Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Human memory is the result of different mental processes, such as learning, remembering and forgetting. However, these distinct processes cannot be observed directly. Researchers have now succeeded at describing them using computational models. The scientists were thus for the first time able to identify gene sets responsible for steering specific memory processes. Their results have been published in the current issue of the journal PNAS.

A new study has demonstrated how stress can influence regions of the brain involved with self-control.

A groundbreaking new study has found for the first time that emotions are not only the product of the processing of information by the brain, but that they also directly influence processes of learning and memory in the brain.

A new study suggests that your fat tissue can send mixed signals to your brain when stress strikes.

The brains of people with epilepsy appear to react to music differently from the brains of those who do not have the disorder, a finding that could lead to new therapies to prevent seizures, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention.

Researchers have discovered a way to predict human emotions based on brain activity.

Recent research published in the journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering could eventually change the way people living with prosthetics and spinal cord injury lead their lives.

A growing body of research suggests a link between kidney impairment and brain disorders.

A new study may have unlocked understanding of a mysterious part of the brain — with implications for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. The results, published in Translational Vision Science & Technology (TVST), open up new areas of research in the pursuit of neuroprotective therapies.

Children who suffer an injury to the brain — even a minor one — are more likely to experience attention issues.

New research has identified a novel learning and memory brain network that processes incoming information based on whether it’s something we’ve experienced previously or is deemed to be altogether new and unknown, helping us recognize, for instance, whether the face before us is that of a familiar friend or a complete stranger.

Finally, this week, A new study sheds light on what motivates people to trust. 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Findings suggest that physiological reactivity to sad stimuli, assessed using pupillometry, serves as one potential biomarker of depression risk among children of depressed mothers. Image credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University Photographer.

Findings suggest that physiological reactivity to sad stimuli, assessed using pupillometry, serves as one potential biomarker of depression risk among children of depressed mothers. Image credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University Photographer.

How much a child’s pupil dilates in response to seeing an emotional image can predict his or her risk of depression over the next two years, according to new research from Binghamton University.

Unwanted, intrusive visual memories are a core feature of stress- and trauma-related clinical disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but they can also crop up in everyday life. New research shows that even once intrusive memories have been laid down, playing a visually-demanding computer game after reactivating the memories may reduce their occurrence over time.

Rapid eye movement or REM sleep actively converts waking experiences into lasting memories and abilities in young brains reports a new study.

People who have diabetes and experience high rates of complications are more likely to develop dementia as they age than people who have fewer diabetic complications, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

New research suggests that when deciding which of several possible actions to perform, the human brain plans multiple actions simultaneously prior to selecting one of them to execute.

In the first study of its kind researchers found that neurons in a specific brain region play a key role in rapidly forming memories about every day events, a finding that may result in a better understanding of memory loss and new methods to fight it in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

A major epidemiological registry-based study indicates that Parkinson’s disease begins in the gastrointestinal tract; the study is the largest in the field so far.

The activity of the emotion centres in the brain, the amygdala, is influenced by motivation rather than by the emotions themselves. This can be concluded from research carried out at Radboud University into the hormone testosterone. Testosterone increases amygdala activity in a person who is approaching a socially threatening situation and decreases the activity when such a situation is avoided.

An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found distinct differences between the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and those of healthy people.

According to a new study, women experiencing difficulty with time management, attention, organization, memory, and problem solving – often referred to as executive functions – related to menopause may find improvement with a drug already being used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD

A new staining method could help map the entire brain.

Finally this week, Yale researchers have determined how a key component of the nervous system develops at the embryonic stage. Their work may ultimately offer new approaches to combat major diseases such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease.

 

 

 

Could your brain repair itself?

Imagine the brain could reboot, updating its damaged cells with new, improved units. That may sound like science fiction — but it’s a potential reality scientists are investigating right now. Ralitsa Petrova details the science behind neurogenesis and explains how we might harness it to reverse diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Glioma cells tend to congregate at blood vessel junctions, almost as if camping alongside a stream where it joins a river. The ready supply of nutrients would allow the cell to grow into a larger tumor mass. Credit University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Glioma cells tend to congregate at blood vessel junctions, almost as if camping alongside a stream where it joins a river. The ready supply of nutrients would allow the cell to grow into a larger tumor mass. Credit University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Researchers have shed new light on how cells called gliomas migrate in the brain and cause devastating tumors. The findings, published in Nature Communications, show that gliomas — malignant glial cells — disrupt normal neural connections and hijack control of blood vessels.

New details on the NMDA receptor could aid development of drugs for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, other neurological disorders.

In a new study, scientists took a molecular-level journey into microtubules, the hollow cylinders inside brain cells that act as skeletons and internal highways. They watched how a protein called tubulin acetyltransferase (TAT) labels the inside of microtubules. The results, published in Cell, answer long-standing questions about how TAT tagging works and offer clues as to why it is important for brain health.

Patients with persistent ringing in the ears – a condition known as tinnitus – process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report in the journal Brain Research.

Pornography triggers brain activity in people with compulsive sexual behaviour – known commonly as sex addiction – similar to that triggered by drugs in the brains of drug addicts, according to a University of Cambridge study published in the journal PLOS ONE. However, the researchers caution that this does not necessarily mean that pornography itself is addictive.

Around half of the genes that influence how well a child can read also play a role in their mathematics ability, say scientists from UCL, the University of Oxford and King’s College London who led a study into the genetic basis of cognitive traits.

Psychologists at Stony Brook University, NY, suggest that about 20% of the population are genetically predisposed to be more aware and empathic. Now, in a new study, they explore which regions of the brain are implicated in this. They publish their findings in the journal Brain and Behavior.

Learning a second language may help improve brain function regardless of when you start, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

The hippocampus is a region of the brain largely responsible for memory formation. Credit Salk Institute.

The hippocampus is a region of the brain largely responsible for memory formation. Credit Salk Institute.

Scientists have created a new model of memory that explains how neurons retain select memories a few hours after an event. This new framework provides a more complete picture of how memory works, which can inform research into disorders liked Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress and learning disabilities.

A switch in the brain of people with epilepsy dictates whether their seizures will be relatively mild or lead to a dangerous and debilitating loss of consciousness, Yale researchers have found.

By predicting our eye movements, our brain creates a stable world for us. Researchers used to think that those predictions had so much influence that they could cause us to make errors in estimating the position of objects. Neuroscientists at Radboud University have shown this to be incorrect. The Journal of Neuroscience published their findings – which challenge fundamental knowledge regarding coordination between brain and eyes.

Extreme and traumatic events can change a person — and often, years later, even affect their children. Researchers have now unmasked a piece in the puzzle of how the inheritance of traumas may be mediated.

Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found. Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery. The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate. But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report.

Certain errors in visual perception in people with schizophrenia are consistent with interference or ‘noise’ in a brain signal known as a corollary discharge, a new study shows.

Finally this week,  a recent study has shown that use of abstract gestures is a powerful tool for helping children understand and generalize mathematical concepts.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Johns Hopkins researchers report that people with chronic insomnia show more plasticity and activity than good sleepers in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Vanderbilt University have created the most detailed 3-D picture yet of a membrane protein that is linked to learning, memory, anxiety, pain and brain disorders such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and autism.

New research has revealed the dramatic effect the immune system has on the brain development of young children. The findings suggest new and better ways to prevent developmental impairment in children in developing countries, helping to free them from a cycle of poverty and disease, and to attain their full potential.

Rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries.

Researchers have found that decision-making accuracy can be improved by postponing the onset of a decision by a mere fraction of a second. The results could further our understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions characterized by abnormalities in cognitive function and lead to new training strategies to improve decision-making in high-stake environments. The study was published in the March 5 online issue of the journal PLoS One.

A study has revealed how the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is transmitted from cell to cell, and suggests the spread of the disease could be blocked.

Research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests that the expression of the so called MYC gene is important and necessary for neurogenesis in the spinal cord. The findings are being published in the journal  EMBO Reports .

Our memories are inaccurate, more than we’d like to believe. And now a study demonstrates one reason: we apparently add current experiences onto memories.

Damage to the brain may still occur even if symptoms of traumatic brain injury are not present, scientists suggest.

The brain processes read and heard language differently. This is the key and new finding of a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

3D-printed model of a neuron (credit: Yale University)

3D-printed model of a neuron (credit: Yale University)

A Yale neuroscientist  has created the first 3D-printed neuron.

Studies released today suggest promising new treatments for nicotine and heroin addiction, and further our understanding of pathological gambling and heroin abuse in those suffering chronic pain. This new knowledge, released at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health, may one day lead to non-pharmaceutical interventions and therapies to treat addiction. Also presented at SFN, new studies revealing links between social status and specific brain structures and activity, particularly in the context of social stress.

A new study has found that people experiencing a depressive episode process information about themselves differently than people who are not depressed.

To flexibly deal with our ever-changing world, we need to learn from both the negative and positive consequences of our behaviour. In other words, from punishment and reward. Hanneke den Ouden from the Donders Institute in Nijmegen demonstrated that serotonin and dopamine related genes influence how we base our choices on past punishments or rewards. This influence depends on which gene variant you inherited from your parents. These results were published in Neuron on November 20.

Brain scans reveal that people with fibromyalgia are not as able to prepare for pain as healthy people, and they are less likely to respond to the promise of pain relief.

Scientists have used RNA interference (RNAi) technology to reveal dozens of genes which may represent new therapeutic targets for treating Parkinson’s disease. The findings also may be relevant to several diseases caused by damage to mitochondria, the biological power plants found in cells throughout the body.

Playing a fast-paced strategy video games can help the brain to become more agile and improve strategic thinking, according to new research.

While young children sleep, connections between the left and the right hemispheres of their brain strengthen, which may help brain functions mature, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.  And in another sleep study, 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.