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Science Daily

ψ Science Daily Learn about the brain, behavior and health. Read health articles on intellectual development, brain abnormalities, and mental health. Updated daily. Link to the source
  • Brains evolved to need exercise
    Mounting scientific evidence shows that exercise is good not only for our bodies, but for our brains. Yet, exactly why physical activity benefits the brain is not well understood. Researchers suggest that the link between exercise and the brain is a product of our evolutionary history and our past as hunter-gatherers. link to source

  • Peering through opaque brains with new algorithm
    A new algorithm helps scientists record the activity of individual neurons within a volume of brain tissue. link to source

  • Shining light on brain cells that coordinate movement
    A technique for inserting a gene into specific cell types in the adult brain can be used to alter the function of brain circuits and change behaviors in an animal model. The method will allow scientists to better understand what roles certain cell types play in the brain's complex circuitry. Researchers hope the approach might someday lead to developing treatments for conditions like epilepsy that might be curable by activating a small group of cells. link to source

  • The mere presence of your smartphone reduces brain power, study shows
    Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off — suggests new research. link to source

  • Anti-epilepsy drug restores normal brain activity in mild Alzheimer's disease
    An anti-epileptic drug has been tested for its potential impact on the brain activity of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. The team documented changes in patients' EEGs that suggest the drug could have a beneficial effect. link to source

  • Chatter in the deep brain spurs empathy in rats
    By combining electrical monitoring of neural activity with machine learning, a team of neuroscientists has tuned into the brain chatter of rats engaged in helping other rats. The results clarify earlier conflicting findings on the role of specific brain regions, such as the insula, in guiding antisocial and psychopathic behavior, and may shed light on how to encourage altruistic behavior in humans. link to source

  • Correct connections are crucial
    Investigators have been examining the use of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of Parkinson's disease in an attempt to optimize treatment effectiveness. link to source

  • A unique amino acid for brain cancer therapy
    Photodynamic therapy is often used to treat brain tumors because of its specificity — it can target very small regions containing cancerous cells while sparing the normal cells around it from damage. It works by injecting a drug called a photosensitizer into the bloodstream, where it gathers in cells, and then exposing the drug-filled cells to light. When the photosensitizer is exposed to this light, it emits what is known as a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that causes the cells to die. link to source

  • Spinal cord injury: Using cortical targets to improve motor function
    New research provides the first evidence that cortical targets could represent a novel therapeutic site for improving motor function in humans paralyzed by spinal cord injury. link to source

  • Hearing a warning sound turns into fearing it over time, mouse study suggests
    Changes in lattice-like structures in the brain known as perineuronal nets are necessary to 'capture' an auditory fear association and 'haul' it in as a longer-term memory, an adult mouse model reveals. link to source

  • How pheromones trigger female sexual behavior
    A new study showed how a male pheromone in mice enhances sexual behaviors in females -- and how it may enhance a different behavior, aggression, in males -- by identifying distinct neural circuits and neurons that generate a particular behavioral response to specific chemical signals. The findings point to a model for further investigating how sex-specific innate behaviors in living things are controlled. link to source

  • UV-sensing protein in brain of marine annelid zooplankton
    Larvae of a marine ragworm Platynereis dumerilii have been studied as a zooplankton model, and possess photoreceptor cells in the brain to regulate circadian swimming behavior. This study revealed that a photoreceptive protein in the brain photoreceptor cells is UV (ultra-violet) sensitive. Since avoidance of UV irradiation is a major cause of a large-scale daily movement of zooplankton, the UV sensor in the brain would be important for physiology and ecology of the zooplankton model. link to source

  • Select memories can be erased, leaving others intact
    Different types of memories stored in the same neuron of the marine snail Aplysia can be selectively erased, according to a new study. link to source

  • Rare cells are 'window into the gut' for the nervous system
    Specialized cells in the gut sense potentially noxious chemicals and trigger electrical impulses in nearby nerve fibers, according to a new study, report scientists. link to source

  • Video games can change your brain
    Scientists have collected and summarized studies looking at how video games can shape our brains and behavior. Research to date suggests that playing video games can change the brain regions responsible for attention and visuospatial skills and make them more efficient. The researchers also looked at studies exploring brain regions associated with the reward system, and how these are related to video game addiction. link to source

  • Alzheimer's disease study links brain health, physical activity
    People at risk for Alzheimer's disease who do more moderate-intensity physical activity, but not light-intensity physical activity, are more likely to have healthy patterns of glucose metabolism in their brain, according to a new study. link to source

  • Identified brain circuitry bridges neural and behavioral roles in PTSD
    Specific cerebral circuitry bridges chemical changes deep in the brain and the more outward behavioral expressions associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which could lead to more objective biomarkers for the disorder, according to a comprehensive review of rapidly changing data. link to source

  • New technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
    Some basic processes underlying memory consolidation have been discovered by researchers. The work identifies some of the electrical events responsible for specific neuronal activity in the hippocampus: a region of the brain with fundamental roles in episodic memory. link to source

  • Study answers why ketamine helps depression, offers target for safer therapy
    Scientists have identified a key protein that helps trigger ketamine's rapid antidepressant effects in the brain, a crucial step to developing alternative treatments to the controversial drug being dispensed in a growing number of clinics across the country. link to source

  • Serotonin improves sociability in mouse model of autism
    Scientists have linked early serotonin deficiency to several symptoms that occur in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study examined serotonin levels, brain circuitry, and behavior in a mouse model of ASD. Experiments showed that increasing serotonergic activity in the brain during early development led to more balanced brain activity and improved the abnormal sociability of these mice. link to source

  • Three ways neuroscience can advance the concussion debate
    While concussion awareness has improved over the past decade, understanding the nuances of these sports injuries, their severity, symptoms, and treatment, is still a work in progress. Neurologists and neurotraumatologists have reviewed the science of concussions and outlined several areas where neuroscience and clinical research can help create consensus in the field: definitions of what acute and chronic concussions are, diagnostics, and management and treatment. link to source

  • Neurons that regenerate, neurons that die
    Investigators report on a transcription factor that they have found that can help certain neurons regenerate, while simultaneously killing others. link to source

  • Forgetting can make you smarter
    A new review paper proposes that the goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time, but to guide and optimize intelligent decision making by only holding on to valuable information. link to source

  • Genetic gains and losses in Tourette syndrome uncovered
    Researchers have identified structural changes in two genes that increase the risk of developing Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary motor and vocal tics. link to source

  • The brain mechanism behind multitasking
    Scientists have identified a brain mechanism that enables more efficient multitasking. link to source

  • New technique makes brain scans better
    To help scientists take advantage of huge numbers of low-quality patient brain scans, a team of researchers has devised a way to boost the quality of these MRI scans so that they can be used for large scale studies of how strokes affect different people. link to source

  • 'Little brain' plays a major role in schizophrenia
    The cerebellum is among the most affected brain regions in schizophrenia, new research has found. Compared to healthy individuals, cerebellar volume was smaller in patients with schizophrenia. The study is the largest brain imaging study to date on the cerebellum in schizophrenia, with important implications for our understanding of the disorder. link to source

  • New light shed on key player in brain development
    Researchers have shed light on how the developing brain ensures that connections between brain cells reach their intended destination but that they are also maintained during life-span. link to source

  • Most people 'aren't as happy as their friends' on social media
    A study led by computer scientists has found that people with the most connections on social media are also happier. This may cause most social media users to not only regard themselves as less popular than their friends but also less happy. link to source

  • Long-term memories made with meaningful information
    When trying to memorize information, it is better to relate it to something meaningful rather than repeat it again and again to make it stick, according to a recent study. link to source

  • First randomized controlled trial of deep brain stimulation for chronic pain shows promise
    Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral striatum/anterior limb of the internal capsule is safe and feasible in addressing the affective component of pain in patients with post-stroke pain syndrome, report investigators. link to source

  • New findings reverse hypothesis of GABA neurodevelopment in schizophrenia
    New research by provides an unprecedented level of resolution and insight into disturbances in cortical GABAergic microcircuits, which are thought to underlie cognitive impairments in schizophrenia. The study reveals new detailed understanding about alterations in neurocircuitry that point to abnormal neurodevelopment in the disorder. link to source

  • Modeling Gulf War illness: Knowing the cause of brain dysfunction is key to finding a cure
    When hundreds of thousands of American troops deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1990 and 1991 in the First Gulf War, they were exposed to a variety of chemicals. These chemicals -- especially when coupled with war-related stress -- seem to still be affecting nearly 200,000 Gulf War veterans -- or 25 to 32 percent of those who served -- more than 25 years later, and the constellation of resulting symptoms has been termed Gulf War illness. link to source

  • Broken heart: Physical stress is a risk factor
    The loss of a loved one, a dispute with your neighbour, infections or a fall – mental and physical stress can be triggers of a broken heart (broken heart syndrome). What is more, physical stress seems to be more dangerous than emotional stress, a study shows. link to source

  • Mapping how words leap from brain to tongue
    How the brain narrows down a smorgasbord of related concepts to the one word you're truly seeking is a complicated and poorly understood cognitive task. Looking at epilepsy patients who had a grid of electrodes directly atop their brains, researchers delved into this question and found that wide, overlapping swaths of the brain work in parallel to retrieve the correct word from memory. link to source

  • Mathematical modeling uncovers mysteries of HIV infection in the brain
    After uncovering the progression of HIV infection in the brain thanks to a new mathematical model, clinicians and researchers are developing a nasal spray to administer drugs more effectively. link to source

  • Poor adolescent diet may influence brain and behavior in adulthood
    Adolescent male mice fed a diet lacking omega-3 fatty acids show increased anxiety-like behavior and worse performance on a memory task in adulthood, according to new research. link to source

  • Psychiatric medication protects developing mouse brain from birth defects
    A clinically available anxiety drug safely and effectively protects against brain defects caused by the mouse version of a common human virus, finds new research. link to source

  • Treating autism by targeting the gut
    Therapies to change the bacteria in the gut, through diet, pro-and prebiotic supplements, fecal matter transplants or antibiotics, could treat autism. A review of six decades of research linking the gut to brain development could pave the way for cheap and effective treatment. link to source

  • Investigating emotional spillover in the brain
    When we let emotions from one event carry on to the next, such spillover can color our impressions and behavior in new situations - sometimes for the worse. Researchers are discovering what happens in the brain when such emotional spillover occurs. link to source

  • Lack of 'editing' in brain molecules potential driver of cancer
    A “significant” lack of ‘editing’ has been observed in microRNAs in brain tissue of brain cancer patients, report investigators. link to source

  • Viral vectors for gene transfer travel longer distances in the brain than thought
    Gene transfer with laboratory-produced viruses is seen as a hopeful therapy for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients. A team or researchers investigated how far these viruses spread in the brain and which cells they infect. Some of these viruses traveled from injection site as far as the olfactory bulb or the cerebellum and infected neurons and other cells. This could improve selection of viral vectors for custom therapies using gene transfer. link to source

  • Distant brain regions selectively recruit stem cells
    Stem cells persist in the adult mammalian brain and generate new neurons throughout life. A research group reports that long-distance brain connections can target discrete pools of stem cells in their niche and stimulate them to divide and produce specific subtypes of olfactory bulb neurons. This allows the 'on-demand' generation of particular types of neurons in the adult brain. link to source

  • Meditation and yoga can 'reverse' DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests
    Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi don't simply relax us; they can 'reverse' the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression, according to a study. link to source

  • Why do those with autism avoid eye contact?
    Individuals with autism spectrum disorder often find it difficult to look others in the eyes as they find eye contact uncomfortable or stressful. Now a study has shed light on the brain mechanisms involved in this behavior. link to source

  • Egocentric hearing: How we can tell where a sound is coming from
    A new study has found that most neurons in the brain's auditory cortex detect where a sound is coming from relative to the head, but some are tuned to a sound source's actual position in the world. link to source

  • Early stress confers lifelong vulnerability causing alterations in a specific brain region
    A new study establishes mechanism by which an early window of exposure defines the response to stress in adulthood. link to source

  • Modeling the brain with 'Lego bricks'
    Researchers have developed a computational method that could be used to guide surgeons during brain surgery. link to source

  • More brain activity is not always better when it comes to memory, attention
    Potential new ways of understanding the cause of cognitive impairments, such as problems with memory and attention, in brain disorders including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s are under the spotlight in a new research review. link to source

  • Pre-clinical study suggests Parkinson's could start in gut endocrine cells
    A potential new mechanism has been identified in both mice and human endocrine cells that populate the small intestines. Inside these cells is a protein called alpha-synuclein, which is known to go awry and lead to damaging clumps in the brains of Parkinson's patients, as well as those with Alzheimer's disease. link to source

  • All in the eyes: What the pupils tells us about language
    The meaning of a word is enough to trigger a reaction in our pupil: when we read or hear a word with a meaning associated with luminosity ("sun," "shine," etc.), our pupils contract as they would if they were actually exposed to greater luminosity. And the opposite occurs with a word associated with darkness ("night," "gloom," etc.). These results open up a new avenue for better understanding how our brain processes language. link to source

  • More amyloid in the brain, more cognitive decline
    The amount of amyloid plaques in a person's brain predicts the rate at which his or her cognition will decline in the next four years, outlines new research. link to source

  • Drinking during adolescence can alter brain cell nerve growth
    The developmental period from adolescence to adulthood is accompanied by a greater vulnerability to addictions than is seen in other periods of life. A new report describes a study in mice of the neurobehavioral impact of chronic, intermittent alcohol-vapor exposure during adolescence, in an effort to model periodic heavy drinking and compare it with similar drinking behavior during adulthood. link to source

  • How brain circuits govern hunger and cravings
    By developing a new approach to imaging and manipulating particular groups of neurons in the mouse brain, scientists have identified a pathway by which neurons that drive hunger influence distant neurons involved in the decision of whether or not to react to food-related cues. Their findings could open the door to targeted therapies that dampen food cue-evoked cravings in people with obesity. link to source

  • Surprising new link between inflammation and mental illness
    Up to 75 percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus -- an incurable autoimmune disease commonly known as lupus -- experience neuropsychiatric symptoms. But so far, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying lupus' effects on the brain has remained murky. link to source

  • Dressmakers found to have needle-sharp 3-D vision
    Haute couture can be credited for enhancing more than catwalks and red carpets. New research suggests that the 3D or 'stereoscopic' vision of dressmakers is as sharp as their needles. link to source

  • Predicting treatment effectiveness for adults with autism
    Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers have identified certain brain regions that significantly correlate with an increase in social abilities following a virtual environment based training program. Adults on the autism spectrum who showed greater activity in the social brain network prior to the training improved more in emotion recognition than those who showed less activity. link to source

  • Concussion effects detailed on microscopic level
    New research has uncovered details about subcellular-level changes in the brain after concussion that could one day lead to improved treatment. link to source

  • People who are 'phone snubbed' by others often turn to their own phones, social media for acceptance, study finds
    People who are phone snubbed – or “phubbed” – by others are, themselves, often turning to their smartphones and social media to find acceptance, according to new research. link to source

  • Cognitive-related neural pattern to activate machines
    A study has identified a functional brain pattern linked to cognitive behavior able to activate an iPad's touchscreen. Results may be useful in brain-machine interfaces, of particular interest for people with physical difficulties to communicate with the outside world. link to source

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