Weekly Neuroscience Update


The brains of deaf people reorganize not only to compensate for the loss of hearing, but also to process language from visual stimuli—sign language, according to a study published  in Nature Communications. Despite this reorganization for interpreting visual language, however, language processing is still completed in the same brain region.

Our love of music and appreciation of musical harmony is learnt and not based on natural ability – a new study by University of Melbourne researchers has found.

For many patients with difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain, deep brain stimulation (DBS) can lead to long-term improvement in pain scores and other outcomes, according to a study in the February issue of Neurosurgery.

New brain imaging research from Carnegie Mellon University provides some of the first evidence showing how the brain unconsciously processes decision information in ways that lead to improved decision making. Published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, the study found that the brain regions responsible for making decisions continue to be active even when the conscious brain is distracted with a different task.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has found a new way to influence the vital serotonin signaling system—possibly leading to more effective medications with fewer side effects.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC describe in PLoS ONE how an electrode array sitting on top of the brain enabled a 30-year-old paralyzed man to control the movement of a character on a computer screen in three dimensions with just his thoughts. It also enabled him to move a robot arm to touch a friend’s hand for the first time in the seven years since he was injured in a motorcycle accident.

Researchers have discovered a molecule that accumulates with age and inhibits the formation of new neurons. The finding might help scientists design therapies to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Wearing a nerve stimulator for 20 minutes a day may be a new option for migraine sufferers, according to new research published in the February 6, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

photo credit: Hindrik S via photopin cc

Weekly Round-Up

Does sleep help you learn? (Image: Big Stock)

In today’s weekly round-up..how memories take better hold during sleep, nature vs nurture, fake it til you make it, the nature of heroism, the pathology of Alzheimer’s, the neuroscience of fear and loathing, and more.

It appears from the latest research that the best way to hold onto a  newly learned poem, card trick or algebra equation may be to take a quick nap, for the brain is better during sleep than during wakefulness at resisting attempts to scramble or corrupt a recent memory. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, provides new insights into the complex process by which we store and retrieve deliberately acquired information.

Athena Stalk in Your Brain and The Power of Rehearsing Your Future explains that the advice to “fake it til you make it” is backed up by some of the latest findings on the brain.

Interesting article from Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal on the perennial nature vs nurture debate. And in a similar vein,  is there a gene for heroism or is it down to social or economic factors?  Can neuroscience explain the nature of heroism?

The Neuroscience of Fear and Loathing is an interesting look at this universal emotion. 

Findings from a new study from the University of Haifa shows that people diagnosed as psychopathic have difficulty showing empathy, just like patients who have suffered frontal head injury.

Article in this week’s New York Times on a new brain scan tech­nol­ogy to detect Alzheimer’s pathol­ogy in the brain.

How Perception Reveals Brain Differences explores the ways in which brains differ from one another and the ways in which we owners perceive the world accordingly.