Weekly Neuroscience Update


Researchers have pinpointed an area of the brain that serves as an arbitrator between our two decision-making systems, one devoted to habitual behaviors and the other devoted to actions we take only after careful consideration.

Scientists who discovered a gene that links the thickness of the brain’s gray matter to intelligence say their finding might help improve understanding of brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

People who appreciate the beauty of mathematics activate the same part of their brain when they look at aesthetically pleasing formula as others do when appreciating art or music, suggesting that there is a neurobiological basis to beauty.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are looking at ways video game technology can be used to improve or heal the brain.

For the first time, scientists have identified a gene linking the thickness of the grey matter in the brain to intelligence. The study is published today in Molecular Psychiatry and may help scientists understand biological mechanisms behind some forms of intellectual impairment.

People with dyslexia have greater difficulty than others in shifting attention between the senses – from seeing something to hearing something – according to an Oxford University study. The researchers suggest that action video games, where attention is constantly shifting focus, may be able to boost literacy skills – though they have yet to test this. The findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

A new study published in Social Neuroscience says that the brain has begun processing a typed emoticon with the same signals that previously only accompanied processing a real, emoting human face.

A specific type of neuron in the amygdala performs differently in individuals with autism spectrum disorder than in those without the disorder, according to a new study by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Finally, this Valentine’s weekend, new research reveals that  a region deep inside the brain controls how quickly people make decisions about love.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

To study how nerve cells respond to injuries in their branches, Washington University researcher Valeria Cavalli grows them in “spots” like the one shown above. Cavalli recently identified a chain reaction that enables repair of these branches when they are cut. Credit Yongcheol Cho/Washington University at St. Louis.

To study how nerve cells respond to injuries in their branches, Washington University researcher Valeria Cavalli grows them in “spots” like the one shown above. Cavalli recently identified a chain reaction that enables repair of these branches when they are cut. Credit Yongcheol Cho/Washington University at St. Louis.

Researchers have identified a chain reaction that triggers the regrowth of some damaged nerve cell branches, a discovery that one day may help improve treatments for nerve injuries that can cause loss of sensation or paralysis.

Groundbreaking research nearly two decades ago linking a mother’s educational background to her children’s literacy and cognitive abilities stands out among decades of social science studies demonstrating the adverse effects of poverty. Now new research has taken that finding in a neuroscientific direction: linking poor processing of auditory information in the adolescent brain to a lower maternal educational background.

A review of new research says there is growing evidence to support the idea that the brain plays a key role in normal glucose regulation and the development of type 2 diabetes.

University of Queensland (UQ) scientists have made a fundamental breakthrough into how the brain decodes the visual world.

Cocaine addicts may become trapped in drug binges not because they are always seeking euphoric highs but rather to avoid emotional lows, says a study in Psychopharmacology.

Researchers have developed a therapeutic at-home gaming program for stroke patients who experience motor weakness affecting 80 percent of survivors.

Learning a musical instrument as a child gives the brain a boost that lasts long into adult life, say scientists.

The birth of new neurons depend upon activation of an important molecular pathway in stem cells, a new Yale School of Medicine study shows.

Researchers have taken a major step towards understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease with the largest study yet into the genetics of the disorder.

Light enhances brain activity during a cognitive task even in some people who are totally blind, according to a new study.

Scientists have discovered biological mechanisms that may link Parkinson’s disease to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

Advertisers and public health officials may be able to access hidden wisdom in the brain to more effectively sell their products and promote health and safety, UCLA neuroscientists report in the first study to use brain data to predict how large populations will respond to advertisements.

A team led by psychology professor Ian Spence at the University of Toronto reveals that playing an action videogame, even for a relatively short time, causes differences in brain activity and improvements in visual attention.

A miniature atom-based magnetic sensor developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has passed an important research milestone by successfully measuring human brain activity. Experiments reported this week inBiomedical Optics Express verify the sensor’s potential for biomedical applications such as studying mental processes and advancing the understanding of neurological diseases.

A key protein, which may be activated to protect nerve cells from damage during heart failure or epileptic seizure, has been found to regulate the transfer of information between nerve cells in the brain. The discovery, made by neuroscientists at the University of Bristol and published in Nature Neuroscience and PNAS, could lead to novel new therapies for stroke and epilepsy.

Practices like physical exercise, certain forms of psychological counseling and meditation can all change brains for the better, and these changes can be measured with the tools of modern neuroscience, according to a review article now online at Nature Neuroscience.

A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as one-on-one counselling, New Zealand doctors reported on Thursday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).