Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reveals taking a short daytime nap can help to consolidate learning and memory of new foreign words.

Astrocytes, ‘caretaker’ cells that surround and support neurons in the brain, may lead the tempo of the body’s internal clock and control patterns of daily behavior, a new study reports.

Pre-teens who use a mobile phone or watch TV in the dark an hour before bed are at risk of not getting enough sleep, a new study reveals.

In a scientific first, neuroengineers have created a system that translates thought into intelligible, recognizable speech. This breakthrough, which harnesses the power of speech synthesizers and artificial intelligence, could lead to new ways for computers to communicate directly with the brain.

Scientists report brain connectivity appears to be dictated by the spatial architecture of neurons, rather than the cell type-specific cues.

A new study reports sleep deprivation increases the levels of tau, and accelerates the spread of the protein, in the brain. The findings reveal a lack of sleep alone may help drive the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers report alterations in RNA editing play a vital role in autism spectrum disorder.

According to a new study, the consequence of daily stress is linked to an increase in REM sleep. Researchers report the increase is associated with genes involved in apoptosis and cell survival. The findings shed light on how stress leads to mood disorders, and how changes in sleep contribute to this.

You can hack your brain to form good habits – like going to the gym and eating healthily – simply by repeating actions until they stick, according to new research.

Machine learning technology is helping researchers to detect the early signs of Alzheimer’s, by identifying potential blood based biomarkers of the disease. Researchers say the technology has found hidden factors associated with Alzheimer’s through medical data, and could help improve disease prediction.

A new study reveals the molecular switch that helps control the function of satiety neurons and body weight.

When we’re in pain, we have a hard time sleeping. But how does poor sleep affect pain? For the first time, scientists have answered that question by identifying neural glitches in the sleep-deprived brain that can intensify and prolong the agony of sickness and injury.

People with sleep apnea struggle to remember details of memories from their own lives, potentially making them vulnerable to depression, new research has shown.

Finally this week, using CRISPR gene editing, researchers mapped important genes for helping T helper cells. The findings could help generate new treatments to activate the immune system against infection and to attack tumor cells.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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 Image credited to Dr. Vadim Axelrod

Researchers have identified neurons in the visual cortex that respond to different faces.

Leading a unique, collaborative research study with scientists across the globe, investigators have pinpointed a set of molecules that wire the body weight center of the brain.

A large-scale international study has discovered new genetic risk loci for Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers published their work in Nature Genetics.

A new study reports experiencing vital exhaustion, a symptom of psychological distress, during mid life may be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia later in life.

Researchers have identified over 500 genetic variants which affect the use of, and addiction to, alcohol and tobacco.

A new neuroimaging study has helped researchers capture the processes by which the brain stores information related to when events happen. The findings could help further the understanding of age-related dementia.

Researchers report using rhythmic movements while speaking helps to improve speech skills in children.

A new study uses an epigenetic approach to correct synaptic dysfunction in the brain associated with memory loss. The findings could help to restore memory function in those with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Scientists say they can predict whether a person can expect to live longer or die sooner than average, by looking at their DNA.

Yale researchers have discovered several genetic variants that signal the risk of serious suicide attempts and noted some variants have also been linked to major depressive disorder.

Scientists report signs of memory problems in old age may be a result of hearing loss and not a neurodegenerative disease.

Using sophisticated computational tools, researchers have discovered biomarkers that may explain why symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be so severe for some people and not for others.

Researchers have discovered how the body is able to initiate repair mechanisms which can limit the extent of damage to the myelin sheath. The findings could help with the development of new therapies for multiple sclerosis.

A new EEG study reveals how the brain utilizes more cognitive resources to hold memory and process previous information.

Chaos in bodily regulation can optimize our immune system according to a recent discovery made by researchers. The discovery may prove to be of great significance for avoiding serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

A new neuroimaging study reveals brain activity is reduced when we experience self touch, as opposed to the touch of another person. The findings shed light on how the brain is able to distinguish between tactile sensations generated by the touch of another and personal touch.

A new study shows an association between excessive social media use and impaired risky decision making, a common deficient in substance addiction.

Researchers report children who experience deprivation early in life have impaired memory and executive function between the ages of 8 and 16 compared to peers who were placed in quality foster homes.

New research reveals frequency plays a key role in neural activation from electrical stimulation.

A new study reports amyloid precursor proteins modulate neural signal transmission by binding to a specific receptor. Researchers say modulating the receptor could help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers report a genetic mutation that causes structural abnormalities in the adolescent brain may predict an increased risk of schizophrenia later in life.

A new neuroimaging study reveals tasks that require audiovisual processing are extremely difficult for children with dyslexia. The findings could lead to new tests that help identify the disorder before children fall behind their peers.

Finally this week, a new study reveals differences in genes in four areas of the brain that contribute to psychiatric disorders.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image: di Domenico/Stem Cell Reports

A new study reveals a defective version of astrocytes may be linked to the build up of alpha synuclein and could spur Parkinson’s disease. The findings show the important role glial cells play in Parkinson’s and offers insights into new targets for therapies to fight the neurodegenerative disease.

A genome-wide analysis of nearly 45,000 people has identified 16 regions of DNA associated with epilepsy, 11 of which are newly identified.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne found when people crave specific foods, the brain releases more dopamine when they finally consume the item. The study reports the gastrointestinal tract is in constant contact with the brain and uses reward stimuli to control our desire for food.

Researchers have developed a method to determine the length of mutated genes associated with Huntington’s disease quickly and easily.

Men with dyslexia have altered structural connections between the thalamus and auditory cortex on the left side of the brain, new research published in Journal of Neuroscience reveals.

A new study reports when we retrieve information about visual objects, the brain first focuses on the core meaning and afterwards recalls specific details.

Researchers report that neuron loss in Alzheimer’s disease may not be such a bad thing. The study reveals the loss of neurons may be the result of a cell quality control mechanism attempting to protect the brain from the accumulation of malfunctioning neurons.

Neurofeedback training stimulates the cortical learning process and can help improve the sense of touch, a new study reveals.

Research led by stem cell scientists at Harvard University points to a potential new biomarker and drug target for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease that is extremely difficult to diagnose and treat.

Finally this week, researchers have identified over 500 genetic variants which affect the use of, and addiction to, alcohol and tobacco.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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How do neural networks in different brain areas communicate with each other? The Bernstein Center Freiburg proposes a new model.

Researchers propose a new model to help explain how the level of activity in neural networks influences the flow of information.

A neurofeedback system enables Parkinson’s disease patients to voluntarily control brainwaves associated with symptoms of the disorder, according to new research published in eNeuro.

One night of sleep loss can increase the desirability of junk foods, finds a study of healthy weight young men published in Journal of Neuroscience.

When two events occur within a brief window of time they become linked in memory, such that calling forth the memory of one helps retrieve memory for the other event, according to research published in Psychological Science. This happens even when temporal proximity is the only feature that the two events share.

Researchers have identified specific diffusible molecules that are essential for boundary formation in the brain.

Scientists report that neuron loss in Alzheimer’s disease may not be such a bad thing. The study reveals the loss of neurons may be the result of a cell quality control mechanism attempting to protect the brain from the accumulation of malfunctioning neurons.

A new study reveals passive exposure to foreign speech sounds over the course of several consecutive days helps enhance language learning.

People with Huntington’s disease who participated in intellectually stimulating activities had less brain atrophy than those with the disease who did not take up such activities.

Finally this week, boys with good motor skills are better problem-solvers than their less skillful peers, a new study from Finland shows. 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image Credit: Guillaume Sandoz, CNRS

Researchers at CNRS, Université Côte d’Azur and Inserm have demonstrated a new mechanism related to the onset of migraine. In fact, they found how a mutation, causes dysfunction in a protein which inhibits neuronal electrical activity, induces migraines. These results, published in Neuron on Dec. 17, 2018, open a new path for the development of anti-migraine medicines.

Scientists using eye tracking software, report what we look at helps guide our decisions when faced with two visible choices.

A new study reports children and teens who face chronic bullying have altered brain structure, as well as problems with anxiety and depression. Researchers found those who were bullies had structural changes to the putamen and caudate, contributing to the development of anxiety related behaviors and emotional processing.

Researchers have identified specific neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, called self-monitoring error neurons, that fire immediately after people make a mistake.

New findings show how alcohol influences dopaminergic and inhibitory neurons in the ventral tegmental area. The findings could help develop new treatments for alcohol dependence.

A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to a new study.

Scientists who recently identified the molecular start of Alzheimer’s disease have used that finding to determine that it should be possible to forecast which type of dementia will develop over time – a form of personalized medicine for neurodegenerative diseases.

A new study reports lightly stroking an infant, at a speed of 3 centimeters per second, can help to provide pain relief prior to medical procedures.

Researchers have identified cognitive subgroups related to genetic differences in Alzheimer’s patients. The findings could open the door for more personalized treatments of the neurodegenerative disease.

A previously unknown brain mechanism that regulates anxiety has come to light. It allows a gene-altering protein to enter the nucleus of brain cells.

Finally this week, researchers discovered activity in brain regions involved in reward response from dopamine was higher in subjects injected with the hormone ghrelin, but only when responding to images associated with food smells. The study reports ghrelin controls the extent to which the brain associates reward with food odors.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers have found “different patterns” in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study.

A new study reports the combination of a toxic herbicide and lectins may trigger Parkinsonism after the toxins travel from the stomach to the brain.

Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study has concluded. The study suggests that families who already have a child diagnosed with ASD or ADHD may wish to monitor younger siblings for symptoms of both conditions.

Researchers have shed light on the dual nature of dopamine, as a neurotransmitter that makes us seek pleasure and also reinforces avoidance of pain.

A new neuroimaging study reveals imagination may help people with fear or anxiety disorders overcome them. The study reports imagining a threat can alter the way it is represented in the brain.

Stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improves mood in those suffering from depression, a new study reveals.

Scientists report low levels of GABA producing bacteria is associated with brain signatures of depression. They believe it may be possible to treat clinical depression by increasing GABA producing bacteria.

Finally, this week, using machine learning to analyze fMRI brain scans of grieving people, researchers shed light on how unconscious suppression occurs.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers have uncovered how specific retinal cells respond to the artificial light generated by cell phone and tablets. The study reveals how retinal ganglion cells process ambient light and reset our circadian clocks, leading to sleep disruptions.

Stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improves mood in those suffering from depression, a new study reveals.

New research has discovered that a type of adult stem cell found in a variety of tissues can be manipulated to enhance tissue regeneration and potentially treat inflammatory diseases.

A new study reports obesity can significantly increase the risk of depression, even in the absence of other health problems.

Researchers have made a breakthrough in understanding the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a new study, the researchers reveal they have identified specific gene variants which increase the risk of ADHD.

A new study combines hundreds of brain scans of patients with OCD and pinpoints problems with error processing in the brain that leads to repetitive behaviors.

Researchers say a new discovery about the pathways associated with consciousness contradicts conventional belief. The study reports the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain’s pathway involved in wakefulness and consciousness, a finding that could help develop better methods for treating comas.

A new study reveals how the brain processes sound and how quickly neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to the language based words.

With a finding that will “rewrite neuroanatomy textbooks,” scientists have shown that the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain pathway involved in keeping humans awake and conscious.

Finally this week, older adults who take up drawing could enhance their memory, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Two participants in the BrainGate clinical trial directly control a tablet computer through a brain-computer interface to chat with each other online. The research, published in PLOS ONE, is a step toward restoring the ability of people with paralysis to use everyday technologies.

New research from the BrainGate consortium shows that a brain-computer interface (BCI) can enable people with paralysis to directly operate an off-the-shelf tablet device just by thinking about making cursor movements and clicks.

A new study reports those exposed to the highest levels of noise pollution caused by traffic are at an increased risk of obesity.

Researchers have pinpointed a part of the human brain responsible for “on-the-fly” decision-making. According to the findings published in JNeurosci, the anterior cingulate cortex integrates disparate information about the desirability and amount of an option to inform choice.

MRI brain scans perform better than common clinical tests at predicting which people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

A team of researchers has found that the brain works for a while after the heart has stopped. The research is reported in a journal paper titled, ‘AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study.’ The scientists looked at patients with cardiac arrests in Europe and the US. They noted that those of the patients who were successfully resuscitated after their heart had stopped beating could recall the conversations around them between the healthcare personnel and were aware of their surroundings.

Researchers have identified a mechanism by which immune system problems can cause commensal dysbiosis, which promotes age-related pathologies.

According to a new study, exploring objects through touch can generate detailed, lasting memories of the object, even when people don’t intend to memorize the details of the object.

A single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain, according to researchers.

Finally this week, researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found differences in the brains of men and women who are addicted to online gaming, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Researchers Detect Genetic Recombination in the Brain

For the first time, scientists have identified gene recombination, or “mixing and matching” of DNA, in the brain.

New technology revealed DNA in neurons is recombined, producing thousands of previously unknown gene variations—and identifying a potential near-term treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Nature and authored by Jerold Chun, M.D., Ph.D., professor and senior vice president of Neuroscience Drug Discovery at SBP, focused on the Alzheimer’s-linked gene, APP, and discovered it is recombined by using the same type of enzyme found in HIV. This finding indicates existing FDA-approved antiretroviral therapies for HIV that block reverse transcriptase might also be able to halt the recombination process—and could be explored as a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reports short distance connectivity abnormalities may be involved in social cognitive deficits in those with autism spectrum disorders.

Capitalizing on recent advances in neuroimaging and genetic biomarker research, scientists have been able to identify specific pathways by which tau and beta-amyloid, two proteins that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, accumulate in the brain over time.

A new study reports people who experience migraines with visual auras are at increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Researchers report there are two distinct ways in which we make temporal predictions, and these rely on different parts of the brain. The findings offer a new perspective on how humans calculate when to make a move.

A 15-minute scan could help diagnose brain damage in babies up to two years earlier than current methods.

A newborn baby’s brain responds to being touched on the face, according to new research. Babies use this sense of touch — facial somatosensation — to find and latch onto their mother’s nipple, and should have this ability from birth. Premature babies often have difficulty feeding, and underdevelopment of their facial sensitivity may be one of the main causes.

MRI brain scans perform better than common clinical tests at predicting which people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered that the thickness of the brain’s outer layer influences how individual neurons process information. The findings, published in the journal, Neuron, challenge the understanding of how brain circuits function throughout the brain.

Finally, this week, new research published in the Journal of Physiology presents a breakthrough in the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).