Weekly Neuroscience Update

Photo credit: Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)

Photo credit: Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)

UC San Francisco researchers have used brain scans to predict how young children learn to read, giving clinicians a possible tool to spot children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties before they experience reading challenges.

A new study has found, for the first time, evidence of neuroinflammation in key regions of the brains of patients with chronic pain. By showing that levels of an inflammation-linked protein are elevated in regions known to be involved in the transmission of pain, the study published online in the journal Brain paves the way for the exploration of potential new treatment strategies and identifies a possible way around one of the most frustrating limitations in the study and treatment of chronic pain – the lack of an objective way to measure the presence or intensity of pain.

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology.

Are women “wired” to be more emotional? Not exactly — but new research provides more evidence that the male and female brain may have very different ways of processing emotion. Previous research has shown that women generally experience higher levels of emotional stimulation than men. Now, a new large-scale study from the University of Basel suggests that gender differences in emotion processing are also linked to sex variation in memory and brain activity.

An international research team has identified a new gene for a progressive form of epilepsy.

According to a new study in the Journal of Neurotrauma, researchers have announced the development of a blood test that could provide a quantifiable way to measure the impact of concussions or the success of a treatment regimen.

Finally, this week, new research could move the medical community one step closer toward effectively detecting concussion and quantifying its severity.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

An elderly man who has spent over ten years in a nursing home, barely able to answer yes or no questions—come alive when listening to music from his past is a reminder of the powerful, inspiring, and affecting power of music.

Talking to yourself has long been frowned upon as a sign of craziness, but a recent study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests talking to yourself might actually help you find lost or hidden objects more quickly than being silent.

The longstanding mystery of how selective hearing works — how people can tune in to a single speaker while tuning out their crowded, noisy environs — is solved this week in the journal Nature by two scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Evidence is now mounting that when we attend to objects in the periphery, critical information about them is transmitted, or ‘fed back’, to an unexpected part of the brain: a region that neuroscientists have traditionally believed represents only the ‘fovea’, our central visual field.

A recent study looked at brain scans while adults were being taught new words. Greater activity was shown with average readers when the words were taught in isolation, not in a full sentence.

An international team of scientists reported the largest brain study of its kind had found a gene linked to intelligence, a small piece in the puzzle as to why some people are smarter than others.