Weekly Neuroscience Update


Music and mindful music listening may help people who have suffered strokes recover their impaired cognitive abilities more effectively, new research suggests.

The loss of memory and cognitive function known to afflict survivors of septic shock is the result of a sugar that is released into the bloodstream and enters the brain during the life-threatening condition. This finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains the premature mental aging that follows septic shock and may shed light on memory loss in other diseases.

Researchers have identified a new autoimmune disease that causes muscle pain and weakness.

Scientists used brain signals recorded from epilepsy patients to program a computer to mimic natural speech–an advancement that could one day have a profound effect on the ability of certain patients to communicate.

Scientists have created a “neural decoder” that translates brain activity into speech.

Autism diagnosis becomes stable starting at 14 months of age, researchers report. The accurate diagnosis of ASD, four months earlier than previously believed, leads to more opportunities for early interventions.

A new two-tier diagnostic blood test which evaluates both amyloid beta and tau, can help detect Alzheimer’s disease in presymptomatic patients.

Researchers are officially defining a new brain disorder that mimics Alzheimer’s disease. The disorder will be known as LATE, which stands for limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy.

Finally this week, a new deep learning algorithm can reliably determine what visual stimuli neurons in the visual cortex respond best to.


Weekly Neuroscience Update


Image: Pixabay

How quickly do we experience the benefits of exercise? A new study of healthy older adults shows that just one session of exercise increased activation in the brain circuits associated with memory – including the hippocampus – which shrinks with age and is the brain region attacked first in Alzheimer’s disease.

Using a unique computational framework they developed, a team of scientist cyber-sleuths has identified 104 high-risk genes for schizophrenia.

Reduced connectivity between the amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex has been identified in children on the autism spectrum who exhibit disruptive behaviors, compared to those on the spectrum who do not. Findings suggest this distinct brain network could be independent of core autism symptoms.

A specially designed computer program can help diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans by analyzing their voices.

Using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, researchers identified actionable pathways responsible for the growth of glioblastoma stem cells. By reverse engineering brain cancer cells, multiple potential new targets for cancer treatments have been uncovered.

Obesity is associated with alterations in brain structure, including lower grey matter volume and smaller globus pallidus volume according to new research. 

Researchers have found certain clues in the brain waves that show the reason why angry dreams occur when a person sleeps. The results of the study titled, “EEG Frontal Alpha Asymmetry and Dream Affect: Alpha Oscillations Over the Right Frontal Cortex During REM Sleep and Pre-Sleep Wakefulness Predict Anger in REM Sleep Dreams,” were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

People with the specific genotype of the Cannabinoid receptor 1 gene may be more prone to cannabis use disorder.

A rapid memory system transition from the hippocampus to the posterior parietal cortex is stabilized as we sleep. Sleep and repeated rehearsal of memory jointly contribute to long-term memory consolidation.

A new study confirms that a simple blood test can reveal whether there is accelerating nerve cell damage in the brain. 

Finally, this week, using a combination of movie clips and neuroimaging, researchers find people have positive biases to those they feel are more like them, even if they are unable to see the person’s face.

Think Feedback Not Failure

I came across an old newspaper cutting from the Irish Times recently – an article by NLP practitioner, Carmel Wynne on the theme of how we live up to our expectations of success or failure.

Your thoughts, feelings and actions run like habitual programmes in the brain.  Just as you can upgrade and change computer programs you can change your mental programmes.

Your thoughts have a structure that you can alter.  You can transform how you think. Doing so offers you life-changing possibilities because your mind is so powerful.

When you change your thinking about a situation you change your feelings.  It’s not the situation but how you think about it that makes it pleasant or unpleasant.

It’s amazing how your brain responds to what you believe is true.  What is considered overcrowding in a train is experienced as atmosphere in a nightclub.  If you hold the belief that too many people in a train make for an uncomfortable environment you are right.  If you think that lots of people crowded together in a nightclub make for a wonderful atmosphere your brain produces feelings of enjoyment in response to your thoughts.

Changing beliefs is not easy.  Yet one tiny change can have a huge impact on your life.  Think what would happen if you stopped using the word ‘Failure’.  It would bring about significant changes in how you think and feel.

Substitute the word ‘Feedback’ and you eliminate all the negative connotations that are linked with failure.  Feedback encourages constructive thinking and has a positive impact on creativity.

Failure is a concept that creates negativity.  It breeds pessimistic thinking.  The feelings of inadequacy and discouragement that accompany the belief that you are not measuring up discourage and de-motivate further efforts.

When you eliminate the concept of failure and replace it with the idea of getting feedback the whole focus shifts.  Feedback puts attention onto learning what works and doesn’t work.  This information allows the person to take risks and seek different solutions.

Feedback allows for flexibility.  When you recognise something is not working you take another approach.  You let go of ‘Ill-formed’ language when you discard the word ‘Failure’.  Just think of the impact of this tiny alteration.

The effect of replacing one word potentially changes your feelings and for those who are self-aware your internal experience.  What a powerful tool for personal growth and achievement.

I need hardly tell you that no two people respond to the same event in identical ways. Some people are naturally optimistic and others are pessimistic.  Psychologist Martin Seligman has discovered three major attitudes that distinguish the two.

Optimists view downturns in their lives as temporary blips in the graph.  Basically they see troubles and difficulties as delayed success.  They view misfortune as situational and specific.

The three Ps of pessimism are Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalising.  Pessimists generalise, think they screw up everything and blame their own incompetence or ineffectiveness.

Helplessness, passivity and inaction influence the attitude of pessimists to setbacks.  Their belief that they screw up everything creates expectations of failure.

Realistic optimists maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.  Their ‘Can do’ attitude allows them use their skills to actively address problems.

Failure or feedback – it’s up to you!