Weekly Neuroscience Update

A neural network is like a social network: The strongest bonds exist between like-minded partners.  Credit: Biozentrum, University of Basel

A neural network is like a social network: The strongest bonds exist between like-minded partners.
Credit: Biozentrum, University of Basel

Neurons in the brain are wired like a social network, report researchers from Biozentrum, University of Basel. Each nerve cell has links with many others, but the strongest bonds form between the few cells most similar to each other. The results are published in the journal Nature.

Stroke survivors can have “significant” improvement in arm movements after using the Nintendo Wii as physiotherapy according to researchers.

Grasping an object involves a complex network of brain functions. First, visual cues are processed in specialized areas of the brain. Then, other areas of the brain use these signals to control the hands to reach for and manipulate the desired object. New findings suggest that the cerebellum, a region of the brain that has changed very little over time, may play a critical role. Findings could lead to advancements in assistive technologies benefiting the disabled.

A process previously thought to be mere background noise in the brain has been found to shape the growth of neurons as the brain develops, according to research published in Cell Reports.

Applying lessons learned from autism to brain cancer, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered why elevated levels of the protein NHE9 add to the lethality of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. Their discovery suggests that drugs designed to target NHE9 could help to successfully fight the deadly disease.

Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel claim to have overturned standard thinking on how the brain is able to perform different tasks by studying brain activity in blind people.

Previously, it was thought ability to repair DNA was the same throughout the body, but new research overturns this idea and shows organs vary in the extent to which they carry out a type of DNA repair called nucleotide excision repair.

Finally this week, a major study by an international team shows new evidence that long-term smoking could cause thinning of the brain’s cortex. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain in which critical cognitive functions such as memory, language and perception take place. Interestingly, the findings also suggest that stopping smoking helps to restore at least part of the cortex’s thickness.

 

 

 

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