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My picks from ScienceDaily

How Zebra Finches Learn Songs: Cellular Killer Also Important To Memory:

A protein known primarily for its role in killing cells also plays a part in memory formation, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report. Their work exploring how zebra finches learn songs could have implications for treatment of neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
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“Graham had this intuition that growth and memory is really a kind of remodeling,” said Clayton, who is a professor of cell and structural biology. “You can’t have growth without death.”

How Does A Zebrafish Grow A New Tail? The Answer May Help Treat Human Injuries:

If a zebrafish loses a chunk of its tail fin, it’ll grow back within a week. Like lizards, newts, and frogs, a zebrafish can replace surprisingly complex body parts. A tail fin, for example, has many different types of cells and is a very intricate structure. It is the fish version of an arm or leg.

Researchers Uncover New Way Nature Turns Genes On And Off:

Peering deep within the cells of fruit flies, developmental biologists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia may have discovered a new way that genes are turned on and off during development. If they’re right, and the same processes are at work in higher organisms, including mammals, the findings could eventually have implications for improving the understanding of a range of diseases, including childhood cancer.

Mapping The Mouse Genome:

In a new study published online in the open access journal PLoS Biology, Sagiv Shifman, Jonathan Flint, and colleagues present a high resolution genetic map for the mouse genome–one of the most detailed genetic maps now available aside from that for humans.

Unfolded Proteins May Protect Cells From Dying:

When cells get stressed, their proteins go unfolded. It’s a reaction with a straightforward name: the unfolded protein response. Now, new research from Rockefeller University shows that this phenomenon actually serves a protective role; rather than a sign that the cell has given up, it may be a mechanism by which the cells cope with adversity. The findings were reported as an advance online publication in the EMBO Journal on the Dec. 14.

A Reason Why Video Games Are Hard To Give Up:

Kids and adults will stay glued to video games this holiday season because the fun of playing actually is rooted in fulfilling their basic psychological needs. Psychologists at the University of Rochester, in collaboration with Immersyve, Inc., a virtual environment think tank, asked 1,000 gamers what motivates them to keep playing. The results published in the journal Motivation and Emotion this month suggest that people enjoy video games because they find them intrinsically satisfying.

Maternal Diet During Pregnancy Can Impact Offspring For Generations, Study Shows:

A new study by scientists at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) is the first to show that a mother’s diet during pregnancy influences the health of her grandchildren by changing the behavior of a specific gene. The study was conducted using mice of an unique strain called “viable yellow agouti” also known as Avy in scientific terms. These mice possess a gene that influences the color of their coats as well as their tendency to become obese and develop diabetes and cancer. The new research shows that the diet consumed by a pregnant Avy mouse affects the health of not only her pups, but also their pups — her grandchildren.