Meenu Johnkutty

Meenu Johnkutty

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Research Summary: Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease

Research Summary: Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease


    As discussed in the disease section of the YNCA Journal, the peptide Amyloid Beta (Aβ) is highly linked to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques form when Aβ clumps together in the synapses of neurons, blocking cell-to-cell communication. Though always viewed in a rather unfavorable light, the study featu...

A Thermal Window for Yawning in Humans: Yawning as a Brain Cooling Mechanism

A Thermal Window for Yawning in Humans: Yawning as a Brain Cooling Mechanism


    Yawning: whether after a long movie or a late night, it happens to all of us.  When people think of yawning, the first thing that comes to mind is sleepiness. But why, from an evolutionary standpoint, would yawning when sleepy help us? One widely believed explanation for yawning is that it serves as a means to bring in more ...

Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier

Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier


Introduction A prominent difference between physiology of mammals and other species is the presence of a cerebral vascular wall. The barrier, known as the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), is part of the brain’s natural defense. Although the BBB prevents harmful chemicals and viruses from entering the brain, it also prohibits many drugs from acce...

Research Methods: Model Organisms in Neuroscience

Research Methods: Model Organisms in Neuroscience


     In the previous issue of the YNCA Journal, we discussed how neuroscientists have studied human patients to learn about the brain. Despite the progress that can be made in human studies, such studies are very limited in scope due to the moral issues involved in human experimentation.  Due to these ethical barriers, scientifi...

Aplysia Californica: Little Sea Slug - Big Breakthroughs in Learning and Memory

Aplysia Californica: Little Sea Slug - Big Breakthroughs in Learning and Memory


Introduction     Aplysia Californica, a sea slug, has played a major role in the advancement of neuroscientific knowledge over the past several decades. Due to its unique biological properties,  this model organism has been incredibly valuable to researchers investigating the molecular basis of learning and memory.    ...

Research Methods: EEG

Research Methods: EEG


History     Electroencephalography, more commonly known by its abbreviation EEG, is a widely used technique to study the brain. Some of the earliest work on the electrical properties of neurons goes back to Galvani, who experimented on frog tissue to determine that electrical stimulation allowed communication within the nervous sy...

The Power of Play: The Effects of Portal 2 and Lumosity on Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills

The Power of Play: The Effects of Portal 2 and Lumosity on Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills


    A recent study conducted at Florida State University investigated the efficacy of Portal 2 (a video game) and Lumosity (a brain-training program). This study analyzed problem solving, spatial skills, and persistence in participants of the study who spent eight hours either playing Portal 2 or Lumosity. The researchers found that ...

Famous Case Studies of History

Famous Case Studies of History


    Though in the modern era, neuroscience is becoming increasingly reliant on digital means to obtain data (as described in the new technology section of the journal), case studies have a lasting legacy in neuroscience. From ancient times to the present, case studies have given neuroscientists new means to understand the brain. Up to the...