Weekly Neuroscience Update

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other brain imaging technologies allow for the study of differences in brain activity in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The image shows two levels of the brain, with areas that were more active in healthy controls than in schizophrenia patients shown in orange, during an fMRI study of working memory. Credit: Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S./PLoS One.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other brain imaging technologies allow for the study of differences in brain activity in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The image shows two levels of the brain, with areas that were more active in healthy controls than in schizophrenia patients shown in orange, during an fMRI study of working memory. Credit: Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S./PLoS One.

Researchers from the Broad Institute and several partnering institutions have taken a closer look at the human genome to learn more about the genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia. In two studies published in Nature, scientists analyzed the exomes, or protein-coding regions, of people with schizophrenia and their healthy counterparts, pinpointing the sites of mutations and identifying patterns that reveal clues about the biology underlying the disorder.

A new brain region that appears to help humans identify whether they have made bad decisions has been discovered by researchers.

New research finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest – a 42% increase on average. The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism – withdrawal into one’s own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child’s detachment from their environment.

The brain appears to synchronize the activity of different brain regions to make it possible for a person to pay attention or concentrate on a task, scientists have learned.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine are investigating the effects of repeated combat-related blast exposures on the brains of veterans. Mild traumatic brain injuries can cause problems with cognition, concentration, memory and emotional control. Scientists are using advanced MRI technology and psychological tests to investigate the structural and biological impact of repeated head injury and to assess how these injuries affect cognitive functions. Final results of the study have not yet been published, but researchers hope it will lead to more scientifically valid diagnostic techniques that could potentially allow for detection of both the underlying brain injury and its severity.

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