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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A network of more than 200 genes encoding proteins with diverse cellular roles was revealed in a non-biased CRISPR screen for regulators of microexon splicing. Many of the genes have previously been linked to autism. Image is credited to Thomas Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis.

Using CRISPR techniques, researchers have uncovered a genetic network linked to autism.

Researchers find evidence of cognitive issues and miRNA biomarkers, indicating brain injuries from concussions or head-to-head contact, in college football players. The findings indicated lasting damage caused by sports-related concussions occur earlier than expected.

A new method for studying the mircobiome has allowed researchers to identify a connection between metabolism in gut bacteria and the development of diabetes.

A new study has identified unique functional brain networks associated with characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 12- and 24-month old children at risk for developing ASD. The study is published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Researchers have identified a brain network that may control the diversion of attention to focus on potential threats. Dopamine, they report, is key to the process.

New research has found preliminary evidence that high-intensity interval exercise temporarily impairs reward learning mechanisms in the brain. The research, which was published in Physiology & Behavior, indicates that this type of exercise does not improve all aspects of cognitive function.

A new study reports aerobic exercise can have antidepressant effects for patients with major depressive disorder.

Researchers propose a new theory of human thinking, suggesting our brain’s navigation system is key to thinking. This may explain why our knowledge seems to be organized in spatial fashion.

Scientists have solved a 125-year-old mystery of the brain, and, in the process, uncovered a potential treatment for acquired epilepsy.

A new neuroimaging study reveals the brains of teenage girls who self-harm show similar features to adults with borderline personality disorder.

Researchers were able to distinguish between children with or without ASD diagnosis, thanks to a new saliva-based biomarker panel. Researchers report the test can be used in children as young as 18 month, assisting in early diagnosis of autism.

Finally this week, a new study reveals common brain activity patterns associated with depressive moods.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Axons of retinal ganglion cells (red) derived from human pluripotent stem cells bundle together and navigate their environment using growth cones (green), similar to human development of the optic nerve. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Department of Biology, School of Science at IUPUI

Biologists are growing ‘mini retinas’ in the lab from stem cells to mimic the growth of the human retina. The researchers hope to use the research to restore sight when critical connections between the eye and the brain are damaged. These models also allow the researchers to better understand how cells in the retina develop and are organized. These results are published online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.

Researchers have discovered how the brain attempts to compensate for poor performance in tasks which require complicated transformation, such as writing your name backwards.

Observing the brain’s response to repeated stimuli has helped KAUST researchers develop a method for modeling connectivity patterns in neural networks. Mapping connectivity patterns will help to better understand brain function, ultimately improving diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases and mental disorders.

A new study reveals unique connections within brain networks in children on the autism spectrum. Researchers say, in ASD, the amygdala shows marked differences in connection with the occipital cortex than in typically developing children.

Researchers have identified key differences between the way males and females with schizophrenia process the emotional states of others than those without the condition. The study reports those with schizophrenia use less complex brain regions than healthy controls to process other people’s emotions.

According to a new study, certain behavioral risk factors strongly predict the likelihood of a person developing depression, and these risk factors change as we age.

Using neuroimaging technology, researchers have identified three different subtypes of depressive disorder, including one that seems to be untreatable by common SSRI antidepressants.

Finally this week, researchers report those who have had appendectomies have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. A new study reveals the appendix acts as a reservoir for proteins associated with the neurodegenerative disease.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Different gene variants ensure the diversity of neurons by chance. Image from University of Basel, Biozentrum.

A new mathematical model has shown how different gene variants enable random diversity in neurons.

Common genetic variants may underlie autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia across human populations, according to a study appearing September 11th in the journal Cell Reports.

Researchers report learning rates are enhanced when conditioned stimuli is presented during resting phase of the cardiac cycle.

Cognitive neuroscientists have found out more about how the bilingual brains works, according to a new research paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A new study reports environmentally induced epigenetic alterations have a greater impact on intelligence that previously believed.

Researchers have identified the variables that lead the brain to apply specific defensive strategies while under the threat of danger, and implicate a specific pair of neurons in this process.

Using AI technology, researchers provide new insight into how the human brain connects individual episodic memories to help solve problems.

A new study reports binge drinking affects gene expression in both males and females differently. In females who binge drink, genes linked to hormone signaling and immune function become altered, whereas in males, alterations occur to genes associated with nerve signaling.

Researchers report the brain controls speech production in a similar manner to how it controls the production of arm and hand movements. 

Is pain treatment more helpful if it is provided by a person from our own social group, or is the help of a stranger more efficient? A study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Wuerzburg, Amsterdam and Zurich investigated this question and found that people experience a stronger pain relief if they are treated by a person that belongs to a different social group.

A new study unites cognitive science and information theory, reporting our brains are structured to make the best possible decisions given their limited resources.

Finally, this week, using EEG, researchers have identified smaller spikes in the P3 brain wave is associated with aggressive behavior in young children. The findings could help to diagnose toddlers with aggressive tendencies before their behaviors become ingrained, researchers say.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Mood is represented across multiple sites in the brain rather than localized regions, which makes decoding them a computational challenge, according to a USC expert. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Sani et. al., Nature Biotechnology.

Researchers have built a decoder which is able to translate neural signals into mood variations.

How and why human-unique characteristics such as highly social behavior, languages and complex culture have evolved is a long-standing question. A research team led by Tohoku University in Japan has revealed the evolution of a gene related to such human-unique psychiatric traits.

A new study reports mast cells play a key role in determining sex differences in the developing brain.

An inhaled form of a high blood pressure medication has potential to treat certain types of anxiety as well as pain, according to a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Functional connectivity within a specific neural network helps dampen a newborn’s brain activity in response to pain, researchers report.

A new blood test can help identify your body’s precise internal time clock in relation to external time. Researchers say the test could help examine the impact of misaligned circadian clocks in a wide range of diseases.

Researchers report a neural network called the isthmic system helps us to select visual objects that catch our attention.

According to researchers, drumming for an hour a week helps improve learning at school for children on the autism spectrum. The study reports drumming not only improves dexterity, rhythm and timing for those with ASD, it also helps improve concentration and enhances communication with peers.

A new study reports those with ADHD are at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

In one of the biggest breakthroughs in schizophrenia research in recent times, Professor Cynthia Shannon Weickert from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and UNSW Sydney has identified immune cells in greater amounts in the brains of some people with schizophrenia.

Finally this week, esearchers are looking at what happens in the brain when we make snap decisions under stress.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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University of Chichester psychologists have studied prospective memory to accurately diagnose diseases of cognitive impairment. Image: University of Chichester.

Researchers say acting out scenarios may help to improve prospective memory. Poor prospective memory, researchers report, may be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study using machine learning has identified brain-based dimensions of mental health disorders, an advance towards much-needed biomarkers to more accurately diagnose and treat patients.

A new report examines the effect stress can have on our bodies and general health.

Structural differences in the cerebellum may be linked to some aspects of autism spectrum disorder, according to a neuroimaging study from Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC).

A new study reports your body fat could be a predictor of cognitive decline. 

Researchers report blind people need additional timing cues to accurately judge relative locations of sounds, but those without visual impairments who were blindfolded could judge the relative location of sounds independently from timing cues.

 Finally this week, researchers report transcranial alternating current stimulation applied during sleep can help accelerate learning, memory and skill acquisition.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reveals children who are habitually barefoot show significantly different motor skills between the ages of 6-10 than those who are habitually shod. Researchers report those who habitually barefoot have better balance and jumping skills.

New research has found the natural vibrations of cars make people sleepier, affecting concentration and alertness levels just 15 minutes after drivers get behind the wheel.

Scientists have discovered a “Big Bang” of Alzheimer’s disease – the precise point at which a healthy protein becomes toxic but has not yet formed deadly tangles in the brain.

A new study reports people living in areas with more sunlight have lower rates of OCD.

Neuroscientists at the University of California-Berkeley are developing a technique that could give us the ability to fool our brain into thinking that we’d experienced something that never happened by manipulating electrical activity in the brain.

Researchers report boys on the autism spectrum tend to have lower fractal dimension in the right side of the cerebellum than those without autism.

Distinct molecular mechanisms can generate the same features in different neurons, a team of scientists has discovered. Its findings, which appear in the journal Cell, enhance our understanding of brain cell development.

Finally this week, a new study reports a short burst of exercise can dramatically improve long-term retention of new motor skills.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new research project sheds light on the role played by a specific area of the brain in our moral judgements. The more developed it is, the more understanding we show towards those who have unintentionally caused harm.

A new study could help explain how pain often follows a chemical induced itch.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have identified the basis for how a single gene mutation can cause a rare neurological movement disorder known as dystonia.

A new sensor could help to reveal the role dopamine plays in learning and emotion.

Researchers have developed a method using MRI to identify when HIV is still present in the brain, despite effective drug treatment.

Pupil dilation is at its largest when people are most uncertain about their situation, a new study reports.

Sleep deprivation increases the number of available A1 adenosine receptors, but restorative sleep helps normalize them again, a new study reports.

Scientists report doxycycline, a common antibiotic, could help to disrupt the formation of negative memories associated with PTSD and in another new study the power of oxytocin in combating PTSD will be tested.

Brain researchers report the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain associated with empathy, activates very weakly in people with autism.

Non-invasive ultrasound improves the delivery to the brain of a therapeutic antibody targeting Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have found.

A new blood test has been developed that could help to identify infants who may be experiencing bleeding in the brain as a result of abusive head trauma.

Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified the brain mechanism that governs decisions between honesty and self-interest. Using non-invasive brain stimulation, they could even increase honest behavior.

Finally this week, a new study reveals acute stress can increase prosocial behavior and empathy.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers report the gustatory cortex relies on all the senses to anticipate taste.

A research group has identified an enzyme whose production is turned off in nerve cells of the frontal lobe when alcohol dependence develops. The deficiency in this enzyme leads to continued use of alcohol despite adverse consequences.

Scientists have identified a brain circuit that’s indispensable to the sleep-wake cycle.

Studying brain electrical activity of volunteers, researchers found that language acquisition enhances brain plasticity and capacity for learning. In particular, they note that early language learning plays a significant role in the rapid formation of memory circuits for coding new information.

A new study reports that relaxing flexed muscles in your foot can reduce the ability of your hands to respond to stimulation.

We all know that we can quickly lose cardiovascular endurance if we stop exercising for a few weeks, but what impact does the cessation of exercise have on our brains? New research examined cerebral blood flow in healthy, physically fit older adults (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise. Using MRI brain imaging techniques, they found a significant decrease in blood flow to several brain regions, including the hippocampus, after they stopped their exercise routines.

Brain cells grow faster in children with some forms of autism due to distinct changes in core cell signaling patterns, according to new research.

Researchers have identified a brain mechanism that could be a drug target to help prevent tolerance and addiction to opioid pain medication, such as morphine, according to a study by Georgia State University and Emory University. The findings, published in the Nature journal Neuropsychopharmacology in August, show for the first time that morphine tolerance is due to an inflammatory response produced in the brain. This brain inflammation is caused by the release of cytokines, chemical messengers in the body that trigger an immune response, similar to a viral infection.

A new study reports researchers discover a signaling pathway that enables cells to reach their destinations through repulsion.

To remember events in the order they occur, the brain’s neurons function in a coordinated way that is akin to a symphony, a team of New York University scientists has found. Their findings offer new insights into how we recall information and point to factors that may disrupt certain types of memories.

Researchers have mapped out a serotonin-driven anxiety circuit that may explain the side effects of anxiety and fear experienced by some patients taking SSRIs. 

A new study published in the journal Neuron, delves into the anatomy and function of the striatum by employing cutting-edge strategies to comprehensively map one of the brain’s lesser-known forms of organization.

Finally this week, a new paper looks at why some of us are extreme thrill seekers, and others don’t even enjoy a gentle roller coaster ride.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers analyzed a series of 164 images from each of 114 individuals and discovered the brain scans of the social perception circuits indicated ASD only in boys. Credit: The researchers/George Washington University.

Researchers have developed a new method to map and track the function of brain circuits affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in boys using brain imaging, a technique that will provide doctors with a tool that measures the progress of treatments in individual patients.

Scientists have derived a structural model of a transporter at the blood-brain barrier called Mfsd2a. This is the first molecular model of this critical transporter, and could prove important for the development of therapeutic agents that need to be delivered to the brain, across the blood-brain barrier. In future, this could help treat neurological disorders such as glioblastoma.

Research co-led by the University of Glasgow has made a potential breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second most common cause of dementia in people under 65, may be triggered by a defect in immune cells called microglia that causes them to consume the brain’s synaptic connections, according to new research.

A new study shows that a series of play sessions with music improved 9-month-old babies’ brain processing of both music and new speech sounds.

Researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI) in Japan have demonstrated that astrocytes help control the strength of connections between neurons. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study used cultured cells and brain slices to show that astrocytes in the hippocampus regulate changes in the brain brought on by neural activity.

Finally this week, people with more friends have higher pain tolerance, Oxford University researchers have found.