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No link between mercury exposure and autism-like behaviours

Pre-natal mercury exposure from fish consumption eliminated as cause of later autism-like behaviours.

The potential impact of exposure to low levels of mercury on the developing brain – specifically by women consuming fish during pregnancy – has long been the source of concern and some have argued that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. However, a new study that draws upon more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles reports that there is no association between pre-natal mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors.

'Dead' gene comes to life and puts chill on inflammation

Discovery may explain how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work, leading to entirely new classes of anti-inflammatory treatments without some of the side effect of steroids.

A gene long presumed dead comes to life under the full moon of inflammation, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have found.

The discovery, described in a study to be published July 23 in eLife, may help explain how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work. It also could someday lead to entirely new classes of anti-inflammatory treatments without some of steroids' damaging side effects.

Is sexual addiction the real deal?

Researchers have measured how the brain behaves in "hypersexual" people who have problems regulating their viewing of sexual images.

Controversy exists over what some mental health experts call "hypersexuality," or sexual "addiction." Namely, is it a mental disorder at all, or something else? It failed to make the cut in the recently updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, considered the bible for diagnosing mental disorders. Yet sex addiction has been blamed for ruining relationships, lives and careers.

Stem cell research reveals clues to brain disease

The development of new drugs for improving treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease is a step closer after recent research into how stem cells migrate and form circuits in the brain.

The results from a study by researchers at The University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research may hold important clues into why there is less plasticity in brains affected by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and links to insulin resistance and diabetes.

The major five-year project to understand how stem cells start and stop migrating in the brain has also helped to unlock the secrets of how stem cells migrate during development and in adulthood.

At the bottom of the top, Australia and the 2013 Global Innovation Index

By Tim Mazzarol

The Global Innovation Index (GII) for 2013 has recently been published and once again Australia finds it is at the bottom of the top.

The world’s most successful innovation regions build critical mass around local strengths.

Big bang theory: how did dinosaurs have sex?

By John Long

How did dinosaurs mate and what evidence do we have to reconstruct their sex lives?

Dinosaurs were the largest animals to ever walk Earth, and they ruled the planet for more than 160 million years. The long-necked Argentinosaurus, with back vertebrae almost two metres high, possibly grew to 30 metres long and weighed up to 80 tonnes. So did the earth really shake for them when they mated?

The real question here though is: how did they really mate and what evidence do we have to reconstruct their sex lives?

Scientists explore the mind with epigenomic maps

Comprehensive mapping of the human brain epigenome uncovers large-scale changes that take place during the formation of brain circuitry.

Ground-breaking research by scientists from The University of Western Australia and the US, published in Science, has provided an unprecedented view of the epigenome during brain development.

High-resolution mapping of the epigenome has discovered unique patterns that emerge during the generation of brain circuitry in childhood.

Early failure a key to turning back the clock

Fitness among the elderly is improved by a high-resistance circuit training program with fewer but more demanding repetitions at each station.

There can’t be many regimes where early failure is counted as a success. But, as it turns out, Edith Cowan University’s School of Exercise and Health Sciences has been working on a program where early failure leads more efficiently to the fabled fountain of youth.

National Press Club address: Suzanne Cory

By Suzanne Cory

The full text of a speech by Suzanne Cory, President of the Australian Academy of Science.

This privileged nation enjoys a rich science and innovation heritage, a heritage that has improved our lives and driven new industries.

Through science we can find the solutions to the most pressing problems that we face. Through science we can go to the unplumbed depths of our oceans and out through our solar system and beyond. Through science we can make discoveries that change the course of humanity.

Science and technology are not just the preserve of researchers – they are an important part of all our lives, every day.

Exercise and prosper: lessons about the brain from the bomb

By Alan Harvey, University of Western Australia

New research proves that neurons are created throughout life in a critical part of the human hippocampus.

Until a few years ago, it was assumed that humans were born with the maximum number of neurons that we were ever going to have. There was no chance of self-replenishment as we got older, or if we suffered some sort of neurological disease or trauma. But our understanding of the brain is changing all that and there’s good news.