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

Neuroscience research demonstrates that the brain regions underpinning moral judgment share resources with circuits controlling other capacities such as emotional saliency, mental state understanding and decision-making. Credit: Jean Decety

Neuroscience research demonstrates that the brain regions underpinning moral judgment share resources with circuits controlling other capacities such as emotional saliency, mental state understanding and decision-making. Credit: Jean Decety

People who care about justice are swayed more by reason than emotion, according to new brain scan research from the Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. Researchers have discovered a gene that is likely to play a role in the risk of psychosis in bipolar disorders.

A new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralysed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury, has been developed by scientists at UCL and King’s College London.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy.

A new study is the first documented study that shows cognitive behavioral therapy in a group setting is capable of changing the brain structure in patients with chronic pain.

By examining the sense of touch in stroke patients, a University of Delaware cognitive psychologist has found evidence that the brains of these individuals may be highly plastic even years after being damaged.

A new chemical messenger that is critical in protecting the brain against Parkinson’s disease has been identified by scientists.

Scents and smells can form the basis of some of the most significant memories humans form in their lives, a new study suggests

In the first study of its kind, two researchers have used popular music to help severely brain-injured patients recall personal memories.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

For the study, researchers recruited twenty skilled pianists from Lyon, France. The group was asked to learn simple melodies by either hearing them several times or performing them several times on a piano. Pianists then heard all of the melodies they had learned, some of which contained wrong notes, while their brain electric signals were measured using electroencephalography (EEG). Credit: Caroline Palmer/Brian Mathias

For the study, researchers recruited twenty skilled pianists from Lyon, France. The group was asked to learn simple melodies by either hearing them several times or performing them several times on a piano. Pianists then heard all of the melodies they had learned, some of which contained wrong notes, while their brain electric signals were measured using electroencephalography (EEG). Credit: Caroline Palmer/Brian Mathias

Research from McGill University reveals that the brain’s motor network helps people remember and recognize music that they have performed in the past better than music they have only heard. 

Veterans who have been exposed to nearby explosions, but who lack clear symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) may still have damage to the brain’s white matter similar to veterans with TBI, according to new research at Duke Medicine and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

University of Adelaide researchers say new insights into how the human brain responds to chronic pain could eventually lead to improved treatments for patients. And also at the University of Adelaide, studies show that a gene linked to intellectual disability is critical to the earliest stages of the development of human brains. Known as USP9X, the gene has been investigated by Adelaide researchers for more than a decade, but in recent years scientists have begun to understand its particular importance to brain development.

In order to function properly, the human brain requires the ability not only to store but also to forget. Through memory loss, unnecessary information is deleted and the nervous system retains its plasticity. A disruption of this process can lead to serious mental disorders. Scientists have now discovered a molecular mechanism that actively regulates the process of forgetting. The journal Cell has published their results.

Brain imaging using radioactive dye can detect early evidence of Alzheimer’s disease that may predict future cognitive decline.

Scientists have identified a new group of compounds that may protect brain cells from inflammation linked to seizures and neurodegenerative diseases.

Your brain’s ability to instantly link what you see with what you do is down to a dedicated information ‘highway’, suggests new research.

There has been a great deal of research on changes among different brain states during sleep, but  new findings, reported in the March 13 issue of Cell, provide a compelling example of a change in state in the awake brain.

Finally, this week, using a new method to determine whether individuals met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder, researchers from UCLA tried a new approach by combining results from brain imaging, cognitive tests, and an array of temperament and behavioral measures. In an attempt to better understand the genes that cause the disorder, a collaborative research team identified about 50 brain and behavioral measures that are both under strong genetic control and associated with bipolar disorder, creating the potential to pinpoint the specific genes that contribute to the illness.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

scientists develop video game for stroke

Scientists have developed a therapeutic at-home 3D gaming programme to help stroke patients overcome motor weakness, which affects 80 per cent of survivors.

Using a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations, a team of neuroscientists has discovered how brain cells that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and are activated immediately before those memories are recalled.

Establishing links between genes, the brain and human behavior is a central issue in cognitive neuroscience research, but studying how genes influence cognitive abilities and behavior as the brain develops from childhood to adulthood has proven difficult. Now, an international team of scientists has made inroads to understanding how genes influence brain structure and cognitive abilities and how neural circuits produce language.

Stanford University School of Medicine neuroscientists have discovered a new role played by a common but mysterious class of brain cells.

A new study using brain imaging has shown the effect of the chronic pain drug pregalbin on the brain, giving researchers new insight on the treatment of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders.

A study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience points, for the first time, to the gene trkC as a factor in susceptibility to panic disorder. The researchers define the specific mechanism for the formation of fear memories which will help in the development of new pharmacological and cognitive treatments.

Finally, in the largest study on the topic to date, research shows that speaking a second language may delay the onset of three types of dementias.  The study found that people who spoke two languages developed dementia four and a half years later than people who only spoke one language.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

yusi

Yusnier Viera

A new study of the brain of a maths supremo supports Darwin’s belief that intellectual excellence is largely due to “zeal and hard work” rather than inherent ability. University of Sussex neuroscientists took fMRI scans of champion ‘mental calculator’ Yusnier Viera during arithmetical tasks that were either familiar or unfamiliar to him and found that his brain did not behave in an extraordinary or unusual ways.

A fear memory was reduced in people by exposing them to the memory over and over again while they slept. It’s the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated in humans during sleep, report Northwestern Medicine scientists.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have identified and validated two rare gene mutations that appear to cause the common form of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that strikes after the age of 60.

Moderate reductions in body temperature can improve outcomes after a person suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

When individuals with psychopathy imagine others in pain, brain areas necessary for feeling empathy and concern for others fail to become active and be connected to other important regions involved in affective processing and decision-making, reports a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Research from Virginia Tech suggests that with advances in neurofeedback techniques, the signal-to-noise ratio of the brain activity underlying our thoughts can be “remastered.”

In a landmark discovery, the final piece in the puzzle of understanding how the brain circuitry vital to normal fertility in humans and other mammals operates has been put together by researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago.

Brain regions associated with memory shrink as adults age, and this size decrease is more pronounced in those who go on to develop neurodegenerative disease, reports a new study published Sept. 18 in the Journal of Neuroscience . The volume reduction is linked with an overall decline in cognitive ability and with increased genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the authors say.

Scientists say that people who have a certain abnormality in their brain structure are more likely to develop chronic pain following a lower back injury, according to a study published in the journal Pain.

The development of fine motor control – the ability to use your fingertips to manipulate objects – takes longer than previously believed, and isn’t entirely the result of brain development, according to a pair of complementary studies.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Mind wandering may increase creative thinking, according to a new international study.

Simple mental activity such as reading, writing, playing games and doing puzzles may protect brain health in old age, according to a new study.

Reduced production of myelin, a type of protective nerve fiber that is lost in diseases like multiple sclerosis, may also play a role in the development of mental illness, according to researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

A small molecule known to regulate white blood cells has a surprising second role in protecting brain cells from the deleterious effects of stroke, Johns Hopkins researchers report.

Scientists have revealed the minutely detailed pain map of the hand that is contained within our brains, shedding light on how the brain makes us feel discomfort and potentially increasing our understanding of the processes involved in chronic pain.

People with Parkinson’s disease benefit from exercise programs on stationary bicycles, with the greatest effect for those who pedal faster, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

A new method to study widespread networks of neurons responsible for our memory has been discovered by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.

The first study to estimate rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI), without relying on official figures, suggests the worldwide incidence of TBI could be six times higher than previously estimated.

MRI shows changes in the brains of people with post-concussion syndrome (PCS), according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers hope the results point the way to improved detection and treatment for the disorder.

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