Brain Breakthrough: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

A possible 'turning point' on schizophrenia
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2016 5:20 AM CST

A troubling revelation about colon cancer and a win for the ancient Babyonians make the list:

  • New Study Is 'Turning Point' on Schizophrenia: Scientists have made a finding being hailed as a "crucial turning point" in the fight against schizophrenia. The study connects schizophrenia to a natural process known as "synaptic pruning" that occurs during our formative years. People with an "overactive" variant of a particular gene during this pruning period are significantly more likely to develop the disease, a discovery that has researchers talking about cracking its "black box."
  • 'Astonishing' Clay Tablet May Rewrite Math History: A newly deciphered clay tablet shows that ancient Babylonians were using sophisticated geometric principles to track the path of Jupiter in the sky—at least 1,400 years earlier than the European mathematicians who currently get credit for inventing the technique. Modern calculus students will be able to relate.

  • More Young People Are Getting Colon Cancer: One in seven US colon cancer patients is younger than 50—odd stats for a disease often regarded as an older-person's affliction. Using government data on almost 260,000 colon-cancer patients from 1998 to 2011, a new study also finds that younger patients' age may work against them in one important way.
  • Linguists Find Surprising Trait in Disney Princesses: Linguists crunching data on a dozen animated Disney movies going back to the 1930s were surprised to discover one clear trend: Female characters speak less of the dialogue in today's films than they did in those made decades ago. There is one silver lining, however.
  • Researchers Grow Human Ear in Unusual Place: Researchers in Japan crammed stem cells into biological tubing in the shape of an ear and ended up creating a brand-new human ear ... on the back of a rat. The ear-shaped cartilage was implanted under the rat's skin, where it was allowed to grow for two months. As weird as the initial experiment sounds, scientists hope to tap into the technology someday for quite practical uses.
Click to read about more discoveries, including mammoth bones found in an unusual place. (More discoveries stories.)

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