Weekly Neuroscience Update

scientists develop video game for stroke

Scientists have developed a therapeutic at-home 3D gaming programme to help stroke patients overcome motor weakness, which affects 80 per cent of survivors.

Using a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations, a team of neuroscientists has discovered how brain cells that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and are activated immediately before those memories are recalled.

Establishing links between genes, the brain and human behavior is a central issue in cognitive neuroscience research, but studying how genes influence cognitive abilities and behavior as the brain develops from childhood to adulthood has proven difficult. Now, an international team of scientists has made inroads to understanding how genes influence brain structure and cognitive abilities and how neural circuits produce language.

Stanford University School of Medicine neuroscientists have discovered a new role played by a common but mysterious class of brain cells.

A new study using brain imaging has shown the effect of the chronic pain drug pregalbin on the brain, giving researchers new insight on the treatment of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders.

A study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience points, for the first time, to the gene trkC as a factor in susceptibility to panic disorder. The researchers define the specific mechanism for the formation of fear memories which will help in the development of new pharmacological and cognitive treatments.

Finally, in the largest study on the topic to date, research shows that speaking a second language may delay the onset of three types of dementias.  The study found that people who spoke two languages developed dementia four and a half years later than people who only spoke one language.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

3D-printed model of a neuron (credit: Yale University)

3D-printed model of a neuron (credit: Yale University)

A Yale neuroscientist  has created the first 3D-printed neuron.

Studies released today suggest promising new treatments for nicotine and heroin addiction, and further our understanding of pathological gambling and heroin abuse in those suffering chronic pain. This new knowledge, released at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health, may one day lead to non-pharmaceutical interventions and therapies to treat addiction. Also presented at SFN, new studies revealing links between social status and specific brain structures and activity, particularly in the context of social stress.

A new study has found that people experiencing a depressive episode process information about themselves differently than people who are not depressed.

To flexibly deal with our ever-changing world, we need to learn from both the negative and positive consequences of our behaviour. In other words, from punishment and reward. Hanneke den Ouden from the Donders Institute in Nijmegen demonstrated that serotonin and dopamine related genes influence how we base our choices on past punishments or rewards. This influence depends on which gene variant you inherited from your parents. These results were published in Neuron on November 20.

Brain scans reveal that people with fibromyalgia are not as able to prepare for pain as healthy people, and they are less likely to respond to the promise of pain relief.

Scientists have used RNA interference (RNAi) technology to reveal dozens of genes which may represent new therapeutic targets for treating Parkinson’s disease. The findings also may be relevant to several diseases caused by damage to mitochondria, the biological power plants found in cells throughout the body.

Playing a fast-paced strategy video games can help the brain to become more agile and improve strategic thinking, according to new research.

While young children sleep, connections between the left and the right hemispheres of their brain strengthen, which may help brain functions mature, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.  And in another sleep study, a team of sleep researchers  has confirmed the mechanism that enables the brain to consolidate memory and found that a commonly prescribed sleep aid enhances the process. Those discoveries could lead to new sleep therapies that will improve memory for aging adults and those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.