Weekly Neuroscience Update

Credit: PLOS Pathogens (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010339

New research is providing hope to immunocompromised people who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Scientists have discovered promising evidence that T cell immunotherapy could help them to fight against multiple strains of the virus.

Treatments integrating music and auditory beat stimulation are effective in reducing state anxiety in some patients, according to a new study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

The underlying molecular mechanisms that promote autoimmune diseases are multilayered and complex. Now, scientists have succeeded in deciphering new details of these processes. Their work supports the notion that excessive consumption of glucose directly promotes the pathogenic functions of certain cells of the immune system and that, conversely, a calorie-reduced diet can have a beneficial effect on immune diseases.

Teens who had an insecure attachment to their mothers as toddlers are more likely to overestimate the trustworthiness of strangers, a new study reports.

A new study reveals that oleic acid produced in the brain is an essential regulator of the process that enables learning and memory and supports proper mood regulation. The finding has paved the path to discovering potential new therapeutic strategies to counteract cognitive and mood decline in patients with neurological disorders.

A small study found people who received lithium, a drug commonly associated with the treatment of bipolar disorder, are less likely to develop dementia.

Scientists have found that people with Parkinson’s disease have a clear “genetic signature” of the disease in their memory T cells. The scientists hope that targeting these genes may open the door to new Parkinson’s treatments and diagnostics.

If you are forgetful or make mistakes when in a hurry, a new study found that meditation could help you to become less error-prone.

Older adults who take statin drugs have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or parkinsonism symptoms later in life compared to those who do not take statins. Researchers speculate this may be because statins have a neuroprotective effect on arteries in the brain.

Finally this week, researchers have developed a new, fully automated prosthetic arm that learns during normal use and adapts to varying conditions.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Credit: Johnson et al.

Researchers recently carried out a large-scale analysis of the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Their findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, unveiled a series of disease-related changes in protein co-expression modules, which were not identified when examining RNA networks in the same brain regions.

A new study, published in the journal PNAS, proposes how the brain stays stable despite changes in the neural code.

Cognitive decline is the biggest factor in determining how long patients with Alzheimer’s disease will live after being diagnosed, according to a new research study. The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, are a first step that could help health care providers provide reliable prediction and planning assistance for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

An increase in depressive symptoms in adolescence has been linked to ozone exposure as a result of air pollution, even in areas that meet air quality standards.

Seven in ten long COVID patients experience concentration and memory problems several months after the initial onset of their disease, with many performing worse than their peers on cognitive tests, according to new research from the University of Cambridge.

Finally this week, researchers have developed a new method for training people to be creative, one that shows promise of succeeding far better than current ways of sparking innovation.

Are We Born Creative?

blue box

Since the dawn of human evolution, our world has been driven by creative flashes of inspiration.  Creativity often appear as a spontaneous burst of new ideas but it is really the ability to derive new ideas from old ones – the reassembly of information that we already possess.  While everyone can learn to be creative to some degree, new research is revealing that the extent to which we inherit our creativity may be greater that previously thought.

This Thursday, November 27, I will be giving a public talk on creativity and how we can foster it. The talk will take place at The Blue Box Creative Therapy Centre in Limerick city centre.  Entrance is free; donations to this worthy cause are welcome.

Book your ticket

 

Your Brain On Improv


What happens in the brain during musical improv? Researcher Charles Limb scanned the brains of jazz musicians to find out.

About Charles Limb

Dr. Charles Limb is an Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, as well as faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He combines his two passions to study the way the brain creates and perceives music. He’s a hearing specialist and surgeon at Johns Hopkins who performs cochlear implantations. In his free time, he plays sax, piano and bass.

In search of a better understanding of how the mind processes complex auditory stimuli such as music, Dr. Limb has been working with Dr. Allen Braun to look at the brains of improvising musicians and study what parts of the brain are involved when a musician is really in the groove.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Conceptual scheme of controlled release of ODN from a hydrogel composed of a CyD-containing molecular network by mechanical compression. (Credit: Image courtesy of National Institute for Materials Science)

A research group has succeeded in developing a gel material which is capable of releasing drugs in response to pressure applied by the patient.

New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal in the field Pain, by National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that suppression of pain during times of fear involves complex interplay between marijuana-like chemicals and other neurotransmitters in a brain region called the amygdala.

Researchers report that they have found a biological mechanism that appears to play a vital role in learning to read. This finding provides significant clues into the workings behind dyslexia — a collection of impairments unrelated to intelligence, hearing or vision that makes learning to read a struggle.

A new study suggests neural ‘synchrony’ may be key to understanding how the human brain perceives.

Sleep plays an important role in the brain’s ability to consolidate learning when two new potentially competing tasks are learned in the same day, research at the University of Chicago demonstrates.

New research for the first time explains exactly how two brain regions interact to promote emotionally motivated behaviors associated with anxiety and reward. The findings could lead to new mental health therapies for disorders such as addiction, anxiety, and depression.

Researchers have designed a decoded functional MRI neurofeedback method that induces a pre-recorded activation pattern in targeted early visual brain areas that could also produce the pattern through regular learning.

A new study conducted by monitoring the brain waves of sleeping adolescents has found that remarkable changes occur in the brain as it prunes away neuronal connections and makes the major transition from childhood to adulthood.

New research suggests that depression, even in children, can increase the risk of heart problems later in life. Teens who were depressed as children are far more likely than their peers to be obese, smoke cigarettes and lead sedentary lives, even if they no longer suffer from depression.

Alcohol consumption affects the brain in multiple ways, ranging from acute changes in behavior to permanent molecular and functional alterations. The general consensus is that in the brain, alcohol targets mainly neurons. However, recent research suggests that other cells of the brain known as astrocytic glial cells or astrocytes are necessary for the rewarding effects of alcohol and the development of alcohol tolerance.

New research published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that modifying signals sent by astrocytes, our star-shaped brain cells, may help to limit the spread of damage after an ischemic brain stroke.

The prefrontal cortex is a region of the brain that acts like a filter, keeping any irrelevant thoughts, memories and perceptions from interfering with the task-at-hand. In a new study, researchers have shown that inhibiting this filter can enhance unfiltered, creative thinking.

A new study suggests that depression results from a disturbance in the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. The study indicates a major shift in our understanding of how depression is caused and how it should be treated.