Weekly Neuroscience Update

This cross-section of the hippocampus shows island cells (green) projecting to the CA1 region of the hippocampus. (Credit: Takashi Kitamura)

This cross-section of the hippocampus shows island cells (green) projecting to the CA1 region of the hippocampus. (Credit: Takashi Kitamura)

Neuroscientists have discovered how two neural circuits in the brain work together to control the formation of time-linked memories. This is a critical ability that helps the brain to determine when it needs to take action to defend against a potential threat.

Survivors of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are three times more likely to die prematurely, often from suicide or fatal injuries, according to a study from Oxford University.

An international team of researchers has found that the cause of schizophrenia is even more complex than already believed, with rare gene mutations contributing to the disorder. In two studies published in the journal Nature, they show that schizophrenia arises from the combined effects of many genes.

Scientists have found that, to allow us to concentrate, we synchronize different regions of our brains in a process that the researchers describe as “roughly akin to tuning multiple walkie-talkies to the same frequency.”

Researchers have identified a protein in the brain that plays a critical role in the memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s patients, according to a study to be published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Using a simple study of eye movements, scientists report evidence that people who are less patient tend to move their eyes with greater speed. The findings, the researchers say, suggest that the weight people give to the passage of time may be a trait consistently used throughout their brains, affecting the speed with which they make movements, as well as the way they make certain decisions.

Researchers have found that epileptic activity can spread through a part of the brain in a new way, suggesting a possible novel target for seizure-blocking medicines.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

UCL Medical staff discussing an image of a human brain

Researchers at University College London have made a breakthrough in the way that drugs could be delivered to the brain, tackling the difficult problem of constructing drugs which are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier – a mechanism which prevents many chemicals in the bloodstream from passing into the brain, including synthetic compounds administered as medication as well as harmful environmental toxins.

For older adults looking to sharpen their mental abilities, it might be time to log on to Facebook. Preliminary research findings from the University of Arizona suggest that men and women older than 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function.

A single concussion may cause lasting structural damage to the brain, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

In an effort to better evaluate and prevent concussions and head traumas, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a computer model to identify what types of jarring movements to the body can cause injury to the brain

A team of sleep researchers has confirmed the mechanism that enables the brain to consolidate memory and found that a commonly prescribed sleep aid enhances the process. Those discoveries could lead to new sleep therapies that will improve memory for aging adults and those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

How do neurons store information about past events? In the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, a previously unknown mechanism of memory trace formation has been discovered. It appears that at least some events are remembered thanks to geometry.

It is possible to tell who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of his or her brain. Our mental models of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques according to a study by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues.

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have found the first evidence that selective activation of the dentate gyrus, a portion of the hippocampus, can reduce anxiety without affecting learning.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

medium_6835040374Two recent pieces of work raise the prospect of being able to predict and even regulate a person’s risk-taking behavior, by first observing activity of the anterior cingulate cortex and then dialing it up or down.

A new study shows that for millions of individuals around the world who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), anger is more than an emotion; it’s an agent that exacerbates their illness.

Brain changes persist for months in children who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, U.S. researchers say.

Chinese researchers have devised a new technique for reprogramming cells from human urine into immature brain cells that can form multiple types of functioning neurons and glial cells. The technique, published in the journal Nature Methods, could prove useful for studying the cellular mechanisms of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and for testing the effects of new drugs that are being developed to treat them.

Researchers have discovered how the brain assesses confidence in its decisions. The findings explain why some people have better insight into their choices than others.

Scientists have combined and translated two kinds of brain wave recordings into music, transforming one recording (EEG) to create the pitch and duration of a note, and the other (fMRI) to control the intensity of the music.

A compassion-based meditation program can significantly improve a person’s ability to read the facial expressions of others, finds a study published by Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. This boost in empathic accuracy was detected through both behavioral testing of the study participants and through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of their brain activity.

Your brain has at least four different senses of location — and perhaps as many as 10. And each is different, according to new research from the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

photo credit: Amanda Nicole Betley via photopin cc

Weekly Round Up: Brain Research

Scientists now have a better understanding of the way that stress impacts the brain. New research, published by Cell Press in the January 26 issue of the journal Neuron, reveals pioneering evidence for a new mechanism of stress adaptation and may eventually lead to a better understanding of why prolonged and repeated exposure to stress can lead to anxiety disorders and depression.

Men may be at higher risk of experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or the stage of mild memory loss that occurs between normal aging and dementia, than women, according to a study published in the January 25, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Scientists have estimated for the first time the extent to which genes determine changes in intelligence across the human life course.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have created a new generation of fast-acting fluorescent dyes that optically highlight electrical activity in neuronal membranes. The work is published in this week’s online Early Edition of theProceedings of the National Academy of Science.

A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, provides even more reason for people to read a book or do a puzzle, and to make such activities a lifetime habit. Brain scans revealed that people with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s who engaged in cognitively stimulating activities throughout their lives had fewer deposits of beta-amyloid, a destructive protein that is the hallmark of the disease.