Among the 58 projects funded in furtherance of President Obama's "Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnology"—or BRAIN—Initiative are six projects either led or co-led by Caltech researchers.
A study suggests that changes in an overactive immune system can contribute to autism-like behaviors in mice, and that in some cases, this activation can be related to what a developing fetus experiences in the womb.
In sports, on a game show, or just on the job, what causes people to choke when the stakes are high? A new study by researchers at Caltech suggests that when there are high financial incentives to succeed, people can become so afraid of losing their potentially lucrative reward that their performance suffers.
When jurors consider shortening the prison sentences of convicted criminals, they use parts of the brain associated with sympathy and making moral judgments, according to new work by Caltech neuroeconomist Colin Camerer and colleagues.
Nearly all motile bacteria can sense and respond to their surroundings through a process called chemotaxis, which begins with proteins known as chemoreceptors. Now researchers at Caltech have built the first model that depicts precisely how chemoreceptors and the proteins around them are structured at the sensing tip of bacteria. Because chemotaxis plays a critical role in the first steps of bacterial infection, a better understanding of the process could pave the way for the development of new, more effective antibiotics.
Researchers from Caltech now believe they have found a way to help the brain replace damaged myelin, a material that forms a protective cape around the axons of our nerve cells so that they can send signals quickly and efficiently.
A key feature of human and animal brains is that they are adaptive; they are able to change their structure and function based on input from the environment and on the potential associations, or consequences, of that input. To learn more about such neural adaptability, researchers at Caltech have explored the brains of insects and identified a mechanism by which the connections in their brain change to form new and specific memories of smells.
Our cognitive abilities and decision-making skills can be dramatically hindered in social settings where we feel that we are being ranked or assigned a status level. These findings fly in the face of long-held ideas about intelligence and cognition that regard IQ as a stable, predictive measure of mental horsepower.
Although many mental illnesses are uniquely human, animals sometimes exhibit abnormal behaviors similar to those seen in humans with psychological disorders. Such behaviors are called endophenotypes. Now, Caltech researchers have found that mice lacking a gene that encodes a particular protein found in the synapses of the brain display a number of endophenotypes associated with schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders.