Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Under the microscope, staining highlights a network of vasculature amid the ball of neurons that make up a minibrain. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Hoffman-Kim lab/Brown University

Scientists have recently made a variety of mini-brains — 3-D cultures of neural cells that model basic properties of living brains — but a new finding could add to the field’s growing excitement in an entirely new “vein”: Brown University’s mini-brains now grow blood vessels, too.

A new study reports astrocytes may be a driving force behind a number of neurodegenerative diseases.

While many of us find the sound of a person chewing or breathing heavily annoying, for those with misophonia, such noises are unbearable. Researchers have identified the neural networks and brain changes associated with the disorder.

New research reveals the shape of our brain can provide surprising clues about how we behave and our risk of developing mental health disorders.

A team of investigators have found that exposure to phobic images without conscious awareness is more effective than longer, conscious exposure for reducing fear. The investigators used fMRI to determine that areas of the brain involved in fear processing were much more strongly activated by unconscious exposure. Results of the study will be published in the journal, Human Brain Mapping, on February 6, 2017.

Depression poses a risk for cardiovascular diseases in men that is just as great as that posed by high cholesterol levels and obesity.

In the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), New York University neuroscientist David Heeger offers a new framework to explain how the brain makes predictions

Researchers have developed new technology that utilises infrared light in order to treat memory loss conditions.

Scientists have discovered a cell in the retina that may cause myopia when it dysfunctions. The dysfunction may be linked to the amount of time a child spends indoors and away from natural light.

A new study pinpoints the brain area responsible for forming direct links between environmental stimuli and enhanced focus.

New sensors that can monitor dopamine secretion in a single neuron could help researchers better understand how dopamine influences brain activity.

Scientists have developed sensor technology for a robotic prosthetic arm that detects signals from nerves in the spinal cord.

People who use sign language have better reaction times in their peripheral vision, a new study from the University of Sheffield has found.

Finally this week, researchers report concussion can accelerate Alzheimer’s symptoms in people with a genetic risk for the disease.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Childhood poverty impacted how much the two regions of the prefrontal cortex (as shown in orange circles) were engaged during emotion regulation. (Credit: University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)

Childhood poverty impacted how much the two regions of the prefrontal cortex (as shown in orange circles) were engaged during emotion regulation. (Credit: University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)

Childhood poverty and chronic stress may lead to problems regulating emotions as an adult, according to research published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New research shows that one of the brain’s fundamental self-protection mechanisms depends on coordinated, finely calibrated teamwork among neurons and non-neural cells knows as glial cells, which until fairly recently were thought to be mere support cells for neurons. The study, which has implications for understanding neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, and other nervous system disorders, adds to a growing body of evidence that glial cells are integral to brain function.

Researchers at higher education institutions have identified six proteins in spinal fluid that can be used as markers for Alzheimer’s disease. And another study suggests that older adults who don’t sleep well have more of the brain plaques that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from the Centre for Functional Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) at the University of Oxford in the UK, say through monitoring patients’ brain waves while under anesthetic, they were able to pinpoint degrees of consciousness dependent on the doses of anesthetic administered.

Finally, this week, a new study from the UCLA School of Nursing shows that the body’s autonomic responses — the controls that impact such functions as blood pressure, heart rate and sweating — are weaker in people with obstructive sleep apnea but are even more diminished in women.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

medium_46044113Advice to “sleep on it” before making a big decision may be wise, according to new brain-imaging research.

Scientists from the University of Southampton have identified the molecular system that contributes to the harmful inflammatory reaction in the brain during neurodegenerative diseases.An important aspect of chronic neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s or prion disease, is the generation of an innate within the brain. Results from the study open new avenues for the regulation of the inflammatory reaction and provide new insights into the understanding of the biology of , which play a leading role in the development and maintenance of this reaction.

A study conducted at the University of Granada and the University of York in Toronto, Canada, has revealed that bilingual children develop a better working memory –which holds, processes and updates information over short periods of time– than monolingual children.

Good mental health and clear thinking depend upon our ability to store and manipulate thoughts on a sort of “mental sketch pad.” In a new study, Yale School of Medicine researchers describe the molecular basis of this ability — the hallmark of human cognition — and describe how a breakdown of the system contributes to diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Your eyes aren’t just advanced visual systems capturing images of what’s around you. New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that when our eyes perceive visual stimuli, it gets encoded in our brains in ways that change our emotional reactions.

In a pair of new papers, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences upend a long-held view about the basic functioning of a key receptor molecule involved in signaling between neurons, and describe how a compound linked to Alzheimer’s disease impacts that receptor and weakens synaptic connections between brain cells.

Fear responses can only be erased when people learn something new while retrieving the fear memory. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and published in the leading journal Science.

Injuries that result in chronic pain, such as limb injuries, and those unrelated to the brain are associated with epigenetic changes in the brain which persist months after the injury, according to researchers at McGill University.

Montreal researchers find that music lessons before age seven create stronger connections in the brain.

A team of political scientists and neuroscientists has shown that liberals and conservatives use different parts of the brain when they make risky decisions, and these regions can be used to predict which political party a person prefers.

Neuroscience News

Bilingualism is good for the brain

The human brain has room for an uncounted number of languages as well as a sort of executive control system to keep them active but separate. This ability, a form of mental exercise, seems to be beneficial for the brain.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison have presented innovative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques that can measure changes in the microstructure of the white matter likely to affect brain function and the ability of different regions of the brain to communicate.

Memory strengthened by stimulating key site in brain.

Researchers have created a living 3-D model of a brain tumor and its surrounding blood vessels. In experiments, the scientists report that iron-oxide nanoparticles carrying the agent tumstatin were taken by blood vessels, meaning they should block blood vessel growth. The living-tissue model could be used to test the effectiveness of nanoparticles in fighting other diseases. Results appear in Theranostics.

New model of neuro-electric activity could help scientists better understand coma states.

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have identified a new group of compounds that may protect brain cells from inflammation linked to seizures and neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Indiana University have identified parallels between animals looking for food in the wild and humans searching for items within their memory – suggesting that people with the best ‘memory foraging’ strategies are better at recalling items.

Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered a startling feature of early brain development that helps to explain how complex neuron wiring patterns are programmed using just a handful of critical genes. The findings, published in Cell, may help scientists develop new therapies for neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and provide insight into certain cancers.