Key Discoveries (key + discovery)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Veni, vidi, vici: the neurohypophysis in the twentieth century

John A. Russell
We outline the key discoveries in the first 70 years of research on the neurohypophysis that provided the foundations for more recent studies in the last 30 years. We consider the extent to which these recent studies, which have exploited molecular technologies, cellular electrophysiological techniques and mechanistic behavioural investigations, have advanced or changed our understanding of the functions of oxytocin and vasopressin. The different evolutionary pressures on the oxytocin and vasopressin systems are discussed. Lastly, we focus on the mechanisms underlying the burst-firing activity of oxytocin neurones in lactation as a problem not yet solved, and probably requiring a presently improbable conceptual leap to understand. [source]

Biodiversity and ecosystem function in soil

Summary 1Soils are one of the last great frontiers for biodiversity research and are home to an extraordinary range of microbial and animal groups. Biological activities in soils drive many of the key ecosystem processes that govern the global system, especially in the cycling of elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. 2We cannot currently make firm statements about the scale of biodiversity in soils, or about the roles played by soil organisms in the transformations of organic materials that underlie those cycles. The recent UK Soil Biodiversity Programme (SBP) has brought a unique concentration of researchers to bear on a single soil in Scotland, and has generated a large amount of data concerning biodiversity, carbon flux and resilience in the soil ecosystem. 3One of the key discoveries of the SBP was the extreme diversity of small organisms: researchers in the programme identified over 100 species of bacteria, 350 protozoa, 140 nematodes and 24 distinct types of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Statistical analysis of these results suggests a much greater ,hidden diversity'. In contrast, there was no unusual richness in other organisms, such as higher fungi, mites, collembola and annelids. 4Stable-isotope (13C) technology was used to measure carbon fluxes and map the path of carbon through the food web. A novel finding was the rapidity with which carbon moves through the soil biota, revealing an extraordinarily dynamic soil ecosystem. 5The combination of taxonomic diversity and rapid carbon flux makes the soil ecosystem highly resistant to perturbation through either changing soil structure or removing selected groups of organisms. [source]

Brains and brands: developing mutually informative research in neuroscience and marketing

Tyler K. Perrachione
Advances in neuroimaging technology have led to an explosion in the number of studies investigating the living human brain, and thereby our understanding of its structure and function. With the proliferation of dazzling images from brain scans in both scientific and popular media, researchers from other fields in the social and behavioral sciences have naturally become interested in the application of neuroimaging to their own research. Commercial enterprises have long been interested in the prospects of literally "getting inside the heads" of customers and partners, with a variety of goals in mind. Here we consider the ways in which scholars of consumer behavior may draw upon neuroscientific advances to inform their own research. We describe the motivation of neuroscientific inquiry from the point of view of neuroscientists, including an introduction to the technologies and methodologies available; correspondingly, we consider major questions in consumer behavior that are likely to be of interest to neuroscientists and why. Recent key discoveries in neuroscience are presented which will likely have a direct impact on the development of a neuromarketing subdiscipline and for neuroimaging as a marketing research technique. We discuss where and how neuroscience methodologies may reasonably be added to the research inventory of marketers. In sum, we aim to show not only that a neuromarketing subdiscipline may fruitfully contribute to our understanding of the biological bases of human behavior, but also that developing this as a productive research field will rest largely in framing marketing research questions in the brain-centric mindset of neuroscientists. Copyright 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Application of Physiological Genomics to the Microcirculation

Dr. Andrew S. Greene
Physiological genomics represents a new challenge in the biological sciences,the quest to define the functions of thousands of genes that will emerge from the sequencing of the human genome and the genomes of other model organisms. Because the attention of the scientific community has focused on this task, new tools that will allow high-efficiency identification of gene function are being developed at remarkable speed. Physiological genomic approaches to understanding integrated systems function are now becoming widely used in many areas of biological research. The availability of genomic information across species has now revealed a striking degree of conservation of both gene order and function, allowing researchers to easily move from model organisms to man in the hunt for gene function. Physiological genomics approaches in the cardiovascular system have focused on disease-based models and the behavior of large vessels. In the microcirculation, genomic studies have largely been confined to the use of single gene knockouts or to the study of angiogenesis. This review summarizes the strategies for physiological genomics that are appropriate to the study of the microcirculation and discusses several key discoveries that have been made by using these approaches. [source]