Scientists used their mother tongue to explain to the children in an engaging and fun way the work they are currently performing in the United Kingdom. The workshop allowed the scientists to improve their communication skills and increase the impact of their research in a welcome environment. Continue reading →
By Benjamin Simpson, Shenfield High School, Essex, UK
When I arrived at the lab, the first thing I noticed was how casual everything was. Even the principal investigator arrived at about 11am. I expected to find a strict regime of when to arrive, what to do and what to wear. Anna and Nikki were my supervisors in the Attwell lab at University College London. My project involved using zebrafish to investigate the development of myelin (a substance which is wrapped around neurons to increase conductivity). Zebrafish are especially useful because they are transparent allowing us to view the development under a microscope without harming the fish or embryo. On the first day of my placement they were only a few hours post fertilisation and so were still just a bundle of cells on a yolk. I learnt how to maintain the embryos through filtering out the dead ones and changing the water. Continue reading →