Weekly Neuroscience Update

astrocytes-neurosciencenews.jpg

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

synapses-visual-world-neurosciencenews.jpg

Our brain is especially good at perceiving lines and contours even if they do not actually exist, such as the blue triangle in the foreground of this optical illusion. The pattern of neuronal connections in the brain supports this ability.

Researchers have identified how our brains are so good at perceiving contours and edges. The study, published in Nature, reports neurons are most likely to connect if they react to edges that lie on a common axis and the structure of the world around us is mirrored in the pattern of synapses.

A new study reports bilingual people think about time differently depending on the language context they are estimating event duration.

The first large study to rigorously examine brain-training games using cognitive tests and brain imaging adds to evidence that they are not particularly good at training brains and appear to have no more effect on healthy brains than video games.

Scientists report that listening to something while looking in a different direction may slow reaction times and increase the effort for auditory attention.

The part of the brain that helps control emotion may be larger in people who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after brain injury compared to those with a brain injury without PTSD, according to a new study.

Researchers are investigating why certain language abilities are lost as a result of a traumatic brain injury, and how others can be regained.

A recently published study investigates time perception and temporal information processing in people with schizophrenia. It reveals the internal clock in schizophrenics does not necessarily run slower or faster than in healthy individuals, but rather it does not run at a consistent speed.

Finally, this week, using music to learn a physical task develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

adobe-spark-81

Practicing paying attention can boost performance on a new task, and change the way the brain processes information, a new study says. This might explain why learning a new skill can start out feeling grueling, but eventually feels more natural — although right now, the study’s findings are limited to a simple pattern-recognition game.

A new study reports traumatic brain injury is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia in people of working age.

According to researchers, the ability to assess memory quality appears in children, and metamemory continues to improve beyond childhood into adolescence. The findings could provide new insights into effective learning methods and assist teachers to devise new educational strategies.

Researchers report harmful plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease may build up in the brain as a result of high blood pressure and decreased cerebral blood flow.

A new paper may help answer some questions as to why some infants die suddenly. Looking at blood samples from infants who had died of SIDS, researchers discover 31% of the children had elevated levels of serotonin. The researchers concluded that abnormal serotonin metabolism could indicate an underlying vulnerability that increases SIDS risk.

Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

Poor sleep may be a sign that people who are otherwise healthy may be more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life than people who do not have sleep problems, according to a study published in Neurology. Researchers have found a link between sleep disturbances and biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease found in the spinal fluid.

A new study reports that listening to something while looking in a different direction may slow reaction times and increase the effort for auditory attention.

Finally, this week, higher intelligence (IQ) in childhood is associated with a lower lifetime risk of major causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, smoking-related cancers, respiratory disease and dementia, finds a study published by The BMJ.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

macine-learning-thought-fmri-neurosciencenews.jpg

This latest research builds on the pioneering use of machine learning algorithms with brain imaging technology to “mind read.” The findings indicate that the mind’s building blocks for constructing complex thoughts are formed by the brain’s various sub-systems and are not word-based.  Image is credited to Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers report they can use brain activation patterns to identify complex thoughts. Their findings suggest the building blocks for complex human thoughts are not word based, but formed by the brain’s sub systems. The study provides evidence that the neural dimensions of concept representation are universal across people and languages.

A new study considers how echolocation can benefit visually impaired people to navigate safely through the environment.

Neuroscientists have used a classic branch of maths in a totally new way to peer into the structure of our brains. What they’ve discovered is that the brain is full of multi-dimensional geometrical structures operating in as many as 11 dimensions.

People tend to change the pitch of their voice depending on who they are talking to, and how dominant they feel, a new study has found.

Researchers have identified a network of neurons that plays a vital role in learning vocalizations by aiding communication between motor and auditory regions of the brain.

A new study reinforces the idea that serotonin, a molecule associated with mood, directly contributes to the actions of cocaine.

A new report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows evidence supporting three interventions for cognitive decline and dementia—cognitive training, blood pressure management for people with hypertension, and increased physical activity, which might slow down cognitive decline and the onset of dementia.

Therapies to change the bacteria in the gut, through diet, pro-and prebiotic supplements, faecal matter transplants or antibiotics, could treat autism.

Finally this week, researchers say a protein usually associated with the immune system could play a role in the development of neurological conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

girl-1990347_960_720.jpgA new report reveals how the development of music is so closely tied to our own evolution.

Even a single bout of physical activity can have significant positive effects on people’s mood and cognitive functions, according to a new study in Brain Plasticity.

A new study reports on the complex brain connections employed during word retrieval.

New research provides an unprecedented level of resolution and insight into disturbances in cortical GABAergic microcircuits, which are thought to underlie cognitive impairments in schizophrenia.

A sign language study helps researchers better understand how the brain processes language.

Researchers say the goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time, but to optimize intelligent decision making by holding on to valuable information.

A new study reports microglia may play a role in a diverse array of neurodegenerative and psychiatric illnesses.

A new brain imaging study shows for the first time that brain inflammation is significantly elevated – more than 30 per cent higher – in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) than in people without the condition.

A research team has studied two structurally-similar proteins in the adult brain and have found that they play distinct roles in the development of dementia. 

Neurons found to be abnormal in psychosis play an important role in our ability to distinguish between what is real and what is perceived, researchers say.

A new study sheds light on the neural mechanism behind why some people with autism are unable to make eye contact with others.

While researchers report the risk of developing psychosis from cannabis use is relatively small, those who use the drug and already suffer from schizophrenia may notice their condition worsen.

Finally this week, researchers have discovered a mechanism of glucose sensing by muscles that contribute to the regulation of blood sugar levels in the body.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

4121A56E00000578-4574260-image-a-57_1496767085907.jpgElectrically stimulating the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex can enhance our ability to ‘think outside the box’, a new study reports.

An international team of researchers has found, for the first time, seven risk genes for insomnia. With this finding the researchers have taken an important step towards the unravelling of the biological mechanisms that cause insomnia. In addition, the finding proves that insomnia is not, as is often claimed, a purely psychological condition.

Researchers have developed a neural network based AI system that can decode and predict what a person is seeing or imagining.

A new study reports artificial intelligence used by the military to help shoot down fighter planes can accurately predict treatment outcomes for people with bipolar disorder.

New research sheds light on how the brain codes navigation behaviour at larger scales.

The visual cortex, the human brain’s vision-processing center 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, a neuroscientist and her colleagues have found.

Clusters of a sticky protein — amyloid plaque — found in the brain signal mental decline years before symptoms appear, a new study finds.

According to researchers, brain signals in specific brain areas change during a lifespan in ways that could be vital for maintaining flexibility.

Two new studies shed light on how the brain encodes and recalls memories.

People with voice disorders may have a problem with correctly utilizing auditory feedback to control their voices.

A new study reveals the role the motor system plays in the perception of language. 

According to researchers, bilingual children perform better at voice recognition and processing than monolingual children.

Fascination with faces is nature, not nurture, suggests a new study of third-trimester fetuses.

Finally this week, the mystery of how human eyes compute the direction of moving light has been made clearer by scientists at The University of Queensland.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

memory-codes-neurosciencenews.jpgIn a pair of studies, scientists at the National Institutes of Health explored how the human brain stores and retrieves memories. One study suggests that the brain etches each memory into unique firing patterns of individual neurons. Meanwhile, the second study suggests that the brain replays memories faster than they are stored.

A machine learning algorithm shows that during sleep, the brain actively reprocesses information learned the previous day, strengthening the memory.

Scientists  have revealed how laughter releases endorphins in the human brain. The more opioid receptors the participants had in their brain, the more they laughed during the experiment.

Researchers believe they may have cracked the code for facial recognition in the primate brain.

Theta oscillations, a type of rhythmic electrical activity that waxes and wanes four to eight times per second, may play a fundamental role in processing scent in the human brain, according to a new study recently published in Neuron.

Researchers investigate how neurons work together to help us make decisions.

A new Finnish study has now demonstrated that seeing others in pain activates the same brain regions involved in firsthand pain, which suggests that a shared neuromolecular pathway processes both types of pain. Specifically, the researchers showed that the endogenous opioid system, but not the dopamine system, contributes to vicarious pain.

Finally this week, a new study could help explain how neurons achieve greater efficiency and reliability.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

infographic5_jorntell_en_0.jpg

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

4961.jpg

Scientists have unpicked the regions of the brain involved in dreaming, in a study with significant implications for our understanding of the purpose of dreams and of consciousness itself. What’s more, changes in brain activity have been found to offer clues as to what the dream is about.

A machine learning algorithm shows that during sleep, the brain actively reprocesses information learned the previous day, strengthening the memory.

A new study of obese people suggests that changes in their brains’ reward regions make them more prone to overeating, and that women and men exhibit different brain activity related to overeating.

A plasma membrane protein affects the generation of new neurons in the adult hippocampus, a new study reports.

The brains of youth experiencing elevated depressive symptoms early in adolescence appear to develop differently from those experiencing depression in late adolescence, reports a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Specifically, the MRI study found that cortical surface area was lower in youth with early depressive symptoms compared with those in the other groups.

While some researchers believe oxytocin is released to enhance a romantic relationship, this might not always be the case, a new study reveals.

Researchers have developed a new method to induce visual hallucinations in healthy people. The study could help to develop new treatments to control hallucinations in people with Parkinson’s and other disorders.

Exercise may bolster the brain function and thinking skills of people with dementia, according to a new report.

When prompted to use verbal thinking, people create visual images to accompany their speech, implying visual thinking could be hardwired into our brains, a new study reports.

Researchers report brain network organization changes can influence executive function in young adults.

What happens in the brain when we see other people experiencing a trauma or being subjected to pain? It seems the same regions that are involved when we feel pain ourselves are also activated when we observe other people who appear to be going through some painful experience. This is shown in a study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in Nature Communications.

A new study reports EEG could accurately predict which newborn babies will have neurodevelopmental disorders.

Finally this week, new research, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience makes the case against fixed starting times, i.e. a fixed one-size-fits-all approach for students and employees.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

visual-perception-real-inferred-neurosciencenews.jpgHumans treat ‘inferred’ visual objects generated by the brain as more reliable than external images from the real world, according to new research published in eLife.

Scientists have identified Lgl1 as the gene that controls the production of neurons and glia cells in the brain. Previously unknown functions of a neurodevelopment gene clarified.

Findings about the brain-body connection may also have implications for treating those with opioid addiction, researchers believe.

Neuroscientists have for the first time have come up with a way to observe brain activity during “natural reading,” the reading of actual text and not just individual words. The findings are already helping settle some ideas about how we read.

Researchers have discovered the molecular mechanism behind lithium’s effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder.

Scientists have developed a robust, efficient method for deriving microglia, the immune cells of the brain, from human stem cells. Microglia are increasingly implicated in neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, among many others. However, research into the role of human microglia in these disorders has long been hampered by the inability to obtain them from the human nervous system. This new protocol now enables scientists around the world to generate this critical cell type from individual patients and improve our understanding of the role of microglia neurological malfunction.

A new study describes how advances in technology can help us avoid aging and age related diseases.

Researchers have made an important step in understanding the organisation of nerve cells embedded within the gut that control its function — a discovery that could give insight into the origin of common gastrointestinal diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation.

New research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has identified a protein that could help patients with epilepsy respond more positively to drug therapies.

Finally this week, a new study on “fear memory” could lead to the development of therapies that reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).