Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers in Japan have used the powerful K computer, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to simulate the complex neural structure of our brain.

Heavy drinking as a teenager is the single biggest risk factor for developing dementia unusually early, according to new research. A study of almost 500,000 Swedish men identified “alcohol intoxication” as a late adolescent as the most serious of nine separate risk factors for young onset dementia (YOD) – that is, dementia before reaching 65.

For the first time, researchers have documented irregular brain activity within the first 24 hours of a concussive injury, as well as an increased level of brain activity weeks later—suggesting that the brain may compensate for the injury during the recovery time. The findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

New findings may help neuroscientists pinpoint better targets for anti-anxiety treatments.

The synapses in the brain act as key communication points between approximately one hundred billion neurons. They form a complex network connecting various centres in the brain through electrical impulses. New research from Lund University suggests that it is precisely here, in the synapses, that Huntington’s disease might begin.

In patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, disruptions in brain networks emerge about the same time as chemical markers of the disease appear in the spinal fluid, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown.

New research indicates that teens with anorexia nervosa have bigger brains than teens that do not have the eating disorder.

Assessing consciousness in patients with severe brain trauma is a difficult challenge for doctors, as the injury effectively takes away any ability to blink, squeeze a hand or otherwise respond. But scientists have found a way to measure the brain’s response to a magnetic pulse, helping them determine a person’s level of awareness.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A boxer utilizing the new concussion-detecting test A new tablet-based test is able to detect whether or not someone has sustained a concussion by analyzing their voice.

An international team of neuroscientists has described for the first time in exhaustive detail the underlying neurobiology of an amnesiac who suffered from profound memory loss after damage to key portions of his brain.

A fitness device created by Glasgow academics and designers helps stroke patients during their long road to recovery.

For anyone who has been affected by depression  it is no secret how devastating the disease can be for them and their families. But if the results from a small study published by a group at Germany’s Bonn University Hospital hold up, there could be a radical transformation in the treatment of depression.

An excess of the brain neurotransmitter glutamate may cause a transition to psychosis in people who are at risk for schizophrenia, reports a study from investigators at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) published in the current issue of Neuron.

New research finds that prisoners who are psychopaths lack the basic neurophysiological “hardwiring” that enables them to care for others.

The area of the brain that’s activated when people look at numerals such as “7” and “60” has been pinpointed by researchers. This spot is only about one-fifth of an inch across and consists of 1 million to 2 million nerve cells in the inferior temporal gyrus, the researchers said. The inferior temporal gyrus is known to be involved in the processing of visual information.

And finally this week, habitual liars’ brains differ from those of honest people, a study says. A University of Southern California team studied 49 people and found those known to be pathological liars had up to 26% more white matter than others

Weekly Neuroscience Update

UCL Medical staff discussing an image of a human brain

Researchers at University College London have made a breakthrough in the way that drugs could be delivered to the brain, tackling the difficult problem of constructing drugs which are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier – a mechanism which prevents many chemicals in the bloodstream from passing into the brain, including synthetic compounds administered as medication as well as harmful environmental toxins.

For older adults looking to sharpen their mental abilities, it might be time to log on to Facebook. Preliminary research findings from the University of Arizona suggest that men and women older than 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function.

A single concussion may cause lasting structural damage to the brain, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

In an effort to better evaluate and prevent concussions and head traumas, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a computer model to identify what types of jarring movements to the body can cause injury to the brain

A team of sleep researchers has confirmed the mechanism that enables the brain to consolidate memory and found that a commonly prescribed sleep aid enhances the process. Those discoveries could lead to new sleep therapies that will improve memory for aging adults and those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

How do neurons store information about past events? In the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, a previously unknown mechanism of memory trace formation has been discovered. It appears that at least some events are remembered thanks to geometry.

It is possible to tell who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of his or her brain. Our mental models of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques according to a study by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues.

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have found the first evidence that selective activation of the dentate gyrus, a portion of the hippocampus, can reduce anxiety without affecting learning.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

New research shows that sleep loss markedly exaggerates the degree to which we anticipate impending emotional events, particularly among highly anxious people, who are especially vulnerable.

Music training has a lifelong good impact on the aging process, says a new study out of Northwestern University.

New research by scientists at the University of University of North Carolina School of Medicine may have pinpointed an underlying cause of the seizures that affect 90 percent of people with Angelman syndrome (AS), a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Scientists have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life.

Two U.S. scientists have updated findings that link a form of Chinese meditation to positive changes in brain structure, suggesting that just 11 hours of practising the technique over a month could help prevent mental illness. In a paper to be released this week in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers Yi-Yuan Tang and Michael Posner report that the practice known as integrative body-mind training (IBMT) can have a positive physical affect on the brain, boosting connectivity and efficiency.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have demonstrated the effectiveness of a potential new therapy for stroke patients in an article published in the journal Molecular Neurodegeneration. Created to target a specific enzyme known to affect important brain functions, the new compound being studied at MU is designed to stop the spread of brain bleeds and protect brain cells from further damage in the crucial hours after a stroke.

A receptor recently discovered to control the movement of immune cells across the blood-brain barrier may hold the key to treating multiple sclerosis (MS), a neuroinflammatory disease of the central nervous system.

In a pair of related studies, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have identified several proteins that help regulate cells’ response to light—and the development of night blindness, a rare disease that abolishes the ability to see in dim light.

A recent breakthrough in the development of an artificial synapse suggests that assistive devices and other prostheses won’t be limited to just missing joints and failing organs. Researchers in Japan have shown that it’s possible to mimic synaptic function with nanotechnology, a breakthrough that could result in not just artificial neural networks, but fixes for the human brain as well.

Patients vary widely in their response to concussion, but scientists haven’t understood why. Now, using a new technique for analyzing data from brain imaging studies, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found that concussion victims have unique spatial patterns of brain abnormalities that change over time.

Using a new and powerful approach to understand the origins of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida are building the case that these diseases are primarily caused by genes that are too active or not active enough, rather than by harmful gene mutations.

Your Weekly Neuroscience Update

Drinking three cups of coffee daily could help keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay, according to the results of a new study.

People who frequently use tanning beds experience changes in brain activity during their tanning sessions that mimic the patterns of drug addiction, new research shows.

A research team at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre has revealed how experiencing strong emotions synchronizes brain activity across individuals.

A new study has begun to unravel one long-observed enigma in major depressive disorder: why, for most patients, it continues to come back, even after it seems to have been cured or gone away on its own.

A recent placebo-controlled study showed evidence of trans-cranial bright light’s effect to brain functions when administered through the ear. Bright light stimulation was found to increase activity in brain areas related to processing of visual sensory information and tactile stimuli. The findings are the first ever published scientific article about functional modulation of the brain with bright light delivered to the brain through the ears. Researchers from the Max Planck Florida Institute (MPFI) and New York’s Columbia University have discovered that the rewiring involves fibers that provide primary input to the cerebral cortex, which is involved in cognition, sensory perception and motor control.

When people close their eyes, they can form mental images of things that exist only in their minds. Neuroscientists studying this phenomenon at medical schools in the Texas Medical Center believe that there may be a way to use these mental images to help some of the estimated 39 million people worldwide who are blind.

A Canadian doctor has found a promising way to detect concussions using a simple blood test that can tell within the first hour after a blow to the head how severe the injury may be.