Today in Research: What Your Ear of Choice Says About Your Brain

Discovered: An off switch for pain, a finger-powered cell phone charger, what your ear of choice says about your brain, the clouds are coming for us, and buckyballs in space.

  • An off switch for pain? This sounds too good to be true, because it is. At least, real-life therapeutic applications are "a long way off," says researcher Timm Fehrentz. But science has a theory that could lead to a light-activated off-switch for pain receptors. Here's how it would work, in science speak: "The molecule is made up of two functional parts, each containing a quaternary ammonium, which are connected by a nitrogen double bond (N=N). This bridge forms the switch, as its conformation can be altered by light. Irradiation with light of a specific wavelength causes the molecule to flip from a bent to an extended form; exposure to light of a different color reverses the effect." [LMU]
  • What your ear of choice says about your brain. Quick, fun game before we start: Hold your cell phone up to your head. Which ear did you pick? Left brain thinkers choose the right ear, a new study finds. Fun, right? Also apparently practical: "By establishing a correlation between cerebral dominance and sidedness of cell phone use, it may be possible to develop a less-invasive, lower-cost option to establish the side of the brain where speech and language occurs," explained Dr. Michael Seidman. [Henry Ford Hospital]

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