Weekly Neuroscience Update

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The brain’s immune cells are hyperactive in people who are at risk of developing schizophrenia, as well as during the earliest stages of the disease, according to a new study. The findings suggest that inflammatory processes play an important role in the development of the disease, and raise the possibility that it could be treated with drugs that block or reduce this cellular response.

A new study suggests that receiving rewards as you learn can help cement new facts and skills in your memory, particularly when combined with a daytime nap.

Protein deposits associated with dementia influence brain activity during sleep.

Hearing loss accelerates cognitive decline in elderly adults, but the use of hearing aids counters this acceleration. A new scientific longitudinal study shows that those who use hearing aids have about the same cognitive level as those with no hearing loss.

The brain cells of patients with bipolar disorder, characterized by severe swings between depression and elation, are more sensitive to stimuli than other people’s brain cells, researchers have discovered.

Neuroscientists have determined some of the specific characteristics of electrical stimuli that should be applied to the brain to produce different sensations in an artificial upper limb intended to restore natural motor control and sensation in amputees.

A research study has debunked the widely-held belief that the hippocampus, a crucial part of the brain that consolidates new memories and helps connect emotions to the senses, is larger in females than in males.

In order to retain a piece of information for a short time, working memory is required. The underlying processes are considerably more complex than hitherto assumed, as researchers report in the journal “Cell Reports”. Two brain states must alternate rhythmically in order for a piece of information to be successfully maintained.

A study led by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers suggests that awakening several times throughout the night is more detrimental to people’s positive moods than getting the same shortened amount of sleep without interruption.

Early life stress is a major risk factor for later episodes of depression. Scientific research into this link has revealed that the increased risk following such childhood adversity is associated with sensitization of the brain circuits involved with processing threat and driving the stress response. More recently, research has begun to demonstrate that in parallel to this stress sensitization, there may also be diminished processing of reward in the brain and associated reductions in a person’s ability to experience positive emotions.

 

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