Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image Credit: Kolbjørn Skarpnes & Rita Elmkvist Nilsen / NTNU Communication Division & Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience

Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway in have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

A new study reports a strong hand grip is correlated with better visual memory and reaction times in people with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Dr Max Ortiz Catalan of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has developed a new theory for the origin of the mysterious condition, ‘phantom limb pain’. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, his hypothesis builds upon his previous work on a revolutionary treatment for the condition, that uses machine learning and augmented reality.

Researchers report ADHD and conduct disorder exhibit similar, overlapping changes in the brain.

A new study in SLEEP, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that delaying school start times results in students getting more sleep, and feeling better, even within societies where trading sleep for academic success is common.

Scientists have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

Researchers report the adverse cognitive effects associated with DBS in Pakinson’s patients are linked to a different neural pathway than the one responsible for the motor effects generated by the treatment.

According to a new study, people who have suffered a stroke are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Researchers have developed a new deep learning neural network that can identify speech patterns indicative of depression from audio data. The algorithm is 77% effective at detecting depression.

Finally this week, a new study reports genetic factors count for about 70% of stable academic achievement throughout schooling.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

child-85321_960_720.jpgSleep researchers report for the first time evidence that naps and overnight sleep may work together to benefit memory in early childhood.

A group of researchers has found that our learning capabilities are limited during slow wave sleep. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), they showed that while our brain is still able to perceive sounds during sleep, it is unable to group these sounds according to their organisation in a sequence.

Neuroscientists have debunked claims that getting better at a brain training game can translate to improved performance in other, untrained cognitive tasks.

Adults who hold back-and-forth conversations with young children rather than just talking to them may be helping to strengthen connections between the language regions of the children’s brains, new research shows.

Researchers say, to better understand working memory, it is important to resolve the debate over how we hold and judge multiple pieces of information in mind.

According to a new study dehydration can lead to more errors on task performance. Additionally, fMRI neuroimaging showed dehydration can alter brain structure temporarily.

It may be possible in the future to screen patients for Alzheimer’s disease using an eye exam.

Researchers used neuroimaging technology to identify brain differences between those who procrastinate and those who are doers. The study reveals people with poor action control have a larger amygdala, and the connection between the dorsal ACC and amygdala is less pronounced.

A new study reports lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking alcohol during early adulthood, can increase the risk of developing dementia or having a stroke later in life.

Scientists have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

In the first peer-reviewed published report of its kind, University of Toronto researchers have demonstrated that focused ultrasound can be used to safely open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, this week neuroscientists have discovered that ketamine works as an antidepressant at least in part by activating the brain’s opioid system.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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University of Chichester psychologists have studied prospective memory to accurately diagnose diseases of cognitive impairment. Image: University of Chichester.

Researchers say acting out scenarios may help to improve prospective memory. Poor prospective memory, researchers report, may be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study using machine learning has identified brain-based dimensions of mental health disorders, an advance towards much-needed biomarkers to more accurately diagnose and treat patients.

A new report examines the effect stress can have on our bodies and general health.

Structural differences in the cerebellum may be linked to some aspects of autism spectrum disorder, according to a neuroimaging study from Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC).

A new study reports your body fat could be a predictor of cognitive decline. 

Researchers report blind people need additional timing cues to accurately judge relative locations of sounds, but those without visual impairments who were blindfolded could judge the relative location of sounds independently from timing cues.

 Finally this week, researchers report transcranial alternating current stimulation applied during sleep can help accelerate learning, memory and skill acquisition.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reveals children who are habitually barefoot show significantly different motor skills between the ages of 6-10 than those who are habitually shod. Researchers report those who habitually barefoot have better balance and jumping skills.

New research has found the natural vibrations of cars make people sleepier, affecting concentration and alertness levels just 15 minutes after drivers get behind the wheel.

Scientists have discovered a “Big Bang” of Alzheimer’s disease – the precise point at which a healthy protein becomes toxic but has not yet formed deadly tangles in the brain.

A new study reports people living in areas with more sunlight have lower rates of OCD.

Neuroscientists at the University of California-Berkeley are developing a technique that could give us the ability to fool our brain into thinking that we’d experienced something that never happened by manipulating electrical activity in the brain.

Researchers report boys on the autism spectrum tend to have lower fractal dimension in the right side of the cerebellum than those without autism.

Distinct molecular mechanisms can generate the same features in different neurons, a team of scientists has discovered. Its findings, which appear in the journal Cell, enhance our understanding of brain cell development.

Finally this week, a new study reports a short burst of exercise can dramatically improve long-term retention of new motor skills.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

guitar-869217_960_720.jpgResearchers say those who can improvise are better musicians than those who have limited improvisational experience.

Melatonin is a hormone known to promote sleep, but its underlying mechanisms are unknown. Now, researchers have discovered how melatonin suppresses neurons in the brain that keeps you awake and alert. These findings could lead to new therapies for those who suffer from insomnia.

A new study shows how specific neurons can process sensory information about temperature and facilitate a change in behavior to adapt to the climate.

Researchers have identified electrical activity in the brain that is specific to the start of migraines. The new study reports spreading depolarization can be seen as a migraine begins, and an electrical current can be used to stop it in its tracks.

Adolescent drinking is associated with changes in the metabolite profile, a new study shows. 

Scientists are using big data and artificial intelligence to map neural networks in the brain. The new technology could help to better understand the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Sound and object motion can be used to change perceptions about body size, according to a new study.

Researchers report impairments in the neuroprotective communication between neural blood vessels, astrocytes and neurons may be an early factor in how high blood pressure may impair cognitive function.

A new study confirms a link between a number of autoimmune diseases and an increased risk of developing psychosis.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – the relaxing ‘brain tingles’ experienced by some people in response to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping and slow hand movements – may have benefits for both mental and physical health, according to new research.

Researchers have developed new neural implants that enable targeted delivery of drugs deep into brain structures.

A new study reports specific alterations in signaling circuits associated with memory can induce an abnormal response in neurons, which is linked to the aging process and cognitive decline.

Researchers say the combination of low muscle mass and strength in the context of high-fat mass, could be a predictor of cognitive function in older adults. 

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is associated with changes to the structure of the brain that are also seen in the early stages of dementia, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Finally, this week, a new study reports a mother’s diet during pregnancy may have an effect on the composition of her child’s gut bacteria. 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers report the brain’s reward network could play an influential role in evaluating the opportunity to gain new information, just as it does to evaluate rewards such as food or financial gain.

Scientists are beginning to understand the neuroscience behind sensory processing disorder and are developing new therapies to help those with it.

A new study shows Alzheimer’s disease does not appear to affect the salience network. Researchers found, when listening to music, the salience network along with other networks, show higher functional connectivity in Alzheimer’s patients.

A new study reveals maternal diet during pregnancy can have implications for fetal brain development and can impact short-term memory in adults.

Scientists have uncovered dozens of genes that increase the risk of depression — a major finding that underscores the complexity of the disease and reveals why antidepressant therapies work well for some people but are utterly ineffective for others.

Researchers report the critical period of language learning may be longer than previously believed. A new study reveals children remain skilled at learning new languages until age 18.

Treatment for the most common mental health problems could be ineffective or even detrimental to about 50 percent of the population, according to a radical new model of emotion in the brain.

Finally this week, researchers report high sugar and fat based diets that lead to obesity, coupled with the normal aging process, may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reports people who sit down too much during middle to older age show signs of thinning in the medial temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with the formation of new memories.

Researchers explore the neuroscience behind binge eating and the triggers that might make us reach for comfort foods.

According to a new study, children with executive function deficits were more likely to show physical and reactive aggression later in life. Researchers suggest helping children to improve executive function could help to reduce aggression levels.

Olfactory system neurons appear to play a role in the connection between rhythmic breathing and emotional regulation, researchers report.

Researchers report newly identified risk factors differ from currently known genetic causes of autism. The variants identified do not alter the genes directly, but disrupt the neighboring DNA control elements that turn genes on or off. Additionally, the variants do not occur as new mutations in autistic children, but are inherited from parents.

A new study reveals we quickly process opinions we agree with as facts, even if the opinion is non-factual.

New research implicates the hippocampus in conceptual memory formation. The study reveals activity within the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex is consistent with the retrieval of new concepts.

Researchers report the later a women enters into natural menopause, the better, on average, her verbal memory is later in life.

A new study adds to growing evidence that early exposure to pollution can increase both suicide risks in younger people and Alzheimer’s disease as people age.

Finally this week, new research reveals specific parts of the hippocampus may play a key role in emotional regulation.

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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An astrocyte (green) interacts with a synapse (red), producing an optical signal (yellow). NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to UCLA/Khakh lab.

Researchers have developed a new method that allows them to see how astrocytes influence neural communication in real time.

The chronic neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disease affects an increasing number of people. However, scientists still do not know why some people develop Parkinson’s disease. Now researchers have taken an important step towards a better understanding of the disease.

Researchers have published a new research framework that defines Alzheimer’s disease by brain changes, not symptoms.

The risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, was significantly higher in people who had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than with people who had no history of TBI, according to one of the largest studies to date on that association.

A new voice manipulation algorithm allows researchers to visualize the neural codes people use to judge others by the tone of their voices.

UCLA researchers have developed a way to use brain scans and machine learning — a form of artificial intelligence — to predict whether people with OCD will benefit from cognitive behavior therapy. The technique could help improve the overall success rate of cognitive behavioral therapy, and it could enable therapists to tailor treatment to each patient.

Researchers report synchrony of brain waves within three regions of the brain can ‘break down’ when visual working memory load becomes too extensive to handle.

A new study reveals our brains process weak visual stimuli better in the evenings and mornings than during daylight hours. Researchers say the transition from light to dark has greater influence on visual perception than previously believed.

A new neuroimaging study reveals babies with Fragile X syndrome have less developed white matter in the brain compared to children without the condition.

Finally this week, a new study builds on previous findings that demonstrate EEG recordings of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex can predict eventual response to treatments for depression.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers report running can help mitigate the impact chronic stress has on the hippocampus.

A small study recently published in Translational Psychiatry showed that people living with schizophrenia could use a video game paired with an MRI scanner to curb verbal hallucinations.

A Neuron study reports brain-machine interface technology may shed light on how mentally running through a routine improves performance.

Neuroscientists have demonstrated the astounding flexibility of the brain by training neurons that normally process input from the eyes to develop new skills, in this case, to control a computer-generated tone.

Researchers report our inner thoughts and interpretations of our experiences have consequences for both physical and mental health.

A new study finds listening to music may help people extend the time they are capable of enduring a cardiac stress test. The study also reports the findings could help healthy people to exercise for longer periods of time.

Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease earlier in life, according to a study.

Researchers report elevated dopamine levels may make those with schizophrenia rely more on expectations, which results in them experiencing auditory hallucinations.

A new study will examine how the brain learns to make predictions over our lifespan.

Contrary to previous findings, new research has found no evidence Omega-3 fish oil supplements help aid or improve the reading ability or memory function of underperforming school-children.

Finally this week, neuroscientists have produced a collection of computer-generated models that accurately replicate cortical neuron activity.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

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Neurons store and transmit information in the brain.Credit: CNRI/SPL

Superconducting computing chips modeled after neurons can process information faster and more efficiently than the human brain.  

New research published in JAMA Neurology suggests that those people whose memory is intact and who do not show any signs of Alzheimer’s can have disrupted circadian rhythms — which may be a very early sign of Alzheimer’s.

Stimulating specific regions of the brain can help to improve memory and word recall in those with severe epilepsy, a new Nature Communications study reports.  

Gene therapies promise to revolutionize the treatment of many diseases, including neurological diseases such as ALS. But the small viruses that deliver therapeutic genes can have adverse side effects at high doses. Researchers have now found a structure on these viruses that makes them better at crossing from the bloodstream into the brain – a key factor for administering gene therapies at lower doses for treating brain and spinal disorders.

Researchers discover the activity of 80 percent of genes follow a day/night rhythm in many tissue types and brain regions. 

Aging or impaired brains can once again form lasting memories if an enzyme that applies the brakes too hard on a key gene is lifted, according to University of California, Irvine neurobiologists.

Researchers have implicated mossy cells in both seizures and memory problems in those with temporal lobe epilepsy. 

Increasing evidence has linked autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with dysfunction of the brain’s cerebellum, but the details have been unclear. In a new study, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital used stem cell technology to create cerebellar cells known as Purkinje cells from patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic syndrome that often includes ASD-like features. In the lab, the cells showed several characteristics that may help explain how ASD develops at the molecular level.

Finally this week, neuroscientists have discovered how the brain can determine an object’s value almost as soon as we see it.