Brain networks come ‘online’ during adolescence to prepare teenagers for adult life

New brain networks come ‘online’ during adolescence, allowing teenagers to develop more complex adult social skills, but potentially putting them at increased risk of mental illness, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Cambridge University News | Jan. 29, 2020 | cambridge
~5 mins   

Tags: spotlight-on-neuroscience children teenagers brain mental-health

Drug improves symptoms of autism by targeting brain’s chemical messengers

Bumetanide – a prescription drug for oedema (the build-up of fluid in the body) – improves some of the symptoms in young children with autism spectrum disorders and has no significant side effects, confirms a new study from researchers in China and the UK. Published today in Translational Psychiatry, the study demonstrates for the first time that the drug improves the symptoms by decreasing the ratio of the GABA to glutamate in the brain. GABA and glutamate are both neurotransmitters – chemical messengers that help nerve cells in the brain communicate.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 27, 2020 | cambridge
~8 mins   

Tags: spotlight-on-neuroscience autism

Women in STEM: Professor Laura Itzhaki

Professor Laura Itzhaki is a group leader in the Department of Pharmacology and a Fellow of Newnham College. Here, she tells us about forming her own spin-out company, pitching to investors and her research on the 'workhorses' of the cell. 

Cambridge University News | Jan. 23, 2020 | cambridge
~2 mins   

Tags: women-in-stem spin-out business commercialisation innovation protein

Magnetised molecules used to monitor breast cancer

A new type of scan that involves magnetising molecules allows doctors to see in real-time which regions of a breast tumour are active, according to research at the University of Cambridge and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 22, 2020 | cambridge
~4 mins   

Tags: cancer imaging breast-cancer

Vomiting bumblebees show that sweeter is not necessarily better

Animal pollinators support the production of three-quarters of the world’s food crops, and many flowers produce nectar to reward the pollinators. A new study using bumblebees has found that the sweetest nectar is not necessarily the best: too much sugar slows down the bees. The results will inform breeding efforts to make crops more attractive to pollinators, boosting yields to feed our growing global population.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 22, 2020 | cambridge
~6 mins   

Tags: sustainable-earth

Astronomers use ‘cosmic echo-location’ to map black hole surroundings

Material falling into a black hole casts X-rays out into space – and now astronomers have used the echoes of this radiation to map the dynamic behaviour and surroundings of a black hole itself.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 20, 2020 | cambridge
~6 mins   

Tags: space astronomy black-hole

Becoming less active and gaining weight: downsides of becoming an adult

Leaving school and getting a job both lead to a drop in the amount of physical activity, while becoming a mother is linked to increased weight gain, conclude two reviews published today and led by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 20, 2020 | cambridge
~5 mins   

Tags: spotlight-on-public-health diet exercise

Local water availability is permanently reduced after planting forests

River flow is reduced in areas where forests have been planted and does not recover over time, a new study has shown. Rivers in some regions can completely disappear within a decade. This highlights the need to consider the impact on regional water availability, as well as the wider climate benefit, of tree-planting plans.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 20, 2020 | cambridge
~3 mins   

Tags: sustainable-earth

Cambridge-designed curriculum teaches schoolchildren about water scarcity and climate activism

Students and teachers across India now have free access to a new curriculum on water security and sustainability, co-developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, which incorporates engagement with climate change and climate activism into their lessons.

Cambridge University News | Jan. 17, 2020 | cambridge
~3 mins   

Tags: water conservation biodiversity-conservation climate-change education sustainable-earth

Police platform patrols create ‘phantom effect’ that cuts crime in Tube stations

A major experiment introducing proactive policing to Underground platforms finds that short bursts of patrolling create a “phantom effect”: 97% of the resulting crime reduction was during periods when police weren’t actually present. 

Cambridge University News | Jan. 16, 2020 | cambridge
~6 mins   

Tags: crime policing london criminology

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