Yearbook 2006

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Exocytosis uses a transport system that releases vesicles (exosomes) to the extracellular milieu. This transport system has just been found recently. Moreover, cell-to-cell communication, or lipid sorting, seems to depend on dynamic lipid rafts. These sophisticated mechanisms are crucial for the functioning of complex cells. However, exosomes are emerging as Trojan horse in pathogenesis; HIV uses the exosome pathway for its assembly and release; viruses in general seem to make use of lipid rafts to spread from cell to cell. more
Research of the Biomedical NMR unit focuses on the further development of magnetic resonance imaging and advanced applications in neurobiology. Pertinent approaches allow for unique insights into the structure, metabolism, and function of the intact living brain – from mouse to human. Specific projects range from novel image encoding and reconstruction techniques to animal models of neurodegenerative disease and functional assessments of neuroaxonal connectivity and cognitive information processing in humans. more
The release of signalling molecules from a variety of cell types proceeds along very similar lines. In nerve endings neurotransmitter is stored in membrane bound containers, so called vesicles. It is released on arrival of a nerve impulse by the process of exocytosis, i. e. fusion of the vesicle with the cellular membrane. Release of hormones from gland cells follows a similar pattern. The underlying cellular mechanisms utilize the same molecular building blocks in both systems. Nevertheless, the regulation of both processes turns out to be very different on close inspection. Most of these differences may reside in the fact, that at nerve endings the most important players – vesicles and calcium specific ion channels – are linked together in a highly-regulated and specific fashion. more
Aerosols are of central importance for atmospheric chemistry and physics, the biosphere, climate, and public health. The airborne particles influence the Earth’s energy balance, the cycling of water and trace gases, as well as the reproduction and diseases of biological organisms. Current investigations elucidate the relevant properties and mechanisms, especially for biogenic components. more
Among the most fascinating motor abilities of humans and animals is the capacity to use tools in order to achieve desired effects in the environment. A study of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences shows that humans have an abstract internal model of the tool-specific mapping between external effect and associated bodily movement which is accessed in the process of action planning. more
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods argue that, contrary to conventional wisdom, state guarantees do not necessarily induce higher risk-taking at the protected banks. Furthermore, they point towards a risk-increasing effect of guarantees at the protected banks’ competitors. Empirical evidence supports both predictions: Protected banks do not take higher risks in reaction to state guarantees. In contrast, the evidence confirms that competitor banks are driven towards higher risk-taking. more
Biological systems inspire the design of new engineering materials due to their light weight structures and high adaptivity. A fist fundamental step in this biomimetic process is to understand and to extract the underlying structure-function relationships. Trees are particularly well suited for such “bio-inspired” studies since they develop high quality structures which may last for thousands of years and growing to 100 m height. This article provides an insight into recent research activities on the mechanical design of wood cell walls and emphasises how effectively trees control mechanical properties by adjusting the structural organisation of the cell wall. more
Biology and chemical synthesis provide various semiflexible polymers, which have a high bending rigidity. Important examples are filaments, which form the cytoskeleton of cells. Semiflexible polymers have unique material properties, which are relevant for biological structures. Theoretical models are presented for single polymer under external forces, filament bundles, and "active'' filaments, which are driven by motor proteins. more
What effect do criminal sanctions and prison terms have on the development and self-perception of juvenile xenophobic criminal offenders? During the 1990s, a large scale flaring up of violent hate motivated crimes, carried out by young right-wing and xenophobic men, fell within the direct spotlight of research into violence and criminological policy. Hate crimes designate a set of criminal offences which are committed against those who, because of certain social characteristics such as religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation, are labelled as belonging to another social group. more
In the last two decades, the development of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) substantially contributed to the progress of human cognitive neuroscience. Because fMRI assesses neuronal activity indirectly, only limited causal statements about brain processes can be made. In the following, it is shown exemplarily by combining fMRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) how this limitation can be overcome. Thus, multimodal brain imaging methods offer new opportunities for the exploration of the human brain. more
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