My picks from ScienceDaily

As always, put the press releases under the dissecting microscopes:
Thinking With The Spinal Cord?:

Two scientists from the University of Copenhagen have demonstrated that the spinal cord use network mechanisms similar to those used in the brain. The discovery is featured in the current issue of Science.

More under the fold…


Quitting Smoking May Be Harder If Mom Smoked During Pregnancy:

Quitting smoking may be more difficult for individuals whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, according to animal research conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers. Prenatal exposure to nicotine is known to alter areas of the brain critical to learning, memory and reward. Scientists at the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research have discovered that these alterations may program the brain for relapse to nicotine addiction. Rodents exposed to nicotine before birth self administer more of the drug after periods of abstinence than those that had not been exposed.

New Research Is First To Explore Regional Differences In US Serial Killings:

Did you know that people living in the Western region of the United States are more likely to become victims of a serial killer than people living in the Northeast? The February issue of Homicide Studies, published by SAGE, is the first to explore research looking at the considerable interstate and regional differences in serial killer activity.

Beyond Nature Vs. Nurture: Williams Syndrome Across Cultures:

Nobody questions that the color of our eyes is encoded in our genes. When it comes to behavior the concept of “DNA as fate” quickly breaks down — it’s been long accepted that both genes and the environment shape human behavior. But just how much sway the environment holds over our genetic destiny has been difficult to untangle. Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have found a clever way to sort one from the other: They compared the social behavior of children with Williams syndrome — known for their innate drive to interact with people — across cultures with differing social mores. Their study, published in a forthcoming issue of Developmental Science, demonstrates the extent of culture’s stamp on social behavior.

Some Brain-damaged Patients Quit Smoking With Ease:

Smokers with a damaged insula — a region in the brain linked to emotion and feelings — quit smoking easily and immediately, according to a study in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Science. The study provides direct evidence of smoking’s grip on the brain. It also raises the possibility that other addictive behaviors may have an equally strong hold on neural circuits for pleasure.

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