The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories are running on empty, double memory, and stellar collisions.

Article written by Rosie Pike.

Fast before you run fast

Everybody tends to hold a different idea when it comes to eating before a workout and several exercise myths exist, strictly nothing three hours before isn’t it? A new study comparing gene expression in adipose (fat) tissue from individuals who worked out following fasting or eating has been conducted and produced interesting results. Overweight males exercised for one hour on an empty stomach or two hours after a high carbohydrate meal and blood samples were taken at several time points, as well as adipose tissue samples. Two genes, PDK4 and HSL, both important for fuel metabolism and energy storage were increased when the men fasted before exercise and decreased in the men who ate. These results support the theory that if you eat before working out, adipose tissue is preoccupied producing a response to food, rather than producing potential beneficial changes caused by the exercise. So think twice before indulging in that pre-work out snack!

Memory multitasking

It has long been thought that short and long term memories are created separately. The brain initially forms short-term memories in the hippocampus and these are later ‘banked’ as long-term memories in the cortex. A recent study in mice contradicts this dogma and suggests that simultaneous creation of short and long-term memories occurs. The experiments involved observing specific memories form as a cluster of connected brain cells in reaction to a shock. By applying beams of light into the brain to regulate the activity of individual neurones, it is possible to switch memories on and off. It was found that memories were formed at the same time in the hippocampus and the cortex, but the mice did not use the cortex’s long-term storage of the memory in the first few days after it is created. This was demonstrated when the researchers switched off the short-term memory in the hippocampus and switched on the long-term memory in the cortex, the memory was definitely there already. It is thought that these findings in mice could be applied to humans as well and could improve understanding of memory loss.

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Galactic bust up

Evidence of a collision between 2 young stars 1500 light years away has been found by a group of researchers from Colorado. The interaction produced a ‘firecracker’ like display that was captured by an array of telescopes in Chile. This was caused by offshoots of gas, dust and other junior stars firing into space. It has been predicted this incident would have destroyed the stellar nursery in which the stars were created and produced as much energy as the sun produces over 10 million years. This catastrophic event has, however, provided some rather pretty pictures.

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Article written by Rosie Pike.