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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
A team of scientists are redefining what it means to be a prion–a type of protein that can pass heritable traits from cell to cell by its structure instead of by DNA. Although prions are infamous for causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, fatal familial insomnia, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow’s disease, the present study indicates that prions identified in yeast, and possibly in plants, and other organisms may be beneficial.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interfering with your vision makes it harder to describe what you know about the appearance of even common objects, according to researchers. This connection between visual knowledge and visual perception challenges widely held theories that visual information about the world — that alligators are green and have long tails, for example — is stored abstractly, as a list of facts, divorced from the visual experience of seeing an alligator.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new study suggests that given the choice, many dogs prefer praise from their owners over food. The study is one of the first to combine brain-imaging data with behavioral experiments to explore canine reward preferences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Medication roulette, if you have ever had to deal with depression or other types of mental illness you know what I’m talking about. You take a pill that could help or could cause all sorts of horrid side effects. You cross your fingers as you take that first pill and in the 4-6 weeks it takes to start working you cross your fingers, hope, wish and probably even dread the outcome. But why does it take so long for antidepressants to start working in the first place and what could be done to change that?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.