Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Robotic body surrogates can help people with profound motor deficits interact with the world. Here, Henry Evans, a California man who helped Georgia Tech researchers with improvements to a web-based interface, uses the robot to shave himself.  

People with profound motor deficits reported an improved quality of life while using robotic body surrogates.

A new study reports babies’ brains are sensitive to different emotional tones they hear in voices. Researchers suggest maternal interactions may help to shape the same brain region adults use for emotional processing.

Researchers are finding new evidence that exercise — even low-intensity, casual physical activity — can boost brain health in the short- and long-term.

The brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter is long known for its role in passing signals between neurons in the brain, can also regulate expression of genes within neurons in an unexpected way, according to research conducted by neuroscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published on March 13 in the journal Nature.

New patterns of brain aging across the human lifespan have been revealed by scientists analysing microstructural changes in the brain’s white matter.

According to researchers, there is an optimum amount of dopamine that should be present within the brain. This optimum amount can help improve cognitive performance on tasks, researchers report.

Oxford University scientists have discovered a brain process common to sleep and aging in research that could pave the way for new treatments for insomnia.

Finally this week, a new review, which appears in The BMJ journal, examines the benefits of non-invasive brain stimulation for treating major depression and finds that the technique is a valid alternative to existing treatments.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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NIH scientists present a new method for combining measures of brain activity (left) and glucose consumption (right) to study regional specialization and to better understand the effects of alcohol on the human brain.

Assessing the patterns of energy use and neuronal activity simultaneously in the human brain improves our understanding of how alcohol affects the brain, according to new research by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

A new study reports teens with high levels of depression display poorer working memory in tests than those with low symptoms.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, moderate in nuts, fish and alcohol and low in meat and full-fat dairy is associated with better cognitive performance in middle age, according to researchers.

A team of researchers has identified, for the first time, the cell types, areas and biological processes in the brain that mediate the genetic risk of insomnia.

Scientists report EEG technology has the ability to study activity of areas deep inside the brain, such as the thalamus and nucleus accumbens. The findings will help shed new light on disorders that affect these brain regions, such as Parkinson’s disease and OCD.

Researchers have identified a pathway near the midbrain where neural messages for taste and pain converge, a new study reports.

A new study reveals how blood vessels help protect the brain during inflammation. The findings could help in the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases.

Choosing to forget something might take more mental effort than trying to remember it, scientists have discovered through neuroimaging.

According to researchers, keeping both physically and mentally active during middle age can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia during old age. The study found women who participated in mental activities were 46% less likely to develop dementia, and those who were physically active at a 52% reduced risk.

Finally this week, a new study reveals women have higher activation in sensory areas of the brain associated with pain compared to males when witnessing another person suffering.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image credited to Ruth Litovsky (via NeuroscienceNews.com)

A new technique synchronizes cochlear signals in those with implants, stimulating the brain in a way that is similar to hearing people. This can allow those with cochlear implants to hear in stereo.

According to a new study, melatonin works by suppressing neurons that keep you awake and alert. The findings could pave the way for new treatments for insomnia.

When viewing OCD related images, those with the disorder had increased distress and higher levels of activity in emotion-related brain regions than their siblings who did not suffer from OCD, researchers report.

Magnetic resonance imaging can be used to detect the development of psychosis in the brains of high-risk patients at an early stage, according to a new study. 

Researchers have identified the mechanisms behind how noise-induced hearing loss occurs and have shown a simple injection to the middle ear may help to preserve hearing following exposure to loud blast noises.

A new article looks at theories of consciousness and novel research aimed at providing a better understanding of the roots of consciousness.

Sleep is known to be important for creative thinking, but exactly how it helps and what role each sleep stage–REM and non-REM–plays remains unclear. A team of researchers has now developed a hypothesis to explain how the interleaving of REM and non-REM sleep might facilitate creative problem-solving in different but complementary ways.

A study of Parkinson’s patients reveals neural activity alternates between the right and left sides of the brain as we walk.

A new study has linked the APOE4 gene to mental health issues some people face following TBI. Researchers report people with the APOE4 gene had significantly higher scores for depression, PTSD and anxiety following TBI than those without the genetic variant.

Finally this week, a group of researchers has uncovered a new way of telling how well people are learning English: tracking their eyes.

A new study reports people who have a family history of alcohol use disorder release more dopamine in the ventral striatum as a response to the expectation of receiving an alcoholic drink than those without a family history of alcoholism

A new study reveals children who are either overweight or obese during the first two years of life may have problems with memory and learning at the age of 5. Researchers say IQ scored may be lower for higher weight children.

A new study reveals older adults with greater symptoms of depression have a smaller brain volume and a 55% greater chance of vascular lesions in the brain than those who do not have depression.

Researchers report the critical period of language learning may be longer than previously believed. A new study reveals children remain skilled at learning new languages until age 18.

Research has shown that a developing child’s brain structure and function can be adversely affected when the child is raised in an environment lacking adequate education, nutrition and access to health care.

Scientists have uncovered dozens of genes that increase the risk of depression — a major finding that underscores the complexity of the disease and reveals why antidepressant therapies work well for some people but are utterly ineffective for others.

A new study reports Alzheimer’s disease does not appear to affect the salience network. Researchers found, when listening to music, the salience network along with other networks, show higher functional connectivity in Alzheimer’s patients.

Neuroscientists at the University of California-Berkeley are developing a technique that could give us the ability to fool our brain into thinking that we’d experienced something that never happened by manipulating electrical activity in the brain.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

4121A56E00000578-4574260-image-a-57_1496767085907.jpgElectrically stimulating the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex can enhance our ability to ‘think outside the box’, a new study reports.

An international team of researchers has found, for the first time, seven risk genes for insomnia. With this finding the researchers have taken an important step towards the unravelling of the biological mechanisms that cause insomnia. In addition, the finding proves that insomnia is not, as is often claimed, a purely psychological condition.

Researchers have developed a neural network based AI system that can decode and predict what a person is seeing or imagining.

A new study reports artificial intelligence used by the military to help shoot down fighter planes can accurately predict treatment outcomes for people with bipolar disorder.

New research sheds light on how the brain codes navigation behaviour at larger scales.

The visual cortex, the human brain’s vision-processing center that was previously thought to mature and stabilize in the first few years of life, actually continues to develop until sometime in the late 30s or early 40s, a neuroscientist and her colleagues have found.

Clusters of a sticky protein — amyloid plaque — found in the brain signal mental decline years before symptoms appear, a new study finds.

According to researchers, brain signals in specific brain areas change during a lifespan in ways that could be vital for maintaining flexibility.

Two new studies shed light on how the brain encodes and recalls memories.

People with voice disorders may have a problem with correctly utilizing auditory feedback to control their voices.

A new study reveals the role the motor system plays in the perception of language. 

According to researchers, bilingual children perform better at voice recognition and processing than monolingual children.

Fascination with faces is nature, not nurture, suggests a new study of third-trimester fetuses.

Finally this week, the mystery of how human eyes compute the direction of moving light has been made clearer by scientists at The University of Queensland.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Johns Hopkins researchers report that people with chronic insomnia show more plasticity and activity than good sleepers in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Vanderbilt University have created the most detailed 3-D picture yet of a membrane protein that is linked to learning, memory, anxiety, pain and brain disorders such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and autism.

New research has revealed the dramatic effect the immune system has on the brain development of young children. The findings suggest new and better ways to prevent developmental impairment in children in developing countries, helping to free them from a cycle of poverty and disease, and to attain their full potential.

Rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries.

Researchers have found that decision-making accuracy can be improved by postponing the onset of a decision by a mere fraction of a second. The results could further our understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions characterized by abnormalities in cognitive function and lead to new training strategies to improve decision-making in high-stake environments. The study was published in the March 5 online issue of the journal PLoS One.

A study has revealed how the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is transmitted from cell to cell, and suggests the spread of the disease could be blocked.

Research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests that the expression of the so called MYC gene is important and necessary for neurogenesis in the spinal cord. The findings are being published in the journal  EMBO Reports .

Our memories are inaccurate, more than we’d like to believe. And now a study demonstrates one reason: we apparently add current experiences onto memories.

Damage to the brain may still occur even if symptoms of traumatic brain injury are not present, scientists suggest.

The brain processes read and heard language differently. This is the key and new finding of a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

This image from the study shows changes in degree of connectivity in the feedback group. Increases are shown in red/yellow and decreases in blue/purple. Decreases in connectivity are seen in limbic areas, and increases are seen in prefrontal regions. (Credit: D Scheinost et al./Yale University)

People provided with a real-time readout of activity in specific regions of their brains can learn to control that activity and lessen their anxiety, say Yale researchers.

A new study provides neurobiological evidence for dysfunction in the neural circuitry underlying emotion regulation in people with insomnia, which may have implications for the risk relationship between insomnia and depression.

Different brain areas are activated when we choose for ourselves to suppress an emotion, compared to situations where we are instructed to inhibit an emotion, according to a new study from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Ghent University.

Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.

The epigenetic modifications, which alter the way genes function without changing the underlying DNA sequence, can apparently be detected in the blood of pregnant women during any trimester, potentially providing a simple way to foretell depression in the weeks after giving birth, and an opportunity to intervene before symptoms become debilitating.

A three-year multinational study has tracked and detailed the progression of Huntington’s disease (HD), predicting clinical decline in people carrying the HD gene more than 10 years before the expected onset of symptoms.

Researchers have pinpointed a catalytic trigger for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease – when the fundamental structure of a protein molecule changes to cause a chain reaction that leads to the death of neurons in the brain.

Individuals who learn two languages at an early age seem to switch back and forth between separate “sound systems” for each language, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.

Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or under-react in response to stressful tasks, such as recalling a traumatic event or reacting to a photo of a threatening face. Now, researchers at NYU School of Medicine have explored for the first time what happens in the brains of combat veterans with PTSD in the absence of external triggers.

And finally this week…

Listening to new music is rewarding for the brain, a study suggests. Using MRI scans, a Canadian team of scientists found that areas in the reward centre of the brain became active when people heard a song for the first time. The more the listener enjoyed what they were hearing, the stronger the connections were in the region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. The study is published in the journal Science

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new clinical study in the journal Brain and Behavior, has been undertaken to decide whether a non-invasive method, using musical tones to regulate brain activity, can actually reprogram the brain, resulting in insomnia prevention.

Researchers have shown that synchronization emerges between brains when making music together, and even when musicians play different voices.

People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.

Everyone knows that men and women tend to hold different views on certain things. However, new research by scientists from the University of Bristol and published in PLoS ONE indicates that this may literally be the case.

All patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) lose brain cells, which leads to a shrinking, or atrophy, of the brain. But the pattern of gray matter loss is significantly different in men and women, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

New research shows that sleep loss markedly exaggerates the degree to which we anticipate impending emotional events, particularly among highly anxious people, who are especially vulnerable.

Music training has a lifelong good impact on the aging process, says a new study out of Northwestern University.

New research by scientists at the University of University of North Carolina School of Medicine may have pinpointed an underlying cause of the seizures that affect 90 percent of people with Angelman syndrome (AS), a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Scientists have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life.

Two U.S. scientists have updated findings that link a form of Chinese meditation to positive changes in brain structure, suggesting that just 11 hours of practising the technique over a month could help prevent mental illness. In a paper to be released this week in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers Yi-Yuan Tang and Michael Posner report that the practice known as integrative body-mind training (IBMT) can have a positive physical affect on the brain, boosting connectivity and efficiency.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have demonstrated the effectiveness of a potential new therapy for stroke patients in an article published in the journal Molecular Neurodegeneration. Created to target a specific enzyme known to affect important brain functions, the new compound being studied at MU is designed to stop the spread of brain bleeds and protect brain cells from further damage in the crucial hours after a stroke.

A receptor recently discovered to control the movement of immune cells across the blood-brain barrier may hold the key to treating multiple sclerosis (MS), a neuroinflammatory disease of the central nervous system.

In a pair of related studies, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have identified several proteins that help regulate cells’ response to light—and the development of night blindness, a rare disease that abolishes the ability to see in dim light.

A recent breakthrough in the development of an artificial synapse suggests that assistive devices and other prostheses won’t be limited to just missing joints and failing organs. Researchers in Japan have shown that it’s possible to mimic synaptic function with nanotechnology, a breakthrough that could result in not just artificial neural networks, but fixes for the human brain as well.

Patients vary widely in their response to concussion, but scientists haven’t understood why. Now, using a new technique for analyzing data from brain imaging studies, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found that concussion victims have unique spatial patterns of brain abnormalities that change over time.

Using a new and powerful approach to understand the origins of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida are building the case that these diseases are primarily caused by genes that are too active or not active enough, rather than by harmful gene mutations.