Weekly Neuroscience Update

An aspirin a day may slow brain decline in elderly women at high risk of cardiovascular disease, research finds.

The hippocampus represents an important brain structure for learning. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich discovered how it filters electrical neuronal signals through an input and output control, thus regulating learning and memory processes.

Scientists performing experimental brain surgery on a man aged 50 have stumbled across a mechanism that could unlock how memory works. The accidental breakthrough came during an experiment originally intended to suppress the obese man’s appetite, using the increasingly successful technique of deep-brain stimulation. Electrodes were pushed into the man’s brain and stimulated with an electric current. Instead of losing appetite, the patient instead had an intense experience of déjà vu. He recalled, in intricate detail, a scene from 30 years earlier. More tests showed his ability to learn was dramatically improved when the current was switched on and his brain stimulated.

Brain metastases are common secondary complications of other types of cancer, particularly lung, breast and skin cancer. The body’s own immune response in the brain is rendered powerless in the fight against these metastases by inflammatory reactions. Researchers in Vienna have now, for the first time, precisely characterised the brain’s immune response to infiltrating metastases. This could pave the way to the development of new, less aggressive treatment options.