THE FRACTAL SOLUTION TO THE UNIVERSE: In his second year of neuroscience grad school, Greg Dunn was moonlighting with a different kind of experiment: blowing ink across pieces of paper. The neuron-like pattern it formed was instantly recognizable to him as a neuroscientist. “Ink spreads because it wants to go in the direction of less resistance, and that’s probably also the case of when branches grow or neurons grow,” he says. “The reason the technique works really well is because it’s directly related to how neurons are actually behaving.”
Dunn calls this the “fractal solution to the universe,” which he sees as the “fundamental beauty of nature.” He’s fascinated that this branching pattern holds true across orders of magnitude, whether that’s nanometers for neurons, centimeters for ink, or meters for a tree branch.
Since graduating with his PhD last fall, Dunn has continued to spend his days with neurons—big, golden ones ten thousand times the size of neurons in your brain. The former University of Pennsylvania grad student now creates paintings of neurons for a living.
(via Ink Wants to Form Neurons, and an Artful Scientist Obliges | Mind & Brain | DISCOVER Magazine, submitted by flamshiz, thanks!)

Article: The return of electric shock therapy for Alzheimer’s?
In a small-scale study, regular fleeting pulses of electricity stopped the brain shrinkage linked to Alzheimer’s, the memory-robbing disease. The bursts of energy also appeared to prevent key brain regions from ‘shutting down’.
Current drugs for Alzheimer’s can halt the progression of the disease, but do not work for everyone and their effects wear off over time, leaving the disease free to take its cruel course.
To try to halt and even reverse the brain wasting effects, Canadian researchers turned to a technique called deep-brain stimulation. This involves implanting electrodes deep within the brain and programming them to give off tiny pulses of electricity 130 times a second.

The Neuroscience Behind Boozy Blackouts
Researchers have found the neurons affected by drinking are in the hippocampus and other areas of higher cognitive functioning and the “molecular mechanism that appears to underlie blackouts”.
The idea is kinda of domino effect: you drink, the alcohol triggers your neurons to produce a steroid that “inhibits long-term potentiation (LTP), a process that strengthens the connections between neurons and is crucial to learning and memory”. And when just the right amount of this steroid is released,  it interferes with synaptic plasticity or memory formation, so you aren’t passed out, you’re still processing info, you’re just not able to remember it & have no idea what happened last night or who that is…and there’s your 20’s. Kidding. But the same thing applies with stress in the hippocampus, which may be why our memory of stressful or traumatic situations may be fuzzy/impaired as well. But back to drinking, the brain cells aren’t dead -a little good news there, hmm? The receptors are just “blocking the neural signals that create memories”. The more we know about what happens when memory is inhibited in various ways, the closer we get to “ strategies to improve memory”.  You can drink to that.
Via or have a quick listen. H/T@TheNeuroScience
Image: The neon green is showing steroids produced by the neurons in response to the alcohol, which inhibit the formation of memory. On the right: the same region, minus the booze.