Weekly Neuroscience Update

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Robotic body surrogates can help people with profound motor deficits interact with the world. Here, Henry Evans, a California man who helped Georgia Tech researchers with improvements to a web-based interface, uses the robot to shave himself.  

People with profound motor deficits reported an improved quality of life while using robotic body surrogates.

A new study reports babies’ brains are sensitive to different emotional tones they hear in voices. Researchers suggest maternal interactions may help to shape the same brain region adults use for emotional processing.

Researchers are finding new evidence that exercise — even low-intensity, casual physical activity — can boost brain health in the short- and long-term.

The brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter is long known for its role in passing signals between neurons in the brain, can also regulate expression of genes within neurons in an unexpected way, according to research conducted by neuroscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published on March 13 in the journal Nature.

New patterns of brain aging across the human lifespan have been revealed by scientists analysing microstructural changes in the brain’s white matter.

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.

Oxford University scientists have discovered a brain process common to sleep and aging in research that could pave the way for new treatments for insomnia.

Finally this week, a new review, which appears in The BMJ journal, examines the benefits of non-invasive brain stimulation for treating major depression and finds that the technique is a valid alternative to existing treatments.

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

Have you ever wondered why some people find it so much easier to stop smoking than others? New research shows that vulnerability to smoking addiction is shaped by our genes. A study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro, McGill University shows that people with genetically fast nicotine metabolism have a significantly greater brain response to smoking cues than those with slow nicotine metabolism.

When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills. Recent studies suggest that these benefits extend all through life, at least for those who continue to be engaged with music. But a study published last month is the first to show that music lessons in childhood may lead to changes in the brain that persist years after the lessons stop.

A team of Australian researchers, led by University of Melbourne has developed a genetic test that is able to predict the risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Recent findings by an international collaboration including IRCM researchers hold new implications for the pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy.

Researchers at Newcastle University have revealed the mechanism by which neurons, the nerve cells in the brain and other parts of the body, age. The research opens up new avenues of understanding for conditions where the ageing of neurons are known to be responsible, such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Finally, this week…a new study has shown that it’s possible to predict how well people will remember information by monitoring their brain activity while they study.

Your Weekly Neuroscience Update

You’re running late for work and you can’t find your keys. What’s really annoying is that in your frantic search, you pick up and move them without realising. This may be because the brain systems involved in the task are working at different speeds, with the system responsible for perception unable to keep pace. So says Grayden Solman and his colleagues at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Scientists have now discovered how different brain regions cooperate during short-term memory  and in other research -findings that a prion-like protein plays a key role in storing long-term memories

Memories in our brains are maintained by connections between neurons called “synapses”. But how do these synapses stay strong and keep memories alive for decades? Neuroscientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have discovered a major clue from a study in fruit flies: Hardy, self-copying clusters or oligomers of a synapse protein are an essential ingredient for the formation of long-term memory.

Researchers reveal a novel mechanism through which the brain may become more reluctant to function as we grow older.

New research from Uppsala University shows that reduced insulin sensitivity is linked to smaller brain size and deteriorated language skills in seniors. The findings are now published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care.

Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to a new study from Northwestern University. The study is the first to provide biological evidence that lifelong musical experience has an impact on the aging process.

Could brain size determine whether you are good at maintaining friendships? Researchers are suggesting that there is a link between the number of friends you have and the size of the region of the brain – known as the orbital prefrontal cortex – that is found just above the eyes. A new study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that this brain region is bigger in people who have a larger number of friendships.

Scientists have long believed that human speech is processed towards the back of the brain’s cerebral cortex, behind auditory cortex where all sounds are received – a place famously known as Wernicke’s area after the German neurologist who proposed this site in the late 1800s based on his study of brain injuries and strokes. But, now, research that analyzed more than 100 imaging studies concludes that Wernicke’s area is in the wrong location. The site newly identified is about 3 centimeters closer to the front of the brain and on the other side of auditory cortex – miles away in terms of brain architecture and function.

New research from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) might help explain how a gene mutation found in some autistic individuals leads to difficulties in processing auditory cues and paying spatial attention to sound.

Neuroscientists may one day be able to hear the imagined speech of a patient unable to speak due to stroke or paralysis, according to University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

Cocaine-dependent men and women might benefit from different treatment options, according to a study conducted by Yale School of Medicine researchers.

New research finds problems that require a flash of illumination to solve are best approached during the time of day when you’re not at your peak.

Researchers for the first time are documenting the basic wiring of the brain, the complex relationships among billions of neurons that are responsible for reason, memory and emotion. The work eventually could lead to better understanding of schizophrenia, autism, multiple sclerosis and other disorders.

Weekly Round Up

Research shows that our brains understand music not only as emotional diversion, but also as a form of motion and activity.

Research shows that our brains understand music not only as emotional diversion, but also as a form of motion and activity. The same areas of the brain that activate when we swing a golf club or sign our name also engage when we hear expressive moments in music. Brain regions associated with empathy are activated, too, even for listeners who are not musicians.

And still on the theme of music and the brain, a recent study of seventy healthy adults ages sixty to eighty-three with various levels of music education starting around the age of ten showed impressive differences in brain functioning far later in life than any other research has previously shown.

A new study has suggested that sustained training in mindfulness meditation may impact distinct domains of human decision-making, enabling them to make decisions rationally.

Older bilingual adults compensate for age-related declines in brainpower by developing new strategies to process language, according to a recent study published in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.

Emerging research suggest antidepressant medications may aid creation and survival of new brain cells after a brain injury.

New study examines brain processes behind facial recognition 

Finally, here is an interesting post from Chris Mooney on the science of why we don’t believe science.