Scientists Provide New Grasp of Soft Touch
A study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has helped solve a long-standing mystery about the sense of touch.
The “gentle touch” sensations that convey the stroke of a finger, the fine texture of something grasped and the light pressure of a breeze on the skin are brought to us by nerves that often terminate against special skin cells called Merkel cells. These skin cells’ role in touch sensation has long been debated in the scientific community. The new study, however, suggests a dual-sensor system involving the Merkel cell and an associated nerve end in touch sensation.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/scientists-provide-new-grasp-soft-touch
The eyes sometimes have it, beating out the tongue, nose and brain in the emotional and biochemical balloting that determines the taste and allure of food, a scientist says. Speaking at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) he described how people sometimes “see” flavors in foods and beverages before actually tasting them.
“There have been important new insights into how people perceive food flavors,” says Terry Acree. “Years ago, taste was a table with two legs — taste and odor. Now we are beginning to understand that flavor depends on parts of the brain that involve taste, odor, touch and vision. The sum total of these signals, plus our emotions and past experiences, result in perception of flavors, and determine whether we like or dislike specific foods.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/04/eyes-perceive-flavors
Pain Can Actually Feel Good
When something causes less pain than expected it is possible for it to feel pleasant, a new study reveals. These findings may one day play a key role in treating pain and substance abuse.
If you accidently kick your toe against a doorframe you are probably going to find it very painful. As a purely intellectual experiment, imagine purposefully kicking a doorframe hard enough to potentially break your toe. When it turns out your toe has been battered but not broken, the pain may be interpreted more as a relief.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/03/pain-can-actually-feel-good
Neuroprosthesis Lets Rats Sense Infrared Light
Sensory neuroprostheses show great potential for alleviating major sensory deﬁcits. It is not known, however, whether such devices can augment the subject’s normal perceptual range.
But now, researchers have shown that adult rats can learn to perceive otherwise invisible infrared light through a neuroprosthesis that couples the output of a head-mounted infrared sensor to their somatosensory cortex (S1) via intracortical microstimulation.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/02/neuroprosthesis-lets-rats-sense-infrared-light
Hearing Aid Caters to Users’ Preferences
A new hearing instrument is challenging the commonly held perception that when it comes to sound quality, people with hearing difficulties prefer “louder.” In fact, people with hearing loss, like most people, have a wide range of preferences for the quality and type of sounds that sound best to them.
Oticon Alta, the newest hearing solution from leading manufacturer Oticon Inc., introduces a new and better way for hearing care professionals to factor more personal dimensions into each fitting for a hearing solution that is as unique and individual as each patient.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/hearing-aid-caters-users%E2%80%99-preferences
Research at the Univ. of Edinburgh tracked electrical signals in the part of the brain linked to spatial awareness. The study could help us understand how, if we know a room, we can go into it with our eyes shut and find our way around. This is closely related to the way we map out how to get from one place to another.
Scientists found that brain cells, which code location through increases in electrical activity, do not do so by talking directly to each other. Instead, they can only send each other signals through cells that are known to reduce electrical activity. This is unexpected as cells that reduce electrical signaling are often thought to simply suppress brain activity.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/brain-rhythms-aid-sense-location
Fly Research Explains Humans’ Most Mysterious Physical Sense
Stroke the soft body of a newborn fruit fly larva ever-so-gently with a freshly plucked eyelash, and it will respond to the tickle by altering its movement — an observation that has helped scientists at the Univ. of California, San Francisco (UCSF) uncover the molecular basis of gentle touch, one of the most fundamental but least well understood of humans’ senses.
Our ability to sense gentle touch is known to develop early and to remain ever-present in our lives, from the first loving caresses our mothers lavish on us as newborns to the fading tingle we feel as our lives slip away. But until now, scientists have not known exactly how humans and other organisms perceive such sensations.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/12/fly-research-explains-humans%E2%80%99-most-mysterious-physical-sense
Researchers Find the Smell of White
You can see the color white; you can hear white noise. Now, Weizmann Institute researchers show that you can also smell a white odor. Their research findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS).
The white we see is actually a mixture of light waves of different wavelengths. In a similar manner, the hum we call white noise is made of a combination of assorted sound frequencies. In either case, to be perceived as white, a stimulus must meet two conditions: the mix that produces them must span the range of our perception; and each component must be present at the exact same intensity. Could both of these conditions be met with odors, so as to produce a white smell? That question has remained unanswered, until now, in part due to such technical difficulties as getting the intensities of all the scents to be identical.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/11/researchers-find-smell-white
Hearing Impaired Ears React Differently in Loud Situations
The world continues to be a noisy place, and Purdue Univ. researchers have found that all that background chatter causes the ears of those with hearing impairments to work differently.
"When immersed in the noise, the neurons of the inner ear must work harder because they are spread too thin," says Kenneth Henry, a postdoctoral researcher in Purdue’s Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. "It’s comparable to turning on a dozen television screens and asking someone to focus on one program. The result can be fuzzy because these neurons get distracted by other information."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/hearing-impaired-ears-react-differently-loud-situations
Gene Therapy Restores Sense of Smell in Mice
A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins and other institutions report that restoring tiny, hair-like structures to defective cells in the olfactory system of mice is enough to restore a lost sense of smell. The results of the experiments were published online this week in Nature Medicine, and are believed to represent the first successful application of gene therapy to restore this function in live mammals.
An expert in olfaction, Randall Reed, professor of molecular biology and genetics and co-director of the Center for Sensory Biology at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, cautions that researchers are still years away from applying the same therapy in people and that, if and when it comes, it will likely be most effective for those who suffer from anosmia (lack of smell) due to inherited genetic disorders. “But our work has already contributed to a better understanding of the cellular factors involved in anosmia, and that will give us insights into other neurological disorders, as well,” he says.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/gene-therapy-restores-sense-smell-mice
Inflammation Deactivates Cold Perception
Research groups at the Univ. of Cambridge and the Instituto de Neurociencias, in Spain, have discovered a new and unexpected mechanism by which cold sensation is regulated, and opens up the possibility of developing drugs to mimic the well-known analgesic effects of cold and menthol.
The sensation of coolness is essential for our everyday life. Although extreme cold causes pain, moderate cooling inhibits pain, such as holding a burned hand under a cold tap. Another way to produce a sensation of coolness, and therefore to relieve pain, is to apply menthol, a compound present naturally in mint and widely used in peppermints, mentholated cigarettes and in pain-relieving rubs.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news-Inflammation-Deactivates-Cold-Perception-070212.aspx
Connection Between Brain, Ears Highly Organized
The brain receives information from the ear in a surprisingly orderly fashion, according to a Univ. at Buffalo study in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research focuses on a section of the brain called the cochlear nucleus, the first way-station in the brain for information coming from the ear. In particular, the study examined tiny biological structures called synapses that transmit signals from the auditory nerve to the cochlear nucleus.
The major finding: the synapses in question are not grouped randomly. Instead, like orchestra musicians sitting in their own sections, the synapses are bundled together by a similar trait: plasticity.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news-Connection-Between-Brain-Ears-Highly-Organized-060612.aspx
Image caption: Light microscope image of a bushy neuron in the cochlear nucleus, with a glass microelectrode for recording electrical activity inside the cell. The cell is about 12 micrometers in diameter. New research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that the synapses onto these cells are sorted according to their plasticity. Image: L. Pliss
Sensory Experience Rewires, Aids the Aging Brain
Despite a long-held scientific belief that much of the wiring of the brain is fixed by the time of adolescence, a new study shows that changes in sensory experience can cause massive rewiring of the brain, even as one ages. In addition, the study found that this rewiring involves fibers that supply the primary input to the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that is responsible for sensory perception, motor control and cognition. These findings promise to open new avenues of research on brain remodeling and aging.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news-Sensory-Experience-Helps-the-Aging-Brain-052512.aspx
People are Born With All Their “Smell” Neurons
Research from Karolinska Institutet shows that the human olfactory bulb — a structure in the brain that processes sensory input from the nose — differs from that of other mammals in that no new neurons are formed in this area after birth. The discovery, which is published in the scientific journal Neuron, is based on the age-determination of the cells using the carbon-14 method, and might explain why the human sense of smell is normally much worse than that of other animals.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news-People-are-Born-With-All-Their-Smell-Neurons-052512.aspx
A new study reveals for the first time that activating the brain’s visual cortex with a small amount of electrical stimulation actually improves people’s sense of smell. The finding published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro, McGill Univ. and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, revises our understanding of the complex biology of the senses in the brain.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news-Sight-Holds-Power-Over-Sense-of-Smell-022912.aspx