Category Archives: Neuroscience

Your Brain On Coffee

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Changes in eye can predict changes in brain

Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes and University of California, San Francisco have shown that a loss of cells in the retina is one of the earliest signs of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in people with a genetic risk for the disorder — even before any changes appear in their behavior. Published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the researchers, led by Gladstone investigator Li Gan, PhD and UCSF associate professor of neurology Ari Green, MD, studied a group of individuals who … Continue reading

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Train your heart to protect your mind

Exercising to improve our cardiovascular strength may protect us from cognitive impairment as we age, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Montreal. “Our body’s arteries stiffen with age, and the vessel hardening is believed to begin in the aorta, the main vessel coming out of the heart, before reaching the brain. Indeed, the hardening may contribute to cognitive changes that occur during a similar time frame,” explained Claudine Gauthier, first author of the study. “We … Continue reading

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Children with autism have extra synapses in brain

In a study of brains from children with autism, researchers found that autistic brains did not undergo normal pruning during childhood and adolescence. The images show representative neurons from autistic (left) and control (right) brains; the spines on the neurons indicate the location of synapses. Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists … Continue reading

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Why Can’t You Remember Being a Baby?

It’s easy to recall events of decades past—birthdays, high school graduations, visits to Grandma—yet who can remember being a baby? Researchers have tried for more than a century to identify the cause of “infantile amnesia.” Sigmund Freud blamed it on repression of early sexual experiences, an idea that has been discredited. More recently, researchers have attributed it to a child’s lack of self-perception, language or other mental equipment required to encode memories. Neuroscientists Paul Frankland and Sheena Josselyn, both at … Continue reading

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Watch 80,000 neurons fire in a zebrafish brain

The video is based on a new imaging technique called light-sheet imaging, which has allowed researchers to get an unprecedented glimpse into the neural mechanisms of a living zebrafish. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything on Earth as complex as the brain – even if that brain happens to belong to a simple zebrafish – and these almost inscrutable organs pose a real challenge to those trying to study them. For decades researchers have had to resort to external devices … Continue reading

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How To Get Better Sleep

Some tips to combat sleep deprivation!

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Older adults nearly twice as likely to have memories affected by distractions

old people

Older people are nearly twice as likely as their younger counterparts to have their memory and cognitive processes impaired by environmental distractions (such as irrelevant speech or written words presented along with target stimuli), according to a new study from psychologists at Rice University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Whereas other studies had found that older adults are distracted by memories of prior similar events, this was the first study to convincingly demonstrate across several tasks an impairment … Continue reading

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Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Cajal-mi

Santiaago Ramon y Cajal 1 May 1852 – 18 October 1934) was a Spanish Pathologist, Histologist, Neuroscientist and Nobel Laureate. His original pioneering investigations of the microscopic structure of the brain have led him to be designated by many as the father of modern neuroscience. His medical artistry was legendary, and hundreds of his drawings illustrating the delicate arborizations of brain cells are still in use for educational and training purposes. The son of physician and anatomy lecturer Justo Ramón and Antonia … Continue reading

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Myths About The Brain You Thought Were True

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Scientists Accidentally Discover The Brain’s Consciousness “Off Switch”

While performing deep brain surgery on a woman with epilepsy, neuroscientists from George Washington University stimulated an area of her brain that unexpectedly — and temporarily — caused her to lose awareness. It’s a discovery that could shed light on the very nature of consciousness itself. “We describe a region in the human brain where electrical stimulation reproducibly disrupted consciousness,” write the scientists in their study. It’s an important finding as the “neural mechanisms that underlie consciousness are not fully … Continue reading

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The brain’s balancing act: Researchers discover how neurons equalize between excitation and inhibition

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a fundamental mechanism by which the brain maintains its internal balance. The mechanism, described in the June 22 advanced online publication of the journal Nature, involves the brain’s most basic inner wiring and the processes that control whether a neuron relays information to other neurons or suppresses the transmission of information. Specifically, the scientists have shown that there is a constant ratio between the total amount of … Continue reading

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How our brains store recent memories, cell by single cell

Confirming what neurocomputational theorists have long suspected, researchers at the Dignity Health Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. and University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that the human brain locks down episodic memories in the hippocampus, committing each recollection to a distinct, distributed fraction of individual cells. The findings, published in the June 16 Early Edition of PNAS, further illuminate the neural basis of human memory and may, ultimately, shed light on new treatments for diseases and … Continue reading

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The best way to predict the future

A small group of people have a surprising knack for correctly predicting the course of world events – and you could be one of them, says David Robson. Cast your mind back across the turbulent events of recent history. Did you foresee President Obama’s election before he was even elected as a Democratic candidate – or did you back Hillary Clinton? How about the Arab Spring – could you hear the revolution in the first tremors of dissatisfaction? And did … Continue reading

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Does ‘free will’ stem from brain noise?

Our ability to make choices — and sometimes mistakes — might arise from random fluctuations in the brain’s background electrical noise, according to a recent study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis. “How do we behave independently of cause and effect?” said Jesse Bengson, a postdoctoral researcher at the center and first author on the paper. “This shows how arbitrary states in the brain can influence apparently voluntary decisions.” The brain has a … Continue reading

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Super Brains: Kaku on What Makes a Genius

Are champions born or are they made? Science still cannot settle that debate. But one thing is clear: Certain brain injuries can produce super geniuses. This is not an invitation to throw yourself down the stairs head first. Science has yet to figure out why specific brain injuries can give people remarkable abilities. Jason Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Washington, was attacked one night by a pair of unknown assailants outside of a karaoke bar. After the assault, he … Continue reading

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Full-Metal Therapy

nerves

We’re not quite to the point where humans can be given liquid metal-based self-healing powers like those showcased by the super-cyborgs in the Terminator film series. But we’re closing in. Last month, neurosurgeons in China announced the development of a new liquid metal that can help regrow completely severed nerve fibers. As many as 20 million Americans today suffer varying levels of debilitation from over 100 different types of damage to peripheral nerves within the spine and throughout the body. … Continue reading

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Scientist have discovered a single gene that can boost your IQ by six points

People are living longer, which is good. But old age often brings a decline in mental faculties and many researchers are looking for ways to slow or halt such decline. One group doing so is led by Dena Dubal of the University of California, San Francisco, and Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institutes, also in San Francisco. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke have been studying the role in ageing of klotho, a protein encoded by a gene called KL. A … Continue reading

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A new study says yawning cools the brain

yawn

We yawn when we’re tired or bored and to oxygenate the brain, but a new study suggests that yawning actually regulates the brain’s temperature. A team of international researchers looked at how often people yawned in Vienna, Austria, and Arizona, in the US, during winter and summer. They found that people in Arizona yawn more in the winter than in the summer; the opposite happened in Vienna, were people yawn more during summer. The results had nothing to do with … Continue reading

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Brain imaging study reveals what makes some people more susceptible to peer influence

A brain area activated by group decisions can distinguish people more likely to conform to the will of a group, say researchers from UCL. The team, led by Dr Tali Sharot, UCL Affective Brain Lab, monitored the brain activity of individuals in groups of five people choosing food or drink they’d like to consume before and after being told the most popular choice in their group. The results showed that people were likely to conform to the most popular choice … Continue reading

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