Research News Spring 2014 Issue 31

Research News

Alan Jasanoff

Alan Jasanoff and colleagues described a new MRI-based method for imaging gene expression in the brains of living animals. The technique is expected to enable new ways to study brain plasticity and learning, and it may also have applications in many other areas of biology.

Feng Zhang is a coauthor with Phillip Sharp (who was founding director of the McGovern Institute from 2000-2004) on a study examining the molecular mechanism by which the genome-editing enzyme Cas9 finds its DNA targets.

Rebecca Saxe and colleagues identified patterns of brain activity associated with willingness of group members to harm individuals from a competing group. People in such situations show reduced activation of brain regions implicated in moral self-scrutiny. In this laboratory based study the “harm” consisted of posting unflattering photos, but the findings may also be applicable to realworld group conflicts.

Daniel Baldauf, a postdoc in Bob Desimone’s lab, identified a human brain circuit involved in focusing attention on faces and other objects. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), the researchers showed that a part of the prefrontal cortex known as the inferior frontal junction controls visual processing areas that are tuned to recognize specific categories of objects.

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