Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image: di Domenico/Stem Cell Reports

A new study reveals a defective version of astrocytes may be linked to the build up of alpha synuclein and could spur Parkinson’s disease. The findings show the important role glial cells play in Parkinson’s and offers insights into new targets for therapies to fight the neurodegenerative disease.

A genome-wide analysis of nearly 45,000 people has identified 16 regions of DNA associated with epilepsy, 11 of which are newly identified.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne found when people crave specific foods, the brain releases more dopamine when they finally consume the item. The study reports the gastrointestinal tract is in constant contact with the brain and uses reward stimuli to control our desire for food.

Researchers have developed a method to determine the length of mutated genes associated with Huntington’s disease quickly and easily.

Men with dyslexia have altered structural connections between the thalamus and auditory cortex on the left side of the brain, new research published in Journal of Neuroscience reveals.

A new study reports when we retrieve information about visual objects, the brain first focuses on the core meaning and afterwards recalls specific details.

Researchers report that neuron loss in Alzheimer’s disease may not be such a bad thing. The study reveals the loss of neurons may be the result of a cell quality control mechanism attempting to protect the brain from the accumulation of malfunctioning neurons.

Neurofeedback training stimulates the cortical learning process and can help improve the sense of touch, a new study reveals.

Research led by stem cell scientists at Harvard University points to a potential new biomarker and drug target for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease that is extremely difficult to diagnose and treat.

Finally this week, researchers have identified over 500 genetic variants which affect the use of, and addiction to, alcohol and tobacco.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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How do neural networks in different brain areas communicate with each other? The Bernstein Center Freiburg proposes a new model.

Researchers propose a new model to help explain how the level of activity in neural networks influences the flow of information.

A neurofeedback system enables Parkinson’s disease patients to voluntarily control brainwaves associated with symptoms of the disorder, according to new research published in eNeuro.

One night of sleep loss can increase the desirability of junk foods, finds a study of healthy weight young men published in Journal of Neuroscience.

When two events occur within a brief window of time they become linked in memory, such that calling forth the memory of one helps retrieve memory for the other event, according to research published in Psychological Science. This happens even when temporal proximity is the only feature that the two events share.

Researchers have identified specific diffusible molecules that are essential for boundary formation in the brain.

Scientists report that neuron loss in Alzheimer’s disease may not be such a bad thing. The study reveals the loss of neurons may be the result of a cell quality control mechanism attempting to protect the brain from the accumulation of malfunctioning neurons.

A new study reveals passive exposure to foreign speech sounds over the course of several consecutive days helps enhance language learning.

People with Huntington’s disease who participated in intellectually stimulating activities had less brain atrophy than those with the disease who did not take up such activities.

Finally this week, boys with good motor skills are better problem-solvers than their less skillful peers, a new study from Finland shows. 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image Credit: Guillaume Sandoz, CNRS

Researchers at CNRS, Université Côte d’Azur and Inserm have demonstrated a new mechanism related to the onset of migraine. In fact, they found how a mutation, causes dysfunction in a protein which inhibits neuronal electrical activity, induces migraines. These results, published in Neuron on Dec. 17, 2018, open a new path for the development of anti-migraine medicines.

Scientists using eye tracking software, report what we look at helps guide our decisions when faced with two visible choices.

A new study reports children and teens who face chronic bullying have altered brain structure, as well as problems with anxiety and depression. Researchers found those who were bullies had structural changes to the putamen and caudate, contributing to the development of anxiety related behaviors and emotional processing.

Researchers have identified specific neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, called self-monitoring error neurons, that fire immediately after people make a mistake.

New findings show how alcohol influences dopaminergic and inhibitory neurons in the ventral tegmental area. The findings could help develop new treatments for alcohol dependence.

A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to a new study.

Scientists who recently identified the molecular start of Alzheimer’s disease have used that finding to determine that it should be possible to forecast which type of dementia will develop over time – a form of personalized medicine for neurodegenerative diseases.

A new study reports lightly stroking an infant, at a speed of 3 centimeters per second, can help to provide pain relief prior to medical procedures.

Researchers have identified cognitive subgroups related to genetic differences in Alzheimer’s patients. The findings could open the door for more personalized treatments of the neurodegenerative disease.

A previously unknown brain mechanism that regulates anxiety has come to light. It allows a gene-altering protein to enter the nucleus of brain cells.

Finally this week, researchers discovered activity in brain regions involved in reward response from dopamine was higher in subjects injected with the hormone ghrelin, but only when responding to images associated with food smells. The study reports ghrelin controls the extent to which the brain associates reward with food odors.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers have found “different patterns” in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study.

A new study reports the combination of a toxic herbicide and lectins may trigger Parkinsonism after the toxins travel from the stomach to the brain.

Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study has concluded. The study suggests that families who already have a child diagnosed with ASD or ADHD may wish to monitor younger siblings for symptoms of both conditions.

Researchers have shed light on the dual nature of dopamine, as a neurotransmitter that makes us seek pleasure and also reinforces avoidance of pain.

A new neuroimaging study reveals imagination may help people with fear or anxiety disorders overcome them. The study reports imagining a threat can alter the way it is represented in the brain.

Stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improves mood in those suffering from depression, a new study reveals.

Scientists report low levels of GABA producing bacteria is associated with brain signatures of depression. They believe it may be possible to treat clinical depression by increasing GABA producing bacteria.

Finally, this week, using machine learning to analyze fMRI brain scans of grieving people, researchers shed light on how unconscious suppression occurs.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers have uncovered how specific retinal cells respond to the artificial light generated by cell phone and tablets. The study reveals how retinal ganglion cells process ambient light and reset our circadian clocks, leading to sleep disruptions.

Stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improves mood in those suffering from depression, a new study reveals.

New research has discovered that a type of adult stem cell found in a variety of tissues can be manipulated to enhance tissue regeneration and potentially treat inflammatory diseases.

A new study reports obesity can significantly increase the risk of depression, even in the absence of other health problems.

Researchers have made a breakthrough in understanding the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a new study, the researchers reveal they have identified specific gene variants which increase the risk of ADHD.

A new study combines hundreds of brain scans of patients with OCD and pinpoints problems with error processing in the brain that leads to repetitive behaviors.

Researchers say a new discovery about the pathways associated with consciousness contradicts conventional belief. The study reports the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain’s pathway involved in wakefulness and consciousness, a finding that could help develop better methods for treating comas.

A new study reveals how the brain processes sound and how quickly neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to the language based words.

With a finding that will “rewrite neuroanatomy textbooks,” scientists have shown that the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain pathway involved in keeping humans awake and conscious.

Finally this week, older adults who take up drawing could enhance their memory, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Two participants in the BrainGate clinical trial directly control a tablet computer through a brain-computer interface to chat with each other online. The research, published in PLOS ONE, is a step toward restoring the ability of people with paralysis to use everyday technologies.

New research from the BrainGate consortium shows that a brain-computer interface (BCI) can enable people with paralysis to directly operate an off-the-shelf tablet device just by thinking about making cursor movements and clicks.

A new study reports those exposed to the highest levels of noise pollution caused by traffic are at an increased risk of obesity.

Researchers have pinpointed a part of the human brain responsible for “on-the-fly” decision-making. According to the findings published in JNeurosci, the anterior cingulate cortex integrates disparate information about the desirability and amount of an option to inform choice.

MRI brain scans perform better than common clinical tests at predicting which people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

A team of researchers has found that the brain works for a while after the heart has stopped. The research is reported in a journal paper titled, ‘AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study.’ The scientists looked at patients with cardiac arrests in Europe and the US. They noted that those of the patients who were successfully resuscitated after their heart had stopped beating could recall the conversations around them between the healthcare personnel and were aware of their surroundings.

Researchers have identified a mechanism by which immune system problems can cause commensal dysbiosis, which promotes age-related pathologies.

According to a new study, exploring objects through touch can generate detailed, lasting memories of the object, even when people don’t intend to memorize the details of the object.

A single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain, according to researchers.

Finally this week, researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found differences in the brains of men and women who are addicted to online gaming, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Researchers Detect Genetic Recombination in the Brain

For the first time, scientists have identified gene recombination, or “mixing and matching” of DNA, in the brain.

New technology revealed DNA in neurons is recombined, producing thousands of previously unknown gene variations—and identifying a potential near-term treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Nature and authored by Jerold Chun, M.D., Ph.D., professor and senior vice president of Neuroscience Drug Discovery at SBP, focused on the Alzheimer’s-linked gene, APP, and discovered it is recombined by using the same type of enzyme found in HIV. This finding indicates existing FDA-approved antiretroviral therapies for HIV that block reverse transcriptase might also be able to halt the recombination process—and could be explored as a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reports short distance connectivity abnormalities may be involved in social cognitive deficits in those with autism spectrum disorders.

Capitalizing on recent advances in neuroimaging and genetic biomarker research, scientists have been able to identify specific pathways by which tau and beta-amyloid, two proteins that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, accumulate in the brain over time.

A new study reports people who experience migraines with visual auras are at increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Researchers report there are two distinct ways in which we make temporal predictions, and these rely on different parts of the brain. The findings offer a new perspective on how humans calculate when to make a move.

A 15-minute scan could help diagnose brain damage in babies up to two years earlier than current methods.

A newborn baby’s brain responds to being touched on the face, according to new research. Babies use this sense of touch — facial somatosensation — to find and latch onto their mother’s nipple, and should have this ability from birth. Premature babies often have difficulty feeding, and underdevelopment of their facial sensitivity may be one of the main causes.

MRI brain scans perform better than common clinical tests at predicting which people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered that the thickness of the brain’s outer layer influences how individual neurons process information. The findings, published in the journal, Neuron, challenge the understanding of how brain circuits function throughout the brain.

Finally, this week, new research published in the Journal of Physiology presents a breakthrough in the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image Credit: Kolbjørn Skarpnes & Rita Elmkvist Nilsen / NTNU Communication Division & Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience

Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway in have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

A new study reports a strong hand grip is correlated with better visual memory and reaction times in people with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Dr Max Ortiz Catalan of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has developed a new theory for the origin of the mysterious condition, ‘phantom limb pain’. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, his hypothesis builds upon his previous work on a revolutionary treatment for the condition, that uses machine learning and augmented reality.

Researchers report ADHD and conduct disorder exhibit similar, overlapping changes in the brain.

A new study in SLEEP, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that delaying school start times results in students getting more sleep, and feeling better, even within societies where trading sleep for academic success is common.

Scientists have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

Researchers report the adverse cognitive effects associated with DBS in Pakinson’s patients are linked to a different neural pathway than the one responsible for the motor effects generated by the treatment.

According to a new study, people who have suffered a stroke are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Researchers have developed a new deep learning neural network that can identify speech patterns indicative of depression from audio data. The algorithm is 77% effective at detecting depression.

Finally this week, a new study reports genetic factors count for about 70% of stable academic achievement throughout schooling.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

child-85321_960_720.jpgSleep researchers report for the first time evidence that naps and overnight sleep may work together to benefit memory in early childhood.

A group of researchers has found that our learning capabilities are limited during slow wave sleep. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), they showed that while our brain is still able to perceive sounds during sleep, it is unable to group these sounds according to their organisation in a sequence.

Neuroscientists have debunked claims that getting better at a brain training game can translate to improved performance in other, untrained cognitive tasks.

Adults who hold back-and-forth conversations with young children rather than just talking to them may be helping to strengthen connections between the language regions of the children’s brains, new research shows.

Researchers say, to better understand working memory, it is important to resolve the debate over how we hold and judge multiple pieces of information in mind.

According to a new study dehydration can lead to more errors on task performance. Additionally, fMRI neuroimaging showed dehydration can alter brain structure temporarily.

It may be possible in the future to screen patients for Alzheimer’s disease using an eye exam.

Researchers used neuroimaging technology to identify brain differences between those who procrastinate and those who are doers. The study reveals people with poor action control have a larger amygdala, and the connection between the dorsal ACC and amygdala is less pronounced.

A new study reports lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking alcohol during early adulthood, can increase the risk of developing dementia or having a stroke later in life.

Scientists have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

In the first peer-reviewed published report of its kind, University of Toronto researchers have demonstrated that focused ultrasound can be used to safely open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, this week neuroscientists have discovered that ketamine works as an antidepressant at least in part by activating the brain’s opioid system.