Weekly Neuroscience Update

Maps of the brain based on genetic correlation clusters, when only two clusters are specified. This approach solution identified a dorsal-ventral (D-V, i.e., top to bottom) division as the most distinct partition in the genetic patterning of cortical thickness. By contrast, for surface area the two genetic clusters form an anterior-posterior (A-P, i.e., front to back) division. Abbreviations: D, dorsal; V, ventral; A, anterior; P, posterior. Credit: Chi-Hua Chen, Ph.D., UCSD

Maps of the brain based on genetic correlation clusters, when only two clusters are specified. This approach solution identified a dorsal-ventral (D-V, i.e., top to bottom) division as the most distinct partition in the genetic patterning of cortical thickness. By contrast, for surface area the two genetic clusters form an anterior-posterior (A-P, i.e., front to back) division. Abbreviations: D, dorsal; V, ventral; A, anterior; P, posterior. Credit: Chi-Hua Chen, Ph.D., UCSD

An international research team studying the structure and organization of the brain has found that different genetic factors may affect the thickness of different parts of the cortex of the brain.

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have pinpointed a site in a highly developed area of the human brain that plays an important role in the subconscious recognition of which way is straight up and which way is down. The finding, described online in the journal Cerebral Cortex, may help account for some causes of spatial disorientation and dizziness, and offer targets for treating the feelings of unsteadiness and “floating” people experience when the brain fails to properly integrate input from the body’s senses.

The discovery of the first chemical to prevent the death of brain tissue in a neurodegenerative disease has been hailed as the “turning point” in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

A bedside scan could reveal an active mind hidden inside an unresponsive body. The method provides another tool for recognising consciousness in people who have been wrongly diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. Tests are also under way to use it to monitor people under general anaesthetic, to make sure they do not regain consciousness during an operation.

The more you want to use your brain – and the more you enjoy doing it – the more likely you are to stay sharp as you age. This is according to findings recently published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

A team of scientists have identified neural circuits that modulate REM sleep. 

People who are depressed may have triple the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the October 2, 2013, online issue of Neurology

Scientists have discovered a process by which the “power plants” of the brain – tiny mitochondria found inside cells – signal that they are damaged and need to be eliminated. This is according to a study published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

The hormone vasopressin may play a key role in jet lag, new research suggests.

Researchers have gained new insight into how localized hearing works in the brain. Their research is published in the Oct. 2, 2013 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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