Weekly Neuroscience Update

5ca4c9efcbd6e.jpg

How well-connected a particular brain network is, and how successfully memories are formed, may determine which patients with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from behavioral therapy, researchers have found.

A new paper discusses the potential of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, OCD, Tourette syndrome and other disorders.

Reduced blood capillaries in the back of the eye may be a new, noninvasive way to diagnose early cognitive impairment, the precursor to Alzheimer’s disease in which individuals become forgetful, reports a newly published study.

Animal-assisted therapy can foster social competence in patients with brain injuries and increase their emotional involvement during therapy. 

CGRP, a protein associated with migraine pain, appears to act differently between sexes. Researchers say a female-specific mechanism of downstream CGRP receptor activation is likely to contribute to the higher prevalence of migraine in women.

A new model sheds light on the evolutionary origins of empathy and other associated phenomena. 

A team of scientists has shown that when deep-brain stimulation is applied to a specific brain region, it improves patients’ cognitive control over their behavior by increasing the power of a specific low-frequency brain rhythm in their prefrontal cortex.

Researchers have increased understanding of how computing technology could be used to help people with depression remember happy memories.

A study has found that childhood trauma is linked to abnormal connectivity in the brain in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). The paper, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is the first data-driven study to show symptom-specific, system-level changes in brain network connectivity in MDD.

Finally this week, the findings of an EEG study on two-month-old babies reveal the impact of maternal stress on early neurodevelopment.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

robot-eyes-motor-impairment-neurosciencneews.jpg

Robotic body surrogates can help people with profound motor deficits interact with the world. Here, Henry Evans, a California man who helped Georgia Tech researchers with improvements to a web-based interface, uses the robot to shave himself.  

People with profound motor deficits reported an improved quality of life while using robotic body surrogates.

A new study reports babies’ brains are sensitive to different emotional tones they hear in voices. Researchers suggest maternal interactions may help to shape the same brain region adults use for emotional processing.

Researchers are finding new evidence that exercise — even low-intensity, casual physical activity — can boost brain health in the short- and long-term.

The brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter is long known for its role in passing signals between neurons in the brain, can also regulate expression of genes within neurons in an unexpected way, according to research conducted by neuroscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published on March 13 in the journal Nature.

New patterns of brain aging across the human lifespan have been revealed by scientists analysing microstructural changes in the brain’s white matter.

According to researchers, there is an optimum amount of dopamine that should be present within the brain. This optimum amount can help improve cognitive performance on tasks, researchers report.

Oxford University scientists have discovered a brain process common to sleep and aging in research that could pave the way for new treatments for insomnia.

Finally this week, a new review, which appears in The BMJ journal, examines the benefits of non-invasive brain stimulation for treating major depression and finds that the technique is a valid alternative to existing treatments.

How Experience Shapes Your Brain #BrainAwarenessWeek

Early experiences affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behaviour, and health.

Brains are built over time, from the bottom up.

The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through a process that begins early in life and continues into adulthood.

Simpler circuits come first and more complex brain circuits build on them later.

Brain architecture is comprised of billions of connections between individual neurons across different areas of the brain.

These connections enable lightning-fast communication among neurons that specialise in different kinds of brain functions. The early years are the most active period for establishing neural connections, but new connections can form throughout life and unused connections continue to be pruned.

The interactions of genes and experience shape the developing brain.

Genes provide the basic blueprint, but experiences influence how or whether genes are expressed. Together, they shape the quality of brain architecture and establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the learning, health, and behaviour that follow.

Although genes provide the blueprint for the formation of brain circuits, these circuits are reinforced by repeated use.

A major ingredient in this developmental process is the interaction between children and their parents and other caregivers in the family or community.

In the absence of responsive caregiving—or if responses are unreliable or inappropriate—the brain’s architecture does not form as expected, which can lead to disparities in learning and behavior.

HCDC_Levitt-Plasticity-Curve_SHARE-768x540

It is easier and less costly to form strong brain circuits during the early years than it is to intervene or “fix” them later.

Cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course.

The brain is a highly integrated organ and its multiple functions operate in coordination with one another. Emotional well-being and social competence provide a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities, and together they are the bricks and mortar of brain architecture.


Adapted from The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Weekly Neuroscience Update

baby-2598005_960_720.jpg

Parents and carers who regularly read with small children are giving them a language advantage of eight months, a study shows.

Smartphone and internet addiction appears to have an impact on brain chemistry. A new study reports the ratio of GABA to Glx is significantly increased in the anterior cingulate cortex of teens who are addicted to their smartphones.

Researchers report neurons from people on the autism spectrum exhibit different growth patterns and develop at a faster rate.

A new study reports obesity and excessive body fat around the middle is associated with lower grey matter volume in the brain. The study also found a link between obesity and shrinkage in specific brain areas.

Researchers have shed light on the epidemiological factors that help shape our gut bacteria from social relationships, socioeconomic status and health related behaviors.

Scientists used EEG to investigate how the brain processes stimuli to determine whether an image or word is positive or negative. The study found words associated with loss causes neural reactions in the visual cortex after 100 milliseconds.

A new study identifies a direct dopamine neuron link to circadian rhythm.

A noninvasive hearing test may assist with early detection and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, according to research published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Scripps researchers have uncovered the process that helps control neuron growth.

A new study has identified racial disparities between African Americans and Caucasians in the level of a key biomarker used to identify Alzheimer’s disease.

Neuroscientists have identified exactly how breathing changes the brain.

A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), sheds light on a mechanism underlying Parkinson’s disease and suggests that Tacrolimus — an existing drug that targets the toxic protein interaction explored in the study — could be used as a novel treatment.

Researchers have identified a mechanism that may explain what is known as the Mozart Effect, where sound input is linked to developing cognitive function.

Neuroscientists have identified a neural population in the human auditory cortex that responds selectively to sounds that people typically categorize as music, but not to speech or other environmental sounds.

Finally this week, researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience revealed that there are five types of insomnia

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

child-85321_960_720.jpgSleep researchers report for the first time evidence that naps and overnight sleep may work together to benefit memory in early childhood.

A group of researchers has found that our learning capabilities are limited during slow wave sleep. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), they showed that while our brain is still able to perceive sounds during sleep, it is unable to group these sounds according to their organisation in a sequence.

Neuroscientists have debunked claims that getting better at a brain training game can translate to improved performance in other, untrained cognitive tasks.

Adults who hold back-and-forth conversations with young children rather than just talking to them may be helping to strengthen connections between the language regions of the children’s brains, new research shows.

Researchers say, to better understand working memory, it is important to resolve the debate over how we hold and judge multiple pieces of information in mind.

According to a new study dehydration can lead to more errors on task performance. Additionally, fMRI neuroimaging showed dehydration can alter brain structure temporarily.

It may be possible in the future to screen patients for Alzheimer’s disease using an eye exam.

Researchers used neuroimaging technology to identify brain differences between those who procrastinate and those who are doers. The study reveals people with poor action control have a larger amygdala, and the connection between the dorsal ACC and amygdala is less pronounced.

A new study reports lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking alcohol during early adulthood, can increase the risk of developing dementia or having a stroke later in life.

Scientists have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

In the first peer-reviewed published report of its kind, University of Toronto researchers have demonstrated that focused ultrasound can be used to safely open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, this week neuroscientists have discovered that ketamine works as an antidepressant at least in part by activating the brain’s opioid system.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

eye-1132531_960_720.jpg

Where objects appear in a person’s visual field can affect the ability to determine what the object is, researchers say.

Scientists have identified the brain networks that allow you to think of an object name and then verbalize that thought. The study appeared in the July issue of BRAIN. It represents a significant advance in the understanding of how the brain connects meaning to words and will help with the planning of brain surgeries.

New research suggests that shifts in the bacteria within a child’s mouth could provide objective biomarkers for identifying autism spectrum disorder. 

Researchers studying the functional connections among parts of the brain are finding that the “fingerprint” of these patterns can be used to identify individuals over many years and to distinguish their relatives from strangers.

Breaking with the long-held idea that working memory has fixed limits, a new study suggests that these limits adapt themselves to the task that one is performing. 

Young children who are regularly engaged in conversation by adults may have stronger connections between two developing brain regions critical for language, according to a study of healthy young children that confirms a hypothesis registered with the Open Science Framework.

A new study reports estrogen and other sex hormones may be responsible for the higher prevalence of migraines in women.

New therapies could be on the horizon for people living with epilepsy or anxiety, thanks to a breakthrough discovery by an international team of researchers studying how proteins interact to control the firing of brain cells.

Researchers report the interaction between two regions of the prefrontal cortex may underlie our motivation to cling to a desirable notion about the future.

A new study sheds light on the role the caudate nucleus plays in pessimism. The study reports stimulating this area of the brain generates a negative outlook that clouds decision making.

Exercise can help prevent relapses into cocaine addiction, according to new research.

A new study reveals a short time meditating can help to boost cognitive performance. Researchers report students exposed to a ten-minute meditation tape were able to complete simple cognitive tasks more quickly and accurately than their peers.

Researchers report transcranial alternating current stimulation applied during sleep can help accelerate learning, memory and skill acquisition.

Heavy alcohol drinkers attempt to acquire alcohol despite the threat of a negative consequence more so than light drinkers, a study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging has found, and this behavior is associated with unique activation of brain circuitry in heavy drinkers.

Finally this week,  new neuroimaging study reveals the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex plays a vital role in suppressing the act of revenge.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

sleep-55792_960_720

Contrary to a popular theory, researchers have discovered the brain remains connected during non-REM sleep. The study reports not all forms of communication within the cerebral cortex are disrupted during this sleep phase.

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function.

UCLA neuroscientists are the first to show that rhythmic waves in the brain called theta oscillations happen more often when someone is navigating an unfamiliar environment, and that the more quickly a person moves, the more theta oscillations take place — presumably to process incoming information faster.

Researchers have identified a brain network that allows the brain to record memories of new places.

A new study reveals deep brain stimulation not only improves motor function, but can also increase survival rates for those with Parkinson’s disease.

A build up of urea in the brain to toxic levels may cause brain damage, eventually leading to dementia, a new study reports.

A new method to measure brain connectivity has found that people with depression have changes in the brain systems involved in memory and reward.

Researchers have developed a single cell sequencing method that can map the cellular origin of a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Finally this week, a new study reveals why some people find it more difficult than others to meet switching demands and change focus as efficiently.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

An experimental therapy which involves a face-to-face discussion between a person with schizophrenia and an avatar representing their auditory hallucination may help reduce symptoms, when provided alongside usual treatment, according to a study led by King’s College London and published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

Researchers have identified a number of variable locations in the genome that influence hippocampal gene activity and may contribute to brain disorders.

For the first time, scientists have found a connection between abnormalities in how the brain breaks down glucose and the severity of the signature amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, as well as the onset of eventual outward symptoms, of Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgment.

The amount of close and comforting contact between infants and their caregivers can affect children at the molecular level, an effect detectable four years later, according to new research.

The brain’s auditory system can be shaped by exposure to different auditory environments, such as native language and musical training.

Contrary to a popular theory, a new study has discovered the brain remains connected during non-REM sleep. The study reports not all forms of communication within the cerebral cortex are disrupted during this sleep phase.

Cannabis use in youth is linked to bipolar symptoms in young adults, finds new research.

According to researchers, when shifting attention from one spot to another, the brain blinks. They report these blinks are momentary unconscious gaps in visual perception.

How well we are able to complete simple and complex tasks depends upon the organization of subnetworks in the brain, a new study reports.

Researchers are working to create a neurochip capable of transmitting a signal to healthy brain cells. The neurochip can be used in devices intended to replace damaged parts of the brain.

A new brain mapping study reveals smokers could be predisposed to their addiction due to the molecular make up of their brains.

In a new study, researchers describe a unique model for the biology of Alzheimer’s disease which may lead to an entirely novel approach for treating the disease. The findings appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Scientists hope to have found a new neurobiological marker to help recognise patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Researchers have identified a mechanism that drives hunger. A new study reports the sight or smell of food can temporarily turn of AgRP neurons, which drive the urge to eat. These neurons remain inactive until the brain receives a signal from the gut that calories have been consumed.

Finally this week, a new study reports that certain brain regions interact more closely, while others are less engaged, in people with higher intelligence.

Inside The Developing Brain

New investigation methods using functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRT) offer insights into fetal brain development. These “in vivo” observations will uncover different stages of the brain’s development. A research group at the Computational Imaging Research Lab from the MedUni Vienna has observed that parts of the brain that are later responsible for sight are already active at this stage.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

neuronal-heat-maps-in-brain

Scientists at CSHL have developed a new mathematical model that makes predictions about where different types are neurons are located throughout the brain. Here are “heat maps” of the brain, made using the mathematical model to predict the distribution of different neurons. Each row represents one neuronal type, and different sections of the brain are shown in each column. Color indicates the likelihood of a particular neuronal type appearing in that area of the brain (white, most likely; black, least). Credit Mitra et al.

A new mathematical model uses gene expression data to predict where neurons are located throughout the brain.

Researchers have studied the acquisition and development of language in babies on the basis of the temporary coordination of gestures and speech. The results are the first in showing how and when they acquire the pattern of coordination between the two elements which allows them to communicate very early on.

The problems people with autism have with memory formation, higher-level thinking and social interactions may be partially attributable to the activity of receptors inside brain cells, researchers have learned.

A new study documents the brain activity underlying our strong tendency to infer a structure of context and rules when learning new tasks (even when a structure isn’t valid). The findings, which revealed individual differences, shows how we try to apply task knowledge to similar situations and could inform future research on learning disabilities.

Researchers have discovered impaired neuronal activity in the parts of the brain associated with anticipatory functioning among occasional 18- to 24-year-old users of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and prescription drugs such as Adderall.

Why do some teenagers start smoking or experimenting with drugs — while others don’t? In the largest imaging study of the human brain ever conducted — involving 1,896 14-year-olds — scientists have discovered a number of previously unknown networks that go a long way toward an answer.

New research shows that, contrary to what was previously assumed, suppressing unwanted memories reduces their influence on behaviour, and sheds light on how this process happens in the brain.

For our brain, animate and inanimate objects belong to different categories and any information about them is stored and processed by different networks. A study shows that there is also another category that is functionally distinct from the others, namely, the category of “social” groups.

A new technique provides a method to noninvasively measure human neural networks in order to characterize how they form.

Education significantly improves mental functioning in seniors even four decades after finishing school, shows a new study. The study shows that people who attended school for longer periods performed better in terms of cognitive functioning than those who did not.