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A hunger for social contact

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring, many people have only seen their close friends and loved ones during video calls, if at all. A new study from MIT finds that the longings we feel during this kind of social isolation share a neural basis with the food cravings we feel when hungry. The […]


Imaging method reveals a “symphony of cellular activities”

Within a single cell, thousands of molecules, such as proteins, ions, and other signaling molecules, work together to perform all kinds of functions — absorbing nutrients, storing memories, and differentiating into specific tissues, among many others. Deciphering these molecules, and all of their interactions, is a monumental task. Over the past 20 years, scientists have […]


Controlling drug activity with light

Hormones and nutrients bind to receptors on cell surfaces by a lock-and-key mechanism that triggers intracellular events linked to that specific receptor. Drugs that mimic natural molecules are widely used to control these intracellular signaling mechanisms for therapy and in research. In a new publication, a team led by McGovern Institute Associate Investigator Polina Anikeeva […]


Using machine learning to track the pandemic’s impact on mental health

Dealing with a global pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people. A team of MIT and Harvard University researchers has shown that they can measure those effects by analyzing the language that people use to express their anxiety online. Using machine learning to analyze the text of more than […]


Identifying the structure and function of a brain hub

Our ability to pay attention, plan, and trouble-shoot involve cognitive processing by the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The balance of activity among excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the cortex, based on local neural circuits and distant inputs, is key to these cognitive functions. A recent study from the McGovern Institute shows that excitatory inputs from the […]


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