Author Archives: Editor

Your Brain On Improv


What happens in the brain during musical improv? Researcher Charles Limb scanned the brains of jazz musicians to find out.

About Charles Limb

Dr. Charles Limb is an Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, as well as faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He combines his two passions to study the way the brain creates and perceives music. He’s a hearing specialist and surgeon at Johns Hopkins who performs cochlear implantations. In his free time, he plays sax, piano and bass.

In search of a better understanding of how the mind processes complex auditory stimuli such as music, Dr. Limb has been working with Dr. Allen Braun to look at the brains of improvising musicians and study what parts of the brain are involved when a musician is really in the groove.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

Earlier research showed that progranulin levels were elevated near plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but it was unknown whether this effect counteracted or exacerbated neurodegeneration. This image is for illustrative purposes only. Credit NIH.

Earlier research showed that progranulin levels were elevated near plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but it was unknown whether this effect counteracted or exacerbated neurodegeneration. This image is for illustrative purposes only. Credit NIH.

Low levels of the naturally occurring protein progranulin exacerbate cellular and cognitive dysfunction, while raising levels can prevent abnormalities in an Alzheimer model.

Teenagers who said they had a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime, especially girls, also reported significantly higher rates of harmful behavior, according to new research.

A new University of Iowa study further supports an inescapable message: caregivers have a profound influence – good or bad – on the emotional state of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Patients may not remember a recent visit by a loved one or having been neglected by staff at a nursing home, but those actions can have a lasting impact on how they feel. The findings of this study are published in the September 2014 issue of the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.

A new study reveals individual neurons in the human brain are triggered by the subject’s conscious perception, rather than by the visual stimulus.

A chemical in the brain plays a vital role in controlling the involuntary movements and vocal tics associated with Tourette Syndrome (TS), a new study has shown.

Researchers discover how the brain works during meditation.

Finally, this week, teenagers who regularly do not get enough sleep are more likely to struggle academically, the results of a new study show. Swedish researchers looked at over 20,000 teenagers aged between 12 and 19 and found that those who regularly slept for less than seven hours per night were more likely to fail in school. Details of these findings are published in the journal, Sleep Medicine.

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New genes identified with key role in the development of severe childhood epilepsies.

Originally posted on Healthinnovations:

In the largest collaborative study so far, an international team of researchers from the European EuroEPINOMICS consortium, including scientists from VIB and Antwerp University identified novel causes for severe childhood epilepsies. The researchers analyzed the genetic information of 356 patients and their parents. In their analysis, the research teams looked for genes that had acquired new mutations in the children with severe epilepsies when compared to the DNA of the parents.  The results of the opensource study were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

In total, they identified 429 new mutations and in 12% of children, these mutations were considered unequivocally causative for the patient’s epilepsy. In addition to several known genes for childhood epilepsies, the research team found strong evidence for additional novel genes, many of which are involved in the function of the synapse, the main structure in the nervous system that allows for communication…

View original 369 more words


Bodily Map Of Emotions

Yellow shows regions of increased sensation while blue areas represent decreased feeling in these composite images. Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

Yellow shows regions of increased sensation while blue areas represent decreased feeling in these composite images. Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

More than 700 participants in Finland, Sweden and Taiwan participated in experiments aimed at mapping their bodily sensations in connection with specific emotions. Participants viewed emotion-laden words, videos, facial expressions and stories. They then self-reported areas of their bodies that felt different than before they’d viewed the material. By coloring in two computer-generated silhouettes — one to note areas of increased bodily sensation and the second to mark areas of decreased sensation — participants were able to provide researchers with a broad base of data showing both positive and negative bodily responses to different emotions.

Researchers found statistically discrete areas for each emotion tested, such as happiness, contempt and love, that were consistent regardless of respondents’ nationality. Afterward, researchers applied controls to reduce the risk that participants may have been biased by sensation-specific phrases common to many languages (such as the English “cold feet” as a metaphor for fear, reluctance or hesitation). The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Mixed Feelings: Paul Bach-y-Rita and Neuroplasticity

A short 10 minute story by Wired Science called ‘Mixed Feelings’ showcasing the work of the late Paul Bach-y-Rita, an American neuroscientist whose most notable work was in the field of neuroplasticity.   Bach-y-Rita’s revolutionary work sought to rewire the brain so that one sense could potentially compensate for another that was damaged or absent; working to help the blind to acquire a certain form of ‘sight’ using the sense of touch, and also helping ‘wobblers’, people with damaged vestibular function, so their brains might create a new mode for having balance.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

The study by Kep Kee Loh and Dr Ryota Kanai found that grey-matter density in the highlighted region of the brain (anterior cingulate cortex) was negatively associated with the amount of media multitasking activity. Credit Kep Kee Loh & Ryota Kanai.

The study by Kep Kee Loh and Dr Ryota Kanai found that grey-matter density in the highlighted region of the brain (anterior cingulate cortex) was negatively associated with the amount of media multitasking activity. Credit Kep Kee Loh & Ryota Kanai.

Simultaneously using mobile phones, laptops and other media devices could be changing the structure of our brains, according to new University of Sussex research.

Breathing meditation is a powerful ally for military veterans recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to research recently published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Areas of the brain that respond to reward and pleasure are linked to the ability of a drug known as butorphanol to relieve itch, according to new research.

An international research team has identified gene mutations causing severe, difficult-to-treat forms of childhood epilepsy.

A chemical in the brain plays a vital role in controlling the involuntary movements and vocal tics associated with Tourette Syndrome (TS), a new study has shown.

Finally this week, the traditional understanding in neuroscience is that tactile sensations from the skin are only assembled to form a complete experience in the cerebral cortex, the most advanced part of the brain. However, this is challenged by new research findings from Lund University in Sweden that suggest both that other levels in the brain play a greater role than previously thought, and that a larger proportion of the brain’s different structures are involved in the perception of touch.

 

 


Saving Brains, A Grand Challenge

Food for thought about investing in the future of our children, in this video by Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

The study revealed that EGFR signaling is suppressed in a subset of glioblastomas. This image is for illustrative purposes only and shows an MRI brain scan of a person with glioblastoma brain cancer. Credit The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

The study revealed that EGFR signaling is suppressed in a subset of glioblastomas. This image is for illustrative purposes only and shows an MRI brain scan of a person with glioblastoma brain cancer. Credit The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Researchers have found one of the keys to why certain glioblastomas – the primary form of a deadly brain cancer – are resistant to drug therapy. The answer lies not in the DNA sequence of the tumor, but in its epigenetic signature. These findings have been published online as a priority report in the journal Oncotarget.

It has been proposed that green tea extract may have a beneficial impact on cognitive functioning, suggesting promising clinical implications. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this putative cognitive enhancing effect of green tea extract still remain unknown.

According to researchers at the University of Montreal, the regions of the brain below the cortex play an important role as we train our bodies’ movements and, critically, they interact more effectively after a night of sleep.

Researchers find that the risk of future stroke is 39% higher among patients with cognitive impairment than those with normal cognitive function, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

A study is shining new light on a sleep disorder called “sleep drunkenness.” The disorder may be as prevalent as affecting one in every seven people. The research is published in Neurology.

A mindfulness-based therapy for depression has the added benefit of reducing health-care visits among patients who often see their family doctors, according to a new study.

In what may be the largest study of sleep problems among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers at UC Davis have found that widely undiagnosed sleep disorders may be at the root of the most common and disabling symptom of the disease: fatigue.

Scientists have provided the first evidence that the lack of a naturally occurring protein is linked to early signs of dementia.


Digital Literacy May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Originally posted on HealthCetera - CHMP's Blog:

Can digital literacy delay cognitive decline?

Researchers think it might. In a recently published study in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences they found that digital literacy — the ability to engage, plan, and execute digital actions such as web browsing and exchanging e-mails — is an independent protective factor against cognitive decline.

Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, they followed 6,442 participants in the UK between the ages of 50 and 89 for eight years. The data measured delayed recall from a 10-word-list learning task across five separate measurement points. Socioeconomic status, including wealth and education, comorbidities, and baseline cognitive function were included in the models.

senior-computerHigher wealth, education and digital literacy improved delayed recall, while people with functional impairment, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depressive symptoms or no digital literacy showed decline.

Those who reported being nonusers of Internet/E-mail and intermittent…

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Inside The Virtual Brain


Find out how scientists at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute are collaborating with 10 sites across the globe to develop the world’s first integrated computer model of a fully functioning human brain


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