Insomnia of sufficient severity to meet clinical significance is estimated to affect up to 20% of the general population.This makes insomnia an important public health challenge.Effective, inexpensive and accessible programs to treat insomnia are needed.One recent controlled clinical trial supports the promise of an online intervention that incorporates key elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).Lee Ritterband and colleagues at the University of Virginia recently published a controlled c........ Read more »
Ritterband LM, Thorndike FP, Ingersoll KS, Lord HR, Gonder-Frederick L, Frederick C, Quigg MS, Cohn WF, & Morin CM. (2016) Effect of a Web-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia Intervention With 1-Year Follow-up: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA psychiatry. PMID: 27902836
Most neuroscientists will tell you that long-term memories are stored in the brain in the form of synapses, the connections between neurons. On this view, memory formation occurs when synaptic connections are strengthened, or entirely new synapses are formed.
However, in a new piece in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Austrian researcher Patrick C. Trettenbrein critiques the synapse-memory theory: The Demise of the Synapse As the Locus of Memory.
Trettenbrein acknowledges that "t... Read more »
Trettenbrein, P. (2016) The Demise of the Synapse As the Locus of Memory: A Looming Paradigm Shift?. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2016.00088
Fig. 4 (Wexler, 2016). Lindstrom's Electro-Medical Apparatus (ca. 1895), courtesy of the Bakken.
Think the do-it-yourself transcranial direct current stimulation movement (DIY tDCS) is a technologically savvy and hip creation of 21st century neural engineering? MIT graduate student Anna Wexler has an excellent and fun review of late 19th and early 20th century electrical stimulation
... Read more »
William James authored a seminal book titled The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature that was published in 1902.In this work, James reviewed the nature of religious experiences and noted a lack of scientific inquiry into this human phenomenon.James would have been extremely interested in a recent scientific inquiry into the religious experience from brain researchers at the University of Utah and Harvard University.In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI........ Read more »
Ferguson MA, Nielsen JA, King JB, Dai L, Giangrasso DM, Holman R, Korenberg JR, & Anderson JS. (2016) Reward, Salience, and Attentional Networks are Activated by Religious Experience in Devout Mormons. Social neuroscience. PMID: 27834117
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a founding father of phrenology
Phrenology was the pseudoscience of identifying a person's character and mental abilities on the basis of skull morphology (“bumps on the head”). The enterprise was based on four assumptions (Gross, 2009):
intellectual abilities and personality traits are differentially developed in each individual
these abilities and traits
... Read more »
Eling, P., Finger, S., & Whitaker, H. (2016) On the Origins of Organology: Franz Joseph Gall and a Girl Named Bianchi. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.11.010
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegerative disorder estimated to affect 7 to 10 million individual worldwide.The primary mechanism for Parkinson's disease is a reduction in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the midbrain region of the substantia nigra highlighted in red in the figure.PD impairs motor and cognitive functions and leads to significant decline in psychosocial functioning.Drugs for PD can be effective in reversing and slowing the progression of the illness. However, resp........ Read more »
Lauzé M, Daneault JF, & Duval C. (2016) The Effects of Physical Activity in Parkinson's Disease: A Review. Journal of Parkinson's disease, 6(4), 685-698. PMID: 27567884
Rates of myocardial infarction and stroke have been declining over the last decade in the U.S. and Europe. However, a recent manuscript suggests there are still significant missed opportunities to prevent stroke.This manuscript presents results of review of electronic primary care records in the United Kingdom.The authors examines a group of over 29,000 subjects with a diagnosis of stroke or transient ischemic attack over a 10 year period.Records were reviewed to assess for compliance with guide........ Read more »
Turner GM, Calvert M, Feltham MG, Ryan R, Fitzmaurice D, Cheng KK, & Marshall T. (2016) Under-prescribing of Prevention Drugs and Primary Prevention of Stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack in UK General Practice: A Retrospective Analysis. PLoS medicine, 13(11). PMID: 27846215
I ran into an interesting article at ScienceDaily providing data on a small sample size study of the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex) in depression.Access the ScienceDaily report on this study by clicking HERE.This study focused on subjects with bipolar depression. All subjects were in a depressed phase and received the antidepressant drug escitalopram (Lexapro).Although only 55 subjects participated in this study, the results were significant and large. Adding Celebrex to escitalopra........ Read more »
Savitz, J., Preskorn, S., Teague, T., Drevets, D., Yates, W., & Drevets, W. (2012) Minocycline and aspirin in the treatment of bipolar depression: a protocol for a proof-of-concept, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2×2 clinical trial. BMJ Open, 2(1). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000643
Do you find gruyère gross? Are you repelled by roquefort?
Neuroscientists are now investigating why this might be. A new paper claims to reveal The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese.
French (heh) researchers Jean-Pierre Royet and colleagues used fMRI to scan 15 people who liked cheese and 15 who "hated" it. During the scan, the participants were shown images of cheese and were exposed to cheese odors.
The six neuro-cheeses were blue cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, gruyère, parmesan, ... Read more »
Royet JP, Meunier D, Torquet N, Mouly AM, & Jiang T. (2016) The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 511. PMID: 27799903
A new paper could prompt a rethink of a basic tenet of neuroscience. It is widely believed that the motor cortex, a region of the cerebral cortex, is responsible for producing movements, by sending instructions to other brain regions and ultimately to the spinal cord. But according to neuroscientists Christian Laut Ebbesen and colleagues, the truth may be the opposite: the motor cortex may equally well suppress movements.
Ebbesen et al. studied the vibrissa motor cortex (VMC) of the rat, ... Read more »
Ebbesen CL, Doron G, Lenschow C, & Brecht M. (2016) Vibrissa motor cortex activity suppresses contralateral whisking behavior. Nature Neuroscience. PMID: 27798633
Aerobic exercise increases brain blood flow and has demonstrated beneficial effects on cognition.The effects of weight training exercise on the brain is less frequently studied. Hence, we know little about the effect and mechanism of weight training on brain function and performance.A recent study provides some needed insight on this topic.A study by C Suo and colleagues from Australia examined the effects of resistance training and cognitive skills training on brain structure and function.The k........ Read more »
Suo C, Singh MF, Gates N, Wen W, Sachdev P, Brodaty H, Saigal N, Wilson GC, Meiklejohn J, Singh N.... (2016) Therapeutically relevant structural and functional mechanisms triggered by physical and cognitive exercise. Molecular psychiatry, 21(11), 1645. PMID: 27090304
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.
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Lafferty KD. (2006) Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 273(1602), 2749-55. PMID: 17015323
Vyas A, Kim SK, Giacomini N, Boothroyd JC, & Sapolsky RM. (2007) Behavioral changes induced by Toxoplasma infection of rodents are highly specific to aversion of cat odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(15), 6442-7. PMID: 17404235
Passamonti L, Crockett MJ, Apergis-Schoute AM, Clark L, Rowe JB, Calder AJ, & Robbins TW. (2012) Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on prefrontal-amygdala connectivity while viewing facial signals of aggression. Biological psychiatry, 71(1), 36-43. PMID: 21920502
Thomas, F., Schmidt-Rhaesa, A., Martin, G., Manu, C., Durand, P., & Renaud, F. (2002) Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15(3), 356-361. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x
W. Wesołowska T. Wesołowski. (2014) Do Leucochloridium sporocysts manipulate the behaviour of their snail hosts?. Journal of Zoology , 292(3), 151-155. info:/10.1111/jzo.12094
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.
... Read more »
Kärgel, C., Massau, C., Weiß, S., Walter, M., Borchardt, V., Krueger, T., Tenbergen, G., Kneer, J., Wittfoth, M., Pohl, A.... (2016) Evidence for superior neurobiological and behavioral inhibitory control abilities in non-offending as compared to offending pedophiles. Human Brain Mapping. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.23443
There is significant interest in activities that may boost academic achievement in the classroom.I previously posted on evidence that exercise prior to a learning task improved reading comprehension scores.You can access that post by clicking HERE.Now a study has compared two types of activities after a memorization task in male students.In this study, 60 male students completed a learning task and then were randomized into one of three activities for one hour. The three activities were playing ........ Read more »
Kindermann, H., Javor, A., & Reuter, M. (2016) Playing counter-strike versus running: The impact of leisure time activities and cortisol on intermediate-term memory in male students. Cognitive Systems Research, 1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.cogsys.2016.01.002
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.
... Read more »
Bourassa, K., & Sbarra, D. (2016) Body mass and cognitive decline are indirectly associated via inflammation among aging adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.09.023
fMRI researchers should care about (and report) the size of the effects that they study, according to a new Neuroimage paper from NIMH researchers Gang Chen and colleagues. It's called Is the statistic value all we should care about in neuroimaging?. The authors include Robert W. Cox, creator of the popular fMRI analysis software AFNI.
Chen et al. explain the purpose of their paper:
Here we address an important issue that has been embedded within the neuroimaging community for a long tim... Read more »
Chen G, Taylor PA, & Cox RW. (2016) Is the Statistic Value All We Should Care about in Neuroimaging?. NeuroImage. PMID: 27729277
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.
... Read more »
Osanai, Y., Shimizu, T., Mori, T., Yoshimura, Y., Hatanaka, N., Nambu, A., Kimori, Y., Koyama, S., Kobayashi, K., & Ikenaka, K. (2016) Rabies virus-mediated oligodendrocyte labeling reveals a single oligodendrocyte myelinates axons from distinct brain regions. Glia. DOI: 10.1002/glia.23076
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.
... Read more »
Barth, C., Steele, C., Mueller, K., Rekkas, V., Arélin, K., Pampel, A., Burmann, I., Kratzsch, J., Villringer, A., & Sacher, J. (2016) In-vivo Dynamics of the Human Hippocampus across the Menstrual Cycle. Scientific Reports, 32833. DOI: 10.1038/srep32833
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.
... Read more »
Zhao, X., Kotilinek, L., Smith, B., Hlynialuk, C., Zahs, K., Ramsden, M., Cleary, J., & Ashe, K. (2016) Caspase-2 cleavage of tau reversibly impairs memory. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.4199
Where is the suprachiasmatic nucleus?
the suprachiasmatic nucleus is represented by a small green area within the hypothalamus (indicated by red arrow).
The suprachiasmatic nuclei are two small, paired nuclei that are found in the hypothalamus. Each suprachiasmatic nucleus only contains approximately 10,000 neurons. The nuclei rest on each side of the third ventricle, just above the optic chiasm. The location provides the rationale for........ Read more »
Colwell, C. (2011) Linking neural activity and molecular oscillations in the SCN. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 12(10), 553-569. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3086
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