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From the College of Natural Sciences
Neuroscientists Win University Teaching Awards

Neuroscientists Win University Teaching Awards

Neuroscience professors Nace Golding (left) and Michael Mauk (right) both won university-wide teaching awards.

Within days of each other, two professors of neuroscience and one undergraduate teaching assistant have won University of Texas at Austin teaching awards.

How the Brain Fights Off Fears That Return to Haunt Us

How the Brain Fights Off Fears That Return to Haunt Us

AUSTIN, Texas – Neuroscientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered a group of cells in the brain that are responsible when a frightening memory re-emerges unexpectedly, like Michael Myers in every "Halloween" movie. The finding could lead to new recommendations about when and how often certain therapies are deployed for the treatment of anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Forgetting Uses More Brain Power Than Remembering

Forgetting Uses More Brain Power Than Remembering

Choosing to forget something might take more mental effort than trying to remember it, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin discovered through neuroimaging.

Advance is a Key Step Toward Treatment of Neurological Disorders

Advance is a Key Step Toward Treatment of Neurological Disorders

A technique neuroscientists use to view neurons in the brain and to turn them on and off with light, called optogenetics, is a promising strategy that could eventually treat a wide range of disorders, from chronic pain to conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. However, scientists faced a major hurdle: It has not been possible to access specific groups of brain cells in animals that have not been genetically manipulated for testing purposes, limiting mammalian research primarily to mice. Until now.

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Natural Sciences Students Show Off Communication Skills in Video Competition

Natural Sciences Students Show Off Communication Skills in Video Competition

The Texas Student Research Showdown, a competition open to undergraduate researchers at UT Austin across all disciplines and majors, featured a number of winning entries from College of Natural Sciences and Freshman Research Initiative students this year. For this contest, students submit a two minute YouTube video to effectively communicate their research projects while competing for recognition and cash prizes worth up to $2,500.

Why Do our Eyes Move as They Do? UT Scientists Have New Answers to That

Why Do our Eyes Move as They Do? UT Scientists Have New Answers to That

Humans move their eyes about two or three times a second, even when we're concentrating on a particular object or image, but the reason for these tiny eye movements has never been very clear.

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Which Mental Superpower Would You Choose? (Audio)

Which Mental Superpower Would You Choose? (Audio)

What if people who lost a particular brain function—say, an Alzheimer's patient who can no longer make new memories—had the same option as many people who've lost limbs or other body parts—the chance to use technology to supplement what's no longer there? Or what if you could boost a healthy person's brain, essentially giving them mental superpowers, like the ability to become a Kung Fu master by downloading new skills directly to your brain?

Scientists Pinpoint New Alcohol Addiction Pathway in Brain

Scientists Pinpoint New Alcohol Addiction Pathway in Brain

There's a new line of attack in the war on alcoholism: Reporting in the journal Science, UT Austin researchers discovered that people suffering from alcoholism have less of a protein, GAT-3, in the part of the brain called the amygdala.

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Brienomyrus brachyistius, commonly known as the baby whale.

Deep in the night in muddy African rivers, a fish uses electrical charges to sense the world around it and communicate with other members of its species. Signaling in electrical spurts that last only a few tenths of a thousandth of a second allows the fish to navigate without letting predators know it is there. Now scientists have found that the evolutionary trick these fish use to make such brief discharges could provide new insights, with a bearing on treatments for diseases such as epilepsy.

Could a Digital Version of this Part of the Brain Be Coming Soon?

Could a Digital Version of this Part of the Brain Be Coming Soon?

The cerebellum (red) directs many of the movements we make often, yet don’t have to think about. Photo credit: Database Center for Life Science. Used via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.1 Japan license.

For decades, Michael Mauk, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, has been developing a computer simulation of the part of our brains called the cerebellum that directs many of the movements we make often, yet don't have to think about, like walking or picking up a glass of water.