The Science Advisory Board reports on new study that investigates the brain's responses to lesions and injury
In a news article for The Science Advisory Board, Samantha Black reports on a study conducted by researchers from three Canadian universities looking at immune responses in the central nervous system (CNS) following brain lesions and injury.
The study looked at microglia cells and CNS-infiltrating macrophages, the two types of CNS immune cells. They genetically marked these cells to better investigate their relative contributions after an injury to the CNS. The original study concludes that microglia respond robustly after cerebral injury and limit the dispersion of CNS-infiltrating macrophages into the white matter of the brain once activated. They also conclude that microglia dominate the injured area in response to LPC-induced demyelination (intentional damage of the myelin sheath by injecting a proinflammatory chemical compound). The article states that these novel findings could even lead to the development of better treatments for brain injuries and some neurological disorders and diseases.
Overall, Black does a very good job of thoroughly discussing the study’s objective, methodology, and results. She does not over-exaggerate or under-simplify any of the findings from the original study and remains neutral in her reporting of the main conclusions. She clearly lays out the major findings of the study and the procedures the researchers underwent in order to obtain those results without giving preference to any of the findings.
Though she effectively summarizes and respects the scientific process, in doing so she uses a lot of complex scientific jargon, much of which remains undefined in the article. This is one major shortcoming of the article and makes the content of the article much less accessible for individuals who do not have a prominent background in neuroscience or scientific techniques. Additionally, Black does not incorporate any sources or commentary aside from one of the study’s authors in her article. The inclusion of outside experts and perspectives can add another level of professionalism and credibility that is lacking in this article.
The article as a whole is void of any major biases, and Black does not use language that is inflammatory, sensationalist or fear-inducing. The original study is clearly linked at the beginning of the article and is publicly available to view. Black’s biography, contact information, and other publications are not accessible.
Samantha Black from The Science Advisory Board on a Science Advances article “Brain’s immune system blocks blood immune cells from healing spinal injuries”. This study seeks to better understand the activity of immune cells in cerebral lesions and injuries. Researchers targeted the study of two forms of macrophages, Microglia and central nervous system (CNS)-infiltrating macrophages, using labels of Cre recombinase “under the CX3CR1 promoter crossed with the tdTom reporter line.” This allowed the team to detail the differences between these categories of cells in order to better classify their functions in CNS-related injuries. Black reports that with continued study, this research may lead to the development of new treatments for many neurological disorders.
A major fault in Black’s review is a repetitive use of a vocabulary that may be out of reach for a wide portion of the population. Within the article, there is an exceptional use of scientific jargon that, for the most part, remains unexplained. For example, Black details the various procedures used within the referenced research itself however, many readers may lack the knowledge of techniques such as the fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) or flow cytometry, and immunohistochemistry, analysis.
It is worthwhile to note that there is a fair bit of prompting, for a lack of a better term, for social media surrounding the review itself. Specifically, there is an immediate pop-up attempt advertising an opportunity to join a reader’s list for more articles posted by The Science Advisory Board. Additionally, along the side of the review exists several twitter links to other articles of the same variety.
Despite such issues, Black provides an admirable summary of the article’s findings while committing to a neutral and unbiased stance. That is, the author does well to avoid the inclusion of any conflicts of interest they may have and does not include any personal opinion(s) mentioned with incivility. This fares well for readers as it improves the credibility of the review itself and maintains the integrity of the referenced research itself.
With the intent of this review being to inform the reader of this recent scientific progress, Black certainly succeeds at doing so. Altogether, the author does a highly effective job in communicating the results of the referenced research however, further explanation of the vast scientific jargon that is used would reduce issues in clarity and accessibility for the reader.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.