Weekly Neuroscience Update

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The image is adapted from the University of Toronto news release.

An experiment led by University of Toronto psychologists has shown for the first time that grapheme-colour synesthesia  –   a condition in which individuals sense colours associated with letters and numbers – provides a clear advantage in statistical learning – an ability to discern patterns – which is a critical aspect of learning a language. The result provides insight into how we learn, and how children and adults may learn differently.

Scientists might have found an early detection method for some forms of dementia.

Neuroimaging helps researchers observe what happens in the brain as a person is rotated. The study, which gives insight into how the brain moves after the head stops moving, also provides critical information for advancing studies of TBI.

Esketamine combined with antidepressants acts rapidly to help alleviate symptoms in those with treatment-resistant depression.

Inflammation appears to reduce reward response in females. Reduced activity in the brain’s reward system is a key component of anhedonia, the loss of enjoyment in activities, a core feature of depression. The findings may explain why depression is more prevalent in women than in men.

A new study has found that a new nerve stimulation therapy to increase blood flow could help patients with the most common type of stroke up to 24 hours after onset.

The results of a new study suggest that virtual reality could make life easier for people with dementia. The authors conclude that virtual reality helped the participants recall memories and contributed to an improvement in patients’ relationships with caregivers.

Researchers have identified average levels of biological and anatomical brain changes with Alzheimer’s disease over 30 years before symptoms appear.

Magnetic stimulation of the brain improves working memory, offering a new potential avenue of therapy for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to new research.

Sleep in teenagers can be improved by just one week of limiting their evening exposure to light-emitting screens on phones, tablets and computers,

Finally this week, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), scientists have captured 3D images that show how infants’ brains and skulls change shape as they move through the birth canal just before delivery.

 

 

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Image Source: RIKEN

Researchers report the hierarchy of intrinsic neural timescales appears to be disrupted in adults on the autism spectrum. 

A new study reveals teenage binge drinking can result in lasting epigenetic changes that alter the expression of BDNF-AS, a protein vital for the formation of neural connection in the amygdala.

Researchers shed light on the neural networks that appear to govern human consciousness.

Scientists report the popular bodybuilding protein supplement, L-norvaline, can have a negative impact on brain health. Researchers found that in low concentrations, the supplement causes damage to neurons which eventually leads to cell death.

A new study finds cannabis use in teens is associated with a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety as adults.

According to researchers, there is an optimum amount of dopamine that should be present within the brain. This optimum amount can help improve cognitive performance on tasks, researchers report.

A new study reveals the somatosensory cortex plays a complex role in memory and reward learning.

Scientists report EEG technology can help to predict the onset of epileptic seizures up to four minutes in advance. Additionally, acetate, an edible acid, may help to prevent seizures if they are detected with enough notice.

Teenagers suffering with depression may struggle with recalling specific memories, according to new research from the University of Reading.

A new study reveals women’s brains tend to appear three years younger than males of the same age. Researchers report this could be a reason why women tend to remain mentally sharp longer than men.

A new prosthetic hand enables amputees to regain a subtle, close to natural, sense of touch.

Finally this week, new research reports that older adults who exercise by using electric bicycles experience comparable cognitive and mental health benefits to those who use a standard, pedal-powered bike.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

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This diagram shows how the effects of Gαs-coupled agonists on T cells can be influenced by sleep or disease. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Dimitrov et al., 2019.

A new study reports sleep can help immune cells attach to targets and help fight infection. The study reveals how sleep assists the body in fighting infections, whereas conditions like chronic stress can make the body more susceptible to illness.

Researchers have demonstrated that physical coordination is more beneficial in larger groups.

Scientists have identified a small set of molecules that can convert glial cells into new neurons. The finding could help develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and brain injuries.

New therapeutic molecules show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging.

The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds. Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven) and his team published these results today in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology.

A new study reports unexpected changes in music activates the nucleus accumbens, providing reward and helping us to learn about the music as we listen. 

Researchers reveal the different cognitive styles of creative and analytical thinkers are a result of fundamental differences in neural activity that can be observed when people are not working on a problem.

Finally this week, a new study reports fluvoxamine, an antidepressant used to treat OCD appears to be effective in stopping sepsis.

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

Loneliness? It’s All a State of Mind

Researchers have found that lonely people have less grey matter in a part of the brain associated with decoding eye gaze and other social cues.

While studying the sense of touch, scientists at Duke Medicine have pinpointed specific neurons that appear to regulate perception.

An international team of researchers has for the first time shown that one area of the brain, called the anterior insular cortex, is the activity center of human empathy, whereas other areas of the brain are not.

Early surgery for patients with slow-growing, low-grade glioma brain tumours may result in better survival than a wait-and-see approach, according to Norwegian research.

Books and educational toys can make a child smarter, but they also influence how the brain grows, according to new research. The findings point to a “sensitive period” early in life during which the developing brain is strongly influenced by environmental factors.

Exercising in your 70s may stop your brain from shrinking and showing the signs of ageing linked to dementia, say experts from Edinburgh University.

A patient’s genetic makeup may explain the “placebo effect,” in which people perceive that a fake treatment makes them feel better, according to a study that may help researchers design better clinical trials. Patients with a certain variation on a gene linked to release of dopamine, a brain chemical that affects emotions and sensations of pleasure and pain, were more likely to respond to a placebo version of acupuncture than patients with a different variation, a study in the journal PLoS One found.

UCLA researchers have for the first time measured the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease during sleep. They discovered that this part of the brain behaves as if it’s remembering something, even under anesthesia, a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

The brains of teenage girls with behavioural disorders are different to those of their peers, UK researchers have found. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry study of 40 girls revealed differences in the structure of areas linked to empathy and emotions. Previous work has found similar results in boys.

There are two ways we can forget a memory that causes unpleasant sensations, be they a humiliating gaffe at some dinner party or an extremely frightening event, say researchers from the University of Cambridge in the October 17th edition of Neuron.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

A growing body of evidence suggests that learning to play an instrument and continuing to practice and play it may offer mental benefits throughout life. Hearing has also been shown to be positively affected by making music. The latest study, published in the July issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that musical instrument training may reduce the effects of mental decline associated with aging. The research found that older adults who learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at least 10 years outperformed others in tests of memory and cognitive ability.

Neuroscientists are finding that, as we get older, our aging brains are proving surprisingly malleable, and in ways not previously anticipated. But there are limitations. There is growing evidence that, beyond what was previously believed, the adult human brain is remarkably malleable and capable of new feats — even in the last decades of life. And UCLA researchers found that older adults who regularly used a brain fitness program played on a computer demonstrated significantly improved memory and language skills.

From older to younger brains now…

Determining when a teenage brain becomes an adult brain is not an exact science but it’s getting closer, according to an expert in adolescent developmental psychology, speaking at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have developed the world’s first device designed for mapping the human brain that combines whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. MEG measures the electrical function and MRI visualizes the structure of the brain. The merging of these two technologies will produce unprecedented accuracy in locating brain electrical activity non-invasively

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience a developmental delay in frontal regions of the brain.

The brain differences found in people with schizophrenia are mainly the result of the disease itself or its treatment, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors, according to a Dutch study

Bilingual children outperform children who speak only one language in problem-solving skills and creative thinking, according to research led at the University of Strathclyde.

When we focus intently on one task, we often fail to see other things in plain sight – a phenomenon known as ‘inattention blindness’. Scientists already know that performing a task involving high information load – a ‘high load’ task – reduces our visual cortex response to incoming stimuli. Now researchers from UCL have examined the brain mechanisms behind this, further explaining why our brain becomes ‘blind’ under high load.

Inside the teenage brain

In this brain video Dr. Greg Berns talks about a new study using brain imaging to study teen brain development. It turns out that adolescents who engage in dangerous activities have frontal white matter tracts that are more adult in form than their more conservative peers.

Risky Behavior in Adolescents May Signal Mature Brain 

PLoS Journal Article: “Adolescent Engagement in Dangerous Behaviors Is Associated with Increased White Matter Maturing of Frontal Cortex”

Weekly Round Up

Are teenage brains wired to predict the next big music hit?

The brain is constantly changing as it perceives the outside world, processing and learning about everything it encounters. In a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, scientists find a surprising connection between two types of perception: If you’re looking at a group of objects and getting a general sense of them, it’s difficult for your brain to learn relationships between the objects.

Recent research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.suggests that the activity in teen brains may have some Nostradamus-like qualities when it comes to predicting the hits or misses of popular music.

Fear burns memories into our brain, and new research by University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists explains how in findings that have implications for the treatment of PTSD.

Ands speaking of memory…have you forgotten where you put your keys recently? Your brain might be in a better state to recall where you put them at some times than at others, according to new research from UC Davis.