How Stress Affects The Brain #StressAwarenessDay

Stress isn’t always a bad thing; it can be handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you’re playing a competitive sport or have to speak in public. But when it’s continuous, it actually begins to change your brain. In this video, Madhumita Murgia shows how chronic stress can affect brain size, its structure, and how it functions, right down to the level of your genes

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image:  Bansal et al., PLOS Computational Biology, October 2018.

Scientists are using computational models of the brain to simulate how the structure of the brain may impact brain activity and, ultimately, human behavior. The research focuses on interconnectivity, looking at how different regions are linked to and interact with one another.

Using a green filter helps to increase reading speed for children with dyslexia, researchers report.

Using three different training models, researchers report mental training, mindfulness and meditation can induce structural brain plasticity and reduce social stress.

A new study reports sleep helps improve learning performance in predictable processes.

A new brain imaging study reveals how the midbrain and striatum, two key areas of the dopamine system, become more active when a person updates their beliefs about the world around them.

Researchers report deep brain stimulation has little benefit for those suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally this week, a decade worth of data reveals people who multitask with different forms of media at once are worse at completing simple memory tasks.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

dog-2751115_960_720.jpgThe tendency of dogs to seek contact with their owners is associated with genetic variations in sensitivity for the hormone oxytocin, according to a new study from Linköping University, Sweden.

A new study reveals schizophrenia is up to 79% hereditary.

Metacognition of a tactile working memory task has been demonstrated by researchers for the first time. Understanding this brain function might help in the development of new treatments for neuropsychiatric illnesses in the future.

Researchers have shed light on how motor signals help sharpen our ability to decipher complex sound flows.

Increased communication between distant brain regions helps older adults compensate for the negative aspects of ageing, reports a new study published this week in Human Brain Mapping.

Scientists report brain network organization changes can influence executive function in young adults.

A news study has found that brain functions in young men and women are changed by long-term alcohol use, but that these changes are significantly different in men and women.

Mindfulness and meditation can affect brain plasticity, resulting in the ability for adults to acquire new social skills, researchers report.

A new study has found that chronic tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) is associated with changes in certain networks in the brain, and furthermore, those changes cause the brain to stay more at attention and less at rest.

Finnish researchers have revealed how eating stimulates brain’s endogenous opioid system to signal pleasure and satiety.

Finally this week, sleep deprivation — typically administered in controlled, inpatient settings — rapidly reduces symptoms of depression in roughly half of depression patients, according to the first meta-analysis on the subject in nearly 30 years.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Researchers report people with poor sleep quality were less likely to experience symptoms of depression if they had higher activity in the ventral striatum.

A new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, has uncovered a simple, measurable explanation that can determine your preference for one song over another.

Almost a quarter of girls and one-tenth of boys show signs of depression at age 14, say researchers from the University College London.

Excessive neurogenesis following brain injury may lead to neurological problems and cognitive decline researchers report. The findings challenge common assumptions that excessive brain cell growth following injury is advantageous.

Whether we are consciously aware of seeing a familiar face and object or not, our brains actively notice

A new study has investigated which neurons react to different vocal pitches, discerning between different voices and reacting to emphasis. The findings help us to understand how the brain gains meaning from the sound of speech.

A new report examines the effect stress can have on our bodies and general health.

Finnish researchers have revealed that exercise-induced endorphin release in the brain depends on the intensity of the exercise. Endorphin release induced by exercise may be an important mechanism which affects exercise motivation and maintenance of regular physical activity.

Researchers reveal people who report higher levels of moral reasoning show increased activity in brain areas associated with reward. 

Finally this week, for most people, laughter is highly contagious. But researchers reporting in Current Biology on September 28 have new evidence to show that boys at risk of developing psychopathy when they become adults don’t have that same urge.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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People have a remarkable ability to remember and recall events from the past, even when those events didn’t hold any particular importance at the time they occurred. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on November 23 have evidence that dogs have this kind of “episodic memory” too.

PET imaging of new neurons in the brain promises to advance our understanding and treatment of depression.

Research from Mayo Clinic included in the November issue of JAMA Neurology identifies a new biomarker for brain and spinal cord inflammation, allowing for faster diagnosis and treatment of patients.

The amount of GABA in person’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked the ability to keep several things in mind simultaneously. to new research.

A new study offers important insight into how Alzheimer’s disease begins within the brain. The researchers found a relationship between inflammation, a toxic protein and the onset of the disease. The study also identified a way that doctors can detect early signs of Alzheimer’s by looking at the back of patients’ eyes.

An international research team has found that when the brain “reads” or decodes a sentence in English or Portuguese, its neural activation patterns are the same.

In a cross-domain study, researchers have discovered unexpected cells in the protective membranes that enclose the brain, the so called meninges. These ‘neural progenitors’ – or stem cells that differentiate into different kinds of neurons – are produced during embryonic development. These findings show that the neural progenitors found in the meninges produce new neurons after birth – highlighting the importance of meningeal tissue as well as these cells’ potential in the development of new therapies for brain damage or neurodegeneration. A paper highlighting the results was published in the leading scientific journal Cell Stem Cell.

A new study reports that a single stressful event may cause long term consequences in the brain.

Researchers have identified previously unknown neural circuitry that plays a role in promoting satiety, the feeling of having had enough to eat. The discovery revises the current models for homeostatic control — the mechanisms by which the brain maintains the body’s status quo — of feeding behaviour. Published online today in Nature Neuroscience, the findings offer new insight into the regulation of hunger and satiety and could help researchers find solutions to the ongoing obesity epidemic.

Finally this week, learning by taking practice tests, a strategy known as retrieval practice, can protect memory against the negative effects of stress, according to new research.

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

The human brain using colors and shapes to show neurological differences between two people. Credit Arthur Toga, University of California, Los Angeles via NIGMS.

The human brain using colors and shapes to show neurological differences between two people. Credit Arthur Toga, University of California, Los Angeles via NIGMS.

While many different combinations of genetic traits can cause autism, brains affected by autism share a pattern of ramped-up immune responses, an analysis of data from autopsied human brains reveals. The study, published online in the journal Nature Communications, included data from 72 autism and control brains.

Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury are twice as likely to drink alcohol or use drugs when compared with whose who have never experienced a similar blow or trauma to the head.

Activating the brain’s amygdala, an almond-shaped mass that processes emotions, can create an addictive, intense desire for sugary foods, a new study found. Rewards such as sweet, tasty food or even addictive drugs like alcohol or cocaine can be extremely attractive when this brain structure is triggered. And another study, led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, revealed that the brains of obese children literally light up differently when tasting sugar.

Scientists have discovered a link between sleep loss and cell injury. Results of a new study find sleep deprivation causes the damage to cells, especially in the liver, lung, and small intestine. Recovery sleep following deprivation heals the damage.

Neural circuits that activate when we daydream run in the opposite direction to how we process reality, a new study finds.

Yale researchers using a new brain imaging analysis method have confirmed that smoking cigarettes activates a dopamine-driven pleasure and satisfaction response differently in men compared to women.

Whether we’re paying attention to something we see can be discerned by monitoring the firings of specific groups of brain cells. Now, new work from Johns Hopkins shows that the same holds true for the sense of touch.

Serious, long-term stress can have dire consequences for your brain. That’s because the immune system and the brain are intimately related, say researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

In the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics a new study identifies biological characteristics who may predict who is going to respond to psychotherapy.

Some high school football players exhibit measurable brain changes after a single season of play even in the absence of concussion, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Meanwhile, as debate increases about whether female lacrosse players should wear headgear, a new study reports measurements of the accelerations that stick blows deliver to the head. The study also measured the dampening effect of various kinds of headgear.

Quitting smoking sets off a series of changes in the brain that researchers say may better identify smokers who will start smoking again.

Everyday events are easy to forget, but unpleasant ones can remain engraved in the brain. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identifies a neural mechanism through which unpleasant experiences are translated into signals that trigger fear memories by changing neural connections in a part of the brain called the amygdala. The findings show that a long-standing theory on how the brain forms memories, called Hebbian plasticity, is partially correct, but not as simple as was originally proposed.

New Links Between Stress And Depression Discovered

Researchers report new insights into how the brain responds to extreme stress, whether from combat, natural disasters, or repeated violent competition. The insights offer hope for detecting and treating several widespread and debilitating neuropsychiatric disorders, and were presented at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Read more on this study here

What stress does to your brain

A brain drawing with the prefrontal cortex highlighted.

By watching individual neurons at work, a group of psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has revealed just how stress can addle the mind, as well as how neurons in the brain’s prefrontal cortex help “remember” information in the first place.

Read this story in full here

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Researchers have found that neurons in a specific region of the frontal cortex, called the anterior cingulate cortex, become active during decisions involving competitive effort.

In a major breakthrough, an international team of scientists has proven that addiction to morphine and heroin can be blocked, while at the same time increasing pain relief.

Researchers have shown that activity in a certain region of the brain changes as children learn to reason about what other people might be thinking.

The human brain contains billions of neurons that are arranged in complex circuits, which enable people to function with regard to controlling movements, perceiving the world and making decisions. In order to understand how the brain works and what malfunctions occur in neurological disorders it is crucial to decipher these brain circuits. A new study, which is featured in the August 9 edition of Nature reveals that MIT neuroscientists have now come closer towards this goal, by discovering that two major classes of brain cells repress neural activity in specific mathematical ways by which one type subtracting from overall activation, whilst the other type divides it.

That fact that heavy drinking impacts the brain of developing youths is a well-known fact. However, now researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and VA San Diego Healthcare System have discovered that certain patterns of brain activity could also help to predict which youths are at risk of becoming problem drinkers. The study is featured online in the August edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The study involved functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of 12 to 16 year old teenagers’ brains before they started drinking and who had an fMRI three years later. About half of the teenagers started drinking heavily over the 3-year period but the researchers noted that the fMRI scans taken before these group of teenagers started drinking, they already showed less fMRI response in areas of the brain that were associated earlier with heavy drinking.

Major depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume, a condition that contributes to both emotional and cognitive impairment. Now a team of researchers led by Yale scientists has discovered one reason why this occurs — a single genetic switch that triggers loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models.

Neuroscientists from The Scripps Institute have identified a specialized population of stem cells that have an impressive vocational calling: higher brain functioning. It’s an important finding that holds promise for the treatments of serious cognitive disorders — including those that impact on conscious function. And it also reveals how humans and other mammals are able to have such big brains.

Neuroscientists have discovered that the universal saying of “living in the moment” may be impossible. A study published in the journal Neuron reveals that neuroscientists have identified an area in the brain, which is responsible for using past decisions and outcomes to guide future behavior. The study is the first of its kind to analyze signals linked to metacognition, known as a person’s ability to monitor and control cognition, which researchers describe as “thinking about thinking.”