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Winter blues and summer bummer link brains of rats and man

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Author: 
Geoffrey Mohan
Published Date: 
26 April 2013
Publication: 
Los Angeles Times
Original article: 

Nicholas Spitzer and Davide Dulcis felt for people in higher latitudes whose attitudes soured in the shorter daylight hours of winter.

The neuroscientists, who work in balmy San Diego, wondered whether summer was a bummer for rats. They’re nocturnal, after all.

That thought experiment has led the researchers to discover that an adult mammal’s brain can “rewire” itself in response to light by recruiting brain cells to change the signaling chemical they ordinarily produce.

Their research, published Thursday in the journal Science, offers hints toward new avenues of research into Parkinson's disease<, stroke, addiction and depression<.

Dulcis and Spitzer had already tinkered lower in the evolutionary ladder, showing that neurons in frogs switched transmitters - including one that determined pigment.

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