Long ago the god Loki, in the form of a white mare and impregnated by the horse Svadilfari, gave birth to Sleipnir the eight-legged. When Loki reverted to his natural form he gave Sleipnir to the god Odin, announcing that the steed could carry his rider swifter than any horse, by land, sea or air and had the power to enter the land of the dead and return.
Game of Thrones (Spoilery)
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(Photo: Aldo Solimano / AFP - Getty Images)
Strict building regulations enforced due to Chile’s history of violent seismology have been credited with minimizing the death toll in the wake of Tuesday’s magnitude-8.2 earthquake.
Brain Changes in Autism Likely Start Before Birth
A discovery of distinct patches of altered brain cells in children with autism suggests the condition starts before birth, during the brain development stages in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
In a study of postmortem brain tissue, researchers examined donated samples from 11 children with autism and 11 children without the condition ages 2 to16, and used special techniques to detect and visualize specific types of neurons in the brain’s outer layer, the cortex.
They found dense patches in the cortex containing irregular shaped neurons residing in the wrong cortical layers. These patches were 5 to 7 millimeters (about 0.2 inches) long, and were found in the frontal and temporal cortexes of 10 of the 11 children with autism, but only one of the 11 unaffected children, according to the study published today (March 26) in the New England Journal of medicine.
"These patches are not like a lesion, or loss of cells. The cells are there, but they haven’t become what they were supposed to, in the layer they were supposed to be in," said study researcher Eric Courchesne, a professor of neuroscience in University of California, San Diego and director of the UCSD Autism Center.
"The patches were found in frontal and temporal cortexes, areas that are important for social interaction and language, but not in the occipital cortex that is an area handling visual processing, which is pretty good in autism," Courchesne said.
The findings point to a disruption in the development of cortical layers, which happens during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
The human cortex has six layers and in each layer there are specific type of cells that reside in their designated layers.
These cells have specific genetic names, or signatures. “In a normal brain, a particular gene marker should be expressed that is held out like a sign by a certain type of cell, like pyramidal cells, in a certain layer, like layer 5,” Courchesne said.
Using cell’s specific genetic markers, researchers can color-code them. The result is a colorful image of a slice of the cortex that resembles a folding rainbow.
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