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MU Research of Zebrafish Neurons May Lead to Better Understanding of Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

The zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish similar to a minnow and native to the southeastern Himalayan region, is well established as a key tool for researchers studying human diseases, including brain disorders. Using zebrafish, scientists can determine how individual neurons develop, mature and support basic functions like breathing, swallowing and jaw movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that learning about neuronal development and maturation in zebrafish could lead to a better understanding of birth defects such as spina bifida in humans.

MU Researcher Develops and Proves Effectiveness of New Drug for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

cording to recent studies, approximately one out of every 40 individuals in the United States is a carrier of the gene responsible for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a neurodegenerative disease that causes muscles to weaken over time. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have made a recent breakthrough with the development of a new compound found to be highly effective in animal models of the disease. In April, a patent was filed for the compound for use in SMA.

Fear of Losing Money, Not Spending Habits, Affects Investor Risk Tolerance, MU Study Finds

the U.S. economy slowly recovers, many investors remain wary about investing in the stock market. Investors’ “risk tolerance,” or their willingness to take risks, is an important factor for investors deciding whether, and how much, to invest in the stock market. Now, Michael Guillemette, an assistant professor of personal financial planning in the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences, along with David Nanigian, an associate professor at the American College, analyzed the causes of risk tolerance and found that loss aversion, or the fear of losing money, is the primary factor that explains investors’ risk tolerance.

Informal Child Care Significantly Impacts Rural Economies, MU Study Finds

e child care industry has grown significantly in recent years, contributing considerably to the national economy through job creation and increased opportunities for parents to work. However, little knowledge exists of the size and economic impact of child care, especially informal child care, on rural economies. Now, University of Missouri researchers have studied the child care sector in Kansas, particularly in rural areas, and have found that informal child care services create a large economic impact in the state.

Duck Migration Study Reveals Importance of Conserving Wetlands, MU Researchers Find

To download broadcast quality b-roll and soundbites, visit: http://bit.ly/CAFNRducks. Video Credit: Kyle Spradley.

Plants Respond to Leaf Vibrations Caused by Insects’ Chewing, MU Study Finds

evious studies have suggested that plant growth can be influenced by sound and that plants respond to wind and touch. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, in a collaboration that brings together audio and chemical analysis, have determined that plants respond to the sounds that caterpillars make when eating plants and that the plants respond with more defenses.

Fruit Flies Help Scientists Uncover Genes Responsible for Human Communication, MU Researcher Finds

e evolution of language in humans continues to perplex scientists and linguists who study how humans learn to communicate. Considered by some as “operant learning,” this multi-tiered trait involves many genes and modification of an individual’s behavior by trial and error. Toddlers acquire communication skills by babbling until what they utter is rewarded; however, the genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood. Now, using a gene identified in fruit flies by a University of Missouri researcher, scientists involved in a global consortium have discovered a crucial component of the origin of language in humans.

Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder Need Better Health Care Transition Services

of 2014, approximately one out of every 68 children born has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Historically, less than one in four youth with ASD successfully transitions into a fully independent adult. Now, MU researcher Nancy Cheak-Zamora has received a $500,000 Autism Research Program Idea Development Award to continue her research on ways in which health care programs can help youth with ASD become independent adults.

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