|May 4, 2007
How the Nose Knows
In many sensory systems, lateral connections between the neurons are thought
to be inhibitory, fine-tuning sensory responses. But a new study by Rachel Wilson
and colleagues in the April 5 Neuron indicates that many lateral connections
in the olfactory system are excitatory. The finding suggests that the brain’s
olfactory processing may be more complex than previously believed.
When Doctors Negotiate Uncertainty
An emerging consensus, explored at an April 6 symposium titled “The
Mindful Brain,” holds that medical errors are often years
in the making. Rather than the result of momentary lapses, they may be
the direct result of a medical education system that encourages a state
of “mindlessness” in
doctors—a tendency to regard learned facts as unchanging and absolute,
to quickly commit patients to preconceived categories, and to have little
tolerance for uncertainty. The good news, according to presenters, is
that the alternative—mindfulness—can be taught.
BIOLOGY: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Just before a cell divides, it pauses to make sure that each new
daughter cell will receive a full set of genes. The cell waits while its molecular
wranglers at opposite ends of the mitotic spindle lasso each replicated chromosome
from either side. Then the cell splits into two new daughter cells. In a collaboration
across several labs, two research teams have figured out how the cell puts restraints
on cell division and then how it quickly lets the process go. The studies, whose
lead authors are Sashank Reddy (left), Michael Rape (right), and Frank Stegmeier,
appear in the April 19 Nature.
Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College