Weekly Neuroscience Update

visual-perception-real-inferred-neurosciencenews.jpgHumans treat ‘inferred’ visual objects generated by the brain as more reliable than external images from the real world, according to new research published in eLife.

Scientists have identified Lgl1 as the gene that controls the production of neurons and glia cells in the brain. Previously unknown functions of a neurodevelopment gene clarified.

Findings about the brain-body connection may also have implications for treating those with opioid addiction, researchers believe.

Neuroscientists have for the first time have come up with a way to observe brain activity during “natural reading,” the reading of actual text and not just individual words. The findings are already helping settle some ideas about how we read.

Researchers have discovered the molecular mechanism behind lithium’s effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder.

Scientists have developed a robust, efficient method for deriving microglia, the immune cells of the brain, from human stem cells. Microglia are increasingly implicated in neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, among many others. However, research into the role of human microglia in these disorders has long been hampered by the inability to obtain them from the human nervous system. This new protocol now enables scientists around the world to generate this critical cell type from individual patients and improve our understanding of the role of microglia neurological malfunction.

A new study describes how advances in technology can help us avoid aging and age related diseases.

Researchers have made an important step in understanding the organisation of nerve cells embedded within the gut that control its function — a discovery that could give insight into the origin of common gastrointestinal diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation.

New research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has identified a protein that could help patients with epilepsy respond more positively to drug therapies.

Finally this week, a new study on “fear memory” could lead to the development of therapies that reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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New research, using a Bayesian inference model of audio and visual stimuli, has shown how our perception of time lies mid-way between reality and our expectations.

Researchers have developed a virtual brain that can mimic the brain of a person with epilepsy. The model can help provide a better understanding of the disease.

Resting state brain activity may predict how quickly people are able to pick up a second language, a new study reports.

Researchers report that an odour identification test may prove useful in predicting cognitive decline and detecting early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study uses cutting-edge technique to image the process of neuronal transmission.

By scanning the brains of subjects while they were hypnotized, researchers were able to see the neural changes associated with hypnosis.

Yale University researchers have developed a way to picture synapses in living brains.

Music can influence how much you like the taste of beer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

According to researchers, sleep twitches in babies could be linked to sensorimotor development.

A new study reports anatomical patterning in the brain’s cortex is controlled by genetic factors.

Finally this week, researchers have uncovered what goes on in our brains when we are faced with the decision to take a risk or play it safe.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Human memory is the result of different mental processes, such as learning, remembering and forgetting. However, these distinct processes cannot be observed directly. Researchers have now succeeded at describing them using computational models. The scientists were thus for the first time able to identify gene sets responsible for steering specific memory processes. Their results have been published in the current issue of the journal PNAS.

A new study has demonstrated how stress can influence regions of the brain involved with self-control.

A groundbreaking new study has found for the first time that emotions are not only the product of the processing of information by the brain, but that they also directly influence processes of learning and memory in the brain.

A new study suggests that your fat tissue can send mixed signals to your brain when stress strikes.

The brains of people with epilepsy appear to react to music differently from the brains of those who do not have the disorder, a finding that could lead to new therapies to prevent seizures, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention.

Researchers have discovered a way to predict human emotions based on brain activity.

Recent research published in the journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering could eventually change the way people living with prosthetics and spinal cord injury lead their lives.

A growing body of research suggests a link between kidney impairment and brain disorders.

A new study may have unlocked understanding of a mysterious part of the brain — with implications for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. The results, published in Translational Vision Science & Technology (TVST), open up new areas of research in the pursuit of neuroprotective therapies.

Children who suffer an injury to the brain — even a minor one — are more likely to experience attention issues.

New research has identified a novel learning and memory brain network that processes incoming information based on whether it’s something we’ve experienced previously or is deemed to be altogether new and unknown, helping us recognize, for instance, whether the face before us is that of a familiar friend or a complete stranger.

Finally, this week, A new study sheds light on what motivates people to trust. 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers at the University of Miami find that large-scale connectivity in autism changes with age.

Although scientists know that depression affects the brain, they don’t know why some people respond to treatment while others do not. Now a team of researchers has shown for the first time in a large cohort of patients that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes referred to as shock treatment, change certain areas of the brain that play a role in how people feel, learn and respond to positive and negative environmental factors.

Research by biologists at the University of York has identified new mechanisms potentially driving progression of an aggressive form of dementia.

A new study shows that the act of remembering leads to the subtle forgetting of other memories.

When we look at a known word, our brain sees it like a picture, not a group of letters needing to be processed. That’s the finding from a Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, which shows the brain learns words quickly by tuning neurons to respond to a complete word, not parts of it.

Scientists at the University of Bonn have discovered a new cause of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Brown fat tissue, the body’s “good fat,” communicates with the brain through sensory nerves, possibly sharing information that is important for fighting human obesity, such as how much fat we have and how much fat we’ve lost, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Finally this week, people who have suffered serious head injuries show changes in brain structure resembling those seen in older people, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Photo credit: Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)

Photo credit: Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)

UC San Francisco researchers have used brain scans to predict how young children learn to read, giving clinicians a possible tool to spot children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties before they experience reading challenges.

A new study has found, for the first time, evidence of neuroinflammation in key regions of the brains of patients with chronic pain. By showing that levels of an inflammation-linked protein are elevated in regions known to be involved in the transmission of pain, the study published online in the journal Brain paves the way for the exploration of potential new treatment strategies and identifies a possible way around one of the most frustrating limitations in the study and treatment of chronic pain – the lack of an objective way to measure the presence or intensity of pain.

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology.

Are women “wired” to be more emotional? Not exactly — but new research provides more evidence that the male and female brain may have very different ways of processing emotion. Previous research has shown that women generally experience higher levels of emotional stimulation than men. Now, a new large-scale study from the University of Basel suggests that gender differences in emotion processing are also linked to sex variation in memory and brain activity.

An international research team has identified a new gene for a progressive form of epilepsy.

According to a new study in the Journal of Neurotrauma, researchers have announced the development of a blood test that could provide a quantifiable way to measure the impact of concussions or the success of a treatment regimen.

Finally, this week, new research could move the medical community one step closer toward effectively detecting concussion and quantifying its severity.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

The study by Kep Kee Loh and Dr Ryota Kanai found that grey-matter density in the highlighted region of the brain (anterior cingulate cortex) was negatively associated with the amount of media multitasking activity. Credit Kep Kee Loh & Ryota Kanai.

The study by Kep Kee Loh and Dr Ryota Kanai found that grey-matter density in the highlighted region of the brain (anterior cingulate cortex) was negatively associated with the amount of media multitasking activity. Credit Kep Kee Loh & Ryota Kanai.

Simultaneously using mobile phones, laptops and other media devices could be changing the structure of our brains, according to new University of Sussex research.

Breathing meditation is a powerful ally for military veterans recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to research recently published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Areas of the brain that respond to reward and pleasure are linked to the ability of a drug known as butorphanol to relieve itch, according to new research.

An international research team has identified gene mutations causing severe, difficult-to-treat forms of childhood epilepsy.

A chemical in the brain plays a vital role in controlling the involuntary movements and vocal tics associated with Tourette Syndrome (TS), a new study has shown.

Finally this week, the traditional understanding in neuroscience is that tactile sensations from the skin are only assembled to form a complete experience in the cerebral cortex, the most advanced part of the brain. However, this is challenged by new research findings from Lund University in Sweden that suggest both that other levels in the brain play a greater role than previously thought, and that a larger proportion of the brain’s different structures are involved in the perception of touch.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

This cross-section of the hippocampus shows island cells (green) projecting to the CA1 region of the hippocampus. (Credit: Takashi Kitamura)

This cross-section of the hippocampus shows island cells (green) projecting to the CA1 region of the hippocampus. (Credit: Takashi Kitamura)

Neuroscientists have discovered how two neural circuits in the brain work together to control the formation of time-linked memories. This is a critical ability that helps the brain to determine when it needs to take action to defend against a potential threat.

Survivors of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are three times more likely to die prematurely, often from suicide or fatal injuries, according to a study from Oxford University.

An international team of researchers has found that the cause of schizophrenia is even more complex than already believed, with rare gene mutations contributing to the disorder. In two studies published in the journal Nature, they show that schizophrenia arises from the combined effects of many genes.

Scientists have found that, to allow us to concentrate, we synchronize different regions of our brains in a process that the researchers describe as “roughly akin to tuning multiple walkie-talkies to the same frequency.”

Researchers have identified a protein in the brain that plays a critical role in the memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s patients, according to a study to be published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Using a simple study of eye movements, scientists report evidence that people who are less patient tend to move their eyes with greater speed. The findings, the researchers say, suggest that the weight people give to the passage of time may be a trait consistently used throughout their brains, affecting the speed with which they make movements, as well as the way they make certain decisions.

Researchers have found that epileptic activity can spread through a part of the brain in a new way, suggesting a possible novel target for seizure-blocking medicines.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Brain scans show a correlation between how well participants could make a connection between a new word and a sound, and the gray matter volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum. (Credit: Photo/Qinghua He)

A combination of brain scans and reading tests has revealed that several regions in the brain are responsible for allowing humans to read. The findings open up the possibility that individuals who have difficulty reading may only need additional training for specific parts of the brain — targeted therapies that could more directly address their individual weaknesses.

Children with Asperger’s syndrome show patterns of brain connectivity distinct from those of children with autism, according to a new study. 

Scientists have discovered that the brain circuits we engage when we think about social matters, such as considering other people’s views, or moral issues, inhibit the circuits that we use when we think about inanimate, analytical things, such as working on a physics problem or making sure the numbers add up when we balance our budget. And they say, the same happens the other way around: the analytic brain network inhibits the social network.

Using direct human brain recordings, a research team has identified a new type of cell in the brain that helps people to keep track of their relative location while navigating an unfamiliar environment.

A collaborative team of researchers has uncovered evidence that a specific genetic alteration appears to contribute to disorders of brain development, including schizophrenia. They also found that schizophrenia shares a common biological pathway with Fragile X mental syndrome, a disorder associated with both intellectual impairment and autism.
A team of researchers has identified 18 new genes responsible for driving glioblastoma multiforme, the most common—and most aggressive—form of brain cancer in adults. The study was published August 5, 2013, in Nature Genetics.

Johns Hopkins biophysicists have discovered that full activation of a protein ensemble essential for communication between nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord requires a lot of organized back-and-forth motion of some of the ensemble’s segments. Their research, they say, may reveal multiple sites within the protein ensemble that could be used as drug targets to normalize its activity in such neurological disorders as epilepsy, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

A sleepless night makes us more likely to reach for doughnuts or pizza than for whole grains and leafy green vegetables, suggests a new study from UC Berkeley that examines the brain regions that control food choices. The findings shed new light on the link between poor sleep and obesity

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Scientists have shown that working as a piano tuner may lead to changes in the structure of the memory and navigation areas of the brain. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that these structural differences correlate with the number of years of experience a piano tuner has accumulated.

An unusual kind of circuit fine-tunes the brain’s control over movement and incoming sensory information, and without relying on conventional nerve pathways, according to a study published in the journal Neuron.

The reason we struggle to recall memories from our early childhood is down to high levels of neuron production during the first years of life, say Canadian researchers.

Researchers have identified mutations in several new genes that might be associated with the development of spontaneously occurring cases of the neurodegenerative disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the progressive, fatal condition, in which the motor neurons that control movement and breathing gradually cease to function, has no cure.

The brains of people with depression show a reduced ability to adapt to their environment, a unique study shows.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that a naturally occurring protein secreted only in discrete areas of the mammalian brain may act as a Valium-like brake on certain types of epileptic seizures.

photo credit: Chandra Marsono via photopin cc

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A research team at Northwestern University are studying the connection between memory and sleep, and the possibilities of boosting memory storage while you snooze.

For the first time, scientists have used a new combination of neural imaging methods to discover how the human brain adapts to injury. The research, published in Cerebral Cortex, shows that when one brain area loses functionality, a “back-up” team of secondary brain areas immediately activates, replacing not only the unavailable area but also its confederates.

New research suggests that testing a portion of a person’s saliva gland may be a way to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The study was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013.

In a promising finding for epileptic patients suffering from persistent seizures known as status epilepticus, researchers have reported that new medication could help halt these devastating seizures.

Tübingen neuroscientists have shown how decision-making processes are influenced by neurons.

EPFL scientists find evidence that psychological wounds inflicted when young leave lasting biological traces—and a predisposition toward violence later in life

The production of new neurons, known as neurogenesis, was found to be induced in the adult normal cortex by the antidepressant fluoxetine, as reported in a study published online last week in Neuropsychopharmacology. This finding highlights the potential neuroprotective response induced by this antidepressant drug. It also lends further support to the thesis that induction of adult neurogenesis in cortex is a relevant prevention/treatment option for neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders.

photo credit: Toni Blay via photopin cc