Listening to new music is rewarding for the brain, a study suggests. Using MRI scans, a Canadian team of scientists found that areas in the reward centre of the brain became active when people heard a song for the first time. The more the listener enjoyed what they were hearing, the stronger the connections were in the region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. The study is published in the journal Science.
Meanwhile, an imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists reveals that the brains of different people listening to the same piece of music actually respond in the same way – which may in part explain why music plays such a big role in our social existence.
Researchers have identified an important therapeutic target for alleviating the symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
In a study published in the online version of Neurobiology of Disease, the team both confirmed the importance of this new target as well as a series of compounds that can be used to attenuate the dysregulation of one of the important cellular processes that lead to neuronal dysfunction and ultimately to brain cell death.
Neuroscientists have developed a method of analyzing brain activity to detect autism in children. Their findings appear in the online journal PLOS ONE.
Slow oscillations in brain activity, which occur during so-called slow-wave sleep, are critical for retaining memories. Researchers reporting online in the Cell Press journal Neuron have found that playing sounds synchronized to the rhythm of the slow brain oscillations of people who are sleeping enhances these oscillations and boosts their memory. This demonstrates an easy and noninvasive way to influence human brain activity to improve sleep and enhance memory.