Weekly Neuroscience Update

2-discoveryofn.jpg

Image Credit: Guillaume Sandoz, CNRS

Researchers at CNRS, Université Côte d’Azur and Inserm have demonstrated a new mechanism related to the onset of migraine. In fact, they found how a mutation, causes dysfunction in a protein which inhibits neuronal electrical activity, induces migraines. These results, published in Neuron on Dec. 17, 2018, open a new path for the development of anti-migraine medicines.

Scientists using eye tracking software, report what we look at helps guide our decisions when faced with two visible choices.

A new study reports children and teens who face chronic bullying have altered brain structure, as well as problems with anxiety and depression. Researchers found those who were bullies had structural changes to the putamen and caudate, contributing to the development of anxiety related behaviors and emotional processing.

Researchers have identified specific neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, called self-monitoring error neurons, that fire immediately after people make a mistake.

New findings show how alcohol influences dopaminergic and inhibitory neurons in the ventral tegmental area. The findings could help develop new treatments for alcohol dependence.

A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to a new study.

Scientists who recently identified the molecular start of Alzheimer’s disease have used that finding to determine that it should be possible to forecast which type of dementia will develop over time – a form of personalized medicine for neurodegenerative diseases.

A new study reports lightly stroking an infant, at a speed of 3 centimeters per second, can help to provide pain relief prior to medical procedures.

Researchers have identified cognitive subgroups related to genetic differences in Alzheimer’s patients. The findings could open the door for more personalized treatments of the neurodegenerative disease.

A previously unknown brain mechanism that regulates anxiety has come to light. It allows a gene-altering protein to enter the nucleus of brain cells.

Finally this week, researchers discovered activity in brain regions involved in reward response from dopamine was higher in subjects injected with the hormone ghrelin, but only when responding to images associated with food smells. The study reports ghrelin controls the extent to which the brain associates reward with food odors.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

boy-3360415_960_720.jpg

Researchers have found “different patterns” in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study.

A new study reports the combination of a toxic herbicide and lectins may trigger Parkinsonism after the toxins travel from the stomach to the brain.

Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study has concluded. The study suggests that families who already have a child diagnosed with ASD or ADHD may wish to monitor younger siblings for symptoms of both conditions.

Researchers have shed light on the dual nature of dopamine, as a neurotransmitter that makes us seek pleasure and also reinforces avoidance of pain.

A new neuroimaging study reveals imagination may help people with fear or anxiety disorders overcome them. The study reports imagining a threat can alter the way it is represented in the brain.

Stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improves mood in those suffering from depression, a new study reveals.

Scientists report low levels of GABA producing bacteria is associated with brain signatures of depression. They believe it may be possible to treat clinical depression by increasing GABA producing bacteria.

Finally, this week, using machine learning to analyze fMRI brain scans of grieving people, researchers shed light on how unconscious suppression occurs.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

kindle-1867751_960_720.jpg

Researchers have uncovered how specific retinal cells respond to the artificial light generated by cell phone and tablets. The study reveals how retinal ganglion cells process ambient light and reset our circadian clocks, leading to sleep disruptions.

Stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex improves mood in those suffering from depression, a new study reveals.

New research has discovered that a type of adult stem cell found in a variety of tissues can be manipulated to enhance tissue regeneration and potentially treat inflammatory diseases.

A new study reports obesity can significantly increase the risk of depression, even in the absence of other health problems.

Researchers have made a breakthrough in understanding the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a new study, the researchers reveal they have identified specific gene variants which increase the risk of ADHD.

A new study combines hundreds of brain scans of patients with OCD and pinpoints problems with error processing in the brain that leads to repetitive behaviors.

Researchers say a new discovery about the pathways associated with consciousness contradicts conventional belief. The study reports the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain’s pathway involved in wakefulness and consciousness, a finding that could help develop better methods for treating comas.

A new study reveals how the brain processes sound and how quickly neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to the language based words.

With a finding that will “rewrite neuroanatomy textbooks,” scientists have shown that the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain pathway involved in keeping humans awake and conscious.

Finally this week, older adults who take up drawing could enhance their memory, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

genetics-autism-neurosciencenews.jpg

A network of more than 200 genes encoding proteins with diverse cellular roles was revealed in a non-biased CRISPR screen for regulators of microexon splicing. Many of the genes have previously been linked to autism. Image is credited to Thomas Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis.

Using CRISPR techniques, researchers have uncovered a genetic network linked to autism.

Researchers find evidence of cognitive issues and miRNA biomarkers, indicating brain injuries from concussions or head-to-head contact, in college football players. The findings indicated lasting damage caused by sports-related concussions occur earlier than expected.

A new method for studying the mircobiome has allowed researchers to identify a connection between metabolism in gut bacteria and the development of diabetes.

A new study has identified unique functional brain networks associated with characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 12- and 24-month old children at risk for developing ASD. The study is published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Researchers have identified a brain network that may control the diversion of attention to focus on potential threats. Dopamine, they report, is key to the process.

New research has found preliminary evidence that high-intensity interval exercise temporarily impairs reward learning mechanisms in the brain. The research, which was published in Physiology & Behavior, indicates that this type of exercise does not improve all aspects of cognitive function.

A new study reports aerobic exercise can have antidepressant effects for patients with major depressive disorder.

Researchers propose a new theory of human thinking, suggesting our brain’s navigation system is key to thinking. This may explain why our knowledge seems to be organized in spatial fashion.

Scientists have solved a 125-year-old mystery of the brain, and, in the process, uncovered a potential treatment for acquired epilepsy.

A new neuroimaging study reveals the brains of teenage girls who self-harm show similar features to adults with borderline personality disorder.

Researchers were able to distinguish between children with or without ASD diagnosis, thanks to a new saliva-based biomarker panel. Researchers report the test can be used in children as young as 18 month, assisting in early diagnosis of autism.

Finally this week, a new study reveals common brain activity patterns associated with depressive moods.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

serotonin-receptor-activation-neuroscieneews.jpg

Serotonin-induced activation of serotonin (3A) receptors. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Using cryo-electron microscopy, researchers have successfully imaged serotonin attaching to the receptor and twisting open the channel, allowing sodium molecules to travel through.

Researchers report adults who sleep six hours per night, as opposed to the recommended eight, have higher chances of waking up dehydrated.

A new study reports some genetic factors that increase obesity work to lower metabolic risk. 14 genetic variations, researchers report, are linked to higher BMI but lower diabetes risk.

A new method for studying the mircobiome has allowed researchers to identify a connection between metabolism in gut bacteria and the development of diabetes.

Researchers have discovered how the nature of T cells help protect the brain from viruses. The findings shed light on the role the immune system plays in a number of neurodegenerative disorders.

A new study has identified a brain network that may control the diversion of attention to focus on potential threats. Dopamine, they report, is key to the process.

As the adage goes “neurons that fire together, wire together,” but a new paper published today in Neuron demonstrates that, in addition to response similarity, projection target also constrains local connectivity.

A new study reveals common brain activity patterns associated with depressive moods.

Engaging in regular exercise can help preserve the motor and non-motor function of Parkinson’s disease patients, most likely as a result of an increased release of dopamine in the brain, a small study suggests.

Researchers have identified abnormalities in specific neural networks that may be a biomarker to predict the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Researchers find evidence of cognitive issues and miRNA biomarkers, indicating brain injuries from concussions or head-to-head contact, in college football players. The findings indicated lasting damage caused by sports-related concussions occur earlier than expected.

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

mini-retina-eye-brain-neurosciencenews

Axons of retinal ganglion cells (red) derived from human pluripotent stem cells bundle together and navigate their environment using growth cones (green), similar to human development of the optic nerve. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Department of Biology, School of Science at IUPUI

Biologists are growing ‘mini retinas’ in the lab from stem cells to mimic the growth of the human retina. The researchers hope to use the research to restore sight when critical connections between the eye and the brain are damaged. These models also allow the researchers to better understand how cells in the retina develop and are organized. These results are published online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.

Researchers have discovered how the brain attempts to compensate for poor performance in tasks which require complicated transformation, such as writing your name backwards.

Observing the brain’s response to repeated stimuli has helped KAUST researchers develop a method for modeling connectivity patterns in neural networks. Mapping connectivity patterns will help to better understand brain function, ultimately improving diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases and mental disorders.

A new study reveals unique connections within brain networks in children on the autism spectrum. Researchers say, in ASD, the amygdala shows marked differences in connection with the occipital cortex than in typically developing children.

Researchers have identified key differences between the way males and females with schizophrenia process the emotional states of others than those without the condition. The study reports those with schizophrenia use less complex brain regions than healthy controls to process other people’s emotions.

According to a new study, certain behavioral risk factors strongly predict the likelihood of a person developing depression, and these risk factors change as we age.

Using neuroimaging technology, researchers have identified three different subtypes of depressive disorder, including one that seems to be untreatable by common SSRI antidepressants.

Finally this week, researchers report those who have had appendectomies have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. A new study reveals the appendix acts as a reservoir for proteins associated with the neurodegenerative disease.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

speech-pitch-neurosceincneews.jpg

Chang Lab’s research reveals what area of the human brain controls the pitch of our speech.

Researchers have revealed the area of the brain that controls our voice box, allowing us to alter the pitch of our speech. The insight could pave the way for advancing neuroprosthetics to allow people who can’t speak, to express themselves in a naturalistic way.

A new study reports the brain mechanisms responsible for triggering memory are identical, whether a person is awake or asleep.

While the effects of sleep deprivation are well known, researchers discover sleeping too much could have a detrimental effect on your brain. A new study reports sleeping more than eight hours per night can reduce cognitive ability and reasoning skills.

Researchers have discovered the thalamus plays a crucial role in the development of normal sleep and waking states.

A new study reports T cells are activated in the intestines and migrate to the brain, causing an inflammatory cascade that may lead to multiple sclerosis. Researchers say the gut microbiome may play a more significant role in the development and progression of MS than previously believed.

A new study reports an afternoon nap can help us to process unconscious information and enhance cognition.

Utilizing lesion network mapping, a recently developed technique for analyzing how the brain works, researchers have studied free will perception related to movement decisions.

A new study reports a protein made by astrocytes plays a critical role in brain plasticity by assisting with neural maturation and flexibility.

Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited – the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Cambridge believe they may have found an explanation: spontaneous errors in our DNA that arise as cells divide and reproduces.

An international team of researchers has demonstrated, with electrophysiological evidence, the existence of grid-like activity in the human brain.

Finally, this week, a new study reports people may be able to avoid depression, even if they have a genetic predisposition to SAD, by maintaining or boosting serotonin levels throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To “Vaccinate” Yourself Against Depression #WorldMentalHealthDay

world-mental-health-day-10th-october-2016 (1)

Today is World Mental Health Day, which is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

Depression is very common – it is estimated that at least one in five people in Ireland will develop depression during their lifetime. Depression is not to be confused with the normal ups and downs of everyday life. Everyone can feel a bit ‘down’ from time to time as a reaction to an upsetting event, but will start to feel better after a few days or weeks. It is a natural, short-lived response to stressful times in life.

However, some people are unable to escape this low mood, and find it difficult to carry on with life as usual. They may experience low/sad, irritable or indifferent mood, loss of interest and enjoyment in daily life and a general lack of energy. This may be often accompanied by some or all of the following physical symptoms, fatigue and reduced activity, disturbed sleep or excessive sleep, changes in appetite and weight, loss of sex drive, unexplained aches and pains e.g. headache, backache and changes to the menstrual cycle.

Depression affects different people in different ways – not everyone has the same symptoms. Other symptoms include poor concentration or reduced attention, difficulty in making decisions, tearfulness, restlessness, agitation or anxiety, low self-confidence and self-esteem, feelings of guilt, inability to cope with life as before, avoiding other people, bleak view of the future, morbid thoughts, ideas of self-harm.

Treatment is available and recovery is possible.

Starting in the 1960’s neuroscientists regarded depression as a kind of ‘anaemia’ in the brain – a lack of three important neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline in key emotional regions in the brain. Antidepressant drugs were then developed to bring the levels of these neurotransmitters particularly serotonin back to normal. Prozac is a good example of this type of drug and it has proved to be a safe and effective life saver for many the depressed patient.

However, recently neuroscientists have had a radical change of mind with respect to the nature of depression. This change of view is partially due to evidence from brain imaging studies in depressed patients showing dramatic changes in nerve activity in the frontal lobe of the brain.

The importance of the frontal lobe in depression

Nervous activity in the frontal lobes forms our attitudes, plans and strategies and is at least in part under our own control.    This view advocates that depression is in fact a disorder of thinking – a sort of obsessional pessimism from which the depressed patient can see no way out and this is what causes the low neurotransmitter levels.

Wisconsin Study

The WISCONSIN STUDY adds another twist by showing that the brains of depressed individuals actually exhibit the same initial levels of activity in positive/pleasure-generating brain regions. Instead they found differences in the ability to sustain those positive emotions.

Findings from my own research group and others show that three important neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline play a key role in sustaining attention and motivation the brain. Thus low neurotransmitter levels may impair the ability to ‘embed’ these new thoughts and emotions leaving the depressed patient feeling like they are back at square one. This study lends support to notion that depression is best treated by psychological/behavioral treatments or in combination of drugs, not drugs alone.

Thus while antidepressants can help treat the chemical anaemia – good mental heath in particular careful monitoring of your everyday thoughts and attitudes will ensure that negative thoughts are nipped in the bud is also vital in the treatment and even the prevention of depression.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

179285_web.jpg

Image Credit: Kolbjørn Skarpnes & Rita Elmkvist Nilsen / NTNU Communication Division & Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience

Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway in have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

A new study reports a strong hand grip is correlated with better visual memory and reaction times in people with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Dr Max Ortiz Catalan of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has developed a new theory for the origin of the mysterious condition, ‘phantom limb pain’. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, his hypothesis builds upon his previous work on a revolutionary treatment for the condition, that uses machine learning and augmented reality.

Researchers report ADHD and conduct disorder exhibit similar, overlapping changes in the brain.

A new study in SLEEP, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that delaying school start times results in students getting more sleep, and feeling better, even within societies where trading sleep for academic success is common.

Scientists have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

Researchers report the adverse cognitive effects associated with DBS in Pakinson’s patients are linked to a different neural pathway than the one responsible for the motor effects generated by the treatment.

According to a new study, people who have suffered a stroke are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Researchers have developed a new deep learning neural network that can identify speech patterns indicative of depression from audio data. The algorithm is 77% effective at detecting depression.

Finally this week, a new study reports genetic factors count for about 70% of stable academic achievement throughout schooling.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

piriform-cortex-olfaction-neurosciencneews.jpg

Staining one section of the brain, as shown, reveals layers of the piriform cortex–in green, brownish-red, and white–and other cells of the brain in blue. Image is credited to Salk Institute.

Researchers say the randomness of the piriform cortex plays a critical role when it comes to distinguishing between similar odors.

A new study sheds light into how we recognize facial expressions of emotion. Researchers report our interpretation of emotions expressed facially by others depends upon our pre-conceived understanding of emotion.

Scientists in Israel have developed a breath test that can detect people with early-stage Parkinson’s disease.

A new study, published in the journal PNAS, suggests that a diagnostic blood test for depression may soon be on the horizon. The new research shows that treatment-resistant depression is characterized by reduced blood levels of a specific molecule.

‘Inattentional smell blindness’, or inattentional anosmia, has been proven to exist in a new study.

Yale researchers have tested a new method for directly measuring synaptic loss in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The method, which uses PET imaging technology to scan for a specific protein in the brain linked to synapses, has the potential to accelerate research for new Alzheimer’s treatments.

A recent study finds that noninvasive brain stimulation, activated while asleep, improves memory performance the next day.

Finally this week, researchers have identified a neural link between depression and sleep problems. The study reports brain regions associated with short-term memory, self and negative emotions are strongly connected in those with depression, and this may lead to bad sleep quality.