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Of Neural Sound Waves And Raging Hormones

— Every day, millions of people undergo medical procedures requiring anesthesia. Yet the mechanism that produces this somnolent state is unknown. Physicists Thomas Heimburg and Andrew Jackson at the University of Copenhagen have presented evidence for a radical explanation: sound waves. Their research, if correct, challenges the conventional wisdom that nerves are switched on or off by electrical currents. "The information that is encoded in the nerve pulse comes from electrical energy, but the way it is carried, we believe, is by pressure waves such as sound," says Jackson.

— Here's another neural enigma: the cause of violent mood swings among teenagers. Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center propose in Nature Neuroscience that a hormone called THP, which normally has a tranquilizing effect, reverses its role in adolescence and triggers anxiety. The hormone interacts with a brain receptor called GABA-A, which is associated with relaxed states and is the target of many sedative drugs.