Did you know that your attention is controlled in two ways in your brain? An extreme of either method can lead to mental disorders, including ADHD & schizophrenia. Johns Hopkins University is examining brain activity in owls to shed light these disorders and our thought process in general.
Crows are known for their intelligence, particularly their use of tools. A recent study showed just how smart these birds are. After being trained to match items that look the same, the crows spontaneously learned to match items by similarity and difference.
Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a chemist and “bird-scientist” at Harvard University, spends her time teaching African Grey parrots how to talk and is applying the same concepts in teaching autistic patients. Could these “bird-brained” parrots crack the code to understanding and re-wiring autism?
Due to a buildup of plaque which hardens arteries, atherosclerosis can lead to complications, such as heart attack or stroke. Researchers breed Japanese quail to increase their susceptibility to dietary-induced atherosclerosis to understand the role of fatty foods in cardiovascular disease.
For many years, the actual cause of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was highly disputed. There is strong evidence to support the theory that individuals who develop HT are often genetically predisposed to it. When obese and regular chickens were bred, several offspring inherited spontaneous autoimmune thyroiditis- leading to the conclusion that specific thyroid genes combined with specific immune regulatory genes are responsible for susceptibility to HT.
Every four in 10,000 people in the United States have dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes the left ventricle of the heart to become enlarged. Turkey hearts can serve as a model for the human heart as it undergoes heart failure and cardiomyopathy because their hearts are very similar. By countering a mutated form of cardiac muscle protein with another form of mutated protein, a heart’s normal condition can be restored.