Weekly Neuroscience Update

The patterns of brain activity recorded in this fMRI scanner revealed how mental rest and reflection on past learning activities can boost future learning. Credit Jeff Luci.

The patterns of brain activity recorded in this fMRI scanner revealed how mental rest and reflection on past learning activities can boost future learning. Credit Jeff Luci.

A new study, which may have implications for approaches to education, finds that brain mechanisms engaged when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they’ve learned before may boost later learning.

Sixty-nine scientists at Stanford University and other institutions issued a statement that the scientific track record does not support the claims that so-called “brain games” actually help older adults boost their mental powers.

A new study examines link between brain cortex and food buying habits.

New research shows for the first time that engaging brain areas linked to so-called “off-task” mental activities (such as mind-wandering and reminiscing) can actually boost performance on some challenging mental tasks. The results advance our understanding of how externally and internally focused neural networks interact to facilitate complex thought.

We are more likely to be receptive to good news than bad, and researchers have gone some way to explaining why we prefer to look on the bright side.

Researchers have found a definitive link between gait – the way someone walks – and early changes in cognitive function in people with Parkinson’s diseaseAnd the findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience could mean that gait may be used as an early warning sign to help predict the development of cognitive impairment and dementia in Parkinson’s.

Exercise is one of the best ways to protect against dementia in later life and the earlier you start, the greater the effect, research suggests.

Finally this week, a previously unknown mechanism through which the brain produces new nerve cells after a stroke has been discovered at Lund University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The findings have been published in the journal Science.

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