19th October, 2016 (CSAT)



A team of Canadian and American researchers has reached a step closer to developing effective treatments to prevent the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by identifying a gene that controls the normal and pathological aging of neurons in the central nervous system. The team has revealed that the BMI-1 gene, which is responsible for aging of neurons, has been identified in mice and in humans as well while they were carrying out experiments on mice. The researchers highlighted the fact that the primary risk factor for diseases like macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is aging of neurons.


1. An assumption taken by researchers is that

(a) no significant study focused on the basic molecular mechanisms that control neuronal aging, has been conducted to date.

(b) the BMI-1 gene behaves in a similar fashion in humans as in mice.

(c) manipulating the BMI-1 gene could result in curing people suffering from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

(d) Neurons in the brain age at a slower rate as compared to other cells in the human body.



Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece the Mona Lisa’s smile has repeatedly been a subject of many – greatly varying – interpretations. Some have described the smile as both innocent and inviting. Many researchers have tried to explain why the smile is seen so differently by people. Professor Margaret Livingstone of Harvard University has argued that the smile is mostly drawn in low spatial frequencies, and so can best be seen from a distance or with one’s peripheral vision. Thus, for example, the smile appears more striking when looking at the portrait’s eyes than when looking at the mouth itself.

2. Which of the following statements would strengthen Prof Margaret’s claim?

(a) Different people have different interpretations for the same portrait because of their different mental makeup.

(b) A smile may appear to be a neutral expression depending on your mood.

(c) Research has proved that different people focus on different areas while viewing a portrait.

(d) People try to see themselves in a portrait; what they interpret is dependent on their personal qualities.

Tomorrow: Next questions for practice

For previous questions refer yesterday’s post

Click on MAINS and PRELIMS pages also.