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.
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Batalha, V., Ferreira, D., Coelho, J., Valadas, J., Gomes, R., Temido-Ferreira, M., Shmidt, T., Baqi, Y., Buée, L., Müller, C.... (2016) The caffeine-binding adenosine A2A receptor induces age-like HPA-axis dysfunction by targeting glucocorticoid receptor function. Scientific Reports, 31493. DOI: 10.1038/srep31493
Dyslexia or developmental reading disorder is a common learning disorder affecting about 5% of the school age population.Treatment of dyslexia is difficult and typically is focused on special education classes and reading exercises.Medication treatment for dyslexia is nearly unheard of as no FDA-approved drug is available for the condition.However, a recent randomized clinical drug trial found evidence to support the potential use of atomoxetine for dyslexia.Atomoxetine is a drug approved for at........ Read more »
Shaywitz S, Shaywitz B, Wietecha L, Wigal S, McBurnett K, Williams D, Kronenberger WG, & Hooper SR. (2016) Effect of Atomoxetine Treatment on Reading and Phonological Skills in Children with Dyslexia or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Comorbid Dyslexia in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology. PMID: 27410907
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.
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Alfini, A., Weiss, L., Leitner, B., Smith, T., Hagberg, J., & Smith, J. (2016) Hippocampal and Cerebral Blood Flow after Exercise Cessation in Master Athletes. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00184
The evidence for a beneficial effect of a Mediterranean style diet (MedDiet) on brain health grows on a regular basis.For those interested in a good summary of the effects of the MedDiet on cognition, I recommend reading the free full text review recently published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.In this review, Roy Hardman and colleagues searched for research studies on cognition and the Mediterranean diet published between 2000 and 2015.A figure in the review proposed several mechanisms where com........ Read more »
Hardman RJ, Kennedy G, Macpherson H, Scholey AB, & Pipingas A. (2016) Adherence to a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Effects on Cognition in Adults: A Qualitative Evaluation and Systematic Review of Longitudinal and Prospective Trials. Frontiers in nutrition, 22. PMID: 27500135
Activity of the medial prefrontal cortex after psycho-spiritual healing (Baldwin et al., 2016).Everything we do and feel and experience changes the brain. Psychotherapy, juggling, taxi driving, poverty, reading, drugs, art, music, anger, love. If it didn't we'd be dead. Why should prayer be any different? The trick is to accurately determine the structural or physiological changes that are unique to a specific activity. And when assessing the effectiveness of clinical interventions, how the chan........ Read more »
Baldwin, P., Velasquez, K., Koenig, H., Salas, R., & Boelens, P. (2016) Neural correlates of healing prayers, depression and traumatic memories: A preliminary study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 123-129. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.07.002
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.... Read more »
Edmiston, P., & Lupyan, G. (2015) Visual interference disrupts visual and only visual knowledge. Journal of Vision, 15(12), 10. DOI: 10.1167/15.12.10
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.
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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.
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DeFelipe, J., Douglas, R., Hill, S., Lein, E., Martin, K., Rockland, K., Segev, I., Shepherd, G., & Tamás, G. (2016) Comments and General Discussion on “The Anatomical Problem Posed by Brain Complexity and Size: A Potential Solution”. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. DOI: 10.3389/fnana.2016.00060
An unusual study reports the effects of emoticons on human brain activity: Neural correlates of text-based emoticons
South Korean neuroscientists Ko Woon Kim et al. used fMRI to record brain activation in 18 volunteers who were shown various expressive text symbols, in both the Asian 'vertical' and Western 'horizontal' styles:
However, it turned out that the brain doesn't really respond to emoticons at all: there was no significant difference in the brain response to the real emoticons... Read more »
Kim KW, Lee SW, Choi J, Kim TM, & Jeong B. (2016) Neural correlates of text-based emoticons: a preliminary fMRI study. Brain and behavior, 6(8). PMID: 27547502
A new paper in Brain tells the story of attempts to turn brain waves into music. The authors are Bart Lutters and Peter J. Koehler: Brainwaves in concert: the 20th century sonification of the electroencephalogram
Electroencephalography (EEG), a technique for measuring brain electrical activity, was invented by German psychiatrist Hans Berger in 1929. Berger's EEG displayed the recorded activity in the form of graphs, using a mobile pen and a rotating drum of graph paper, but within 5 years,... Read more »
Lutters B, & Koehler PJ. (2016) Brainwaves in concert: the 20th century sonification of the electroencephalogram. Brain. PMID: 27543971
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.
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McGarrity, S., Mason, R., Fone, K., Pezze, M., & Bast, T. (2016) Hippocampal Neural Disinhibition Causes Attentional and Memory Deficits. Cerebral Cortex. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhw247
Entorhinal Cortex Highlighted in BluePrevious posts in this blog have highlighted some the research related to links between brain health and elements of the Mediterranean diet.I want to inform readers of a new important research study from the Mayo Clinic.In this study, researchers completed brain cortical thickness analyses on 672 cognitively normal adults. It is generally accepted that greater cortical thickness relates to improved cognitive performance.The participants completed an extensive........ Read more »
Staubo SC, Aakre JA, Vemuri P, Syrjanen JA, Mielke MM, Geda YE, Kremers WK, Machulda MM, Knopman DS, Petersen RC.... (2016) Mediterranean diet, micronutrients and macronutrients, and MRI measures of cortical thickness. Alzheimer's . PMID: 27461490
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.
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Mayurasakorn, K., Niatsetskaya, Z., Sosunov, S., Williams, J., Zirpoli, H., Vlasakov, I., Deckelbaum, R., & Ten, V. (2016) DHA but Not EPA Emulsions Preserve Neurological and Mitochondrial Function after Brain Hypoxia-Ischemia in Neonatal Mice. PLOS ONE, 11(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160870
Last month we learned that a problem in commonly used fMRI analysis tools was giving rise to elevated rates of false positives. Now, another issue has been discovered in an fMRI tool. The affected software is called GingerALE and the 'implementation errors' are revealed in a new paper by Simon B. Eickhoff et al., the developers of the package.
GingerALE is a meta-analysis tool, that offers the ability to combine the results of multiple fMRI studies to assess the overall level of evide... Read more »
Eickhoff SB, Laird AR, Fox PM, Lancaster JL, & Fox PT. (2016) Implementation errors in the GingerALE Software: Description and recommendations. Human brain mapping. PMID: 27511454
In 1935, an ambitious neurology professor named Egas Moniz sat in the audience at a symposium on the frontal lobes, enthralled by neuroscientist Carlyle F. Jacobsen's description of some experiments Jacobsen had conducted with fellow investigator John Fulton. Jacobsen and Fulton had damaged the frontal lobes of a chimpanzee named "Becky," and afterwards they had observed a considerable behavioral transformation. Becky had previously been stubborn, erratic, and difficult to train, but post-operat........ Read more »
Lopez-Munoz, F., & Alamo, C. (2009) Monoaminergic Neurotransmission: The History of the Discovery of Antidepressants from 1950s Until Today. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 15(14), 1563-1586. DOI: 10.2174/138161209788168001
Do you ever feel like your brain is stuck in a rut? A new study from neuroscientists James M. Shine and colleagues reveals the existence of 'temporal metastates' in human brain activity. These metastates are modes or patterns of activity that can persist over days, weeks or even months at a time, and they seem to be related to fluctuations in energy levels and attention.
The authors made use of a unique fMRI dataset, namely the results of repeated scanning of neuroscientist Russ Poldrack's br... Read more »
Shine JM, Koyejo O, & Poldrack RA. (2016) Temporal metastates are associated with differential patterns of time-resolved connectivity, network topology, and attention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 27528672
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.
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Chiara Rolando,, Andrea Erni,, Alice Grison,, Robert Beattie,, Anna Engler,, Paul J. Gokhale,, Marta Milo,, Thomas Wegleiter,, Sebastian Jessberger, & Verdon Taylor. (2016) Multipotency of Adult Hippocampal NSCs In Vivo Is Restricted by Drosha/NFIB. Cell Stem Cell . info:/10.1016/j.stem.2016.07.003
Ruins of a memory palace Once upon a time, there were no computers. And yet, even in the ancient days when writing was not widespread, people told gigantic tales or recited poems of epic proportions. Often more than once. Admittedly, they probably changed a bit along the way, but still the plot remained intact. How […]... Read more »
Carvalho JT, & Nolfi S. (2016) Cognitive Offloading Does Not Prevent but Rather Promotes Cognitive Development. PloS one, 11(8). PMID: 27505162
Storm, B., Stone, S., & Benjamin, A. (2016) Using the Internet to access information inflates future use of the Internet to access other information. Memory, 1-7. DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2016.1210171
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.
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Cook, P., Prichard, A., Spivak, M., & Berns, G. (2016) Awake Canine fMRI Predicts Dogs’ Preference for Praise Versus Food. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsw102
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.
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García-Cáceres, C., Quarta, C., Varela, L., Gao, Y., Gruber, T., Legutko, B., Jastroch, M., Johansson, P., Ninkovic, J., Yi, C.... (2016) Astrocytic Insulin Signaling Couples Brain Glucose Uptake with Nutrient Availability. Cell, 166(4), 867-880. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.07.028
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