Weekly Neuroscience Update

The place-memory network of the human brain, compared with the brain areas that process visual scenes (white). Credit: A.Steel et al.

Researchers have identified three areas of the posterior cerebral cortex that bridge the brain’s perception and memory systems.

A new study reveals that being overweight or obese significantly reduces blood flow in the brain. The study also shows that increased physical activity can positively modify, or even negate, this reduction in brain blood flow.

Soccer players who feel anxious at the thought of kicking a penalty kick and who miss the goal show more activity in the prefrontal cortex. Overthinking the shot, researchers say, could play a role in missing a goal.

Non-invasive neuromodulation delivered via low-intensity focused ultrasound can have cell-type-specific selectivity in manipulating neurons.

People born into families with members who live longer lives show better cognitive performance and a slower decline in cognitive processing speed as they age.

A new neuroimaging technique captures the brain in motion in real-time, generating a 3D view and with improved detail. The new technology could help clinicians to spot hard-to-detect neurological conditions.

Researchers found in a recent study that modulation of map-like representations in our brain’s hippocampal formation can predict contextual memory retrieval in an ambiguous environment.

A new study reports on an association between specific gut bacteria species and the manifestation of neurodegenerative disorders.

New research reveals why sleep can put people with epilepsy at increased risk of sudden death.

A new study uncovers the genetic architecture of progression and prognosis, identifying five genetic locations (loci) associated with progression. The team also developed the first risk score for predicting progression of PD over time to dementia (PDD), a major determinant of quality of life.

A newly developed artificial intelligence algorithm can accurately and reliably assess unconsciousness in patients under anesthesia based on brain activity.

Damage to highly connected regions of white matter in the brain following injury is more predictive of cognitive impairment than damage to highly connected gray matter hubs.

The cerebellum underwent evolutionary changes that may have contributed to the development of language, culture, and tool use in humans, a new study reveals.

A new study sheds light on how highly sensitive people process information. After experiencing something emotionally evocative, brain activity displayed a depth of processing while at rest. Depth of processing is a key feature of high emotional sensitivity.

Researchers have uncovered molecular clues that help explain what makes some neurons more susceptible than others in Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally this week tking a daily prebiotic supplement improves general wellbeing, reduces symptoms of anxiety, and promotes better gut health, a new study reports.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A new algorithm that combines naturalistic driving data with machine learning is 88% accurate at predicting mild cognitive impairment and dementia in older adults.

People with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders may have a more permissive blood-brain barrier which allows the immune system to become more actively involved in the central nervous system. The resulting inflammation may contribute to the clinical manifestation of psychosis-like symptoms.

Mindfulness programs can improve the mental health of school-age children and help them to feel more optimistic, according to new research.

A new study finds evidence of inflammation in the blood of patients during the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. The findings support the theory that inflammation is a driver of the neurodegenerative disorder. The effect was most noticeable in women with Parkinson’s.

Taking a daily prebiotic supplement improves general wellbeing, reduces symptoms of anxiety, and promotes better gut health, a new study reports.

Researchers propose a new theory of what happens in the brain when we experience familiar seeming visual stimuli. The theory, dubbed sensory referenced suppression, suggests the brain understands different levels of activation expected for sensory input and corrects for it, leaving behind the signal for familiarity.

A new study shows that heart brain interactions, measured using electroencephalography (EEG), provide a novel diagnostic avenue for patients with disorders of consciousness.

A multidecade study of young adults living in the United Kingdom has found higher rates of mental illness symptoms among those exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxides, during childhood and adolescence.

The brain encodes information about our relationships and the relationships between our friends using areas involved in spatial processing, according to new research published in Journal of Neuroscience.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Chang Lab’s research reveals what area of the human brain controls the pitch of our speech.

Researchers have revealed the area of the brain that controls our voice box, allowing us to alter the pitch of our speech. The insight could pave the way for advancing neuroprosthetics to allow people who can’t speak, to express themselves in a naturalistic way.

A new study reports the brain mechanisms responsible for triggering memory are identical, whether a person is awake or asleep.

While the effects of sleep deprivation are well known, researchers discover sleeping too much could have a detrimental effect on your brain. A new study reports sleeping more than eight hours per night can reduce cognitive ability and reasoning skills.

Researchers have discovered the thalamus plays a crucial role in the development of normal sleep and waking states.

A new study reports T cells are activated in the intestines and migrate to the brain, causing an inflammatory cascade that may lead to multiple sclerosis. Researchers say the gut microbiome may play a more significant role in the development and progression of MS than previously believed.

A new study reports an afternoon nap can help us to process unconscious information and enhance cognition.

Utilizing lesion network mapping, a recently developed technique for analyzing how the brain works, researchers have studied free will perception related to movement decisions.

A new study reports a protein made by astrocytes plays a critical role in brain plasticity by assisting with neural maturation and flexibility.

Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited – the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Cambridge believe they may have found an explanation: spontaneous errors in our DNA that arise as cells divide and reproduces.

An international team of researchers has demonstrated, with electrophysiological evidence, the existence of grid-like activity in the human brain.

Finally, this week, a new study reports people may be able to avoid depression, even if they have a genetic predisposition to SAD, by maintaining or boosting serotonin levels throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Whole brain analyses revealed that higher dispositional mindfulness during painful heat was associated with greater deactivation of a brain region called the posterior cingulate cortex, a central neural node of the default mode network. Further, in those that reported higher pain, there was greater activation of this critically important brain region. image is credited to Zeidan et al.

Ever wonder why some people seem to feel less pain than others? A  new study may have found one of the answers – mindfulness.

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 reveals elevated glial activation in the brains of those with fibromyalgia.

Brains of baby boys born prematurely are affected differently and more severely than premature infant girls’ brains. This is according to a study published in the Springer Nature-branded journal Pediatric Research.

According to researchers, the speed at which a person speaks influences the way we hear and understand upcoming words. 

A new study reports under conditions of stress, KCNB1 builds up in the brain, before becoming toxic and promoting the production of amyloid beta. In Alzheimer’s patients, the KCNB1 levels are higher than in those without the condition.

Researchers report pyramidal neurons in the basolateral amygdala help us to recognize and categorize foods.

A new study sheds additional light on how the brain consolidates memory during sleep. Researchers report rapid fluctuations in gamma band activity in the hippocampus during nREM sleep helps facilitate memory reactivation.

Finally this week, researchers report on how the brain learns to recognize an individual face, regardless of where it appears in different visual locations.

 

Could this tactic help you give up smoking and other addictions?

Over the past three decades I have visited high schools and colleges to talk on how addictive drugs affect the brain and to explain the many theories about why certain people become addicted. There are as many reasons why someone becomes addicted as there are addicts. This situation is not helped by the fact that we cannot yet predict who will become addicted, or how to cure it.

Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. In this short video, you will learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

Inside The Compassionate Brain

Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., is the science director of the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. In this video for the Mindfulness and Compassion conference, Dr. Simon-Thomas explains the neurological mechanisms that support compassion – and why mindfulness meditation can help support the growth of compassion.

Introducing the Mindfulness and Relaxation Centre at Beaumont Hospital

Beaumont Hospital is offering a new online resource with audio tracks to help people relax and reduce stress. The new online Mindfulness and Relaxation Centre is a place to learn about how and why to practice relaxation and mindfulness exercises. Relaxation and mindfulness training are helpful for managing stress as well as helping people cope with physical illness and ongoing medical treatment.

Listen  here

Further Reading: Set Your Brain To Meditate

 

Weekly Round-Up

Transcranial magnetic stimulation can minimize forgetfulness

Memory failure is a common occurrence yet scientists have not reached a consensus as to how it happens. However, according to a new study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is able to minimize forgetfulness by disrupting targeted brain regions as they compete between memories.

A new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, finds changes in brain activity after only five weeks of meditation training.

In an ongoing quest to map the brain, scientists have determined how the brain works to understand others. According to a new study, the brain generates empathy in one manner for those who differ physically and in another method for those who are similar. In a paper published online by Cerebral Cortex, researcher Dr Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, suggests empathy for someone to whom you can directly relate — (for example, because they are experiencing pain in a limb that you possess) — is mostly generated by the intuitive, sensory-motor parts of the brain. However, empathy for someone to whom you cannot directly relate relies more on the rationalizing part of the brain.

The brain holds on to false facts, even after they have been retracted according to a report in Scientific American.

Psychologists have found that thought patterns used to recall the past and imagine the future are strikingly similar. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to show the brain at work, they have observed the same regions activated in a similar pattern whenever a person remembers an event from the past or imagines himself in a future situation. This challenges long-standing beliefs that thoughts about the future develop exclusively in the frontal lobe.

Many dementia patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs could be better treated with simple painkillers, say researchers from Kings College, London, and Norway.

Brain damage can cause significant changes in behaviour, such as loss of cognitive skills, but also reveals much about how the nervous system deals with consciousness. New findings reported in the July 2011 issue of Cortex demonstrate how the unconscious brain continues to process information even when the conscious brain is incapacitated.

Years after a single traumatic brain injury (TBI), survivors still show changes in their brains. In a new study, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania suggest that Alzheimer’s disease-like neurodegeneration may be initiated or accelerated following a single traumatic brain injury, even in young adults.

Weekly Round Up

Research shows that our brains understand music not only as emotional diversion, but also as a form of motion and activity.

Research shows that our brains understand music not only as emotional diversion, but also as a form of motion and activity. The same areas of the brain that activate when we swing a golf club or sign our name also engage when we hear expressive moments in music. Brain regions associated with empathy are activated, too, even for listeners who are not musicians.

And still on the theme of music and the brain, a recent study of seventy healthy adults ages sixty to eighty-three with various levels of music education starting around the age of ten showed impressive differences in brain functioning far later in life than any other research has previously shown.

A new study has suggested that sustained training in mindfulness meditation may impact distinct domains of human decision-making, enabling them to make decisions rationally.

Older bilingual adults compensate for age-related declines in brainpower by developing new strategies to process language, according to a recent study published in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.

Emerging research suggest antidepressant medications may aid creation and survival of new brain cells after a brain injury.

New study examines brain processes behind facial recognition 

Finally, here is an interesting post from Chris Mooney on the science of why we don’t believe science.

Weekly Round Up

Meditation can "thicken" the brain and make people less sensitive to pain.

As humans face increasing distractions in their personal and professional lives, University of British Columbia researchers have discovered that people can gain greater control over their thoughts with real-time brain feedback.

In Fame, Marketing, and your Brain, Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne takes a look at neuromarketing and celebrity endorsements.

Scientists have shed new light on how older people may lose their memory. The development could aid research into treatments for age-related memory disorders and scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have pinpointed a reason older adults have a harder time multitasking than younger adults. Read about their discovery here.

Meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain, according to new research published in the April 6 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

And finally, five children in India have helped to answer a question posed in 1688 by Irish philosopher William Molyneux: can a blind person who then gains their vision recognise by sight an object they previously knew only by touch?