Weekly Neuroscience Update

Advertisers and public health officials may be able to access hidden wisdom in the brain to more effectively sell their products and promote health and safety, UCLA neuroscientists report in the first study to use brain data to predict how large populations will respond to advertisements.

A team led by psychology professor Ian Spence at the University of Toronto reveals that playing an action videogame, even for a relatively short time, causes differences in brain activity and improvements in visual attention.

A miniature atom-based magnetic sensor developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has passed an important research milestone by successfully measuring human brain activity. Experiments reported this week inBiomedical Optics Express verify the sensor’s potential for biomedical applications such as studying mental processes and advancing the understanding of neurological diseases.

A key protein, which may be activated to protect nerve cells from damage during heart failure or epileptic seizure, has been found to regulate the transfer of information between nerve cells in the brain. The discovery, made by neuroscientists at the University of Bristol and published in Nature Neuroscience and PNAS, could lead to novel new therapies for stroke and epilepsy.

Practices like physical exercise, certain forms of psychological counseling and meditation can all change brains for the better, and these changes can be measured with the tools of modern neuroscience, according to a review article now online at Nature Neuroscience.

A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as one-on-one counselling, New Zealand doctors reported on Thursday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).