University of Rochester

Rochester Review
July–August 2010
Vol. 72, No. 6

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Multiple Brain Regions Are Wired for Language

There’s no single advanced area of the human brain that gives it language capabilities above and beyond those of other animal species. That’s according to a Rochester study of American Sign Language led by Elissa Newport, the George Eastman Professor and chair of brain and cognitive sciences; Ted Supalla, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, linguistics, and ASL; and Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and radiology. In a report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, the team found that humans rely on several regions of the brain in order to make sense of sentences, depending on the type of grammar used.

Popular Autism Diet Doesn’t Demonstrate Behavioral Improvement

A popular belief that specific dietary changes can improve the symptoms of children with autism wasn’t supported by a tightly controlled Rochester study, which found that eliminating gluten and casein from the diets of children with autism had no impact on behavior, sleep, or bowel patterns. The study—led by Susan Hyman, an associate professor of pediatrics, and presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in May—is the most controlled diet research in autism to date.

Rochester Team Advances Understanding of Deadly Malaria

Rochester scientists are making strides against cerebral malaria, a fatal form of the disease that can ravage children’s brains and is often difficult to treat. New research points to platelets as a source of inflammation, leading to obstruction of blood vessels and causing damage similar to a stroke. Led by Craig Morrell, an assistant professor in the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, and published in the online journal PLoS One, the research suggests an effective treatment for the disease may involve targeting platelets.