Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

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Test subjects in an Ohio State University study were shown a series of photographs of different facial expressions. Researchers pinpointed an area of the brain that is specifically attuned to picking up key muscle movements (here, labeled AU for ‘action units’) that combine to express emotion. Credit: Ohio State University.

New machine learning algorithm can identify the facial expression a person is looking at based on neural activity.

After a stroke, there is inflammation in the damaged part of the brain. Until now, the inflammation has been seen as a negative consequence that needs to be abolished as soon as possible. But, as it turns out, there are also some positive sides to the inflammation, and it can actually help the brain to self-repair.

A new study reports hungry fish sense objects differently and take more risks when hunting than well fed fish.

In a study exploring the relationship between memory for specific past experiences and recovery from strong negative emotions, research psychologists report that episodic memory may be more important in helping midlife and older adults recover from a negative event than it is for younger adults.

New research reports one brain hemisphere remains more awake than the other when sleeping somewhere new. 

Long before Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed clinically, increasing difficulties building cognitive maps of new surroundings may herald the eventual clinical onset of the disorder, according to new research.

New research suggests actin filaments that control the shape of neuron cells may also be the key to the molecular machinery that forms and stores long-term memories.

Scientists have elucidated for the first time how a notoriously elusive serotonin receptor functions with atom-level detail. The receptor transmits electrical signals in neurons and is involved in various disorders, meaning that the discovery opens the way for new treatments.

Researchers have mapped out a circuit of neurons that is responsible for motor impairment–such as difficulty walking–in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Brain waves that spread through the hippocampus are initiated by a method not seen before–a possible step toward understanding and treating epilepsy, according to researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

Researchers have conducted a study examining the effect ecstasy has on different parts of the brain.

Finally this week researchers have found that drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

The phrase “practice makes perfect” has a neural basis in the brain. Researchers have discovered a set of common changes in the brain upon learning a new skill. They have essentially detected a neural marker for the reorganization the brain undergoes when a person practices and become proficient at a task.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have made a discovery in neuroscience that could offer a long-lasting solution to eating disorders such as obesity.

A new study conducted by The Mind Research Network , shows that neuroimaging data can predict the likelihood of whether a criminal will reoffend following release from prison.

The ability to communicate in multiple languages not only provides doorways to new cultural and social experiences but also apparently promotes brain growth and staves off the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers have discovered a potential way to decode your dreams, predicting the content of the visual imagery you’ve experienced on the basis of neural activity recorded during sleep.

Brain researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute have discovered that we explore the world with our eyes in a different way than previously thought. Their results advance our understanding of how healthy observers and neurological patients interact and glean critical information from the world around them.

In a study designed to differentiate why some stroke patients recover from aphasia and others do not, investigators have found that a compensatory reorganization of language function to right hemispheric brain regions bodes poorly for language recovery. Patients who recovered from aphasia showed a return to normal left-hemispheric language activation patterns. These results, which may open up new rehabilitation strategies, are available in the current issue of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

medium_46044113Advice to “sleep on it” before making a big decision may be wise, according to new brain-imaging research.

Scientists from the University of Southampton have identified the molecular system that contributes to the harmful inflammatory reaction in the brain during neurodegenerative diseases.An important aspect of chronic neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s or prion disease, is the generation of an innate within the brain. Results from the study open new avenues for the regulation of the inflammatory reaction and provide new insights into the understanding of the biology of , which play a leading role in the development and maintenance of this reaction.

A study conducted at the University of Granada and the University of York in Toronto, Canada, has revealed that bilingual children develop a better working memory –which holds, processes and updates information over short periods of time– than monolingual children.

Good mental health and clear thinking depend upon our ability to store and manipulate thoughts on a sort of “mental sketch pad.” In a new study, Yale School of Medicine researchers describe the molecular basis of this ability — the hallmark of human cognition — and describe how a breakdown of the system contributes to diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Your eyes aren’t just advanced visual systems capturing images of what’s around you. New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that when our eyes perceive visual stimuli, it gets encoded in our brains in ways that change our emotional reactions.

In a pair of new papers, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences upend a long-held view about the basic functioning of a key receptor molecule involved in signaling between neurons, and describe how a compound linked to Alzheimer’s disease impacts that receptor and weakens synaptic connections between brain cells.

Fear responses can only be erased when people learn something new while retrieving the fear memory. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and published in the leading journal Science.

Injuries that result in chronic pain, such as limb injuries, and those unrelated to the brain are associated with epigenetic changes in the brain which persist months after the injury, according to researchers at McGill University.

Montreal researchers find that music lessons before age seven create stronger connections in the brain.

A team of political scientists and neuroscientists has shown that liberals and conservatives use different parts of the brain when they make risky decisions, and these regions can be used to predict which political party a person prefers.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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When selecting a video game to play, opting to turn on your Wii may provide a different experience than playing your Xbox, according to a study from Mississippi State University.

Excessive alcohol use accounts for 4% of the global burden of disease, and binge drinking particularly is becoming an increasing health issue. A new review article published Cortex highlights the significant changes in brain function and structure that can be caused by alcohol misuse in young people.

Working with patients with electrodes implanted in their brains, researchers have shown for the first time that areas of the brain work together at the same time to recall memories. The unique approach promises new insights into how we remember details of time and place.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are hoping to help victims of stroke to overcome physical disabilities by helping their brains to ‘rewire’ themselves.

Keeping active can slow down the progression of memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease, a study has shown.

Neuroscientists have released the results of a new study that examines how fear responses are learned, controlled, and memorized. They show that a particular class of neurons in a subdivision of the amygdala plays an active role in these processes.

Neuroscience researchers from Tufts University have found that our star-shaped brain cells, called astrocytes, may be responsible for the rapid improvement in mood in depressed patients after acute sleep deprivation. This in vivo study, published in the current issue ofTranslational Psychiatry, identified how astrocytes regulate a neurotransmitter involved in sleep. The researchers report that the findings may help lead to the development of effective and fast-acting drugs to treat depression, particularly in psychiatric emergencies.

UC Berkeley neuroscientists have found that the slow brain waves generated during the deep, restorative sleep we typically experience in youth play a key role in transporting memories from the hippocampus – which provides short-term storage for memories – to the prefrontal cortex’s longer term “hard drive.”

Researchers have found altered connectivity in the brain network for body perception in people with anorexia: The weaker the connection, the greater the misjudgement of body shape.

A group of scientists planning to map all the major connections in the human brain began studying their first test subjects in August. The $30 million Human Connectome Project will trace the main neural pathways that link the roughly 500 major regions in the brain, illuminating how biological circuitry underlies our mental functions. MRI scans of 1,200 people, including 300 pairs of twins, will be used to compile an atlas of communication routes throughout the brain. The resulting blueprint will also reveal how brain connectivity varies from person to person.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Image: Pixmac.com

Gym-style exercise may improve not only general health in middle age, but also brain function, according to new research.

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered that blocking a certain enzyme in the brain can help repair the brain damage associated with multiple sclerosis and a range of other neurological disorders.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) have found a small population of neurons that is involved in measuring time.

Two proteins have a unique bond that enables brain receptors essential to learning and memory to not only get and stay where they’re needed, but to be hauled off when they aren’t, researchers say.

Scientists have discovered that the brain circuits we engage when we think about social matters, such as considering other people’s views, or moral issues, inhibit the circuits that we use when we think about inanimate, analytical
things, such as working on a physics problem or making sure the numbers add up when we balance our budget. And they say, the same happens the other way around: the analytic brain network inhibits the social network.

Lund University researchers plan to use optogenetics to stimulate neurons to release more dopamine to combat Parkinson’s disease.

A new finding could lead to strategies for treating speech loss after a stroke and helping children with dyslexia. New research links motor skills and perception, specifically as it relates to a second finding – a new understanding of what the left and right brain hemispheres “hear.”

UCLA researchers have for the first time measured the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease during sleep. They discovered that this region, called the entorhinal cortex, behaves as if it’s remembering something, even during anesthesia–induced sleep — a finding that counters conventional theories about sleep-time memory consolidation.