This category contains 8 posts

The Science of ALS and the Irony of the Ice Bucket Challenge

With the ALS ice bucket challenge going viral, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been getting a lot of attention. But what exactly is ALS? It is essentially a poorly understood neurodegenerative disease that kills relatively quickly — with people usually dying within 3–5 years after onset of the first symptoms — and is responsible for … Continue reading »

The Importance of Getting an Uninterrupted Night’s Sleep

A new study may not only make you want to head to bed on time tonight, but also try to make sure you don’t get any interruptions during the night. Why is that? It turns out that not getting enough sleep can be just as detrimental as repeatedly getting woken up at night. (This may … Continue reading »

Creating Lucid Dreams

Have you ever had a lucid dream? Lucid dreams can be quite fun and freeing — they are when the dreamer realizes that they are in a dream, and can control the dream to be what they want it to be. And recently, researchers found out how they could cause somebody to have a lucid … Continue reading »

Stem Cell Trials to Treat Spinal Cord Injuries

While human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) were originally created in 1998, it wasn’t until 2009 — over a decade later — that they were approved by the FDA for use in a clinical trial in people. It was a long wait, but the trial was quite the promising one. The clinical trial, undertaken by the … Continue reading »

Making New Neurons Erases Memories

Note: The Biology Bytes blog will only be updated on Tuesdays during this week and next week. Next week will feature a special tidbit on biology-related exhibits at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan, which the author will be visiting. Regular Tuesday/Thursday updates will resume on June 2. Have … Continue reading »

Toxoplasma: A Common Parasite that Affects Height, Personality, and Lots More

Have you ever felt like your reaction time isn’t as good as it should be? Or, if you’re male, have you ever had people comment that you look particularly masculine? These traits might seem unrelated, but they actually can be due to the same thing — infection by a very common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii … Continue reading »

Caffeine Stimulates Memory

Caffeine is a beloved stimulant, which people enjoy consuming in coffee, tea, soda, or other forms. It helps wake us up, making us feel mentally alert. But while we feel mentally active when we use caffeine, studies have not shown conclusive links between consuming caffeine and memory… until very recently, that is. Earlier this week, … Continue reading »

Sleep on the Brain

People have long wondered why we need to sleep. Why can’t we just stay awake all of the time? What purpose does sleep serve? These might seem like silly questions because sleep obviously makes us less tired (or should, when we get enough of it!), but there’s clearly more to it – we regularly need … Continue reading »