BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d4868 (Published 03 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4868

The Society of Medical Writers has asked Minerva to remind readers about their biennial biography award. The closing date for the current competition is 1 December 2011, and entry forms and more information about competition criteria can be obtained by emailing Richard Cutler on Richard_cutler_novelist@yahoo.co.uk. There is a cash prise, and the winning entries will be published in the society’s journal, The Writer.

The mammalian brain has more neurons and synapses than it knows what to do with, and needs a good vacuum cleaner, according to Science (2011, doi:10.1126/science.1202529). Early development involves loss of neurons and synapse pruning, and now scientists have discovered which cells do the pruning. These heroes are microglia; being mobile and phagocytic, they are responsible for hoovering up the excess synaptic material. Mice with disabled microglia have too many synapses, show changes in synaptic plasticity, and have an altered susceptibility to seizures.

Men are more likely than women to die …

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