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From the College of Natural Sciences
Serotonin Regulates the Sensitivity of Brain Cells Involved in Hearing

Serotonin Regulates the Sensitivity of Brain Cells Involved in Hearing

You may have heard of serotonin, a chemical found throughout the brain that regulates a host of mental states such as mood, appetite and alertness. When we have enough of it, we have an overall sense of wellbeing and happiness. When we're running low on it, we can experience depression.

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Scientists Estimate Memory Capacity Based on Sizes of Brain Synapses

Scientists Estimate Memory Capacity Based on Sizes of Brain Synapses

Neuroscientists from The University of Texas at Austin and the Salk Institute have discovered that connections between brain cells, called synapses, can be grouped into more discrete sizes than was previously thought, and these discrete sizes are thought to predict different functional states.

Scientists Discover How We Play Memories in Fast Forward

Scientists Discover How We Play Memories in Fast Forward

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered a mechanism that may explain how the brain can recall nearly all of what happened on a recent afternoon — or make a thorough plan for how to spend an upcoming afternoon — in a fraction of the time it takes to live out the experience. The breakthrough in understanding a previously unknown function in the brain has implications for research into schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer's disease and other disorders where real experiences and ones that exist only in the mind can become distorted.

When we think about past or future events, we use a special brain wave frequency that allows us to play them in fast forward, although at a lower resolution. Illustration by Juliette Pepperell
UT Austin Receives $4M to Develop Techniques for Brain Imaging and Manipulation

UT Austin Receives $4M to Develop Techniques for Brain Imaging and Manipulation

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin will receive three grants totaling $4 million to develop techniques for imaging and manipulating the activity of neurons in the brain, research that will help scientists explore the mechanisms of addiction, obesity, fear and many other brain states and disorders. The funding, provided by the National Institutes of Health, is part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative launched last year by President Barack Obama.
Neuroscience professor wins NSF CAREER award

Neuroscience professor wins NSF CAREER award

Laura Colgin, an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, has received the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation to pursue her research on the relationship between brain waves and memory during sleep.

Audio: Cocktail Party Effect

Audio: Cocktail Party Effect

How do we manage to follow a conversation with a friend in the middle of a noisy room? Neuroscientists, like Nace Golding, are still working out the details—but what they've learned so far is pretty amazing.

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Graduate Students’ Class Project Produces New Tool for Neuroscience

Graduate Students’ Class Project Produces New Tool for Neuroscience

As new graduate students in the neuroscience department, Kenneth Latimer and Jacob Yates did a class project in a business class that eventually resulted in a prestigious publication in the journal Science, as well as a new tool for neuroscience.

Medication May Help Stop Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Medication May Help Stop Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully stopped cocaine and alcohol addiction in experiments using a drug already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat high blood pressure. If the treatment is proven effective in humans, it would be the first of its kind — one that could help prevent relapses by erasing the unconscious memories that underlie addiction.

Researchers Discover First Sensor of Earth’s Magnetic Field in an Animal

Researchers Discover First Sensor of Earth’s Magnetic Field in an Animal

A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first sensor of the Earth’s magnetic field in an animal, finding in the brain of a tiny worm a big clue to a long-held mystery about how animals’ internal compasses work.

6 Tips for Staying Sharp

6 Tips for Staying Sharp

Staying Sharp

This time of year, students cram information into the dark, neglected corners of their brains just long enough to survive those dreaded final exams and later in life, many of us come up against similar challenges with learning and memory. I asked experts across The University of Texas at Austin—including neuroscientists, psychologists, a nutritionist and a physical education expert—for their best, research-based advice for staying mentally sharp throughout life.

Neuroscientists Receive $1M Grant to Study Sensory Adaptation

Neuroscientists Receive $1M Grant to Study Sensory Adaptation

Nicholas Priebe, an associate professor of neuroscience in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences, and three colleagues have been awarded a Human Frontier Science Program research grant worth $1.05 million over three years to study how our sensory systems change as the environment changes.

Understanding the Prefrontal Cortex

Understanding the Prefrontal Cortex

ZemelmanDendrites.jpgEvery time you need to make plans for the future, like what to do over spring break or which SXSW shows to catch, you're using the prefrontal cortex of your brain.

Alcohol Abuse Linked to Newly Identified Gene Network

Alcohol Abuse Linked to Newly Identified Gene Network

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have identified a network of genes that appear to work together in determining alcohol dependence. The findings, which could lead to future treatments and therapies for alcoholics and possibly help doctors screen for alcoholism, are being published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Mental Rest and Reflection Boost Learning, Study Suggests

Mental Rest and Reflection Boost Learning, Study Suggests

A new study, which may have implications for approaches to education, finds that brain mechanisms engaged when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they've learned before may boost later learning.

Staying on the Grid: Placing a Nobel-prize Winning Neuroscience Discovery in a UT Austin Context

Staying on the Grid: Placing a Nobel-prize Winning Neuroscience Discovery in a UT Austin Context

Yesterday, three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of two types of brain cells involved in keeping track of where we are when moving around. Called place cells and grid cells, they may hold the key to understanding aspects of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. Laura Colgin, who did research with two of the prize-winning scientists awarded this year’s Nobel Prize, is now an associate professor of neuroscience in the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences who continues to investigate the role of place cells in spacial memory tasks and more.