Chemistry

How Much ‘Junk’ Is In Our DNA?

Only a small fraction of our DNA contains genes that encode the proteins that go on to build who we are. So why do we have the rest of our genome?

Over many decades, the moniker “junk” has been broadly used to refer to non-coding sequences in our DNA that appear to lack any function. It was first used in the 1960s to suggest that the majority of our DNA may be expendable. The term “junk DNA” has become very popular, although it has deterred some from studying it.

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The Brain

Why Can’t Some People Feel Pleasure?

The inability to find pleasure in activities that would normally be enjoyable (such as listening to music, social interaction, or even sex) is often a symptom of disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. Known as anhedonia – literally translated as “without pleasure” – the neurological condition is closely related to feelings of hopelessness and isolation.

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The Brain

What happens to an Alcoholics Brain When They Quit Drinking?

Scientists investigating the role of dopamine in alcoholism have come up with some surprising evidence that may help to explain why addicts find it so difficult to stay away from booze. Publishing their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers suggest that when an alcoholic stops drinking, the brain’s ability to use dopamine changes, altering the way that the reward system is wired.

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