Tag Archives: Nature

Proteins behind mad-cow disease also help brain to develop

Proteins behind mad-cow disease also help brain to develop.

When not misfolded, prions lend a hand in forming neuronal connections. Prions are best known as the infectious agents that cause ‘mad cow’ disease and the human versions of it, such as variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease. But the proteins also have at least one known useful function, in the cells that insulate nerves, and are suspected to have more.

Now researchers have provided the first direct evidence that the proteins play an important role in neurons themselves. The team reports in the Journal of Neuroscience that prions are involved in brain plasticity, the process by which the structure and function of neurons in the growing brain is shaped by experience.

Nature nurtures creativity after four days of hiking

Nature nurtures creativity after four days of hiking.

Backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature disconnected from electronic devices, according to a study by psychologists from the University of Utah and University of Kansas.

“This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving that really hadn’t been formally demonstrated before,” says David Strayer, a co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Utah. Disconnect and take care of your brain health.