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.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A run of poor sleep can have a potentially profound effect on the internal workings of the human body, say UK researchers.

As a bird sings, some neurons in its brain prepare to make the next sounds while others are synchronized with the current notes—a coordination of physical actions and brain activity that is needed to produce complex movements, new research at the University of Chicago shows. In an article in the current issue of Nature, neuroscientist Daniel Margoliash and colleagues show, for the first time, how the brain is organized to govern skilled performance—a finding that may lead to new ways of understanding human speech production.

Deep brain stimulation has helped people with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, and new research begins to explain why. A Dutch study appearing in the Feb. 24 online issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience found the procedure essentially restored normal function in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.

Researchers have identified a possible treatment window of several years for plaques in the brain that are thought to cause memory loss in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The Mayo Clinic study is published in the Feb. 27 online issue of Neurology.

Though it’s most often associated with disorders like diabetes, Harvard researchers have shown how the signaling pathway of insulin and insulin-like peptides plays another critical role in the body – helping to regulate learning and memory.

Researchers in Scotland and Germany have discovered a molecular mechanism that shows promise for developing a cure for Huntington’s Disease (HD).

Some people do not learn from their mistakes because of the way their brain works, according to research led by an academic at Goldsmiths, University of London. The research examined what it is about the brain that defines someone as a ‘good learner’ from those who do not learn from their mistakes.

Scientists from the University of Oxford say they have discovered how the brain protects itself from damage that occurs in stroke.

A team of French researchers has discovered that the human brain is capable of distinguishing between different types of syllables as early as three months prior to full term birth. 

Weekly Round-Up

Researchers believe they found a link between the volume of one’s cerebellum and general intelligence. The cerebellum is involved in the coordination of voluntary motor movement, balance and equilibrium and muscle tone. It is located just above the brain stem and toward the back of the brain.

A small but promising study suggests that magnetic stimulation of the brain could aid the recovery of some stroke patients.

Treatment that increases brain levels of an important regulatory enzyme may slow the loss of brain cells that characterizes Huntington’s disease (HD) and other neurodegenerative disorders.

How much do babies remember about the world around them? New research reveals that even though infants can’t remember the details of an object that has been hidden from view, their brains have built-in “pointers” that help them retain the idea that the object still exists even though they can’t see it anymore.

Neuroscience research involving epileptic patients with brain electrodes surgically implanted in their medial temporal lobes shows that patients learned to consciously control individual neurons deep in the brain with thoughts.

Loyola University Medical Center researchers are reporting what could become the first reliable method to predict whether an antidepressant will work on a depressed patient.

How we perceive motion is a significantly more complex process than previously thought, researchers at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, Stanford University and the University of Washington have found. Their results, which appear in the journalCurrent Biology, show that the relationship between the brain and visual perception varies, depending on the type of motion we are viewing.

After birth, the developing brain is largely shaped by experiences in the environment. However, neurobiologists at Yale and elsewhere have also shown that for many functions the successful wiring of neural circuits depends upon spontaneous activity in the brain that arises before birth independent of external influences.