Weekly News Bites: Pervasive pollution, an ancient filter feeder, and how our brains interpret rewards

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are particle pollution linked to antibiotic resistance and microplastics being found in the body, fossils that show a marine reptile that used filter feeding, and how a connection in our brains compares our rewards to ones that others received.

Increasing antibiotic resistance may be linked to particle pollution says a new study by Zhejiang University. These particles can carry “antibiotic-resistance elements” that are inhaled by humans through breathing in pollution caused by smoke and burning fossil fuels.

Stimulating the brain using electrodes can help sufferers of Parkinsons disease improve how they walk (their gait) according to research by Shinshu University and Nagoya City University. Parkinson’s disease affects motor functions, such as walking, picking things up, etc. which can make daily life difficult. The researchers targeted specific areas of the brain to stimulate with electricity and saw improvements in the participants.

Microplastics have been found in heart tissue says a report by Capital Medical University in Beijing. These pieces were found in the tissue and also in blood samples before and after heart surgery showing that they can accumulate in the body. They may also, possibly, be unknowingly introduced during surgical procedures.

Researchers from China University of Geosciences and the Wuhan Center of China Geological Survey studied fossils from an ancient marine reptile that may have used filter feeding like modern-day whales. The fossils included a nearly complete skeleton and head of the Hupehsuchus nanchangensis and saw that it had no teeth and a jaw that could expand widely.

By blocking some of the connections in monkey’s brains, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS) scientists identified a circuit that plays an important part in social reward valuation. This circuit influences how we perceive or rate a reward based on what others received. We compare the added value for us relative to the value other people (or in this case, monkeys) previously got.