Biology

Symmetry has often been touted as the root of beauty. But beauty, we know, is only skin-deep. Inside the human body, asymmetries abound. The liver stays to the right, the spleen to the left. The heart tilts leftward. “Inside, you’re nearly wholly asymmetric,” says Angus Davison, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Nottingham, UK… Read more

By the second trimester, long before a baby’s eyes can see images, they can detect light. But the light-sensitive cells in the developing retina — the thin sheet of brain-like tissue at the back of the eye — were thought to be simple on-off switches, presumably there to set up the 24-hour, day-night rhythms parents… Read more

A mind-body therapy, Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), increases the brain’s response to natural, healthy rewards while also decreasing the brain’s response to opioid related cues, a paper[1] from the University of Utah reports. “Previous research shows that prolonged use of opioids makes our brains more sensitive to pain and less receptive to the joy one… Read more

A type of opsin known as neuropsin is expressed in the hair follicles of mice and synchronize the skin’s circadian clock to the light-dark cycle, independent of the eyes or brain, University of Washington researchers report. “This is the first functional demonstration of opsin photoreceptors outside the eye directly controlling circadian rhythms in a mammal,”… Read more

Except for various cartoon characters, the Geico Gecko and Mr. Ed, animals can’t speak. Yet they have a lot to say to scientists trying to figure out the origins of human language. Speaking isn’t the only avenue for language. After all, linguistic messaging can be transmitted by hand signals. Or handwriting. Or texting. But speech… Read more