Weekly Neuroscience Update

Neuron_cluster.width-800

TDP-43 inclusions are found in cells in the central nervous system. Image Credit: M. Oktar Guloglu, Wikimedia Commons

A team of researchers is fishing for a new method to treat neurodegenerative disorders. Its tactic? Bait dysfunctional proteins and prevent them from joining together into the kind of toxic globs found in almost every patient with ALS or frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

A ‘hit-and-run’ interaction between two proteins could be an important trigger for cell death, according to new research.

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed an automated process that can trace the shapes of active neurons as accurately as human researchers can, but in a fraction of the time.

Zapping the brains of people over 60 with a mild electrical current improved a form of memory enough that they performed like people in their 20s, a new study found.

Laughter really could be the best medicine when it comes to brain surgery. Neuroscientists at Emory University School of Medicine used electrical stimulation to activate a focal pathway in the brain and trigger laughter, which is immediately followed by a sense of calm and contentment. The technique was used while conducting diagnostic monitoring for seizure diagnosis on an epilepsy patient, with the effects later used to successfully undergo awake brain surgery on the same patient.

38 new genes have been implicated in hearing loss. One of the genes, SPNS2, has been linked to childhood deafness.

Increased kynurenic acid production has been implicated in the pathology of schizophrenia. The findings provide a new target for cell-specific treatments that help reduce the production of kynurenic acid and reduce symptoms of schizophrenia.

Scientists have pinpointed a group of cells in the brain whose activity could help explain the ability to share another’s pain.

Imbalanced communication between the hippocampus and amygdala may lead to the inability to distinguish between negative memories that have overlapping features. The findings could provide new treatment options for those with PTSD.

Finally this week, a new study reports that music synchronizes brainwaves across listeners with strong effects of repetition, familiarity and training.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

memory-fades-over-time-neurosciencneews

Much like opaque filters we apply to pictures on social media, the vibrancy of our memories dims and fades over time. The image reflects 12 levels of visual salience, or vibrancy, used to rate how memories fade. The image is credited to Psychological Science.

Low-level visual information fades in memory over time. However, negative emotion increases subjective memory vividness.

Musical training produces lasting improvements to a cognitive mechanism that helps individuals be more attentive and less likely to be distracted by irrelevant stimuli while performing demanding tasks.

Neurobiologists have studied the formation of inhibitory synapses, a complex process that occurs when the brain adapts. 

The synesthesia effect of being able to ‘hear’ silent movements may depend upon disinhibition of signaling between the visual and auditory brain regions. A new study found musicians are more likely to experience the ‘visual ear’ phenomena than those with no musical training.

Using OCT angiography to quantify capillary changes in the back of the eye can help in the detection, and monitor the progression, of Alzheimer’s disease.

Polygenetic risk scores calculated from adults can be used to identify children and adolescents who may be at greater risk of developing depression, even before clinical symptoms have emerged.

An uncommon variant of the PDE11A gene impacts both quality and duration of sleep. 

Scientists have discovered the key brain region for navigating well-known places, helping explain why brain damage seen in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can cause such severe disorientation.

Finally this week, a team of researchers has found what they describe as a link between the “locus of control” in adolescents and their use of tobacco and alcohol.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

sleep-infection-neuroscinenews (1)

This diagram shows how the effects of Gαs-coupled agonists on T cells can be influenced by sleep or disease. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Dimitrov et al., 2019.

A new study reports sleep can help immune cells attach to targets and help fight infection. The study reveals how sleep assists the body in fighting infections, whereas conditions like chronic stress can make the body more susceptible to illness.

Researchers have demonstrated that physical coordination is more beneficial in larger groups.

Scientists have identified a small set of molecules that can convert glial cells into new neurons. The finding could help develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and brain injuries.

New therapeutic molecules show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging.

The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds. Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven) and his team published these results today in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology.

A new study reports unexpected changes in music activates the nucleus accumbens, providing reward and helping us to learn about the music as we listen. 

Researchers reveal the different cognitive styles of creative and analytical thinkers are a result of fundamental differences in neural activity that can be observed when people are not working on a problem.

Finally this week, a new study reports fluvoxamine, an antidepressant used to treat OCD appears to be effective in stopping sepsis.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

runners-635906_960_720.jpg

Researchers report running can help mitigate the impact chronic stress has on the hippocampus.

A small study recently published in Translational Psychiatry showed that people living with schizophrenia could use a video game paired with an MRI scanner to curb verbal hallucinations.

A Neuron study reports brain-machine interface technology may shed light on how mentally running through a routine improves performance.

Neuroscientists have demonstrated the astounding flexibility of the brain by training neurons that normally process input from the eyes to develop new skills, in this case, to control a computer-generated tone.

Researchers report our inner thoughts and interpretations of our experiences have consequences for both physical and mental health.

A new study finds listening to music may help people extend the time they are capable of enduring a cardiac stress test. The study also reports the findings could help healthy people to exercise for longer periods of time.

Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease earlier in life, according to a study.

Researchers report elevated dopamine levels may make those with schizophrenia rely more on expectations, which results in them experiencing auditory hallucinations.

A new study will examine how the brain learns to make predictions over our lifespan.

Contrary to previous findings, new research has found no evidence Omega-3 fish oil supplements help aid or improve the reading ability or memory function of underperforming school-children.

Finally this week, neuroscientists have produced a collection of computer-generated models that accurately replicate cortical neuron activity.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

 

loopster-3010073_960_720.jpg

A new guideline for medical practitioners says they should recommend twice-weekly exercise to people with mild cognitive impairment to improve memory and thinking.

Researchers reveal Parkinson’s patients have more copies of mitochondrial DNA in the brain stem, leading to increased cell death within that area.

Musical training may enhance the ability to process speech in noisy settings, a new study shows.

A new study reveals the piriform cortex is able to archive long term memory, but requires instruction from the orbiotfrontal cortex to indicate the event is to be stored as a long-term memory.

Greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function in ageing men and women, according to a new Finnish study

Researchers have discovered a new biomarker that can help diagnose Huntington’s disease. They note the findings could result in the development of treatments to postpone neuron death in those who carry the Huntington’s gene mutation, but who do not currently show symptoms of the disease.

A new study reveals the superior temporal gyrus appears to be critical for voice recognition.

Researchers have identified several new genes responsible for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) including those leading to functional and structural changes in the brain and elevated levels of AD proteins in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Finally this week, a new study adds to evidence that current clinical tools can fail to capture autism presentations in females.

 

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

astrocytes-neurosciencenews.jpg

Thousands of branches and branchlets emanate from an astrocyte’s cell body, which is the dense portion in the middle of the image.

A new study published in Neuron challenges the idea that astrocytes across the brain are largely identical.

Researchers have identified a new protein, CIB2, that is key to helping the auditory system to turn soundwaves into meaningful brain signals. Mutations of this gene leave people unable to convert the soundwaves into signals that the brain can interpret, and are deaf.

The more regularly people report doing word puzzles such as crosswords, the better their brain function in later life, a large-scale online trial has found.

How short-term memories become long-term ones has frequently been explored by researchers. While a definitive answer remains elusive, scientists conclude that this transformation is best explained by a “temporal hierarchy” of “time windows” that collectively alter the state of the brain.

Greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function in ageing men and women, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers at King’s College London have identified a molecular mechanism that allows neural connections to adapt as a result of experience. This adaptation fuels our ability for memory and learning.

Researchers have developed a concept called Empowerment to help robots and humans to work and live side-by-side safely and effectively.

A study of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has identified a new potential mechanism contributing to the biology of the disorder that may be targeted by future treatments.

A new study reveals those who die at 100 tend to suffer from fewer diseases than those who die at younger ages.

A new paper identifies 100 of the most cited neuroscience research papers. Of these papers, 78 focus on five topics. According to the authors of the paper, the most cited neuroscience research topics include the prefrontal cortex, neural connectivity, methodology, brain mapping and neurological disorders. The findings could have significant impact for future neuroscience studies.

Changes in the brain’s structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

The same mechanisms that quickly separate mixtures of oil and water are at play when controlling the organization in an unusual part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new study.

New research has shown just how adaptive the brain can be, knowledge that could one day be applied to recovery from conditions such as stroke.

Changes in the orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala may help explain a person’s preference for uncertain outcomes, as well as a preference for order and certainty, a new study reports.

Finally this week, a small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to new research.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

synapses-visual-world-neurosciencenews.jpg

Our brain is especially good at perceiving lines and contours even if they do not actually exist, such as the blue triangle in the foreground of this optical illusion. The pattern of neuronal connections in the brain supports this ability.

Researchers have identified how our brains are so good at perceiving contours and edges. The study, published in Nature, reports neurons are most likely to connect if they react to edges that lie on a common axis and the structure of the world around us is mirrored in the pattern of synapses.

A new study reports bilingual people think about time differently depending on the language context they are estimating event duration.

The first large study to rigorously examine brain-training games using cognitive tests and brain imaging adds to evidence that they are not particularly good at training brains and appear to have no more effect on healthy brains than video games.

Scientists report that listening to something while looking in a different direction may slow reaction times and increase the effort for auditory attention.

The part of the brain that helps control emotion may be larger in people who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after brain injury compared to those with a brain injury without PTSD, according to a new study.

Researchers are investigating why certain language abilities are lost as a result of a traumatic brain injury, and how others can be regained.

A recently published study investigates time perception and temporal information processing in people with schizophrenia. It reveals the internal clock in schizophrenics does not necessarily run slower or faster than in healthy individuals, but rather it does not run at a consistent speed.

Finally, this week, using music to learn a physical task develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

adobe-spark-81

Practicing paying attention can boost performance on a new task, and change the way the brain processes information, a new study says. This might explain why learning a new skill can start out feeling grueling, but eventually feels more natural — although right now, the study’s findings are limited to a simple pattern-recognition game.

A new study reports traumatic brain injury is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia in people of working age.

According to researchers, the ability to assess memory quality appears in children, and metamemory continues to improve beyond childhood into adolescence. The findings could provide new insights into effective learning methods and assist teachers to devise new educational strategies.

Researchers report harmful plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease may build up in the brain as a result of high blood pressure and decreased cerebral blood flow.

A new paper may help answer some questions as to why some infants die suddenly. Looking at blood samples from infants who had died of SIDS, researchers discover 31% of the children had elevated levels of serotonin. The researchers concluded that abnormal serotonin metabolism could indicate an underlying vulnerability that increases SIDS risk.

Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

Poor sleep may be a sign that people who are otherwise healthy may be more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life than people who do not have sleep problems, according to a study published in Neurology. Researchers have found a link between sleep disturbances and biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease found in the spinal fluid.

A new study reports that listening to something while looking in a different direction may slow reaction times and increase the effort for auditory attention.

Finally, this week, higher intelligence (IQ) in childhood is associated with a lower lifetime risk of major causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, smoking-related cancers, respiratory disease and dementia, finds a study published by The BMJ.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Brain-MRI-by-Hongwen-Song-et-al-702x336

A research team has used neuroimaging techniques to investigate how being in a romantic relationship produces alterations in the architecture of the brain. They found that being in love is associated with increased connectivity between regions of the brain associated with reward, motivation, emotion regulation, and social cognition.

Research from McGill University reveals that the brain’s motor network helps people remember and recognize music that they have performed in the past better than music they have only heard.

The human brain can select relevant objects from a flood of information and edit out what is irrelevant. It also knows which parts belong to a whole. If, for example, we direct our attention to the doors of a house, the brain will preferentially process its windows, but not the neighbouring houses. Psychologists have now discovered that this also happens when parts of the objects are merely maintained in our memory.

Researchers have found that teens who smoked marijuana daily for several years have an abnormally shaped hippocampus and do poorly on tasks involving long-term memory.

A new study has shown how intentional recall is beyond a simple reawakening of a memory; and actually leads us to forget other competing experiences that interfere with retrieval.

Researchers have identified key cells within the brain that are critical for determining circadian rhythms, the 24-hour processes that control sleep and wake cycles, as well as other important body functions such as hormone production, metabolism, and blood pressure

New York University researchers have devised a computer model to explain how a neural circuit learns to classify sensory stimuli into discrete categories, such as “car vs. motorcycle.” Their findings, which appear in the journal Nature Communications, shed new light on the brain processes underpinning judgments we make on a daily basis.

Queensland scientists have found that non-invasive ultrasound technology can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and restore memory.

Researchers at MIT have developed a method to stimulate brain tissue using external magnetic fields and injected magnetic nanoparticles — a technique allowing direct stimulation of neurons, which could be an effective treatment for a variety of neurological diseases, without the need for implants or external connections.

Researchers have come up with a new way to evaluate how well computers can divine information from images. The team describes its new system as a “visual Turing test,” after the legendary computer scientist Alan Turing’s test of the extent to which computers display human-like intelligence.

Thousands of genetic “dimmer” switches, regions of DNA known as regulatory elements, were turned up high during human evolution in the developing cerebral cortex, according to new research from the Yale School of Medicine.

Finally this week, a new study finds that giving a drug that changes the neurochemical balance in the brain causes a greater willingness to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as ensuring that resources are divided more equally.