Weekly Neuroscience Update

A growing body of evidence suggests that learning to play an instrument and continuing to practice and play it may offer mental benefits throughout life. Hearing has also been shown to be positively affected by making music. The latest study, published in the July issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that musical instrument training may reduce the effects of mental decline associated with aging. The research found that older adults who learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at least 10 years outperformed others in tests of memory and cognitive ability.

Neuroscientists are finding that, as we get older, our aging brains are proving surprisingly malleable, and in ways not previously anticipated. But there are limitations. There is growing evidence that, beyond what was previously believed, the adult human brain is remarkably malleable and capable of new feats — even in the last decades of life. And UCLA researchers found that older adults who regularly used a brain fitness program played on a computer demonstrated significantly improved memory and language skills.

From older to younger brains now…

Determining when a teenage brain becomes an adult brain is not an exact science but it’s getting closer, according to an expert in adolescent developmental psychology, speaking at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

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

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience a developmental delay in frontal regions of the brain.

The brain differences found in people with schizophrenia are mainly the result of the disease itself or its treatment, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors, according to a Dutch study

Bilingual children outperform children who speak only one language in problem-solving skills and creative thinking, according to research led at the University of Strathclyde.

When we focus intently on one task, we often fail to see other things in plain sight – a phenomenon known as ‘inattention blindness’. Scientists already know that performing a task involving high information load – a ‘high load’ task – reduces our visual cortex response to incoming stimuli. Now researchers from UCL have examined the brain mechanisms behind this, further explaining why our brain becomes ‘blind’ under high load.

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