In the August PLoS Biology, there is an article showing the production of pure neural stem cells from human embryonic stem cells.
The procedure is quite simple: Add growth factors FGF-2 and EGF to the ES cells and you get pure NS cells, which overcomes several of the limitations of previous neurosphere-based assays [Nature Methods].
Neuron has a nice review article about the role of miRNAs, one of the new hot areas in molecular bio, in neuroscience. A little technical but a great look at a really neat emerging area.
This article is about efforts by six teams to develop a hippocampal prothesis by monitoring the input/output transformations performed by the hippocampus in slice, and then creating an electronic device to mimic them.
The article quotes noted memory researchers Howard Eichenbaum and Norbert Fortin who seem to approve of the methodology.
“We’ve been observing gorillas for 10 years here, and we have two cases of them using detached objects as tools,” said Thomas Breuer, from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), who heads the study team in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In the first case, we had a female crossing a pool; and this female has crossed this pool by using a detached stick and testing the water depth, and trying to use it as a walking stick,” he told the BBC.
The second case saw another female gorilla pick up the trunk of a dead shrub and use it to lean on while dredging for food in a swamp.
She then placed the trunk down on the swampy ground and used it as a bridge.
Here’s a database of ideas from biology that might be useful for engineering.