Press

Reading the mind of a worm

LA JOLLA—It sounds like a party trick: scientists can now look at the brain activity of a tiny worm and tell you which chemical the animal smelled a few seconds before. But the findings of a new study, led by Salk Associate Professor Sreekanth Chalasani, are more than just a novelty; they help the scientists better understand how the brain functions and integrates information.

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Salk’s Sreekanth Chalasani wins 2021 NPA Gallagher Mentor Award

LA JOLLA—Salk Associate Professor Sreekanth Chalasani has won the 2021 National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Gallagher Mentor Award. The announcement was made at the 2021 NPA Annual Conference, which took place April 15 and 16. Chalasani was one of eight finalists for the prestigious award.

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Salk neuroscientists receive $4.4 million from NIH BRAIN Initiative

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute neuroscientists Edward Callaway, Sreekanth Chalasani, and Nancy Padilla Coreano have been named recipients in the 2020 round of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to gain new insights into brain function.

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Salk scientists advance ultrasound technology for neurological therapy

LA JOLLA—The emerging technology of sonogenetics—a technique where cells are controlled by sound—offers the potential to one day replace pharmaceutical drugs or invasive surgical treatments for neurological conditions like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease or posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Decoding the chemistry of fear

LA JOLLA—Ask a dozen people about their greatest fears, and you’ll likely get a dozen different responses. That, along with the complexity of the human brain, makes fear—and its close cousin, anxiety—difficult to study. For this reason, clinical anti-anxiety medicines have mixed results, even though they are broadly prescribed. In fact, one in six Americans takes a psychiatric drug.

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Worms have teenage ambivalence, too

LA JOLLA—Anyone who has allowed a child to “help” with a project quickly learns that kids, no matter how intelligent or eager, are less competent than adults. Teenagers are more capable—but, as every parent knows, teens can be erratic and unreliable. And it’s not just in humans; obvious differences in behavior and ability between juveniles and adults are seen across the animal kingdom.

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Salk neuroscientist granted $1 million to harness sound to control brain cells

LA JOLLA—Salk Associate Professor Sreekanth Chalasani has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative for developing a way to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic waves, which could be a boon to neuroscience research as well as medicine.

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Salk promotes four leading scientists in the fields of neuroscience, circadian rhythms and immunology

LA JOLLA–Four Salk Institute faculty members have been promoted after the latest round of faculty reviews determined they are scientific leaders who have made original, innovative and notable contributions to biological research.

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Can your sense of smell predict when you’ll die?

LA JOLLA–By measuring how worms move toward an appealing, food-like scent, researchers at the Salk Institute were able to predict whether the worms would be long-lived. The finding, published September 22, 2015 in the journal eLife, shows how nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans) process information about the environment and how circuits in the brain change as an animal ages.

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In first, Salk scientists use sound waves to control brain cells

LA JOLLA–Salk scientists have developed a new way to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic waves. The new technique, dubbed sonogenetics, has some similarities to the burgeoning use of light to activate cells in order to better understand the brain.

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How the brain balances risk-taking and learning

LA JOLLA–If you had 10 chances to roll a die, would you rather be guaranteed to receive $5 for every roll ($50 total) or take the risk of winning $100 if you only roll a six?

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Worms’ mental GPS helps them find food

LA JOLLA–You’ve misplaced your cell phone. You start by scanning where you remember leaving it: on your bureau. You check and double-check the bureau before expanding your search around and below the bureau. Eventually, you switch from this local area to a more global one, widening your search to the rest of your room and beyond.

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Insulin plays a role in mediating worms’ perceptions and behaviors

LA JOLLA,CA—In the past few years, as imaging tools and techniques have improved, scientists have been working tirelessly to build a detailed map of neural connections in the human brain—with the ultimate hope of understanding how the mind works.

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