Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A team of neuroscientists from Göttingen and Tehran has shown. how our brain combines visual features to achieve a unified percept.

Research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex has shown that stronger functional connectivity—that is, communication among neurons in various networks of the brain—is linked to youthful memory in older adults. Those with superior memories—called superagers—have the strongest connectivity.

Scientists have found a link between brain’s emotion circuit and movement.

High-fat diets are not only bad for your waistline, they are also bad for your brain health. A new study reveals high-fat diets contribute to hypothalamic inflammation which occurs long before symptoms of obesity arise.

Patients with schizophrenia show increased brain activity in central areas of the brain, but lower activity in the temporal sulcus when hearing metaphors.

Researchers have developed a system that measures a patient’s pain level by analyzing brain activity from a portable neuroimaging device. The system could help doctors diagnose and treat pain in unconscious and noncommunicative patients, which could reduce the risk of chronic pain that can occur after surgery.

Finally this week, a new study reports maternal marijuana use may be detrimental to the brain development of children.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new brain mapping experiment shows that whether you read or listen to a book, the same parts of the brain are stimulated to help you understand and respond to the meaning of the words

Poor oral health has been linked to cognitive decline and increased symptoms of stress.

The brains’ of first degree relatives of those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder differ from those with no family history of the disorders. Relatives of those with bipolar disorder tend to have larger intracranial volume, while those who had a relative with schizophrenia had smaller brain volume.

Minute-to-minute fluctuations in human brain activity, linked to changing levels of dopamine, impact whether we make risky decisions, finds a new study.

Meditation and yoga practice is associated with smaller right amygdala volume, a brain region involved in emotional processing, according to research published in Brain Imaging and Behavior.

Tiny changes in the microscopic structure of the human brain may affect how patients respond to an emerging therapy for neurological problems.

The brains of people with epilepsy appear to react to music differently from the brains of those who do not have the disorder, a finding that could lead to new therapies to prevent seizures.

Major depressive disorder has been linked to at least 22 distinct diseases, including asthma, coronary heart disease, and an increased risk of E. coli infection.

Researchers have identified a specific area of the brain responsible for auditory verbal hallucinations in people with schizophrenia. The researchers were able to control the hallucinations with the help of transcranial magnetic stimulation.

A new study challenges the existing theory that testosterone levels are linked to reduced cognitive empathy.

Finally this week, new research provides insights into what happens in our brains when curiosity is piqued. The findings could help scientists find ways to enhance overall learning and memory in both healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

buddhist-1807526_960_720.jpgResearchers have discovered differences in the brain’s emotional networks between those who do not meditate, novice meditators and those who have practiced meditation for a long time.

According to researchers, people find it easier to lie in a foreign language than their native tongue.

A new study could revolutionize understanding of how signal flow can be measured in the brain and could have an impact into the development of new artificial neural networks.

Scientists in the US have announced they’ve developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that can tell how smart a person is just by looking at a scan of their brain.

Researchers have developed a new, non-surgical method to manipulate brain circuitry. The technique uses sound waves in combination with small bubble injections into the bloodstream that temporarily opens the blood-brain barrier.

A new study reports disrupted transportation routes in nerve cells are a significant cause of Parkinson’s disease.

According to researchers, vision and brain circuits perform regular background scans, making neurons available for focus based tasks. The process makes it possible for us to pay, and maintain attention.

Researchers report high density of neurons in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex play a significant role in resilient dyslexia.

Finally this week, a new study reports children who exhibit excessive self-control and have tendencies toward perfectionism are twice as likely to develop OCD by their teenage years.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

With the aid of this detailed brain map, researchers were able to identify previously unknown cell types, including six different types of oligodendrocytes and a nerve cell. This image of an oligodendrocyte is for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: Jurjen Broeke.

With the aid of this detailed brain map, researchers were able to identify previously unknown cell types, including six different types of oligodendrocytes and a nerve cell. This image of an oligodendrocyte is for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: Jurjen Broeke.

Using a process known as single cell sequencing, scientists at Karolinska Institutet have produced a detailed map of cortical cell types and the genes active within them. The study, which is published in the journal ‘Science’, marks the first time this method of analysis has been used on such a large scale on such complex tissue.

Researchers have identified five genetic variants that influence the size of structures within the brain, a discovery that could help determine the genetic processes that underlie neuropsychiatric diseases.

A new study sheds light on the brain cells that function in establishing one’s location and direction. The findings contribute to our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying our abilities to successfully navigate our environment, which may be crucial to dealing with brain damage due to trauma or a stroke and the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Meditation over many years is tied to smaller age-related decreases in brain volume, according to a new study.

In the social world, people constantly gather information through visual cues that are used to evaluate others and interact. A new study has determined that babies can make sense of complex social situations, and that they expect people to behave appropriately.

According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, clinical depression is associated with a 30 percent increase of inflammation in the brain. The study set out to investigate whether inflammation is a driver of clinical depression independent of other physical illness.

Finally this week, the brain’s speech area, named after 19th century French physician Pierre Paul Broca, shuts down when we talk out loud, according to a new study that challenges the long-held assumption that ‘Broca’s area’ governs all aspects of speech production.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Brain scans of meditators and non-meditators. Areas of the brain affected by aging (in red) are fewer and less widespread in people who meditate, bottom row, than in people who don’t meditate. Negative correlations between local gray matter and age. Displayed are maximum intensity projections superimposed onto the SPM standard glass brain (sagittal, coronal, axial). Shown, in red, are significant negative age-related correlations within controls (top) and meditators (bottom). Significance profiles are corrected for multiple comparisons via controlling the family-wise error (FWE) rate at p ≤ 0.05. Note the less extended clusters in meditators compared to controls. Credit: Frontiers in Psychology.

Brain scans of meditators and non-meditators. Areas of the brain affected by aging (in red) are fewer and less widespread in people who meditate, bottom row, than in people who don’t meditate. Negative correlations between local gray matter and age. Displayed are maximum intensity projections superimposed onto the SPM standard glass brain (sagittal, coronal, axial). Shown, in red, are significant negative age-related correlations within controls (top) and meditators (bottom). Significance profiles are corrected for multiple comparisons via controlling the family-wise error (FWE) rate at p ≤ 0.05. Note the less extended clusters in meditators compared to controls. Credit: Frontiers in Psychology.

New brain research findings suggest long-term meditation may lead to less age-related gray matter atrophy in the human brain.

A new study has revealed that many mental disorders share a common structure in the brain. Six conditions were examined and found to be connected by the loss of gray matter in three specific areas related to cognitive functions such as self-control.

A new paper argues that there is a widespread misunderstanding about the true nature of traumatic brain injury and how it causes chronic degenerative problems.

New research finds that there is not a single type of schizophrenia, as thought, but 8 different genetic diseases.

Scientists have discovered that babies of the age from 9 to 16 months remember the names of objects better if they had a short nap. And only after sleeping can they transfer learned names to similar new objects.

Cocaine addicted individuals may continue their habit despite unfavourable consequences like imprisonment or loss of relationships because their brain circuits responsible for predicting emotional loss are impaired, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Scientists have discovered how a ‘mini-brain’ in the spinal cord aids in balance.

UCLA neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes.

New research has highlighted the structural improvements on the brain observed in bilingual people who immerse themselves in two languages.

Good sleep in young and middle-aged people helps boost memory up to 28 years later, a new review of the evidence finds.

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology.

Finally this week, we know that our existence depends on a bit of evolutionary genius aptly nicknamed “fight or flight.” But where in our brain does the alarm first go off, and what other parts of the brain are mobilized to express fear and remember to avoid danger in the future? New research sheds some light on this question.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Parkin-expressing cells (red) are undergoing programmed cell death. Credit Dr. Emilie Hollville and Professor Seamus Martin, Trinity College Dublin.

Parkin-expressing cells (red) are undergoing programmed cell death. Credit Dr. Emilie Hollville and Professor Seamus Martin, Trinity College Dublin.

Scientists at Trinity College Dublin have made an important breakthrough in our understanding of Parkin – a protein that regulates the repair and replacement of nerve cells within the brain. This breakthrough generates a new perspective on how nerve cells die in Parkinson’s disease.

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.

A study in which more than 43,000 children were evaluated for head trauma offers an unprecedented picture of how children most frequently suffer head injuries. For teens, top causes are assaults, sports, car crashes; for younger children, falls lead the list.The findings also indicate how often such incidents result in significant brain injuries, computerized tomography (CT) scans to assess head injuries, and neurosurgery to treat them.

Neighborhoods that motivate walking can stave off cognitive decline in older adults.

People who are depressed often complain that they find it difficult to make decisions. A new study provides an explanation. Researchers tested 29 patients diagnosed with major depression and 27 healthy controls and they found that the people with depression had an impaired ability to go with their gut instincts, or what we might call intuition.

Learning a new language changes your brain network both structurally and functionally, according to Penn State researchers.

Finally this week, being shown pictures of others being loved and cared for reduces the brain’s response to threat, new research from the University of Exeter has found.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

The theory and experimental findings showed that fast Hebbian and slow homeostatic plasticity work together during learning, but only after each has independently assured stability on its own timescale. This image is for illustrative purposes only. Credit Nicolas P. Rougier.

The theory and experimental findings showed that fast Hebbian and slow homeostatic plasticity work together during learning, but only after each has independently assured stability on its own timescale. This image is for illustrative purposes only. Credit Nicolas P. Rougier.

Complex biochemical signals that coordinate fast and slow changes in neuronal networks keep the brain in balance during learning, according to an international team of science researchers.

An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found distinct differences between the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and those of healthy people. The findings could lead to more definitive diagnoses of the syndrome and may also point to an underlying mechanism in the disease process.

Breakdown in gut barriers to bacteria may promote inflammation and craving in alcoholics. 

Seizures and migraines have always been considered separate physiological events in the brain, but now a team of engineers and neuroscientists looking at the brain from a physics viewpoint discovered a link between these and related phenomena.

All physical activity benefits the brain. This is the main message of a new study that compared the effects of different kinds of exercise on cognition in older adults.

Finally this week, certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, even if you have never meditated before. This is the outcome of a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University, published in Mindfulness.

Can meditation make you more creative?

Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking even if you are not a practitioner. This is the outcome of a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and her fellow researchers at Leiden University and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, published in Mindfulness.

Long-lasting influence
The study is a clear indication that you don’t need to be an experienced meditator to profit more from meditation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas. Besides experienced meditators, also novices may profit from meditation.

Different techniques, different effects
But the results demonstrate that not all forms of meditation have the same effect on creativity. Test persons performed better in divergent thinking (= thinking up as many possible solutions for a given problem) after Open Monitoring meditation (= being receptive to every thought and sensation). The researchers did not see this effect on divergent thinking after Focused Attention meditation (=focusing on a particular thought or object.)

Setup of the study
40 individuals participated in this study, who had to meditate for 25 minutes before doing their thinking tasks. There were both experienced mediators and people who never meditated before. The study investigated the influences of different types of meditative techniques on the two main ingredients of creativity:

Divergent thinking
Allows for many new ideas to be generated. It is measured using the so-called Alternate Uses Task method where participants are required to think up as many uses as possible for a particular object, such as a pen.

Convergent thinking
Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is a process whereby one possible solution for a particular problem is generated. This method is measured using the Remote Associates Task method, where three unrelated words are presented to the participants, words such as ‘time’, ‘hair’ and ‘stretch’. The participants are then asked to identify the common link: in this case, ‘long’.

Source: Medical News Today

Like Valium and Oxycontin, without the Side Effects


A Buddhist monk—this one with a doctorate in cell biology—has teamed with two prominent neuroscientists to present the latest findings on what meditation does to the brain and how those changes to neural circuits have some of the trappings of what might be labeled a perfect drug—Prozac-like muting of depression symptoms or prophylaxis against PTSD (just two on the list). In this video Richard Davidson, Ph.D., presents their research at Stanford University in a talk entitled,  The Emergence of Contemplative Neuroscience.