Vaccines don't cause autism, but because the brain is so complex, we still don't know how much of it works so figuring out the real causes (as in more than one) of autism has been slow going. Well, researchers have identified a brain receptor that appears to initiate adolescent synaptic pruning, a process believed necessary for learning, but in this case it is one that appears to go awry in both autism and schizophrenia.... Read more »
Sonia Afroz, Julie Parato, Hui Shen Sheryl, & Sue Smith. (2016) Synaptic pruning in the female hippocampus is triggered at puberty by extrasynaptic GABAA receptors on dendritic spines . eLife. info:/
Psychiatric drugs come in many kinds: there are antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and more. But what all of these categories have in common is that they're anti- something. This is how we classify these drugs - by what they treat.
Except there's a problem - very few psychiatric drugs are only used to treat one thing. Take "antipsychotics". They're used in psychosis, but they're also a key tool in the treatment of mania, a different disorder entirely. Many of these dru... Read more »
Zohar J, Stahl S, Moller HJ, Blier P, Kupfer D, Yamawaki S, Uchida H, Spedding M, Goodwin GM, & Nutt D. (2015) A review of the current nomenclature for psychotropic agents and an introduction to the Neuroscience-based Nomenclature. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(12), 2318-25. PMID: 26527055
NINETY-TWO percent of retired National Football League players have decreased cognitive function, according to a new study:“In the NFL group, baseline neuropsychological assessments showed 92% of players had decreased general cognitive proficiency, 86% had decreased information processing speed, 83% had memory loss, 83% had attentional deficits, and 85% had executive function impairment.”The Truth?The study reported on a self-selected sample of 161 current and retired NFL players recruite........ Read more »
Daniel G. Amen, Kristen Willeumier, Bennet Omalu, Andrew Newberg, Cauligi Raghavendra, & Cyrus A. Raji. (2016) Perfusion Neuroimaging Abnormalities Alone Distinguish National Football League Players from a Healthy Population. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. info:/10.3233/JAD-160207
Insomnia, fun fact those of us who have served or are serving in the military have a much higher incidence of sleep problems. So if you are like me and have ever been prescribed something to help you sleep, you know that there are some unwanted side effects. For instance the time I lost memory of a whole day of interacting with people to the ambien I had taken the night before, not fun. Thankfully Danish researchers found that the level of salts in the brain plays a critical role in whether we a........ Read more »
Ding, F., ODonnell, J., Xu, Q., Kang, N., Goldman, N., & Nedergaard, M. (2016) Changes in the composition of brain interstitial ions control the sleep-wake cycle. Science, 352(6285), 550-555. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4821
In a new Nature paper, Berkely neuroscientists Alexander G. Huth and colleagues present a 'semantic atlas' of the human brain. Huth et al. have mapped which brain areas respond to words, according to the semantics (meanings) of each word. It turns out that these maps are highly similar across individuals - which could have implications for 'mind reading' technology.
Huth et al. recorded brain activity with fMRI while seven volunteers listened to over two hours of audio narrative (taken fr... Read more »
Huth AG, de Heer WA, Griffiths TL, Theunissen FE, & Gallant JL. (2016) Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453-8. PMID: 27121839
The whole of human intelligence, right at your fingertips. Sure it might not make the layman an engineer or physicist, but if we want to learn about a particular topic the internet can give us that information. But you better hold on tight before you lose it. New research finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.
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Jiang, T., Hou, Y., & Wang, Q. (2016) Does micro-blogging make us “shallow”? Sharing information online interferes with information comprehension. Computers in Human Behavior, 210-214. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.008
Neuroscientists have a schizophrenic view of how neurons. On the one hand, we say, neurons are ultra-efficient and are as precise as possible in their encoding of the world. On the other hand, neurons are pretty noisy, with the variability in … Continue reading →... Read more »
Back in 2013, I wondered if we would ever discover the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts. Why, I asked, do certain ideas just "pop" into our minds at particular times? Now a new paper published in Neuroimage, Canadian neuroscientists Melissa Ellamil and colleagues reports on the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts.
Ellamil et al. recruited a group of 18 volunteers, all of whom were highly experienced practitioners of mindfulness meditation. These individuals were selected, the authors... Read more »
Ellamil M, Fox KC, Dixon ML, Pritchard S, Todd RM, Thompson E, & Christoff K. (2016) Dynamics of neural recruitment surrounding the spontaneous arising of thoughts in experienced mindfulness practitioners. NeuroImage. PMID: 27114056
Why does one person who tries cocaine get addicted, while another might use it and then leave it alone? Why do some people who kick a drug habit manage to stay clean, while others relapse? And why do some families seem more prone to addiction than others? According to a new study, the road to answering these questions may have a lot to do with specific genetic factors that vary from individual to individual.
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Flagel, S., Chaudhury, S., Waselus, M., Kelly, R., Sewani, S., Clinton, S., Thompson, R., Watson, S., & Akil, H. (2016) Genetic background and epigenetic modifications in the core of the nucleus accumbens predict addiction-like behavior in a rat model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201520491. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520491113
Happiness. It’s something we all strive for, but how do we measure it — as a country? A global community? Not so surprisingly, researchers are turning to social media to answer these questions and more. In a newly published study, computer scientists used two years of Twitter data to measure users’ life satisfaction, a component of happiness.
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Yang, C., & Srinivasan, P. (2016) Life Satisfaction and the Pursuit of Happiness on Twitter. PLOS ONE, 11(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150881
Does the thought of money make people more selfish? Last year, I blogged about the theory of 'money priming', the idea that mere reminders of money can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. The occasion for that post was a study showing no evidence of the claimed money priming phenomenon, published by psychologists Rohrer, Pashler, and Harris. Rohrer et al.'s paper was accompanied by a rebuttal from Kathleen Vohs, who argued that 10 years of research and 165 studies establish that mone........ Read more »
Vadillo MA, Hardwicke TE, & Shanks DR. (2016) Selection bias, vote counting, and money-priming effects: A comment on Rohrer, Pashler, and Harris (2015) and Vohs (2015). Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 145(5), 655-63. PMID: 27077759
image: Mihály Vöröslakos / University of Szeged “Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS,” I warned last time. Now the infamous cadaver study has reared its ugly hot-wired head in Science News (Underwood, 2016).The mechanism of action of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) had been called into question by Dr. György Buzsáki during his presentation at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting....Or had it?To recap, my understanding was that an unpublished study of transcranial e........ Read more »
Ozen, S., Sirota, A., Belluscio, M., Anastassiou, C., Stark, E., Koch, C., & Buzsaki, G. (2010) Transcranial Electric Stimulation Entrains Cortical Neuronal Populations in Rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(34), 11476-11485. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5252-09.2010
Underwood, E. (2016) Cadaver study challenges brain stimulation methods. Science, 352(6284), 397-397. DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.397
In a new paper called Molecular fMRI, MIT researchers Benjamin B. Bartelle, Ali Barandov, and Alan Jasanoff discuss technological advances that could provide neuroscientists with new tools for mapping the brain.
Currently, one of the leading methods of measuring brain activity is functional MRI (fMRI). However, as Bartelle et al. note, it has its limitations:
Because brain activity mapping with fMRI depends on neurovascular coupling, resolution at the level of single cells is out of reach.... Read more »
No one knows Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) quite like veterans. Unfortunately, it is a major cause of mortality and morbidity, often causing lifelong disability for those who survive. There is simply no treatment, jut care, but a new study might change that. Stem cell therapy has recently been receiving attention as a way to promote […]... Read more »
Junling Gao, Raymond J. Grill, Tiffany J. Dunn, Supinder Bedi, Javier Allende Labastida, Robert A. Hetz, Hasen Xue, Jason R. Thonhoff, Douglas S. DeWitt, Donald S. Prough.... (2016) Human Neural Stem Cell Transplantation-Mediated Alteration of Microglial/Macrophage Phenotypes after Traumatic Brain Injury. Cell Transplantation. DOI: 10.3727/096368916X691150
Recent studies of transcranial electrical stimulation in human cadaver heads showed a 90% loss of current when delivered through the skin (Buzsáki, 2016 CNS meeting).Siren SongBy Margaret AtwoodThis is the one song everyone would like to learn: the songthat is irresistible:the song that forces mento leap overboard in squadronseven though they see the beached skullsthe song nobody knowsbecause anyone who has heard itis dead, and the others can't remember.Better living through electricity. The l........ Read more »
Fertonani A, & Miniussi C. (2016) Transcranial Electrical Stimulation: What We Know and Do Not Know About Mechanisms. The Neuroscientist. PMID: 26873962
Monai H, Ohkura M, Tanaka M, Oe Y, Konno A, Hirai H, Mikoshiba K, Itohara S, Nakai J, Iwai Y.... (2016) Calcium imaging reveals glial involvement in transcranial direct current stimulation-induced plasticity in mouse brain. Nature communications, 11100. PMID: 27000523
The human brain was initially used for basic survival tasks, such as staying safe and hunting and gathering. Yet, 200,000 years later, the same human brain is able to learn abstract concepts, like momentum, energy, and gravity, which have only been formally defined in the last few centuries. New research has now uncovered how the brain is able to acquire brand new types of ideas.
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Robert A. Mason, & Marcel Adam Just. (2016) Neural Representations of Physics Concepts . Psychological Science. info:other/Pre-print
My alarm goes off at 6am most mornings. I adopted this unfortunate habit some years ago when I discovered I do my best thinking early, with a hot drink and still. My biological sensibilities remain supremely offended by this. (Describing me as a “disgruntled” early riser would not be far from the truth.) Still, among the things that must be thought at 6am, there are a select few which have me in front of my laptop, ready-to-go by 6:20am. As you might have deduced, music neuroscience ........ Read more »
Brown, L., de Bruin, N., Doan, J., Suchowersky, O., & Hu, B. (2010) Obstacle crossing among people with Parkinson's disease is influenced by concurrent music. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 47(3), 225-231. PMID: 20665348
Downey, L., Blezat, A., Nicholas, J., Omar, R., Golden, H., Mahoney, C., Crutch, S., & Warren, J. (2013) Mentalising music in frontotemporal dementia. Cortex, 49(7), 1844-1855. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.09.011
El Haj, M., Fasotti, L., & Allain, P. (2012) The involuntary nature of music-evoked autobiographical memories in Alzheimer's disease. Consciousness and Cognition, 21(1), 238-246. PMID: 22265372
James, C., Dupuis-Lozeron, E., & Hauert, C. (2012) Appraisal of musical syntax violations by primary school children. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 71(3), 161-168. DOI: 10.1024/1421-0185/a000084
Loui, P., Wessel, D., & Kam, C. (2010) Humans rapidly learn grammatical structure in a new musical scale. Music Perception, 27(5), 377-388. DOI: 10.1525/mp.2010.27.5.377
Merrett, D., Peretz, I., & Wilson, S. (2014) Neurobiological, cognitive, and emotional mechanisms in melodic intonation therapy. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 1-11. PMID: 24917811
Mingle, M., Eppley, T., Campbell, M., Hall, K., Horner, V., & de Waal FB. (2014) Chimpanzees prefer African and Indian music over silence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 40(4), 502-505. PMID: 25546107
Omar, R., Henley, S., Bartlett, J., Hailstone, J., Gordon, E., Sauter, D., Frost, C., Scott, S., & Warren, J. (2011) The structural neuroanatomy of music emotion recognition: Evidence from frontotemporal lobar degeneration. NeuroImage, 56(3), 1814-1821. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.03.002
Osuch, E., Bluhm, R., Williamson, P., Théberge, J., Densmore, M., & Neufeld, R. (2009) Brain activation to favorite music in healthy controls and depressed patients. Neuroreport, 20(13), 1204-1208. PMID: 19617860
Polston, J., & Glick, S. (2011) Music-induced context preference following cocaine conditioning in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125(4), 674-680. PMID: 21688895
Sarkamo, T., Ripolles, P., Vepsalainen, H., Autti, T., Silvennoinen, H., Salli, E., Laitinen, S., Forsblom, A., Soinila, S., & Rodriguez-Fornells, A. (2014) Structural changes induced by daily music listening in the recovering brain after middle cerebral artery stroke: A voxel-based morphometry study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 1-16. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00245
Eco-friendly behaviors, such as recycling coffee pods, are associated with a sense of pride.... Read more »
Bissing-Olson, M., Fielding, K., & Iyer, A. (2016) Experiences of pride, not guilt, predict pro-environmental behavior when pro-environmental descriptive norms are more positive. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 145-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.01.001
If Parkinson’s disease wasn’t bad enough for families to have to learn to deal with, about 80% of patients also develop dementia. That’s the problem with the brain; while it has the amazing ability to adapt to just about anything, it can’t fix everything. There are no particularly good solutions to Parkinson’s or dementia, however, early detection of dementia is key to keeping it at bay and a new study may have a way to do just that.
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Bertrand, J., McIntosh, A., Postuma, R., Kovacevic, N., Latreille, V., Panisset, M., Chouinard, S., & Gagnon, J. (2016) Brain Connectivity Alterations Are Associated with the Development of Dementia in Parkinson's Disease. Brain Connectivity, 6(3), 216-224. DOI: 10.1089/brain.2015.0390
If you see me on the street and I am running, there is a good chance you should be running as well, because something dangerous is coming. I don’t run, I hate to run, I loathe running, did I mention I don’t like to run? Maybe it’s all the running I did in the military, or if a new study is correct, it may have to do with my mother. Which is good, because now I can blame someone else for my hatred of running.
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Eclarinal, J., Zhu, S., Baker, M., Piyarathna, D., Coarfa, C., Fiorotto, M., & Waterland, R. (2016) Maternal exercise during pregnancy promotes physical activity in adult offspring. The FASEB Journal. DOI: 10.1096/fj.201500018R
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