Weekly Neuroscience Update

Research from the University of Southampton, which examines how dolphins might process their sonar signals, could provide a new system for man-made sonar to detect targets, such as sea mines, in bubbly water.

Evidence is mounting that exercise provides some protection from memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, with three new studies showing that a variety of physical activities are associated with healthier brains in older adults.

Researchers  have discovered an important clue to how the human brain —important clue to how the human brain — which is constantly bombarded with millions of pieces of visual information, can filter out what’s unimportant and focus on what’s most useful.

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) pioneered the study of the link between irregularities in the immune system and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism a decade ago. Since then, studies of postmortem brains and of individuals with autism, as well as epidemiological studies, have supported the correlation between alterations in the immune system and autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have developed the world’s first device designed for mapping the human brain that combines whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. MEG measures the electrical function and MRI visualizes the structure of the brain. The merging of these two technologies will produce unprecedented accuracy in locating brain electrical activity non-invasively. 

Cognition psychologists have discovered why stressed persons are more likely to lapse back into habits than to behave goal-directed. The researchers have now reported in the Journal of Neuroscience that the interaction of the stress hormones hydrocortisone and noradrenaline shut down the activity of brain regions for goal-directed behaviour. The brain regions responsible for habitual behaviour remained unaffected.

Raising levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the frontal cortex of the brain significantly decreased impulsivity in healthy adults, in a study conducted by researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco

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