Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Neuroscientists at the University of Bristol are a step closer to understanding how the connections in our brain which control our episodic memory work in sync to make some memories stronger than others. The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, reveal a previously unsuspected division of memory function in the pathways between two areas of the brain, and suggest that certain subnetworks within the brain work separately, to enhance the distinctiveness of memories.

A new study pinpoints the brain area responsible for forming direct links between environmental stimuli and enhanced focus.

Every few seconds, our eyelids automatically shutter and our eyeballs roll back in their sockets. So why doesn’t blinking plunge us into intermittent darkness and light? New research led by the University of California, Berkeley, shows that the brain works extra hard to stabilize our vision despite our fluttering eyes.

Our personality traits are linked to differences in the thickness and volume of various parts of our brains, an international study has suggested.

Researchers have found significant differences in the brains of teens with bipolar disorder that attempt to take their lives over those with the disorder who have never attempted suicide.

Women with lower estrogen levels may be more susceptible to developing PTSD according to new research.

A new study raises the question of whether a genetic mutation associated with neurodegeneration in one environment could act in a positive way in a different setting.

Researchers report early indicators of depression and anxiety may be evident in the brain from birth.

A cutting edge, non-invasive brain stimulation technique could improve cognitive control for people with conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

A new computerized ‘mirror game’ has been shown to give more accurate diagnosis of schizophrenia than clinical interviews.

A new study reports on how a single instance of extreme stress can lead to long term neurological changes and trauma.

Social difficulties in people with autism are exacerbated by how other people perceive them at first meeting, researchers say.

Finally this week, researchers have revealed regions of the brain implicated in delusional misidentification syndromes.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

How Would It Be to Have the Body of a Child Again? Changes in Perception and Behaviors Demonstrated When Embodying a Child Avatar

A research, recently published on the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that a correlate of a body-ownership illusion is that the virtual type of body carries with it a set of temporary changes in perception and behaviours that are appropriate to that type of body.

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined whether or not higher glucose levels without diabetes was a risk factor for dementia.  Diabetes is already a known risk factor for dementia, but this study aimed to determine if the risk factor for diabetes is a risk factor for dementia.  Studying 2,067 participants without dementia, 232 of which already had diabetes, the researchers collected follow-up data after approximately seven years.  They found a significantly higher risk of dementia in individuals with higher than average blood glucose even if they did not have diabetes. Meanwhile, a study by researchers at Umeå University in Sweden suggests nine different factors that can increase the risk of developing dementia before age 65. The results have been published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Meditating before lectures can lead to better grades according to a new experimental study by George Mason University professor Robert Youmans and University of Illinois doctoral student Jared Ramsburg.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have uncovered a protein switch that can either increase or decrease memory-building activity in brain cells, depending on the signals it detects. Its dual role means the protein is key to understanding the complex network of signals that shapes our brain’s circuitry, the researchers say.

Different parts of the brain are affected in women with autism than in men with autism, according to a new study.

Ending a 30-year search by scientists, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have identified two proteins in the inner ear that are critical for hearing, which, when damaged by genetic mutations, cause a form of delayed, progressive hearing loss.

Researchers have found human brains ‘divide and conquer’ when people learn to navigate around new environments. The research by UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) could provide hope for people with spatial memory impairments.

Researchers have discovered how genetic mutations linked to Parkinson’s disease might play a key role in the death of brain cells, potentially paving the way for the development of more effective drug treatments.

The largest genome-wide study of its kind has determined how much five major mental illnesses are traceable to the same common inherited genetic variations. Researchers funded in part by the National Institutes of Health found that the overlap was highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; moderate for bipolar disorder and depression and for ADHD and depression; and low between schizophrenia and autism. Overall, common genetic variation accounted for 17-28 percent of risk for the illnesses.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

reading

Keeping mentally active by reading books or writing letters helps protect the brain in old age, a study suggests.

The rate and extent of damage to the spinal cord and brain following spinal cord injury have long been a mystery. Now new research has found evidence that patients already have irreversible tissue loss in the spinal cord within 40 days of injury. The study, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, used a new imaging , developed at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging (UCL). This enables the impact of therapeutic treatments and rehabilitative interventions to be determined more quickly and directly.

UCSF neuroscientists have found that by training on attention tests, people young and old can improve brain performance and multitasking skills.

Researchers are striving to understand the different genetic structures that underlie at least a subset of autism spectrum disorders. In cases where the genetic code is in error, did that happen anew in the patient, perhaps through mutation or copying error, or was it inherited? A new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics finds evidence that there may often be a recessive, inherited genetic contribution in autism with significant intellectual disability.

A specific brain disruption is present both in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and those with bipolar disorder, adding to evidence that many mental illnesses have biological similarities.