Weekly Neuroscience Update

A new study reveals for the first time that activating the brain’s visual cortex with a small amount of electrical stimulation actually improves our sense of smell. The finding revises our understanding of the complex biology of the senses in the brain.

By training birds to ‘get rhythm’, scientists uncover evidence that our capacity to move in time with music may be connected with our ability to learn speech.

Daily doses of a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease significantly improved function in severely brain-injured people thought to be beyond the reach of treatment. Scientists have reported on the first rigorous evidence to date that any therapy reliably helps such patients.

Remembering where we left our keys requires at least three different regions of the brain to work together, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience says.

If you’re a left brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a new study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

People who experience a traumatic brain injury show a marked decline in the ability to make appropriate financial decisions in the immediate aftermath and a continued impairment on complex financial skills six months later, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

For the first time, a team led by Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientists has identified how different neural regions communicate to determine what to visually pay attention to and what to ignore. This finding is a major discovery for visual cognition and will guide future research into visual and attention deficit disorders.

Finally this week, Ireland’s neurological charities have come together to launch a new patient information and services website in time for National Brain Awareness Week which takes place next week (05 – 11 March).

New drop-in centre for patients with neurological disorders

TV3 presenter Sinead Desmond, pictured at the launch of a patient drop-in centre by the Dublin Neurological Institute this week

TV3 presenter Sinead Desmond spoke this week of her near-fatal brain haemorrhage nearly three years ago. At the launch of Ireland’s first drop-in centre for people with neurological disorders, she spoke of her gratitude at emerging  unscathed with no brain damage from the experience.

“I have been blessed with a 100pc recovery,” she said. “I met people since who had similar brain haemorrhages and suffered from brain injuries. The recovery can be tough.”

The new centre is housed within the Dublin Neurological Institute at the Mater Hospital in Eccles Street. People with neurological conditions, which include epilepsy, stroke, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, dementia and motor neurone disease, can call in without having to be referred by a GP. They will be able to speak to a specialist nurse, and get free medical information and support.

National Brain Awareness Week runs until Sunday.