Weekly Neuroscience Update

Brain cell density remains constant with age among cognitively normal adults. (Courtesy of Dr. Keith Thulborn)

Brain cell density remains constant with age among cognitively normal adults. (Courtesy of Dr. Keith Thulborn)

New, ultra-high-field magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain provide the most detailed images to date to show that while the brain shrinks with age, brain cell density remains constant.

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

A new MRI study has found distinct injury patterns in the brains of people with concussion-related depression and anxiety, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

Children and adolescents who received deep brain stimulation for generalized dystonia maintained significant symptom relief for up to eight years, according to a study presented at the 12th World Congress of the International Neuromodulation Society.

An international team of researchers is using data mapping methods created to track the spread of information on social networks to trace its dissemination across a surprisingly different system: the human brain.

A previously unknown link between the immune system and the death of motor neurons in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, has been discovered. The finding paves the way to a whole new approach for finding a drug that can cure or at least slow the progression of such neurodegenerative diseases as ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

Spoken sentences can be reconstructed from activity patterns of human brain surface. “Brain to Text” combines knowledge from neuroscience, medicine and informatics.

Finally this week, scientists have figured out how newly learned concepts form in the human brain by visualizing how new information gets filed. They say this is the first time science visually witnessed how and where specific objects are coded in the brain.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Drumming

People who are better able to move to a beat show more consistent brain responses to speech than those with less rhythm, according to a study published in the September 18 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that musical training could possibly sharpen the brain’s response to language.

Concussions are connected with substance abuse and suicidal thoughts in adolescents, according to new research presented at a conference on sports-related brain injuries.

The structure of the brain may predict whether a person will suffer chronic low back pain, according to researchers who used brain scans. The results, published in the journal Pain, support the growing idea that the brain plays a critical role in chronic pain, a concept that may lead to changes in the way doctors treat patients.

A drug commonly used for treating diabetes may reverse symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and is now in the process of entering a major clinical trial.

Scientists have found a new link between early-onset Parkinson’s disease and a piece of DNA missing from chromosome 22. The findings help shed new light on the molecular changes that lead to Parkinson’s disease.

The pain and itching associated with shingles and herpes may be due to the virus causing a “short circuit” in the nerve cells that reach the skin, researchers have found.

In a new study looking at toddlers and preschoolers with autism, researchers have found that children with better motor skills were more adept at socializing and communicating. This study adds to growing evidence of the important link between autism and motor skill deficits. Motor skills and muscle memory are held in the cerebellum.

Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes.

New research could offer solutions into slowing down the progression of motor neurone disease (MND).

Playing first person action games can enhance your perception of movement – but only when you’re walking backwards. This is one of the findings of a new paper by University of Leicester psychologists, published in the journal Perception, which examines the effect of playing video games on motion perception.

Two new studies investigate the relationship between self-control and reward processing for chronic dieters and people who would like to control their food intake.

Scientists say they have discovered the specific brain circuitry that causes overeating, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Bad experiences enhance memory formation about places, scientists at The University of Queensland have found.

Finally this week, a new study from MIT reveals a gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction. Enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations,