Chaos = Order: WUSTL physicists make baffling discovery

“Da police are not here to create disorder; dere here to preserve disorder.” — Richard J. Daley, Chicago mayor, explaining to the media the role of the police during the riotous 1968 Democratic National Convention. David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoThe order team.Police keep order. That’s why, for example, they issue tickets for “disturbing the peace.” Thus the only logical conclusion to Mayor Daley’s famous quote above — other than dismissing it as the result of a tangled tongue — is sometimes disorder spawns order. Sounds impossible, right? Wrong. According to a computational study conducted by a group of physicists at Washington University in St. Louis, one may create order by introducing disorder. More…

Fruit fly brain study confirms complexity of neurodevelopment

Drosophila melanoFor years, two schools of thought have dominated neurobiologists’ theories about how early nerve cells develop specialties that allow the assembly of a mature brain. One theory suggests master regulators trigger the development, while the other attributes the development to interactions between local factors. In a new study of developing fruit fly brain cells, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University showed that both models are valid.

Fruit fly brain study confirms complexity of neurodevelopment

Drosophila melanoFor years, two schools of thought have dominated neurobiologists’ theories about how early nerve cells develop specialties that allow the assembly of a mature brain. One theory suggests master regulators trigger the development, while the other attributes the development to interactions between local factors. In a new study of developing fruit fly brain cells, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University showed that both models are valid.

Study lifts veil on brain’s executive function

Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt UniversityThe “CEO” in your brain appears to be concerned more about the consequences of your actions than how hard they are to produce. That is the implication of a detailed study of the neuronal activity in a critical area of the brain, called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), published in the Oct. 3 issue of the journal Science. The finding is important because the ACC plays a key role in disorders such as schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, suggests Joshua Brown, study co-author and WUSTL research associate in psychology.