Sometimes it rains
Brains are wild. I mean we have this misshapen jello blob stuck in our head and it somehow gives us the ability to be aware. We exist and think, feel, reason, all the stuff that makes us who we are. Brains are great, except when they aren’t. Depression is a horrible thing, which lives in the brain. You can’t “just be happy” anymore than someone could just be rich. Obviously when you live with chronic depression you got a dud of a brain. It may have to do with genetics, environmental factors, the way we were raised, or maybe it’s just horrible luck, but out of all the organs we can fix or replace, the brain is not one of them. You’re stuck as you and sometimes that sucks.(more…)
A busy day!
Well it’s been… a day, which for me started at 5am. It’s not over either! Our experiments ran long so I haven’t had a chance to get a break in between the different experiments and now I have class, so basically this is the post. It’s a busy day and I still have so much work to do! Good luck to everyone out there who is also swamped. Hopefully the weekend will give us a break!
The science behind real life zombies
In the spirit of Halloween we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, (and girls) are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic zombie, but did you know that we aren’t the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn’t a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let’s dive in.
Study uncovers brain changes in offending pedophiles
New research reveals that certain alterations in the brain may be present in pedophiles, with differences between hands-on offenders and those who have not sexually offended against children.
Your BMI might affect your brain function
There are plenty of reasons it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, and now you can add one more to the list: It may be good for your brain. Researchers have found that having a higher body mass index, or BMI, can negatively impact cognitive functioning in older adults.
Oligodendrocyte selectively myelinates a particular set of axons in the white matter
There are three kinds of glial cells in the brain, oligodendrocyte, astrocyte and microglia. Oligodendrocytes myelinate neuronal axons to increase conduction velocity of neuronal impulses. A Japanese research team found a characteristic feature of oligodendrocytes that selectively myelinate a particular set of neuronal axons.
Female brains change in sync with hormones
Although it has already been known for some time that the brain does not remain rigid in its structure even in adulthood, scientists have recently made a surprising discovery. The brain is not only able to adapt to changing conditions in long-term processes, but it can do this every month.
Untangling a cause of memory loss in neurodegenerative diseases
Tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease that are characterized by the deposition of aggregates of the tau protein inside brain cells. A new study reveals that the cutting of tau by an enzyme called caspase-2 may play a critical role in the disordered brain circuit function that occurs in these diseases.
New sensor material could enable more sensitive readings of biological signals
High-tech prosthetics, computers that are controlled by thought, the ability to walk or even move again, these are just a few of the promises of technology. Unfortunately, while the tech is — mostly — up to the challenge, getting the biology side of things to cooperate has been difficult at best, but that could change. Now, scientists have created a material that could make reading biological signals, from heartbeats to brainwaves, much more sensitive.
First demonstration of brain-inspired device to power artificial systems
New research has demonstrated that a nanoscale device, called a memristor, could be used to power artificial systems that can mimic the human brain. Artificial neural networks (ANNs) exhibit learning abilities and can perform tasks which are difficult for conventional computing systems, such as pattern recognition, on-line learning and classification.
Mental illness genetically linked to drug use and misuse
There are many reports of drug use leading to mental health problems, and we all know of someone having a few too many drinks to cope with a bad day. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder indulge in drugs, and vice versa. As severity of both increase, problems arise and they become more difficult to treat. But why substance involvement and psychiatric disorders often co-occur is not well understood.
Scientists find new path in brain to ease depression
Scientists have discovered a new pathway in the brain that can be manipulated to alleviate depression. The pathway offers a promising new target for developing a drug that could be effective in individuals for whom other antidepressants have failed. New antidepressant options are important because a significant number of patients don’t adequately improve with currently available antidepressant drugs.
For women, caffeine could be ally in warding off dementia
Among a group of older women, self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of incident dementia over 10 years of follow-up. This level is equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.
Sugar gives bees a happy buzz
An unexpected sugary snack can give bees a little buzz and appears to lift their mood, even making them optimistic, according to research that suggests pollinators have feelings, too. Since emotions are subjective and difficult to measure—particularly in animals—researchers looked at how bees’ behavior changed after they were given a sip of sucrose solution.
Research team may have observed building blocks of memories in the brain
A team of researchers has observed what they believe are the building blocks of memories in a mouse brain. In their paper, the researchers describe how they caused certain neurons to become illuminated when they fired, allowing them to watch in real time as memories were made and then later as they were replayed while the mouse was sitting idle.
Linking perception to action
Researchers studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action offer a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.
MRI scanner sees emotions flickering across an idle mind
As you relax and let your mind drift aimlessly, you might remember a pleasant vacation, an angry confrontation in traffic or maybe the loss of a loved one. And now a team of researchers say they can see those various emotional states flickering across the human brain.
Learning to turn down your amygdala can modify your emotions
Training the brain to treat itself is a promising therapy for traumatic stress. The training uses an auditory or visual signal that corresponds to the activity of a particular brain region, called neurofeedback, which can guide people to regulate their own brain activity. However, treating stress-related disorders requires accessing the brain’s emotional hub, the amygdala, which is located deep in the brain and difficult to reach with typical neurofeedback methods.
A microRNA plays role in major depression
A tiny RNA appears to play a role in producing major depression, the mental disorder that affects as many as 250 million people a year worldwide. Major depression, formally known as major depressive disorder, or MDD, brings increased risk of suicide and is reported to cause the second-most years of disability after low-back pain.
Study could herald new treatment for muscular dystrophy
New research has shown that the corticosteroid deflazacort is a safe and effective treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The findings could pave the way for first U.S.-approved treatment for the disease.
How new experiences boost memory formation
Most people remember where they were when the twin towers collapsed in New York … new research reveals why that may be the case. The study has shed new light on the biological mechanisms that drive the process, known as flashbulb memory.
Babies chew on subtle social, cultural cues at mealtime
At the dinner table, babies do a lot more than play with their sippy cups, new research suggests. Babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them – and especially who is eating it. The study adds evidence to a growing body of research suggesting even very young children think in sophisticated ways about subtle social cues.
Caffeine reverts memory deficits by normalizing stress responses in the brain
A new study describes the mechanism by which caffeine counteracts age-related cognitive deficits in animals. The international teams showed that the abnormal expression of a particular receptor – the adenosine A2A, target for caffeine – in the brain of rats induces an aging-like profile namely memory impairments linked to the loss of stress controlling mechanisms.
Use it or lose it: Stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow
We all know that we can quickly lose cardiovascular endurance if we stop exercising for a few weeks, but what impact does the cessation of exercise have on our brains? New research examined cerebral blood flow in healthy, physically fit older adults (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise.
Researchers report new Zika complication
If zika didn’t seem scary enough in the media, there is new data showing that there could be a new neurological complication of infection with the Zika virus.
Next steps in understanding brain function
The most complex piece of matter in the known universe is the brain. Neuroscientists have recently taken on the challenge to understand brain function from its intricate anatomy and structure. There is no sure way to go about it, and researchers in Madrid proposed a solution to the problem.
Too much activity in certain areas of the brain is bad for memory and attention
Neurons in the brain interact by sending each other chemical messages, so-called neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is important to restrain neural activity, preventing neurons from getting too trigger-happy and from firing too much or responding to irrelevant stimuli.
Stroke-like brain damage is reduced in mice injected with omega-3s
A stroke can happen at any age, and as with anything that involves the brain, a few seconds can be life altering. Usually the rule is time lost is brain lost, but there might be some good news regarding that, researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced brain damage in a neonatal mouse model of stroke.
Neural stem cells control their own fate
To date, it has been assumed that the differentiation of stem cells depends on the environment they are embedded in. A research group now describes for the first time a mechanism by which hippocampal neural stem cells regulate their own cell fate via the protein Drosha.
Sugar addiction: Discovery of a brain sugar switch
Researchers have discovered that our brain actively takes sugar from the blood. Prior to this, researchers around the world had assumed that this was a purely passive process. An international team reports that transportation of sugar into the brain is regulated by so-called glial cells that react to hormones such as insulin or leptin; previously it was thought that this was only possible for neurons.
Want a better memory? Try eating a Mediterranean diet
It’s not a fad diet, it is an actual diet — as in the way a person eats normally — and it may do more than just help your waistline. The Mediterranean diet can improve your mind, as well your heart.
Microcephaly discoveries in non-Zika cases explain abnormal brain growth
Long before Zika virus made it a household word, the birth defect called microcephaly puzzled scientists and doctors — even as it changed the lives of the babies born with it during the pre-Zika era. But new discoveries reported by an international team of scientists may help explain what happens in the developing brains of babies still in the womb, causing them to be born with small brains and heads.
From Sci Fi to reality: Unlocking the secret to growing new limbs
Many lower organisms retain the miraculous ability to regenerate form and function of almost any tissue after injury. Humans share many of our genes with these organisms, but our capacity for regeneration is limited. So scientists are studying the genetics of these organisms to find out how regenerative mechanisms might be activated in humans.
New neurons created through exercise don’t cause you to forget old memories
Fellow exercise enthusiasts, you can breath a sigh of relief and so can your brain. Research has found that exercise causes more new neurons to be formed in a critical brain region, and contrary to an earlier study, these new neurons do not cause the individual to forget old memories, according to new research.
Fish oil vs. lard — why some fat can help or hinder your diet
A diet high in saturated fat can make your brain struggle to control what you eat. If people are looking to lose weight, stay clear of saturated fat. Consuming these types of fatty food affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger.
Breastfeeding associated with better brain development and neurocognitive outcomes
A new study, which followed 180 preterm infants from birth to age seven, found that babies who were fed more breast milk within the first 28 days of life had had larger volumes of certain regions of the brain at term equivalent and had better IQs, academic achievement, working memory, and motor function.
Common brain changes found in children with autism, ADHD and OCD
A team of Toronto scientists has found similarities in brain impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The study involved brain imaging of white matter in 200 children with autism, ADHD, OCD or no diagnosis.
The mysterious fart
Everyone does it …no, not poop, but fart. Passing gas, fuming, crop dusting, cracking a rat — no matter what you call it — everyone fart, but why? Researchers have published an article devoted to the review of gaseous neurotransmitters of microbial origin and their role in the human body.
Researchers temporarily turn off brain area to better understand function
Capitalizing on experimental genetic techniques, researchers have demonstrated that temporarily turning off an area of the brain changes patterns of activity across much of the remaining brain. The research suggests that alterations in the functional connectivity of the brain in humans may be used to determine the sites of pathology in complex disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
Brain activity and response to food cues differ in severely obese women
The brain’s reward centers in severely obese women continue to respond to food cues even after they’ve eaten and are no longer hungry, in contrast to their lean counterparts. The study compared attitudes and the brain activity of 15 severely obese women (those with a body mass index greater than 35) and 15 lean women (those with a BMI under 25).
How our brain puts the world in order
The world around is complex and changing constantly. To put it in order, we devise categories into which we sort new concepts. To do this we apply different strategies. A team of researchers wanted to find out which areas of the brain regulate these strategies. The results of their study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) show that there are indeed particular brain areas, which become active when a certain strategy of categorisation is applied.
Protein found to bolster growth of damaged muscle tissue
Biologists have found that a protein that plays a key role in the lives of stem cells can bolster the growth of damaged muscle tissue, a step that could potentially contribute to treatments for muscle degeneration caused by old age and diseases such as muscular dystrophy. The results show that a particular type of protein called integrin is present on the stem cell surface and used by stem cells to interact with, or “sense” their surroundings.
Secrets of the human brain unlocked… sort of
Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. Researchers have been recently undertaken to quantify the brain’s dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times – namely, to discover how intellect works.
Specialized neurons in emotional memory play important role in fear
Fear memory encoding, the process responsible for persistent reactions to trauma-associated cues, is influenced by a sparse but potent population of inhibitory cells called parvalbumin-interneurons (PV-INs) in the amygdala, according to a new study.
Reopening avenues for attacking ALS
Researchers have found evidence that bone marrow transplantation may one day be beneficial to a subset of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Repeated stimulation treatment can restore movement to paralyzed muscles
Conducted at the BioMag laboratory at the Helsinki University Hospital, a new patient study could open a new opportunity to rehabilitate patients with spinal cord damage. In a new study which two patients with spinal cord injuries received a form of treatment that combined transcranial magnetic stimulation with simultaneous peripheral nerve stimulation given repeatedly for nearly six months.
“Shocking” new role of the immune system: Controlling social interaction
In a startling discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers have determined that the immune system directly affects – and even controls – creatures’ social behavior, such as their desire to interact with others. So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions?
It’s in the eyes: Alzheimer’s detected before symptoms
Scientists may have overcome a major roadblock in the development of Alzheimer’s therapies by creating a new technology to observe — in the back of the eye — progression of the disease before the onset of symptoms. Clinical trials are to start in July to test the technology in humans.
New supplement may switch off cravings for high-calorie foods
Eating a type of powdered food supplement, based on a molecule produced by bacteria in the gut, reduces cravings for high-calorie foods such as chocolate, cake and pizza, a new study suggests. Scientists asked 20 volunteers to consume a milkshake that either contained an ingredient called inulin-propionate ester, or a type of fibre called inulin.
Erasing unpleasant memories with a genetic switch
Researchers have managed to erase unpleasant memories in mice using a ‘genetic switch’. Dementia, accidents, or traumatic events can make us lose the memories formed before the injury or the onset of the disease. Researchers have now shown that some memories can also be erased when one particular gene is switched off.