Weekly Neuroscience Update

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AI research has come full circle, helping neuroscientist better understand how the human brain works, researchers say.

Babies removed from their mothers for 24 hours when they were 9 days old exhibited significant behavioral and brain structural abnormalities in adulthood, a new study reports. Researchers noted memory impairment and less communication between specific brain regions in those removed from maternal care.

Researchers have identified three genes linked to hemiplegic migraine.

People whose negative emotional responses to stress carry over to the following day are more likely to report health problems and physical limitations later in life compared with peers who are able to “let it go,” according to findings published in Psychological Science.

Using electrical fields to simulate slow wave sleep, researchers enhance memory.

A new study has identified a link between visual processing problems and an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder. The study reports the risk for mental illness increases when the visual cortex has difficulty communicating with networks associated with focus and introspection.

The superior size and complexity of the human brain compared to other mammals may actually originate from fewer initial starting materials, new research has suggested.

According to researchers, dopamine neurons may play a key role in the formation of episodic memory. The findings could help in the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders that affect memory.

A new study reveals up to 25% of rhythmic genes lose their biological rhythm following a 4-day night shift simulation.

Damage to some of the pathways that carry information throughout the brain may be responsible for attention deficit in patients who have had a subcortical stroke in the brain’s right hemisphere, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers hope the findings may provide a measure for selecting suitable patients for early interventions aimed at reducing cognitive decline following a stroke.

Finally this week, a new machine learning study has revealed a novel combination of factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing dementia.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Thousands of branches and branchlets emanate from an astrocyte’s cell body, which is the dense portion in the middle of the image.

A new study published in Neuron challenges the idea that astrocytes across the brain are largely identical.

Researchers have identified a new protein, CIB2, that is key to helping the auditory system to turn soundwaves into meaningful brain signals. Mutations of this gene leave people unable to convert the soundwaves into signals that the brain can interpret, and are deaf.

The more regularly people report doing word puzzles such as crosswords, the better their brain function in later life, a large-scale online trial has found.

How short-term memories become long-term ones has frequently been explored by researchers. While a definitive answer remains elusive, scientists conclude that this transformation is best explained by a “temporal hierarchy” of “time windows” that collectively alter the state of the brain.

Greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function in ageing men and women, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers at King’s College London have identified a molecular mechanism that allows neural connections to adapt as a result of experience. This adaptation fuels our ability for memory and learning.

Researchers have developed a concept called Empowerment to help robots and humans to work and live side-by-side safely and effectively.

A study of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has identified a new potential mechanism contributing to the biology of the disorder that may be targeted by future treatments.

A new study reveals those who die at 100 tend to suffer from fewer diseases than those who die at younger ages.

A new paper identifies 100 of the most cited neuroscience research papers. Of these papers, 78 focus on five topics. According to the authors of the paper, the most cited neuroscience research topics include the prefrontal cortex, neural connectivity, methodology, brain mapping and neurological disorders. The findings could have significant impact for future neuroscience studies.

Changes in the brain’s structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

The same mechanisms that quickly separate mixtures of oil and water are at play when controlling the organization in an unusual part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new study.

New research has shown just how adaptive the brain can be, knowledge that could one day be applied to recovery from conditions such as stroke.

Changes in the orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala may help explain a person’s preference for uncertain outcomes, as well as a preference for order and certainty, a new study reports.

Finally this week, a small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to new research.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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In a collaboration between Swedish and Italian researchers, the aim was to analyse how the brain interprets information from a virtual experience of touch, created by a finger prosthesis with artificial sensation. The result was – completely unexpectedly – a new method for measuring brain health.

Stroke patients who learned to use their minds to open and close a device fitted over their paralyzed hands gained some control over their hands, according to a new study.

As children age into adolescence and on into young adulthood, they show dramatic improvements in their ability to control impulses, stay organized, and make decisions. Those ‘executive functions’ of the brain are key factors in determining outcomes, including educational success, drug use, and psychiatric illness. Now, researchers have mapped the changes in the network organization of the brain that underlie those improvements in executive function.

Despite numerous claims, researchers discover transcranial direct current stimulation likely adds no meaningful benefit to cognitive training.

Neuropsychiatric symptoms, specifically sleep behavior and irritability, are linked to metabolic dysfunction on specialized positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and may be an early noncognitive symptom of Alzheimer’s dementia, according to results published in Neurology.

Individual neurons can learn not only single responses to a particular signal, but also a series of reactions at precisely timed intervals.

Researchers from the Radboud University in the Netherlands have observed the human brain’s ability to visually “predict” future events. By scanning the brains of students during an experiment, they saw this predictive imaging in action.

Vicsoelasticity in the hippocampus is associated with better performance on both memory and fitness tests, a new study reports.

The visual cortex, the human brain’s vision-processing centre that was previously thought to mature and stabilize in the first few years of life, actually continues to develop until sometime in the late 30s or early 40s, neuroscientists have found.

New Finnish research reveals how brain’s opioids modulate responses towards other people’s pain.

Finally this week, researches report memory isn’t a single entity and memory formation can be enhanced by different brain states.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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This is a simulated seizure activity on cortical tissue. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Y. Wang.

A new study explores which of the two main patterns of brain activity may be seen during the onset of an epileptic seizure.

Researchers link obsessive behaviours in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) to immune pathways and suggest targeting the immune system could be a new strategy for the treatment of FTD.

Scientists have identified a gene that plays a vital role in the production of neurons and glial cells in the brain.

Reviewing brain scans of bipolar patients, researchers observe notable differences in the thickness of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with motivation and control inhibition compared to those without the disorder.

Researchers use optogenetics to study impairment to the CA2 region of the hippocampus.

Stimulating the brain by taking on leadership roles at work or staying on in education help people stay mentally healthy in later life, according to new research.

Our brains process foreign-accented speech with better real-time accuracy if we can identify the accent we hear, according to a team of neurolinguists.

The puzzle of how the brain regulates blood flow to prevent it from being flooded and then starved every time the heart beats has been solved with the help of engineering.

Researchers say stroke prevention strategy is also helping to reduce dementia in people aged 80 and over.

Finally this week, a new study reveals the amygdala has distinct neurons that can judge ambiguity and intensity of facial expressions.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience takes a look inside the brains of professional comedians and compares them with less humorous humans. They attempt to home in on the seat of creative humour and ask what it can tell us about creativity.

A new study reports brain cells may preferentially activate a copy of one parent’s genes over the other in offspring.

Music, specifically infant directed song, could have evolved as a means to allow parents to let their children know their needs are being met, while freeing them up to perform other essential tasks, a new study theorizes.

Researchers report a new neuroimaging device can successfully measure brain synchronization during a conversation.

Specialized nerve cells, known as somatostatin-expressing (Sst) interneurons, in the outer part of the mammalian brain (or cerebral cortex) — play a key role in controlling how information flows in the brain when it is awake and alert. This is the finding of a study published online in Science March 2 by a team of neuroscientists at NYU Langone Medical Center and its Neuroscience Institute.

Amygdala reactivity may help predict who will have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in the year following a trauma, a recent study from Emory University  finds.

Recent research published in Frontiers in Public Health shows that the effects of vibrations produced by horses during horse-riding lead to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which improves learning in children.

A compound called P7C3 provides both protection for neurons following a stroke and improves physical and cognitive outcomes, a new study reports.

MIT researchers have devised a way to measure dopamine in the brain much more precisely than previously possible, which should allow scientists to gain insight into dopamine’s roles in learning, memory, and emotion.

A new study reports the ability to modulate brain activity when it comes to shutting off processes irrelevant to a task may be compromised in older people.

Concrete links between the symptoms of autism and synaesthesia have been discovered and clarified for the first time, according to new research by psychologists at the University of Sussex.

Researchers have identified a potential mechanism for the development of alcoholism.

Finally this week, researchers have discovered a genetic pathway that could lead to people developing anxiety and panic disorders.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Heading a football can significantly affect a player’s brain function and memory for 24 hours, a study has found.

Researchers have successfully transplanted embryonic neurons into damaged neural networks, a new study reports.

Scientists have identified for the first time the region in the brain responsible for the “placebo effect” in pain relief.

Results from a new clinical study conducted suggest that curtailing sleep alters the abundance of bacterial gut species that have previously been linked to compromised human metabolic health.

A new imaging technique that creates 3-D video of serotonin transport could aid antidepressant development.

Researchers have identified the cause of chronic, and currently untreatable, pain in those with amputations and severe nerve damage, as well as a potential treatment which relies on engineering instead of drugs.

A new study could explain why the ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating depression has been ineffective.

Using optogenetics to activate dopamine receptors in the ventral tegmental area could help people regain consciousness following general anesthesia, researchers report.

We all know that as we age, our skin loses its firmness and elasticity. However, researchers have now discovered our brains may also lose its elasticity as we age.

Researchers have identified a common culprit that may cause damage in stoke, brain injury and neurodegenerative disease.

Finally this week, A new study provides the first empirical evidence that self-serving lies gradually escalate and reveals how this happens in our brains.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

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Test subjects in an Ohio State University study were shown a series of photographs of different facial expressions. Researchers pinpointed an area of the brain that is specifically attuned to picking up key muscle movements (here, labeled AU for ‘action units’) that combine to express emotion. Credit: Ohio State University.

New machine learning algorithm can identify the facial expression a person is looking at based on neural activity.

After a stroke, there is inflammation in the damaged part of the brain. Until now, the inflammation has been seen as a negative consequence that needs to be abolished as soon as possible. But, as it turns out, there are also some positive sides to the inflammation, and it can actually help the brain to self-repair.

A new study reports hungry fish sense objects differently and take more risks when hunting than well fed fish.

In a study exploring the relationship between memory for specific past experiences and recovery from strong negative emotions, research psychologists report that episodic memory may be more important in helping midlife and older adults recover from a negative event than it is for younger adults.

New research reports one brain hemisphere remains more awake than the other when sleeping somewhere new. 

Long before Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed clinically, increasing difficulties building cognitive maps of new surroundings may herald the eventual clinical onset of the disorder, according to new research.

New research suggests actin filaments that control the shape of neuron cells may also be the key to the molecular machinery that forms and stores long-term memories.

Scientists have elucidated for the first time how a notoriously elusive serotonin receptor functions with atom-level detail. The receptor transmits electrical signals in neurons and is involved in various disorders, meaning that the discovery opens the way for new treatments.

Researchers have mapped out a circuit of neurons that is responsible for motor impairment–such as difficulty walking–in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Brain waves that spread through the hippocampus are initiated by a method not seen before–a possible step toward understanding and treating epilepsy, according to researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

Researchers have conducted a study examining the effect ecstasy has on different parts of the brain.

Finally this week researchers have found that drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

This image shows an overview of the Rehabilitation Gaming System. Image credit: Rehabilitation Gaming System.

This image shows an overview of the Rehabilitation Gaming System. Image credit: Rehabilitation Gaming System.

Using virtual reality to increase a patient’s confidence in using their paralyzed arm may be critical for recovery, according to research published in the open-access Journal of  NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.

A pioneering study conducted by leading researchers at the University of Sheffield has revealed blood types play a role in the development of the nervous system and may cause a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. The findings  seem to indicate that people who have an ‘O’ blood type are more protected against the diseases in which volumetric reduction is seen in temporal and mediotemporal regions of the brain like with Alzheimer’s disease for instance.

A star-shaped brain cell called an astrocyte appears to help keep blood pressure and blood flow inside the brain on a healthy, even keel, scientists report.

Thanks to advances in brain imaging technology, we now know how specific concrete objects are coded in the brain, to the point where we can identify which object, such as a house or a banana, someone is thinking about from its brain activation signature.

A new study finds some people can be trained to learn absolute pitch.

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown link between the brain and the immune system that could help explain links between poor physical health and brain disorders including Alzheimer’s and depression.

A team of neuroscientists has determined how a pair of growth factor molecules contributes to long-term memory formation, a finding that appears in the journal Neuron.

Our understanding of how a key part of the human brain works may be wrong. That’s the conclusion of a team at Oxford University’s Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA), published in journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Until now, it was thought that working memory – the way in which we deal with and respond to immediate demands – was underpinned by stable brain patterns. The OHBA team discovered that instead, the areas of the brain responsible for working memory are changing all the time.

A new study finds people with higher levels of moral reasoning have greater gray matter volume in brain regions linked to social behaviour, decision-making and conflict processing, compared with those who have lower levels of moral reasoning.

Genes linked to creativity could increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to new research.

One of the major challenges of cocaine addiction is the high rate of relapse after periods of withdrawal and abstinence. But new research reveals that changes in our DNA during drug withdrawal may offer promising ways of developing more effective treatments for addiction.

According to a piece of research by the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, the capacity to recall specific facts deteriorates with age, but other types of memory do not.

Finally, this week, a new study has found that the brain shrinks over the course of the day, ending up smaller in the evening – before returning to its full size the next morning.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A new study has found that while stereotypic shapes exist for this structure, individuals with a broader hippocampus tend to perform better on various tests that assess memory. The image is for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: Camillo Golgi.

A new study has found that while stereotypic shapes exist for this structure, individuals with a broader hippocampus tend to perform better on various tests that assess memory. The image is for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: Camillo Golgi.

New research challenges the long-held belief that a larger hippocampus is directly linked to improved memory function.

Premature birth can alter the connectivity between key areas of the brain, according to a new study led by King’s College London. The findings should help researchers to better understand why premature birth is linked to a greater risk of neurodevelopmental problems, including autistic spectrum disorders and attention deficit disorders.

Scientists have uncovered mathematical equations behind the way the brain forms – and even loses – memories.

New scanning methods which map the wiring of the brain could provide a valuable new tool to predict people at risk of schizophrenia, according to a new study.

People with depression may be more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, according to a large study published in Neurology.

Medical researchers have known for several years that there is some sort of link between long-term depression and an increased risk of stroke. But now scientists are finding that even after such depression eases, the risk of stroke can remain high.

A new study from the University of Cambridge has identified one of the oldest fossil brains ever discovered – more than 500 million years old – and used it to help determine how heads first evolved in early animals.

Researchers have succeeded in reconstructing the neuronal networks that interconnect the elementary units of sensory cortex — cortical columns. The scientists say that this study marks a major step forward to advance the understanding of the organizational principles of the neocortex and sets the stage for future studies that will provide extraordinary insight into how sensory information is represented, processed and encoded within the cortical circuitry.

Smokers who are able to quit might actually be hard-wired for success, according to a study from Duke Medicine.

Scientists are attempting to mimic the memory and learning functions of neurons found in the human brain. To do so, they investigated the electronic equivalent of the synapse, the bridge, making it possible for neurons to communicate with each other.

Finally this week, in a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists found that our inherent risk-taking preferences affect how we view and act on information from other people.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A neural network is like a social network: The strongest bonds exist between like-minded partners.  Credit: Biozentrum, University of Basel

A neural network is like a social network: The strongest bonds exist between like-minded partners.
Credit: Biozentrum, University of Basel

Neurons in the brain are wired like a social network, report researchers from Biozentrum, University of Basel. Each nerve cell has links with many others, but the strongest bonds form between the few cells most similar to each other. The results are published in the journal Nature.

Stroke survivors can have “significant” improvement in arm movements after using the Nintendo Wii as physiotherapy according to researchers.

Grasping an object involves a complex network of brain functions. First, visual cues are processed in specialized areas of the brain. Then, other areas of the brain use these signals to control the hands to reach for and manipulate the desired object. New findings suggest that the cerebellum, a region of the brain that has changed very little over time, may play a critical role. Findings could lead to advancements in assistive technologies benefiting the disabled.

A process previously thought to be mere background noise in the brain has been found to shape the growth of neurons as the brain develops, according to research published in Cell Reports.

Applying lessons learned from autism to brain cancer, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered why elevated levels of the protein NHE9 add to the lethality of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. Their discovery suggests that drugs designed to target NHE9 could help to successfully fight the deadly disease.

Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel claim to have overturned standard thinking on how the brain is able to perform different tasks by studying brain activity in blind people.

Previously, it was thought ability to repair DNA was the same throughout the body, but new research overturns this idea and shows organs vary in the extent to which they carry out a type of DNA repair called nucleotide excision repair.

Finally this week, a major study by an international team shows new evidence that long-term smoking could cause thinning of the brain’s cortex. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain in which critical cognitive functions such as memory, language and perception take place. Interestingly, the findings also suggest that stopping smoking helps to restore at least part of the cortex’s thickness.