Short Science, April 19, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 April, 2015, 7:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 April, 2015, 7:14am

Motherhood finds itschemistry in oxytocin

Where motherhood thrives, there too shall ye find the hormone oxytocin.A new study in mice sheds light on how oxytocin - dubbed the "love hormone" - works in the mammalian brain when maternal behaviour first emerges. Researchers have shown that it binds to neurons in the left side of a female's auditory cortex - the grey matter where sound is processed. There, it suppresses the neural "noise" that might ordinarily obscure a baby's cry. The study is published in the journal Nature. Under the influence of oxytocin, the brains of postpartum female mice processed the peeps issued by a newborn as if they were a clarion call, seeking the baby out. In humans, oxytocin spikes when a mother gazes at her infant. TNS


9.5-year trip to Pluto has three months to go

After a journey of 9.5 years across 4.8 billion kilometres across space, Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft is about three months away from its closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto and its five known moons. The mission has gone according to plan so far, but officials at Nasa said hazards could emerge as the spacecraft plunges deeper into the Pluto system. "This is no simple fly-by," Jim Green, director of planetary science at Nasa said. "We are flying into the unknown." TNS


Robot chef serves up future of home cooking

A robotic chef that can whip up professional quality meals in a matter of minutes has been developed by engineers in the UK, who call it the world's first automated kitchen. The system was created by UK-based Moley Robotics, which aims to develop a consumer version with an affordable price tag within two years.supported by an iTunes-style library of recipes that can downloaded for the robo-chef to cook in the home. If the robot's hands can be taught to cook, according to the designers, there's no reason they couldn't play the piano, learn carpentry and more. Reuters


Cancer tests raise sequencing questions

New cancer tests that sequence only a patient's tumour and not normal tissue could result in a significant number of false positive results, potentially leading doctors to prescribe treatments that might not work, US researchers say. The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, call into question the accuracy of increasingly popular tests that look for mutations. Reuters