Weekly Neuroscience Update

guitar-869217_960_720.jpgResearchers say those who can improvise are better musicians than those who have limited improvisational experience.

Melatonin is a hormone known to promote sleep, but its underlying mechanisms are unknown. Now, researchers have discovered how melatonin suppresses neurons in the brain that keeps you awake and alert. These findings could lead to new therapies for those who suffer from insomnia.

A new study shows how specific neurons can process sensory information about temperature and facilitate a change in behavior to adapt to the climate.

Researchers have identified electrical activity in the brain that is specific to the start of migraines. The new study reports spreading depolarization can be seen as a migraine begins, and an electrical current can be used to stop it in its tracks.

Adolescent drinking is associated with changes in the metabolite profile, a new study shows. 

Scientists are using big data and artificial intelligence to map neural networks in the brain. The new technology could help to better understand the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Sound and object motion can be used to change perceptions about body size, according to a new study.

Researchers report impairments in the neuroprotective communication between neural blood vessels, astrocytes and neurons may be an early factor in how high blood pressure may impair cognitive function.

A new study confirms a link between a number of autoimmune diseases and an increased risk of developing psychosis.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – the relaxing ‘brain tingles’ experienced by some people in response to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping and slow hand movements – may have benefits for both mental and physical health, according to new research.

Researchers have developed new neural implants that enable targeted delivery of drugs deep into brain structures.

A new study reports specific alterations in signaling circuits associated with memory can induce an abnormal response in neurons, which is linked to the aging process and cognitive decline.

Researchers say the combination of low muscle mass and strength in the context of high-fat mass, could be a predictor of cognitive function in older adults. 

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is associated with changes to the structure of the brain that are also seen in the early stages of dementia, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Finally, this week, a new study reports a mother’s diet during pregnancy may have an effect on the composition of her child’s gut bacteria. 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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An astrocyte (green) interacts with a synapse (red), producing an optical signal (yellow). NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to UCLA/Khakh lab.

Researchers have developed a new method that allows them to see how astrocytes influence neural communication in real time.

The chronic neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disease affects an increasing number of people. However, scientists still do not know why some people develop Parkinson’s disease. Now researchers have taken an important step towards a better understanding of the disease.

Researchers have published a new research framework that defines Alzheimer’s disease by brain changes, not symptoms.

The risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, was significantly higher in people who had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than with people who had no history of TBI, according to one of the largest studies to date on that association.

A new voice manipulation algorithm allows researchers to visualize the neural codes people use to judge others by the tone of their voices.

UCLA researchers have developed a way to use brain scans and machine learning — a form of artificial intelligence — to predict whether people with OCD will benefit from cognitive behavior therapy. The technique could help improve the overall success rate of cognitive behavioral therapy, and it could enable therapists to tailor treatment to each patient.

Researchers report synchrony of brain waves within three regions of the brain can ‘break down’ when visual working memory load becomes too extensive to handle.

A new study reveals our brains process weak visual stimuli better in the evenings and mornings than during daylight hours. Researchers say the transition from light to dark has greater influence on visual perception than previously believed.

A new neuroimaging study reveals babies with Fragile X syndrome have less developed white matter in the brain compared to children without the condition.

Finally this week, a new study builds on previous findings that demonstrate EEG recordings of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex can predict eventual response to treatments for depression.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Sleep-deprived brain cells react more slowly and fire more weakly, and their signals are more drawn out. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to UCLA.

A Japanese research group has revealed that elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have a particularly weakened ability to memorize human faces in the short term when compared to healthy elderly people. MCI patients also had a different gaze behavior when trying to memorize a face. This research may lead to the early detection of dementia.

Researchers provide new insight into human consciousness, reporting we don’t consciously choose our feelings or thoughts; we simply become aware of them.

If a mother’s immune system is activated by infection during pregnancy, it could result in critical cognitive deficits linked to schizophrenia in her offspring, a new study has revealed.

People on the autism spectrum appear to have different reactions to subliminal social odors, researchers report.

Information from brain MRIs can help identify people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and distinguish among subtypes of the condition, according to a study appearing online in the journal Radiology.

Migraine triggers can increase oxidative stress, a new study reports. Targeting oxidative stress may help to prevent migraines.

A new study reveals how the mechanism for storing olfactory memories differs slightly from erasing unnecessary memories. Understanding how the brain gets rid of unimportant memories could help unlock new avenues of research to better understand memory loss in aging, researchers say.

Finally this week, researchers report a developmental abnormality more prevalent in premature and male babies, may contribute to SIDS risk, in conjunction to the sleep position.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Scientists have developed a virtual reality computer game as part of the world’s biggest dementia research experiment. It is designed to test one of the first things to go with dementia – the ability to navigate.

Researchers have developed a robotic system that allows them to focus in on specific neurons in the brain. The technology could help answer questions such as how neurons interact with each other as we recall a memory.

Benzodiazepines—the family of popular sedatives that includes Valium and Xanaxseem to bring about structural changes in the brain, according to a European study running in the August edition of Psychiatry Neuroimaging.

Researchers report people who report higher levels of moral reasoning show increased activity in brain areas associated with reward. The study may improve understanding as to why some people are more likely to engage in prosocial behaviors.

Tinnitus, a chronic ringing or buzzing in the ears, has eluded medical treatment and scientific understanding. A new study found that chronic tinnitus is associated with changes in certain networks in the brain, and furthermore, those changes cause the brain to stay more at attention and less at rest.

Researchers have identified a specific area of the brain responsible for auditory verbal hallucinations in people with schizophrenia. The researchers were able to control the hallucinations with the help of transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Finally this week, a new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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This latest research builds on the pioneering use of machine learning algorithms with brain imaging technology to “mind read.” The findings indicate that the mind’s building blocks for constructing complex thoughts are formed by the brain’s various sub-systems and are not word-based.  Image is credited to Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers report they can use brain activation patterns to identify complex thoughts. Their findings suggest the building blocks for complex human thoughts are not word based, but formed by the brain’s sub systems. The study provides evidence that the neural dimensions of concept representation are universal across people and languages.

A new study considers how echolocation can benefit visually impaired people to navigate safely through the environment.

Neuroscientists have used a classic branch of maths in a totally new way to peer into the structure of our brains. What they’ve discovered is that the brain is full of multi-dimensional geometrical structures operating in as many as 11 dimensions.

People tend to change the pitch of their voice depending on who they are talking to, and how dominant they feel, a new study has found.

Researchers have identified a network of neurons that plays a vital role in learning vocalizations by aiding communication between motor and auditory regions of the brain.

A new study reinforces the idea that serotonin, a molecule associated with mood, directly contributes to the actions of cocaine.

A new report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows evidence supporting three interventions for cognitive decline and dementia—cognitive training, blood pressure management for people with hypertension, and increased physical activity, which might slow down cognitive decline and the onset of dementia.

Therapies to change the bacteria in the gut, through diet, pro-and prebiotic supplements, faecal matter transplants or antibiotics, could treat autism.

Finally this week, researchers say a protein usually associated with the immune system could play a role in the development of neurological conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

girl-1990347_960_720.jpgA new report reveals how the development of music is so closely tied to our own evolution.

Even a single bout of physical activity can have significant positive effects on people’s mood and cognitive functions, according to a new study in Brain Plasticity.

A new study reports on the complex brain connections employed during word retrieval.

New research provides an unprecedented level of resolution and insight into disturbances in cortical GABAergic microcircuits, which are thought to underlie cognitive impairments in schizophrenia.

A sign language study helps researchers better understand how the brain processes language.

Researchers say the goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time, but to optimize intelligent decision making by holding on to valuable information.

A new study reports microglia may play a role in a diverse array of neurodegenerative and psychiatric illnesses.

A new brain imaging study shows for the first time that brain inflammation is significantly elevated – more than 30 per cent higher – in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) than in people without the condition.

A research team has studied two structurally-similar proteins in the adult brain and have found that they play distinct roles in the development of dementia. 

Neurons found to be abnormal in psychosis play an important role in our ability to distinguish between what is real and what is perceived, researchers say.

A new study sheds light on the neural mechanism behind why some people with autism are unable to make eye contact with others.

While researchers report the risk of developing psychosis from cannabis use is relatively small, those who use the drug and already suffer from schizophrenia may notice their condition worsen.

Finally this week, researchers have discovered a mechanism of glucose sensing by muscles that contribute to the regulation of blood sugar levels in the body.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Scientists have unpicked the regions of the brain involved in dreaming, in a study with significant implications for our understanding of the purpose of dreams and of consciousness itself. What’s more, changes in brain activity have been found to offer clues as to what the dream is about.

A machine learning algorithm shows that during sleep, the brain actively reprocesses information learned the previous day, strengthening the memory.

A new study of obese people suggests that changes in their brains’ reward regions make them more prone to overeating, and that women and men exhibit different brain activity related to overeating.

A plasma membrane protein affects the generation of new neurons in the adult hippocampus, a new study reports.

The brains of youth experiencing elevated depressive symptoms early in adolescence appear to develop differently from those experiencing depression in late adolescence, reports a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Specifically, the MRI study found that cortical surface area was lower in youth with early depressive symptoms compared with those in the other groups.

While some researchers believe oxytocin is released to enhance a romantic relationship, this might not always be the case, a new study reveals.

Researchers have developed a new method to induce visual hallucinations in healthy people. The study could help to develop new treatments to control hallucinations in people with Parkinson’s and other disorders.

Exercise may bolster the brain function and thinking skills of people with dementia, according to a new report.

When prompted to use verbal thinking, people create visual images to accompany their speech, implying visual thinking could be hardwired into our brains, a new study reports.

Researchers report brain network organization changes can influence executive function in young adults.

What happens in the brain when we see other people experiencing a trauma or being subjected to pain? It seems the same regions that are involved when we feel pain ourselves are also activated when we observe other people who appear to be going through some painful experience. This is shown in a study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in Nature Communications.

A new study reports EEG could accurately predict which newborn babies will have neurodevelopmental disorders.

Finally this week, new research, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience makes the case against fixed starting times, i.e. a fixed one-size-fits-all approach for students and employees.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

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Fathers given boosts of the hormone oxytocin show increased activity in brain regions associated with reward and empathy when viewing photos of their toddlers, a new study finds. The journal Hormones and Behavior published the results of the study, the first to look at the influence of both oxytocin and vasopressin – another hormone linked to social bonding – on brain function in human fathers.

A new study looks at the association between tiredness, genetics, environment and health.

A genetic ‘switch’ has been discovered by researchers at the University of Leicester which could help to prevent or delay the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In a paper published in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation, the team discovered that a gene called ATF4 plays a key role in Parkinson’s disease, acting as a ‘switch’ for genes that control mitochondrial metabolism for neuron health.

A new study supports olfactory testing as an early method to detect those at risk of develop dementia.

Researchers have experimentally confirmed the hypothesis, whereby comprehension of a word’s meaning involves not only the ‘classic’ language brain centres but also the cortical regions responsible for the control of body muscles, such as hand movements. The resulting brain representations are, therefore, distributed across a network of locations involving both areas specialised for language processing and those responsible for the control of the associated action.

Better quality sleep is linked to improved emotions and fewer stressors the next day, researchers report.

New research shows that patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), even without evidence of brain lesions, may exhibit changes in brain connectivity detectable at the time of the injury that can aid in diagnosis and predicting the effects on cognitive and behavioural performance at 6 months.

Finally this week, preschool aged children who took naps after learning new verbs better understood the word when tested 24 hours later, a new study reports.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Under the microscope, staining highlights a network of vasculature amid the ball of neurons that make up a minibrain. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Hoffman-Kim lab/Brown University

Scientists have recently made a variety of mini-brains — 3-D cultures of neural cells that model basic properties of living brains — but a new finding could add to the field’s growing excitement in an entirely new “vein”: Brown University’s mini-brains now grow blood vessels, too.

A new study reports astrocytes may be a driving force behind a number of neurodegenerative diseases.

While many of us find the sound of a person chewing or breathing heavily annoying, for those with misophonia, such noises are unbearable. Researchers have identified the neural networks and brain changes associated with the disorder.

New research reveals the shape of our brain can provide surprising clues about how we behave and our risk of developing mental health disorders.

A team of investigators have found that exposure to phobic images without conscious awareness is more effective than longer, conscious exposure for reducing fear. The investigators used fMRI to determine that areas of the brain involved in fear processing were much more strongly activated by unconscious exposure. Results of the study will be published in the journal, Human Brain Mapping, on February 6, 2017.

Depression poses a risk for cardiovascular diseases in men that is just as great as that posed by high cholesterol levels and obesity.

In the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), New York University neuroscientist David Heeger offers a new framework to explain how the brain makes predictions

Researchers have developed new technology that utilises infrared light in order to treat memory loss conditions.

Scientists have discovered a cell in the retina that may cause myopia when it dysfunctions. The dysfunction may be linked to the amount of time a child spends indoors and away from natural light.

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

New sensors that can monitor dopamine secretion in a single neuron could help researchers better understand how dopamine influences brain activity.

Scientists have developed sensor technology for a robotic prosthetic arm that detects signals from nerves in the spinal cord.

People who use sign language have better reaction times in their peripheral vision, a new study from the University of Sheffield has found.

Finally this week, researchers report concussion can accelerate Alzheimer’s symptoms in people with a genetic risk for the disease.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study has identified a novel signaling system controlling neuronal plasticity.

A lack of shrinkage in the area of the brain responsible for memory may be a sign that people with thinking and memory problems may go on to develop dementia with Lewy bodies rather than Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published in the November 2, 2016, online issue of Neurology.

A new paper offers an overview as to how neurons ‘communicate’ with one another.

Researchers have confirmed a genetic link between mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed on from the mother, and some forms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A new study looks at how the digestive tract communicates with the brain and could help find new treatment options for obesity.

Scientists can now map what happens neurologically when new information influences a person to change his or her mind, a finding that offers more insight into the mechanics of learning.

New studies may help to explain the path from stem cells to dopamine neurons.

Increased muscle strength leads to improved brain function in adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), new results from a recent trial led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

Researchers have identified a previously unknown stage of human brain development.

Finally, this  week  a new study finds that subtle, unconscious increases in arousal – indicated by a faster heartbeat and dilated pupils – shape our confidence for visual experiences.