Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image Credit: Kolbjørn Skarpnes & Rita Elmkvist Nilsen / NTNU Communication Division & Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience

Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway in have discovered a network of brain cells that express our sense of time within experiences and memories.

A new study reports a strong hand grip is correlated with better visual memory and reaction times in people with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Dr Max Ortiz Catalan of Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has developed a new theory for the origin of the mysterious condition, ‘phantom limb pain’. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, his hypothesis builds upon his previous work on a revolutionary treatment for the condition, that uses machine learning and augmented reality.

Researchers report ADHD and conduct disorder exhibit similar, overlapping changes in the brain.

A new study in SLEEP, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that delaying school start times results in students getting more sleep, and feeling better, even within societies where trading sleep for academic success is common.

Scientists have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

Researchers report the adverse cognitive effects associated with DBS in Pakinson’s patients are linked to a different neural pathway than the one responsible for the motor effects generated by the treatment.

According to a new study, people who have suffered a stroke are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Researchers have developed a new deep learning neural network that can identify speech patterns indicative of depression from audio data. The algorithm is 77% effective at detecting depression.

Finally this week, a new study reports genetic factors count for about 70% of stable academic achievement throughout schooling.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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AI research has come full circle, helping neuroscientist better understand how the human brain works, researchers say.

Babies removed from their mothers for 24 hours when they were 9 days old exhibited significant behavioral and brain structural abnormalities in adulthood, a new study reports. Researchers noted memory impairment and less communication between specific brain regions in those removed from maternal care.

Researchers have identified three genes linked to hemiplegic migraine.

People whose negative emotional responses to stress carry over to the following day are more likely to report health problems and physical limitations later in life compared with peers who are able to “let it go,” according to findings published in Psychological Science.

Using electrical fields to simulate slow wave sleep, researchers enhance memory.

A new study has identified a link between visual processing problems and an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder. The study reports the risk for mental illness increases when the visual cortex has difficulty communicating with networks associated with focus and introspection.

The superior size and complexity of the human brain compared to other mammals may actually originate from fewer initial starting materials, new research has suggested.

According to researchers, dopamine neurons may play a key role in the formation of episodic memory. The findings could help in the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders that affect memory.

A new study reveals up to 25% of rhythmic genes lose their biological rhythm following a 4-day night shift simulation.

Damage to some of the pathways that carry information throughout the brain may be responsible for attention deficit in patients who have had a subcortical stroke in the brain’s right hemisphere, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers hope the findings may provide a measure for selecting suitable patients for early interventions aimed at reducing cognitive decline following a stroke.

Finally this week, a new machine learning study has revealed a novel combination of factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing dementia.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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A new study reports people who sit down too much during middle to older age show signs of thinning in the medial temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with the formation of new memories.

Researchers explore the neuroscience behind binge eating and the triggers that might make us reach for comfort foods.

According to a new study, children with executive function deficits were more likely to show physical and reactive aggression later in life. Researchers suggest helping children to improve executive function could help to reduce aggression levels.

Olfactory system neurons appear to play a role in the connection between rhythmic breathing and emotional regulation, researchers report.

Researchers report newly identified risk factors differ from currently known genetic causes of autism. The variants identified do not alter the genes directly, but disrupt the neighboring DNA control elements that turn genes on or off. Additionally, the variants do not occur as new mutations in autistic children, but are inherited from parents.

A new study reveals we quickly process opinions we agree with as facts, even if the opinion is non-factual.

New research implicates the hippocampus in conceptual memory formation. The study reveals activity within the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex is consistent with the retrieval of new concepts.

Researchers report the later a women enters into natural menopause, the better, on average, her verbal memory is later in life.

A new study adds to growing evidence that early exposure to pollution can increase both suicide risks in younger people and Alzheimer’s disease as people age.

Finally this week, new research reveals specific parts of the hippocampus may play a key role in emotional regulation.

 

 

 

The Neuroscience of Memory

Our memories are our lives, and a fundamental basis of our culture. Collective memoirs of the past both bind society together and shape our potential future. With our brains we can travel through time and space, calling to mind places of significance, evoking images and emotions of past experiences. It’s no wonder, then, that we so desperately fear the prospect of memory loss.

Many regions of the brain are involved in memory, but one of the most critical components is the hippocampus, which plays a crucial role in the formation of long-term memories. Damage to the hippocampus can therefore result in significant memory loss. In this video, Eleanor Maguire draws on evidence from virtual reality, brain imaging and studies of amnesia to show that the consequences of hippocampal damage are even more far-reaching than suspected, robbing us of our past, our imagination and altering our perception of the world. Maguire also explains how, despite our beliefs, our memories are not actually as accurate as you might think. In fact, they’re not really even about the past.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

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A bidirectional brain-computer interface (BBCI) can both record signals from the brain and send information back to the brain through stimulation. Credit: Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE).

 

Researchers are investigating advances in brain-computer interface technologies and considering the implications of linking our brains up to technology.

A new study published in the online journal Radiology suggested that disconnections in the areas of the brain, which are involved in attention and visual processing might lead to visual hallucinations in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers present a new theory about dreaming, suggesting dreams may be an accidental byproduct of our waking cognitive abilities.

Scientists have long deemed the ability to recognize faces innate for people and other primates — something our brains just know how to do immediately from birth. However, the findings of a new Harvard Medical School study published Sept. 4 in the journal Nature Neuroscience cast doubt on this longstanding view.

Genetic processes that allow cells to transform so they can mend damaged nerves have been identified by scientists.

For the first time, researchers have been able to see changes in the neural structures in specific areas of the brains of people who suffered severe abuse as children.

A new study reveals molecular details of what happens when axons are damaged or completely severed.

A researcher has discovered the molecule that stores long-term memories — it’s called calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase (CaMKII).

Finally, this week, how well we are able to complete simple and complex tasks depends upon the organization of subnetworks in the brain, a new study reports.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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People who are better able to move to a beat show more consistent brain responses to speech than those with less rhythm, according to a study published in the September 18 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that musical training could possibly sharpen the brain’s response to language.

Concussions are connected with substance abuse and suicidal thoughts in adolescents, according to new research presented at a conference on sports-related brain injuries.

The structure of the brain may predict whether a person will suffer chronic low back pain, according to researchers who used brain scans. The results, published in the journal Pain, support the growing idea that the brain plays a critical role in chronic pain, a concept that may lead to changes in the way doctors treat patients.

A drug commonly used for treating diabetes may reverse symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and is now in the process of entering a major clinical trial.

Scientists have found a new link between early-onset Parkinson’s disease and a piece of DNA missing from chromosome 22. The findings help shed new light on the molecular changes that lead to Parkinson’s disease.

The pain and itching associated with shingles and herpes may be due to the virus causing a “short circuit” in the nerve cells that reach the skin, researchers have found.

In a new study looking at toddlers and preschoolers with autism, researchers have found that children with better motor skills were more adept at socializing and communicating. This study adds to growing evidence of the important link between autism and motor skill deficits. Motor skills and muscle memory are held in the cerebellum.

Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes.

New research could offer solutions into slowing down the progression of motor neurone disease (MND).

Playing first person action games can enhance your perception of movement – but only when you’re walking backwards. This is one of the findings of a new paper by University of Leicester psychologists, published in the journal Perception, which examines the effect of playing video games on motion perception.

Two new studies investigate the relationship between self-control and reward processing for chronic dieters and people who would like to control their food intake.

Scientists say they have discovered the specific brain circuitry that causes overeating, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Bad experiences enhance memory formation about places, scientists at The University of Queensland have found.

Finally this week, a new study from MIT reveals a gene that is critical to the process of memory extinction. Enhancing the activity of this gene, known as Tet1, might benefit people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations,

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Composite of the scans of 20 individuals. Regions in yellow and red are linked to the parietal lobe of the brain’s right hemisphere.

Scientists say they have published the most detailed brain scans “the world has ever seen” as part of a project to understand how the organ works.

Psychologists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have discovered that changes in patterns of brain activity during fearful experiences predict whether a long-term fear memory is formed.

New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal in the field Pain, by National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that suppression of pain during times of fear involves complex interplay between marijuana-like chemicals and other neurotransmitters in a brain region called the amygdala.

Some of the dramatic differences seen among patients with schizophrenia may be explained by a single gene that regulates a group of other schizophrenia risk genes. These findings appear in a new imaging-genetics study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Research published in the March 2013 journal GENETICS explains a novel interaction between aging and how neurons dispose of unwanted proteins and why this impacts the rising prevalence of dementia with advancing age.

The brain adds new cells during puberty to help navigate the complex social world of adulthood, two Michigan State University neuroscientists report in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The first large, population-based study to follow children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder into adulthood shows that ADHD often doesn’t go away and that children with ADHD are more likely to have other psychiatric disorders as adults. They also appear more likely to commit suicide and to be incarcerated as adults.

The infant brain does not control its blood flow in the same way as the adult brain, researchers have discovered.

Hypnosis has begun to attract renewed interest from neuroscientists interested in using hypnotic suggestion to test predictions about normal cognitive functioning. To demonstrate the future potential of this growing field, guest editors Professor Peter Halligan from the School of Psychology at Cardiff University and David A. Oakley of University College London, brought together leading researchers from cognitive neuroscience and hypnosis to contribute to this month’s special issue of the international journal, Cortex.

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.