Weekly Neuroscience Update

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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

 

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Neurons store and transmit information in the brain.Credit: CNRI/SPL

Superconducting computing chips modeled after neurons can process information faster and more efficiently than the human brain.  

New research published in JAMA Neurology suggests that those people whose memory is intact and who do not show any signs of Alzheimer’s can have disrupted circadian rhythms — which may be a very early sign of Alzheimer’s.

Stimulating specific regions of the brain can help to improve memory and word recall in those with severe epilepsy, a new Nature Communications study reports.  

Gene therapies promise to revolutionize the treatment of many diseases, including neurological diseases such as ALS. But the small viruses that deliver therapeutic genes can have adverse side effects at high doses. Researchers have now found a structure on these viruses that makes them better at crossing from the bloodstream into the brain – a key factor for administering gene therapies at lower doses for treating brain and spinal disorders.

Researchers discover the activity of 80 percent of genes follow a day/night rhythm in many tissue types and brain regions. 

Aging or impaired brains can once again form lasting memories if an enzyme that applies the brakes too hard on a key gene is lifted, according to University of California, Irvine neurobiologists.

Researchers have implicated mossy cells in both seizures and memory problems in those with temporal lobe epilepsy. 

Increasing evidence has linked autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with dysfunction of the brain’s cerebellum, but the details have been unclear. In a new study, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital used stem cell technology to create cerebellar cells known as Purkinje cells from patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic syndrome that often includes ASD-like features. In the lab, the cells showed several characteristics that may help explain how ASD develops at the molecular level.

Finally this week, neuroscientists have discovered how the brain can determine an object’s value almost as soon as we see it.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A growing body of evidence suggests that learning to play an instrument and continuing to practice and play it may offer mental benefits throughout life. Hearing has also been shown to be positively affected by making music. The latest study, published in the July issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that musical instrument training may reduce the effects of mental decline associated with aging. The research found that older adults who learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at least 10 years outperformed others in tests of memory and cognitive ability.

Neuroscientists are finding that, as we get older, our aging brains are proving surprisingly malleable, and in ways not previously anticipated. But there are limitations. There is growing evidence that, beyond what was previously believed, the adult human brain is remarkably malleable and capable of new feats — even in the last decades of life. And UCLA researchers found that older adults who regularly used a brain fitness program played on a computer demonstrated significantly improved memory and language skills.

From older to younger brains now…

Determining when a teenage brain becomes an adult brain is not an exact science but it’s getting closer, according to an expert in adolescent developmental psychology, speaking at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have developed the world’s first device designed for mapping the human brain that combines whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. MEG measures the electrical function and MRI visualizes the structure of the brain. The merging of these two technologies will produce unprecedented accuracy in locating brain electrical activity non-invasively

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience a developmental delay in frontal regions of the brain.

The brain differences found in people with schizophrenia are mainly the result of the disease itself or its treatment, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors, according to a Dutch study

Bilingual children outperform children who speak only one language in problem-solving skills and creative thinking, according to research led at the University of Strathclyde.

When we focus intently on one task, we often fail to see other things in plain sight – a phenomenon known as ‘inattention blindness’. Scientists already know that performing a task involving high information load – a ‘high load’ task – reduces our visual cortex response to incoming stimuli. Now researchers from UCL have examined the brain mechanisms behind this, further explaining why our brain becomes ‘blind’ under high load.

Neuroscience News Update

University of Georgia researchers have developed a map of the human brain that shows great promise as a new guide to the inner workings of the body’s most complex and critical organ.

Brains that maintain healthy nerve connections as we age help keep us sharp in later life, new research funded by the charity Age UK has found.

The brain reward systems of women with anorexia may work differently from those of women who are obese, a new study suggests.

Emotional stress caused by last year’s tsunami caused a part of some survivors’ brains to shrink, according to scientists in Japan who grasped a unique chance to study the neurological effects of trauma. On a quest to better understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the researchers compared brain scans they had taken of 42 healthy adolescents in other studies in the two years before the killer wave, with new images taken three to four months thereafter. Among those with PTSD symptoms, they found a shrinking in the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in decision-making and the regulation of emotion, said a study published in the Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Weekly Round Up

Latest study shows buddhist meditation promotes rational thinking

Studies looking at the brains of people playing a fairness game found very different responses between Buddhist meditators and other participants.

It’s possible that depression could be cured by reducing mild swelling in your brain.

New York University neuroscientists have identified the parts of the brain we use to remember the timing of events within an episode. The study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Science, enhances our understanding of how memories are processed and provides a potential roadmap for addressing memory-related afflictions.

A leading University of Chicago researcher on empathy is launching a project to understand psychopathy by studying criminals in prisons.

A new study at the University of California at Davis has made progress in determining the factors that affect brain degeneration and why our brains shrink with age and a new drug to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease could be tested on patients within six years according to researchers at Lancaster University.