Weekly Neuroscience News

An early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person’s brain well into their late teens, a two-decade-long research study has shown.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with emotions, movement, and the brain’s pleasure and reward system. In the current issue of Advances in Neuroimmune Biology, investigators provide a broad overview of the direct and indirect role of dopamine in modulating the immune system and discuss how recent research has opened up new possibilities for treating diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis or even the autoimmune disorders.

Studies released this week explore the neurological component of dietary disorders, uncovering evidence that the brain’s biological mechanisms may contribute to significant public health challenges — obesity, diabetes, binge eating, and the allure of the high-calorie meal.

By peering into students’ brains, a recent study, published in the journal NeuroImage, found that learning languages can help bulk up the brain.

Research is helping reveal how human and primate brains process and interpret facial expressions, and the role of facial mimicry in everything from deciphering an unclear smile to establishing relationships of power and status.

Neuroscientists from New York University and the University of California, Irvine have isolated the “when” and “where” of molecular activity that occurs in the formation of short-, intermediate-, and long-term memories. Their findings, which appear in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer new insights into the molecular architecture of memory formation and, with it, a better roadmap for developing therapeutic interventions for related afflictions.

An inexpensive, five-minute eye scan can accurately assess the amount of brain damage in people with the debilitating autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis (MS), and offer clues about how quickly the disease is progressing, according to results of two Johns Hopkins studies.

Weekly Round-Up

 

fightclub

Does a part of our brain host its own fight club?

In this week’s round-up of the latest discoveries and research in the field of neuroscience – the science of falling in love, the brain’s own fight club and how blogging may hold the secret of making boys write properly.

Continuing with the Valentine’s theme this week, Judy Foreman examines the scientific basis of falling in love.

In the Feb. 10 online issue of Current Biology, a Johns Hopkins team led by neuroscientists Ed Connor and Kechen Zhang describes what appears to be the next step in understanding how the brain compresses visual information down to the essentials.

In Itching for a Fight Science News carries the story that a small part of our brain hosts its very own fight club.

And finally, a report in The Independent newspaper on how blogging may have solved one of the most pressing problems that has perplexed the education world for years: how to get boys to write properly.