Blue and Great Tits Deploy Surprisingly Powerful Memories to Find Food, New Study Finds

A great tit wearing a radiofrequency identification tag. (Credit: James O’Neill)

Blue and great tits recall what they have eaten in the past, where they found the food, and when they found it, a new study shows. In the first experiment of its kind to involve wild animals, blue and great tits demonstrated “episodic-like” memory to cope with changes in food availability when foraging. The same study may suggest that humans leaving out seeds and nuts for garden birds could be contributing to the evolution of these memory traits. Episodic memory is a memory system involving the conscious recollection of personally experienced events. Many psychologists believe that episodic memory is uniquely human but a growing body of evidence suggests that many non-human animals possess episodic-like memory.

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The Clinical Evolution of Psychedelic Treatment: A Rapid Narrative Review

by Manisha Kashyap, PhD

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, marking a significant shift in mental health treatment paradigms. A new open-access narrative review, published July 2, 2025 in npj Mental Health Research, delves into the clinical evolution of psychedelic treatments, shedding light on both historical and contemporary research practices. The review, titled “A Rapid Narrative Review of the Clinical Evolution of Psychedelic Treatment in Clinical Trials,” authored by Ronit Kishon, Nadav Liam Modlin, Yael M. Cycowicz, Hania Mourtada, Tayler Wilson, Victoria Williamson, Anthony Cleare, and James Rucker, explores the development and application of psychedelics in treating various psychiatric disorders.

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Health AI Expert Nathan Price Joins Buck Faculty

Price will also co-direct the Center for Human Healthspan

Nathan Price., PhD

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging has announced the appointment of Nathan Price, PhD, to Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Human Healthspan. Price specializes in systems biology, artificial intelligence, and bioengineering. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and is co-author, with Buck Chief Innovation Officer and Distinguished Professor Lee Hood, of “The Age of Scientific Wellness.” Price has been named one of ten Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine by the National Academy of Medicine and is a member of the Board on Life Sciences of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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Epithelial Cells Retain Memory of Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection Through Histone Modification

by Manisha Kashyap, PhD

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Research published July 2, 2025 in Nature Communications unveils a groundbreaking discovery about how epithelial cells remember past infections with Streptococcus pneumoniae. The study, titled “Epithelial Cells Maintain Memory of Prior Infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae Through Di-Methylation of Histone H3,” reveals how these cells retain a memory of bacterial infections through a specific histone modification, thereby altering their responses to subsequent infections.

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Researchers Identify Potential Treatment for Angelman Syndrome

Researchers in the lab of Ben Philpot, PhD, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology at the UNC School of Medicine and Associate Director of the UNC Neuroscience Center, have identified a small molecule that could lead to a safe and effective treatment for the neurodevelopmental condition known as Angelman syndrome.

Angelman syndrome is a rare genetic disorder caused by mutations in the maternally-inherited UBE3A gene and characterized by poor muscle control, limited speech, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. Though there isn’t a cure for the condition, new research at the UNC School of Medicine is setting the stage for one. Ben Philpot, PhD, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology at the UNC School of Medicine and Associate Director of the UNC Neuroscience Center, and his lab have identified a small molecule that could be safe, non-invasively delivered, and capable of “turning on” the dormant paternally-inherited UBE3A gene copy brain-wide, which would lead to proper protein and cell function, amounting to a kind of gene therapy for individuals with Angelman syndrome.

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How to Stop Cancer Cachexia? Start at the Top

Targeting IL-6 binding to AP neurons in brain may be effective approach

Neurons (blue) in a part of the brain called the area postrema, seen here, express a variety of genes, including receptors for the immune system molecule IL-6 (white). (Credit: Li lab/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory).

Cancer is insidious. Throughout tumor progression, the disease hijacks otherwise healthy biological processes—like the body’s immune response—to grow and spread. When tumors elevate levels of an immune system molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6), it can cause severe brain dysfunction. In about 50%-80% of cancer patients, this leads to a lethal wasting disease called cachexia. “It’s a very severe syndrome,” says Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor Bo Li, PhD. “Most people with cancer die of cachexia instead of cancer. And once the patient enters this stage, there’s no way to go back because essentially there’s no treatment,” he explains. Now, Li and a team of collaborators from four CSHL labs have found that blocking IL-6 from binding to neurons in a part of the brain called the area postrema (AP) prevents cachexia in mice. As a result, the mice live longer with healthier brain function. Future drugs targeting these neurons could help make cancer cachexia a treatable disease.

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Scientists May Have Found How to Diagnose Elusive Neuro Disorder (PSP)

Discovery of unique pattern of proteins in the spinal fluid of patients may help with earlier diagnosis and new treatments for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). 

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a mysterious and deadly neurological disorder, usually goes undiagnosed until after a patient dies and an autopsy is performed. But now, UC San Francisco researchers have found a way to identify the condition while patients are still alive. A study appearing in Neurology on July 3 has found a pattern in the spinal fluid of PSP patients, using a new high-throughput technology that can measure thousands of proteins in a tiny drop of fluid. The article is titled “CSF Proteomics in Patients with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.”

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Researchers Identify Previously Unknown Signaling Pathway in the Brain Responsible for Migraine with Aura

A previously unknown mechanism by which proteins from the brain are carried to a particular group of sensory nerves causes migraine attacks, a new study shows. This may pave the way for new treatments for migraine and other types of headaches.

More than 800,000 Danes suffer from migraines – a condition characterized by severe headache in one side of the head. In around a fourth of all migraine patients, headache attacks are preceded by aura – symptoms from the brain such as temporary visual or sensory disturbances preceding the migraine attack by 5-60 minutes. While we know with some certainty why patients experience aura, it has been a bit of a mystery why they get headaches, and why migraines are one-sided. Till now.

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Excess Growth Hormone in Acromegaly Linked to Aggressive Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

by Manisha Kashyap, PhD

A recent study has uncovered a connection between acromegaly, a condition where the body produces too much growth hormone (GH), and the development of aggressive triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Researchers, led by Chan Woo Kang of Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, explored how this excess GH influences cancer progression and potential treatments. The work was published June 19, 2024 in iScience and the open-access article is titledExcess Endocrine Growth Hormone in Acromegaly Promotes the Aggressiveness and Metastasis of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.”

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Degradation of Cell Wall Key in Spread of Resistance

Three of the researchers behind the study: Wei-Sheng Sun, Josy ter Beek, Ronnie Berntsson, Department of Medical Chemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University. (Credit: Anna Shevtsova).

A study at Umeå University, Sweden, provides new clues in the understanding of how antibiotic resistance spreads. The study shows how an enzyme breaks down the bacteria’s protective outer layer, the cell wall, and thus facilitates the transfer of genes for resistance to antibiotics. “You could say that we are adding a piece of the puzzle to the understanding of how antibiotic resistance spreads between bacteria,” says Ronnie Berntsson, PhD, Associate Professor at Umeå University and one of the authors behind the study.

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