Weekly Neuroscience Update

Reductions in cortical surface area and increases in cortical thickness in Down syndrome relative to typical controls. Panel A shows that the cortex surface area is lower in Down syndrome; panel B shows that the cortex is thicker in Down syndrome brains. Small red circles indicate the approximate locations where cortical surface area and thickness were most different between brains of participants with Down syndrome and brains of typically developing participants. Image credit: Lee et al., National Institute of Mental Health

Reductions in cortical surface area and increases in cortical thickness in Down syndrome relative to typical controls. Panel A shows that the cortex surface area is lower in Down syndrome; panel B shows that the cortex is thicker in Down syndrome brains. Small red circles indicate the approximate locations where cortical surface area and thickness were most different between brains of participants with Down syndrome and brains of typically developing participants. Image credit: Lee et al., National Institute of Mental Health

The thickness of the brain’s cerebral cortex could be a key to unlocking answers about intellectual development in youth with Down Syndrome. It could also provide new insights to why individuals with this genetic neurodevelopmental disorder are highly susceptible to early onset Alzheimer’s Disease later in life.

In a study published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers report a surprising finding that challenges current anatomy and histology textbook knowledge: Lymphatic vessels are found in the central nervous system where they were not known to exist.

Changes in the vaginal microbiome are associated with effects on offspring gut microbiota and on the developing brain, according to a new study published in Endocrinology, a journal of the Endocrine Society.

Researchers discover that a protein called Taranis could hold the key to a good night’s sleep.

A team of researchers has now been able to demonstrate in a study that the bonding hormone oxytocin inhibits the fear center in the brain and allows fear stimuli to subside more easily. This basic research could also usher in a new era in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Early life stress affects cognitive functioning in low-income children.

Researchers at Monash University have found physical differences in the brains of people who respond emotionally to others’ feelings, compared to those who respond more rationally, in a study published in the journal NeuroImage.

Having a stroke ages a person’s brain function by almost eight years, new research finds — robbing them of memory and thinking speed as measured on cognitive tests. In another pilot study, women who experience more hot flashes, particularly while sleeping, during the menopause transition are more likely to have brain changes reflecting a higher risk for cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke and other brain blood flow problems.

Researchers discover the anatomic reasons for the persistence of musical memory in Alzheimer patients.

A new study on successful ageing has linked better memory performance in older age with patterns of neural compensation. The research sheds light on how memory can remain efficient in spite of common age-related neural decline.

There are more boys than girls diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Now, a study shows that behaviors relevant to autism are more frequently observed in boys than in girls, whether they’re at risk of autism or not. Meanwhile an early intervention program for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder improves their intellectual abilities and reduces autism symptoms – and those results persist years after the children originally received treatment, according to a recent study. And in another study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, a team of  researchers has shown for the first time that children with autism spectrum disorder who are overly sensitive to sensory stimuli have brains that react differently than those with the disorder who don’t respond so severely to noises, visual stimulation and physical contact.

The stress hormone cortisol strengthens memories of scary experiences. 

Finally, this week, researchers have found that people who speak more than one language have twice as much brain damage as unilingual people before they exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the first physical evidence that bilingualism delays the onset of the disease.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A still-shot of a wave of brain activity measured by electrical signals in the outside (left view) and inside (right view) surface of the brain. The colour scale shows the peak of the wave as hot colours and the trough as dark colours. (Credit: © D.A.)

Our understanding of brain activity has traditionally been linked to brain areas – when we speak, the speech area of the brain is active. New research by an international team of psychologists shows that this view may be overly rigid. The entire cortex, not just the area responsible for a certain function, is activated when a given task is initiated. Furthermore, activity occurs in a pattern: waves of activity roll from one side of the brain to the other.

A new study has shown that a drug widely used to treat Parkinson’s Disease can help to reverse age-related impairments in decision-making in some older people.

Researchers have discovered that the extra chromosome inherited in Down syndrome impairs learning and memory because it leads to low levels of SNX27 protein in the brain.

A new study published in Nature reveals some of the dynamics of neural activity when people articulate syllables commonly used in English.

A new study suggests that migraines are related to brain abnormalities present at birth and others that develop over time. The research is published online in the journal Radiology.

A research team studying alcohol addiction has new research that might shed light on why some drinkers are more susceptible to addiction than others.