Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study has identified a novel signaling system controlling neuronal plasticity.

A lack of shrinkage in the area of the brain responsible for memory may be a sign that people with thinking and memory problems may go on to develop dementia with Lewy bodies rather than Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published in the November 2, 2016, online issue of Neurology.

A new paper offers an overview as to how neurons ‘communicate’ with one another.

Researchers have confirmed a genetic link between mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed on from the mother, and some forms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A new study looks at how the digestive tract communicates with the brain and could help find new treatment options for obesity.

Scientists can now map what happens neurologically when new information influences a person to change his or her mind, a finding that offers more insight into the mechanics of learning.

New studies may help to explain the path from stem cells to dopamine neurons.

Increased muscle strength leads to improved brain function in adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), new results from a recent trial led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

Researchers have identified a previously unknown stage of human brain development.

Finally, this  week  a new study finds that subtle, unconscious increases in arousal – indicated by a faster heartbeat and dilated pupils – shape our confidence for visual experiences.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

bubbly-cold-drink-thirst-sensation-public-neurosciencenews.jpgA new study reports the oral perception of coldness and carbonation can help to reduce thirst.

Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of cardio metabolic conditions, may be a biological mechanism linking post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to structural brain abnormalities, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry.

How do we decide if something is worth the effort? A team of researchers has been finding out.

According to a new study, our ability to track and understand speech in both noisy and quite environments deteriorates due to speech processing declines in the midbrain of older adults.

Researchers have discovered a neural circuit that processes processes evaluations, with implications for understanding depression.

A new mathematical model that describes the molecular events associated with the beginning stage of learning and memory formation in the human brain has been developed.

Understanding fluctuations in brain networks may reveal how some people are able to learn new tasks more quickly.

Finally this week, researchers have developed an ‘epigenetic clock’ that calculates the biological age of a person from a blood sample and can estimate the person’s life span.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new mathematical model helps neurosurgeons map the impact of surgery on the brain.

Researchers have discovered a potential treatment that may help delay motor neuron loss in ALS.

A new paper offers an overview as to how neurons ‘communicate’ with one another.

The brain’s biological clock stimulates thirst in the hours before sleep, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam report the brain is more robust than previously thought.

Habitual short sleepers might be more efficient sleepers, but also more tired than they realize, a new study reports.

Data from the world’s largest brain and body scanning study has been released.

Researchers have identified gene expression signatures common to sensory processing that facilitates the brain’s interpretation of sensory input.

A new study reports continued heavy drinking in older people is associated with poor global cognitive and motor functions.

There’s growing evidence that a physical injury to the brain can make people susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers report an ancient area of the midbrain in all vertebrates can independently control and reorientate the eyes.

Finally this week, meditation can help people to take their negative emotions, a new study reports.

 

 

 

 

What Causes Mass Panic in Emergency Situations?

Study investigates crowd behaviour under stress in a virtual environment.

In emergency situations such as terrorist attacks, natural catastrophes, and fires, there is always a risk of mass panic leading to deadly crowd disasters. But what causes mass panic and where are the danger zones? An international researcher team examined these questions in a virtual environment and their results have been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Because these questions are difficult to study in the real world, the international research team exposed 36 participants to an emergency in a three-dimensional virtual environment. Each participant simultaneously navigated an avatar through virtual space on a computer screen. The researchers studied the participants‘ behaviours in several experiments, setting them various tasks under high-stress conditions.

To find out how the participants reacted in an emergency situation, the researchers simulated an evacuation from a complex building with four exits, only one of which was usable. Although most of the group did not know which was the correct exit, some participants were directed to it by an arrow at the top of their computer screen. Participants knew that some group members were aware of the correct exit, but they did not know who those people were. In addition, the researchers increased the stress level by putting participants under time pressure and monetary pressure: Participants had to escape the building within 50 seconds to avoid a substantial loss of points. At the end of the session, the points won were converted into monetary bonuses. Further stress-inducing elements were poor lighting, red blinking lights, and fires at the blocked exits.

The experiments showed that collisions and pushing increased quickly under stress. The most dangerous zones were places where decisions had to be made, areas where bottlenecks occurred and caused congestion, and dead ends where participants were forced to turn around and walk back against the flow of the crowd.

The researchers also looked at group dynamics during the stressful evacuation situation. Their analyses revealed that individuals were exposed to much stronger social signals under high stress and high density levels than in less stressful situations. In other words, they were more aware of where the group was going, what it was doing, and how it was feeling, and were thus more strongly influenced by the group. The study’s findings indicate that individuals are more likely to follow a group under the influence of these strong social signals. This can quickly lead to mass herding and dangerous overcrowding.

Source: Mehdi Moussaïd – Max Planck Institute

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study sheds light on how some older people retain youthful thinking abilities and the brain circuits that support those abilities.

Relying on clinical symptoms of memory loss to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease may miss other forms of dementia caused by Alzheimer’s that don’t initially affect memory, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

Bilingual people may have a cognitive advantage when it comes to maintaining attention and focus, a new study reports.

An EU-funded project is getting close to building combined brain and neuromuscular computer models to predict the progression of Parkinson’s and ensure the prescription of the correct medication.

A new study investigates what happens when we multitask and why it’s not such a good idea to drive and use a phone at the same time.

Researchers have found a switch that redirects helper cells in the peripheral nervous system into “repair” mode, a form that restores damaged axons.

A new study offers insight into the neurological processes involved in fear and anxiety.

According to researchers, a simple MRI brain scan could help diagnose people with a common cognitive disorder.

A new mathematical model could improve understanding of memory consolidation during deep sleep.

High stress between the ages of  5 and 8 is biologically embedded, posing mental health risks decades later into adult life, suggests US brain scans study.

Finally this week, a new paper reports on how understanding brain function has become more than a brain science.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Getting some sleep in between study sessions may make it easier to recall what you studied and relearn what you’ve forgotten, even 6 months later, according to new findings.

Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of cardiometabolic conditions, may be a biological mechanism linking posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to structural brain abnormalities, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry. The findings highlight the need to develop effective interventions for PTSD to treat not only the symptoms associated with the disorder, but also potential ensuing metabolic and neurodegenerative consequences, which may be suggestive of premature aging.

A new study strengthens previous research that claims performing cognitive tasks later in life may reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Your brain activity differs depending on whether you’re working on a task, or at rest — and just how much that activity differs may be linked to how smart you are, a new study finds.

Researchers have developed a new, non-invasive technique that could be used to treat patients with consciousness disorders.

New research published in the New Journal of Physics tries to decompose the structural layers of the cortical network to different hierarchies enabling to identify the network’s nucleus, from which our consciousness could emerge.

A new neuroimaging study links alcohol cravings to the right ventral striatum.

According to researchers, age related changes in the organisation of neural networks when performing short term memory tasks may help to compensate for other aspects of brain ageing.

Researchers have identified a circuit that seems to be related to serotonin-driven anxiety.

A test of how sticky a protein molecule is could help diagnose the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, a study from the University of Edinburgh suggests.

Finally, this week a new study reports dogs have the ability to understand human speech intonation and vocabulary by using similar brain areas to humans.

 

A Visual Nudge Can Disrupt Recall of What Things Look Like

Interfering with your vision makes it harder to describe what you know about the appearance of even common objects, according to new research.

Study participants were asked recall bits of visual information they know about specific objects. Half the time, they saw a blast of coloured static meant to disrupt the parts of the brain that process visual information. The static made a significant difference in their ability to recall the correct information, showing a connection between visual memory and the visual perception systems in the brain.

Visual interference selectively interrupted their ability to answer questions about the visual properties of objects. They had trouble trying to recall that kind of information. But it didn’t change how good they were at accessing what they knew about the nonvisual properties of the same objects.

For more on this study click here

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A virtual reality world called EVA Park can improve the communication of those who have impaired speech and language following a stroke, according to research by academics at City University London. The study, which is published in PLOS ONE, is the first exploration of multi-user virtual reality in aphasia therapy and shows the potential for technology to play an important role in improving the everyday lives of people with the condition.

A new study will look at how brain connections mature and develop from childhood to adulthood.

Neurons communicate by sending chemical signals called neurotransmitters across synapses, specialized connections between two individual cells. This communication requires a delicate and intricate molecular architecture. A recent paper published in Nature has now shown that the structure of this intercellular space is more complicated than previously thought, and it probably helps boost the efficiency of the signaling.

A new long term study of young marijuana users tracks the brain’s response to reward over time. The findings indicate a lower response to reward in marijuana users.

Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh have identified the neural networks that connect the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla, which is responsible for the body’s rapid response in stressful situations. These findings, reported in the online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), provide evidence for the neural basis of a mind-body connection.

A new study provides insight into how overconfidence can lead to poor decision making.

Scientists have identified part of our brain that helps us learn to be good to other people. The discovery could help understanding of conditions like psychopathy where people’s behaviour is extremely antisocial.

Finally this week, researchers have developed a neurodevelopmental model of a rare genetic disorder that could help shed light on the workings of the human social brain.