Weekly Neuroscience Update

scientists develop video game for stroke

Scientists have developed a therapeutic at-home 3D gaming programme to help stroke patients overcome motor weakness, which affects 80 per cent of survivors.

Using a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations, a team of neuroscientists has discovered how brain cells that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and are activated immediately before those memories are recalled.

Establishing links between genes, the brain and human behavior is a central issue in cognitive neuroscience research, but studying how genes influence cognitive abilities and behavior as the brain develops from childhood to adulthood has proven difficult. Now, an international team of scientists has made inroads to understanding how genes influence brain structure and cognitive abilities and how neural circuits produce language.

Stanford University School of Medicine neuroscientists have discovered a new role played by a common but mysterious class of brain cells.

A new study using brain imaging has shown the effect of the chronic pain drug pregalbin on the brain, giving researchers new insight on the treatment of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders.

A study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience points, for the first time, to the gene trkC as a factor in susceptibility to panic disorder. The researchers define the specific mechanism for the formation of fear memories which will help in the development of new pharmacological and cognitive treatments.

Finally, in the largest study on the topic to date, research shows that speaking a second language may delay the onset of three types of dementias.  The study found that people who spoke two languages developed dementia four and a half years later than people who only spoke one language.

 

Weekly Round-Up

Researchers believe they found a link between the volume of one’s cerebellum and general intelligence. The cerebellum is involved in the coordination of voluntary motor movement, balance and equilibrium and muscle tone. It is located just above the brain stem and toward the back of the brain.

A small but promising study suggests that magnetic stimulation of the brain could aid the recovery of some stroke patients.

Treatment that increases brain levels of an important regulatory enzyme may slow the loss of brain cells that characterizes Huntington’s disease (HD) and other neurodegenerative disorders.

How much do babies remember about the world around them? New research reveals that even though infants can’t remember the details of an object that has been hidden from view, their brains have built-in “pointers” that help them retain the idea that the object still exists even though they can’t see it anymore.

Neuroscience research involving epileptic patients with brain electrodes surgically implanted in their medial temporal lobes shows that patients learned to consciously control individual neurons deep in the brain with thoughts.

Loyola University Medical Center researchers are reporting what could become the first reliable method to predict whether an antidepressant will work on a depressed patient.

How we perceive motion is a significantly more complex process than previously thought, researchers at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, Stanford University and the University of Washington have found. Their results, which appear in the journalCurrent Biology, show that the relationship between the brain and visual perception varies, depending on the type of motion we are viewing.

After birth, the developing brain is largely shaped by experiences in the environment. However, neurobiologists at Yale and elsewhere have also shown that for many functions the successful wiring of neural circuits depends upon spontaneous activity in the brain that arises before birth independent of external influences.