Weekly Neuroscience Update

Neuron_cluster.width-800

TDP-43 inclusions are found in cells in the central nervous system. Image Credit: M. Oktar Guloglu, Wikimedia Commons

A team of researchers is fishing for a new method to treat neurodegenerative disorders. Its tactic? Bait dysfunctional proteins and prevent them from joining together into the kind of toxic globs found in almost every patient with ALS or frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

A ‘hit-and-run’ interaction between two proteins could be an important trigger for cell death, according to new research.

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed an automated process that can trace the shapes of active neurons as accurately as human researchers can, but in a fraction of the time.

Zapping the brains of people over 60 with a mild electrical current improved a form of memory enough that they performed like people in their 20s, a new study found.

Laughter really could be the best medicine when it comes to brain surgery. Neuroscientists at Emory University School of Medicine used electrical stimulation to activate a focal pathway in the brain and trigger laughter, which is immediately followed by a sense of calm and contentment. The technique was used while conducting diagnostic monitoring for seizure diagnosis on an epilepsy patient, with the effects later used to successfully undergo awake brain surgery on the same patient.

38 new genes have been implicated in hearing loss. One of the genes, SPNS2, has been linked to childhood deafness.

Increased kynurenic acid production has been implicated in the pathology of schizophrenia. The findings provide a new target for cell-specific treatments that help reduce the production of kynurenic acid and reduce symptoms of schizophrenia.

Scientists have pinpointed a group of cells in the brain whose activity could help explain the ability to share another’s pain.

Imbalanced communication between the hippocampus and amygdala may lead to the inability to distinguish between negative memories that have overlapping features. The findings could provide new treatment options for those with PTSD.

Finally this week, a new study reports that music synchronizes brainwaves across listeners with strong effects of repetition, familiarity and training.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

5ca4c9efcbd6e.jpg

How well-connected a particular brain network is, and how successfully memories are formed, may determine which patients with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from behavioral therapy, researchers have found.

A new paper discusses the potential of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, OCD, Tourette syndrome and other disorders.

Reduced blood capillaries in the back of the eye may be a new, noninvasive way to diagnose early cognitive impairment, the precursor to Alzheimer’s disease in which individuals become forgetful, reports a newly published study.

Animal-assisted therapy can foster social competence in patients with brain injuries and increase their emotional involvement during therapy. 

CGRP, a protein associated with migraine pain, appears to act differently between sexes. Researchers say a female-specific mechanism of downstream CGRP receptor activation is likely to contribute to the higher prevalence of migraine in women.

A new model sheds light on the evolutionary origins of empathy and other associated phenomena. 

A team of scientists has shown that when deep-brain stimulation is applied to a specific brain region, it improves patients’ cognitive control over their behavior by increasing the power of a specific low-frequency brain rhythm in their prefrontal cortex.

Researchers have increased understanding of how computing technology could be used to help people with depression remember happy memories.

A study has found that childhood trauma is linked to abnormal connectivity in the brain in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). The paper, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is the first data-driven study to show symptom-specific, system-level changes in brain network connectivity in MDD.

Finally this week, the findings of an EEG study on two-month-old babies reveal the impact of maternal stress on early neurodevelopment.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

memory-fades-over-time-neurosciencneews

Much like opaque filters we apply to pictures on social media, the vibrancy of our memories dims and fades over time. The image reflects 12 levels of visual salience, or vibrancy, used to rate how memories fade. The image is credited to Psychological Science.

Low-level visual information fades in memory over time. However, negative emotion increases subjective memory vividness.

Musical training produces lasting improvements to a cognitive mechanism that helps individuals be more attentive and less likely to be distracted by irrelevant stimuli while performing demanding tasks.

Neurobiologists have studied the formation of inhibitory synapses, a complex process that occurs when the brain adapts. 

The synesthesia effect of being able to ‘hear’ silent movements may depend upon disinhibition of signaling between the visual and auditory brain regions. A new study found musicians are more likely to experience the ‘visual ear’ phenomena than those with no musical training.

Using OCT angiography to quantify capillary changes in the back of the eye can help in the detection, and monitor the progression, of Alzheimer’s disease.

Polygenetic risk scores calculated from adults can be used to identify children and adolescents who may be at greater risk of developing depression, even before clinical symptoms have emerged.

An uncommon variant of the PDE11A gene impacts both quality and duration of sleep. 

Scientists have discovered the key brain region for navigating well-known places, helping explain why brain damage seen in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can cause such severe disorientation.

Finally this week, a team of researchers has found what they describe as a link between the “locus of control” in adolescents and their use of tobacco and alcohol.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

robot-eyes-motor-impairment-neurosciencneews.jpg

Robotic body surrogates can help people with profound motor deficits interact with the world. Here, Henry Evans, a California man who helped Georgia Tech researchers with improvements to a web-based interface, uses the robot to shave himself.  

People with profound motor deficits reported an improved quality of life while using robotic body surrogates.

A new study reports babies’ brains are sensitive to different emotional tones they hear in voices. Researchers suggest maternal interactions may help to shape the same brain region adults use for emotional processing.

Researchers are finding new evidence that exercise — even low-intensity, casual physical activity — can boost brain health in the short- and long-term.

The brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter is long known for its role in passing signals between neurons in the brain, can also regulate expression of genes within neurons in an unexpected way, according to research conducted by neuroscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published on March 13 in the journal Nature.

New patterns of brain aging across the human lifespan have been revealed by scientists analysing microstructural changes in the brain’s white matter.

According to researchers, there is an optimum amount of dopamine that should be present within the brain. This optimum amount can help improve cognitive performance on tasks, researchers report.

Oxford University scientists have discovered a brain process common to sleep and aging in research that could pave the way for new treatments for insomnia.

Finally this week, a new review, which appears in The BMJ journal, examines the benefits of non-invasive brain stimulation for treating major depression and finds that the technique is a valid alternative to existing treatments.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

20190304-brain-niaaa.jpg

NIH scientists present a new method for combining measures of brain activity (left) and glucose consumption (right) to study regional specialization and to better understand the effects of alcohol on the human brain.

Assessing the patterns of energy use and neuronal activity simultaneously in the human brain improves our understanding of how alcohol affects the brain, according to new research by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

A new study reports teens with high levels of depression display poorer working memory in tests than those with low symptoms.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, moderate in nuts, fish and alcohol and low in meat and full-fat dairy is associated with better cognitive performance in middle age, according to researchers.

A team of researchers has identified, for the first time, the cell types, areas and biological processes in the brain that mediate the genetic risk of insomnia.

Scientists report EEG technology has the ability to study activity of areas deep inside the brain, such as the thalamus and nucleus accumbens. The findings will help shed new light on disorders that affect these brain regions, such as Parkinson’s disease and OCD.

Researchers have identified a pathway near the midbrain where neural messages for taste and pain converge, a new study reports.

A new study reveals how blood vessels help protect the brain during inflammation. The findings could help in the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases.

Choosing to forget something might take more mental effort than trying to remember it, scientists have discovered through neuroimaging.

According to researchers, keeping both physically and mentally active during middle age can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia during old age. The study found women who participated in mental activities were 46% less likely to develop dementia, and those who were physically active at a 52% reduced risk.

Finally this week, a new study reveals women have higher activation in sensory areas of the brain associated with pain compared to males when witnessing another person suffering.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

arm_16x9.jpg

A new prosthetic hand enables amputees to regain a subtle, close to natural, sense of touch.

Researchers at MIT have developed a new neuroimaging technique that can track signaling processes inside neurons. The MRI sensor will enable researchers to identify the roles neurons play in different types of behavior.

Estrogen in the brain is important to keep neurons communicating and memories being made, scientists report.

A new study shows that there is a very limited regeneration of cells in the brain of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). These findings underline the importance of treating MS at an early stage of the disease progression, when the affected cells can repair the damage as they are not replaced by new ones.

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

Older adults who engage in short bursts of physical activity can experience a boost in brain health even if the activity is carried out at a reasonably low intensity, according to a new study.

In children with autism, the sound of their mom’s voice creates a weaker brain response than in their peers not on the autism spectrum, a new study reports.

Researchers report they have identified biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in spinal fluid samples of a significant number of older patients hospitalized as a result of hip fractures. The study suggests neural alterations that lead to poor balance in older people may signify an increased risk of falls that result in hip fractures, and Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study reveals how male sex steroids impact brain development

Finally this week, scientists have found the first common genetic risk variants for autism and uncovered genetic differences in clinical subgroups of autism. The discovery means that we will in future be able to determine the genes which separate the diagnostic groups, make more precise diagnoses, and provide better counselling for the individual person suffering from autism disorders.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

autism-body-clock-neurosciencnews.jpg

Image Source: RIKEN

Researchers report the hierarchy of intrinsic neural timescales appears to be disrupted in adults on the autism spectrum. 

A new study reveals teenage binge drinking can result in lasting epigenetic changes that alter the expression of BDNF-AS, a protein vital for the formation of neural connection in the amygdala.

Researchers shed light on the neural networks that appear to govern human consciousness.

Scientists report the popular bodybuilding protein supplement, L-norvaline, can have a negative impact on brain health. Researchers found that in low concentrations, the supplement causes damage to neurons which eventually leads to cell death.

A new study finds cannabis use in teens is associated with a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety as adults.

According to researchers, there is an optimum amount of dopamine that should be present within the brain. This optimum amount can help improve cognitive performance on tasks, researchers report.

A new study reveals the somatosensory cortex plays a complex role in memory and reward learning.

Scientists report EEG technology can help to predict the onset of epileptic seizures up to four minutes in advance. Additionally, acetate, an edible acid, may help to prevent seizures if they are detected with enough notice.

Teenagers suffering with depression may struggle with recalling specific memories, according to new research from the University of Reading.

A new study reveals women’s brains tend to appear three years younger than males of the same age. Researchers report this could be a reason why women tend to remain mentally sharp longer than men.

A new prosthetic hand enables amputees to regain a subtle, close to natural, sense of touch.

Finally this week, new research reports that older adults who exercise by using electric bicycles experience comparable cognitive and mental health benefits to those who use a standard, pedal-powered bike.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

sleep-infection-neuroscinenews (1)

This diagram shows how the effects of Gαs-coupled agonists on T cells can be influenced by sleep or disease. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Dimitrov et al., 2019.

A new study reports sleep can help immune cells attach to targets and help fight infection. The study reveals how sleep assists the body in fighting infections, whereas conditions like chronic stress can make the body more susceptible to illness.

Researchers have demonstrated that physical coordination is more beneficial in larger groups.

Scientists have identified a small set of molecules that can convert glial cells into new neurons. The finding could help develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and brain injuries.

New therapeutic molecules show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging.

The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds. Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven) and his team published these results today in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology.

A new study reports unexpected changes in music activates the nucleus accumbens, providing reward and helping us to learn about the music as we listen. 

Researchers reveal the different cognitive styles of creative and analytical thinkers are a result of fundamental differences in neural activity that can be observed when people are not working on a problem.

Finally this week, a new study reports fluvoxamine, an antidepressant used to treat OCD appears to be effective in stopping sepsis.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

sleep-pain-neuroscinenews.jpg

Activity in the brain’s somatosensory cortex, which receives pain signals, increased 126 percent following a sleepless night vs. a full night of sleep. 

Researchers report sleep deprivation intensifies and prolongs pain.

A new study reports a causal link between dopamine, musical pleasure and motivation. Phamacologically manipulating dopamine levels, researchers found increasing dopamine increased the hedonic experience and motivational response to listening to a piece of music.

Scientists have developed a protein sensor which allows for the observation of nicotine’s movement in cells.

Patients with psychosis have accelerated aging of two brain networks important for general cognition–the frontoparietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular network (CON)–according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry.

A new international study has identified 269 new genes linked to depression.

Researchers have identified the 3D structure of a brain receptor that causes nausea as a result of chemotherapy treatments for cancer. The same receptor also plays a critical role in pain perception, migraines and chronic itching.

There is growing evidence that at least in some patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), the disease may begin in the gut. 

New science uncovers how an unlikely culprit, Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) – the bacterium commonly associated with chronic gum disease – appears to drive Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology.

Researchers have identified a genetic link between impulsivity and a predisposition to engage in risky behaviors.

Differences in cognitive development between hearing and deaf children start in infancy, according to new research by The Ohio State University College of Medicine published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

A new study reveals blood cell DNA remains steady, even after transplant. The findings shed new light on human aging.

Finally this week, researchers have shed new light on why some people may not respond to antidepressants for major depressive disorder. The study reports neurons in the brains of some with MDD may become hyperactive in the presence of SSRIs.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

brain-20424_960_720.jpg

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.