Tag Archives: Donald W. Pfaff

Jeffrey M. Friedman awarded 11th IPSEN Endocrine Regulation Prize

Friedman is being recognized for his groundbreaking discovery of leptin, a hormone that regulates food intake and energy expenditure. His observations provided scientists with a new target for treating obesity and other metabolic diseases.
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Patterned pulses boost the effects of deep brain stimulation, research shows

An electrical procedure used as a sort of defibrillator of consciousness could benefit from a more complex pattern of pulses, Rockefeller scientists say. The finding could help doctors more effectively treat conditions such as epilepsy and coma. More »

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Donald W. Pfaff and Bruce S. McEwen will share 2010 Fondation IPSEN Neuronal Plasticity Prize

Donald W. Pfaff and Bruce S. McEwen share the 2010 Fondation IPSEN Neuronal Plasticity Prize for their studies on the neuroendocrine control of behavior. The French foundation presents the award to researchers who publish remarkable, pioneering studies. More »

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Brain arousal heightens sexual activity in male mice

Ever since the dawn of time, teenage boys have been defined by their sexual urges. Stereotype or not, the same fate has now befallen male mice. In new research that harkens back to those awkward high school moments and uncomfortable coming-of-age memories, scientists now show that male mice genetically selected for high levels of nervous energy act like sex-crazed teenage boys: highly motivated, but awkward and inefficient. More »

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Acute stress leaves epigenetic marks on the hippocampus

Scientists are learning that the dynamic regulation of genes — as much as the genes themselves — shapes the fate of organisms. Now the discovery of a new epigenetic mechanism regulating genes in the brain under stress is helping change the way scientists think about psychiatric disorders and could open new avenues to treatment. More »

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In mice, anxiety is linked to immune system

In groundbreaking research that advances the knowledge of how the two most complicated systems in the body are linked, researchers reveal that immune cells in the brain directly influence how mice normally behave in stressful situations. The work is the first ever to genetically link mast cells to anxiety and opens new doors for drugs that target immune cells in the brain to regulate emotions. More »

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Flow of potassium ions in brain cells is key to sexual arousal

Communicating about sex can be tricky. But female rats have got this one covered. If they want a male to mount, they arch their back and deflect their tail in a pronounced swayback posture called lordosis. Now, Rockefeller University scientists have teased apart the chemical and physical mechanism in the brain that controls this behavior, revealing the science behind one of life’s most primitive instincts. More »

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Brains are hardwired to act according to the Golden Rule

Donald Pfaff, the author of the new book The Neuroscience of Fair Play: Why We (Usually) Follow the Golden Rule, proposes a theory that explains why people usually treat each other in a thoughtful and civil manner. Our brains, he says, are hardwired to do unto others as we would have them do unto us — an ethical principle that seems to be present in all cultures throughout the ages. More »

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Two forces of arousal converge on the “satiety center” of the brain

The light-dark cycle, under normal conditions, does a pretty good job of regulating mental alertness — animals are typically alert during one part of the cycle and not so alert during the other. New research from Rockefeller University shows how changing the timing of a meal can disrupt these patterns and reveals which regions of the brain are involved. More »

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To recognize their friends, mice use their amygdalas

Even those who can’t remember names can usually recall faces. New research from Rockefeller University suggests that a simple brain chemical, a neuropeptide called oxytocin, is a reason. More »

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Sex hormone signaling helps burn calories

Any dieter can tell you: Body weight is a function of how much food you eat and how much energy you use. The trick to maintaining a healthy weight lies in regulating the balance. But new research from Rockefeller University suggests that brain cell receptors linked to sex hormones may play a role in the process by which we maintain that balance. More »

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Ion channels are key to estrogen’s effect on neurons

Despite being one of the body’s best-studied hormones, there’s still a lot we don’t know about estrogens. Now, by studying how these sex hormones impact brain cells at the biophysical level, scientists at Rockefeller University say they exert their powerful effects on behavior in part by affecting the speed at which ion channels in the cell membrane of a neuron open and close. More »

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In mice, a new statistical analysis shows a sex hormone influences a drive to explore

Exhaustive searching may not guarantee a compatible mate, but that doesn’t stop most people from trying. Now, new research from Rockefeller University suggests that estrogens may be a driving force. More »

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New gene-slicing method targets specific areas of the brain

To understand the role any one gene plays in an organism, scientists rely on knockout mice: They breed a mouse that lacks the gene they are interested in, then observe the effects. But a new method which uses viruses and small strands of RNA, developed by Rockefeller University scientists, offers a faster and more effective way to link genes to specific behavior. More »

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When mice choose mates, experience counts

In a series of experiments designed to help scientists understand the brain chemicals that guide mate selection, Rockefeller scientists exposed female mice to the odor of either a male mouse alone or a male mouse with a female. The females consistently preferred the scent of males linked to other females. More »

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For sex to happen, the right receptors must align

By studying single neurons from the hypothalamus of the brain, Rockefeller scientists are beginning to show how the same hormone receptors can impact sexual behavior differently in male and female rats. The findings suggest that when it comes to controlling behavior, the brain’s genetic network can be extremely complicated. More »

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Hormone replacement therapy one hour at a time

Giving hormone doses in pulses, rather than as a steady exposure, may maximize the benefits and limit the side effects now associated with hormone therapies. This is one implication of the findings scientists at Rockefeller University report in the August 17 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More »

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Researchers close in on scientific definition of arousal

For scientists in the field of neurobiology, defining the factors that influence the arousal of brain and behavior is a “Holy Grail.” Research published by Rockefeller University scientists in the Aug. 11 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition is the first to give a rigorous definition of what is meant by arousal, considered to be at the base of all emotionally laden behaviors. In particular, the researchers, led by Donald W. Pfaff, Ph.D., provide an operational definition of arousal that scientists can pursue and measure quantitatively in laboratory animals, as well as in human beings. More »

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“Smartness’ about social life is different from smartness about SAT scores”

What do the brain, ovaries and nose have in common? According to new research from The Rockefeller University, these three organs help orchestrate the complex behavior called social recognition in female mice through the interaction of four genes. More »

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Understanding Drive: Rockefeller researchers uncover the molecular mechanisms of sexual motivation

For most people, sex is a complicated topic. A new book by RU Professor Donald Pfaff, however, is based on the idea that the primitive, biological side of sex is explainable–at least from a scientific point of view. Pfaff’s lab researches the neurobiological and molecular aspects of sexual motivation. In Drive (MIT Press), he shows that the biological basis for sex drive–one of the most primitive human instincts–is largely explained by mechanisms uncovered in animal brains that have not changed in millions of years of evolution. More »

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