December 18, 2018

    Increased anxiety the next day with hangover is seen in shy people
    Shy people have higher ‘HANGXIETY’ - short science news and articles

    Well, while people say that drinking alcohol decreases shyness, there is a downside to this. Researchers have found out that very shy individuals are more likely to suffer from higher anxiety during a hangover as compared to their extroverted friends.

    In a study conducted on 100 social drinkers, drinking six units of alcohol decreased anxiety in highly shy individuals, but this slight relaxation afforded by alcohol got replaced by higher amount of anxiety the next day.

    Researchers feel that this could be trigger point of increased risk of highly shy people to develop problems with alcohol over the long run.

    Read the full story: University of Exeter
    Scientific publication: Personality and Individual Differences


    Bullying changes the brain structure
    Chronic bullying affects the brain structure - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found out that chronic peer victimization during adolescence has an impact on the mental health of these individuals due to structural changes in the brain. Of the 682 young people studied, 36 of them had suffered from chronic bullying.

    While, this research replicated the fact that chronic bullying leads to increased incidence of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity, the novelty of this study is that there was a decrease in the volumes of parts of the brain named caudate and putamen which are involved in reward sensitivity, motivation, attention and emotional processing.

    This shows that we need to limit bullying before it causes irreversible changes in the brain structure.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry


    Now we can visualize the activity of neurons
    Technology that can visualize nerve cells firing- short science news and articles

    Researchers have developed a non-invasive technology to detect firing of nerve cells on the basis of changes in shape. When neurons fire, there is a change in the electrical potential of the cells, but also there are subtle variations in the shape of the neuron.

    This leads to a very high signal to noise ratio and hence the researchers have developed an interferometric microscope with a high-speed camera which collects 50,000 frames per second. They further developed a new algorithm that can detect that part of the neuron which moves the most further boosting the signal.

    This technology can be used to observe the neuronal activity in light-accessible parts of the body such as the eyes which could help us monitor visual functions at a cellular level.

    Read the full story: NIH/National Eye Institute
    Scientific publication: Light: Science & Applications


    The status in social hierarchy could play a role on how an individual responds to stress
    How social status affects the cellular response to stress - short science news and articles

    While stress is ubiquitous in our daily life, it seems that the social hierarchy plays an important role as to how our cells respond to stress. Researchers studied the effects of glucocorticoids (the stress hormone) injections on rhesus monkeys depending on their social hierarchy.

    It was observed that immune cells of the lower status monkeys responded less productively as compared to higher-status monkeys to glucocorticoid injections. One possible explanation could be due to gene accessibility. Interestingly, low status monkeys had immune system activation, but these cells were less accessible to signals from glucocorticoids as compared to cells from higher status monkeys.

    This indicates that not all individuals respond to stress similarly and other factors influence the animals response to stress.

    Read the full story: University of Washington
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    In mice lacking the protein called importin alpha-5 (right), MeCP2 (red), known to affect anxiety behaviors, stays on the outside brain cell nuclei (blue), instead of getting inside the nuclei, as it does in regular mice (left). Image : Weizmann Institute of Science
    Importing anxiety - brain short science news

    Researchers have found in mice that anxiety can be regulated by a particular protein, importin alpha 5. This protein is a transporter that shuttles another protein into the nucleus of the cell.

    This second protein, MeCP2, controls the expression of the gene Sphk1. When mice lack importin alpha 5, they are not anxious when they are placed in a stressful situation. Importantly, if the MeCP2-Sphk1 pathway is inhibited by a drug already used in schizophrenia (fingolimod) in normal mice, they also become less anxious.

    The current study has thus discovered a new biochemical pathway in brain cells that can be targeted for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

    Read the full story: Weizmann Institute of Science
    Scientific publication: Cell Reports


    Coffee could help in our fight against Parkinson's disease
    Coffee to protect against Parkinson’s? Why Not.. short science news and articles

    A new animal study has found that your daily cup of coffee with its caffeine and an additional component found in the waxy coating of the coffee beans might help protect against development of Parkinson’s disease.

    The additional substance called EHT is a derivative of serotonin and could work in synergy with caffeine to show these effects. While each component alone wasn’t effective, given together they prevented the accumulation of harmful substance alpha-synuclein in the brains of mice predisposed to developing these conditions.

    This gives new hope for developing therapies against Parkinson’s disease.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Inhibiting genes might be necessary to help nerves regenerate
    Shutting down genes to regrow damaged neurons - short science news and articles

    One of the holy grails of neurology is to find out how to regenerate neurons once they are injured since the neurons in the brain and the spinal cord do not regenerate as compared to those neurons in the rest of the body.

    Now, researchers have found out that while several genes are activated after a neuron is cut, there is a set of genes that needs to be inhibited for the cells to regenerate. These genes are specifically those involved in sending and receiving chemical and electrical signals which is primary duty of neurons in general.

    Plainly put, neurons have to stop doing what they are programmed to do and focus on repairing themselves once they are injured.

    Read the full story: Washington University School of Medicine
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    When electrical currents pass through the membrane of a neuron, water molecules realign and this allows monitoring of electrical activity in brain cells
    Water molecules to unlock secrets of brain cells - daily short science news headlines

    A team of researchers has come out with a new way of monitoring the electrical signals of neurons by analyzing the movement of water molecules surrounding their membranes.

    Normally, scientists measure the electrical signals of brain cells using electrodes or special molecules named fluorophores, both having disadvantages. Using water molecules as the readout is less invasive and the scientists successfully tested the technique in vitro, on mouse neurons.

    “When the membrane potential changes, the water molecules will re-orient – and we can observe that.”, the scientists declared. The discovery has potential applications both in research and in practice.

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Specially designed computerized brain games can benefit chronic schizophrenia patients
    Cognitive training beneficial for schizophrenia patients - daily short science news headlines

    Cognitive training has long been around and has been advertised as a way to boost the powers of the brain, however science has shown the real benefits are limited or absent for healthy individuals.

    However, a new study shows that in the case of patients with severe schizophrenia, targeted cognitive training (TCT) can have a positive impact. TCT uses computerized training, such as brain games, to target specific neural pathways, in order to beneficially alter the way they process information. The study involved 46 patients recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization.

    It was shown previously that CTC can improve symptoms of patients with mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia, but this is the first time the approach is shown to be useful also for chronic, refractory schizophrenia applied to patients from rehabilitation centers.

    Read the full story: University of California San Diego
    Scientific publication: Schizophrenia Research


    Childhood infections increase the risk of mental illness in children
    Higher risk of mental illness linked to childhood infections - short science news and articles

    Throat infections, fever and infections during childhood are also a risk for developing mental disorders during infancy or in adolescence. The study finds that children who have been hospitalized with an infection have an 84% increased risk of suffering from mental disorders and a 42% higher risk of being prescribed medicines to treat mental disorders.

    The increased risk was associated with psychotic disorders, personality disorders, ADHD, autism and OCDs. Further, there was a 5.66 times higher chance of a new newly diagnosed mental disorder within the first 3 months after contact with a hospital due to an infection.

    This shows that the immune system plays a role in adolescent mental illnesses.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University
    Scientific publication: JAMA Psychiatry


    Vaping cannabis gets you much higher than smoking it
    Vaping cannabis has a stronger effect than smoking it - short science news and articles

    Vaping is generally considered safer than smoking since the vaping devices heat cannabis at temperatures where the chemicals are released as vapors and theoretically don’t produce harmful materials such as tar or other cancer causing agents.

    However for infrequent cannabis users, researchers have found that vaping delivers higher amounts of cannabis and hence causes increased rates of short-term anxiety, memory loss, paranoia and distraction.

    Further, when these participants were involved in tasks to assess brain function, they had higher impairment when vaping versus smoking the same dose of cannabis indicating that higher dose of cannabis was delivered.

    Read the full story: John Hopkins Medicine
    Scientific publication: JAMA Network Open


    Brain region for loss of pleasure identified
    Where does loss of pleasure in depression arise in the brain? - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found out the brain region associated with the loss of pleasure seen in depression.

    Using experiments conducted in marmosets, which are non-human primates, they identified the brain region ‘area 25’, which is a part of the frontal cortex. Excessive excitement of the area 25 leads to blunting of the excitement usually associated with a reward pointing towards its role in anhedonia (i.e. loss of pleasure).

    Using PET scan imaging, researchers observed that increased activation of ‘area 25’ had a trickle down effect on other brain regions which also become more active, which indicates that it is a part of a larger circuitry involved in feeling pleasure.

    Read the full story: Neurosciencenews
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    Gut bacteria could restore social deficit in autism through the vagal nerve and oxytocin signaling in the brain
    Social deficits in autism reversed by microbiota - brain short science news

    The number of effects that gut bacteria (microbiota) exert on the brain keeps increasing.

    Now, scientists found that Lactobacillus reuteri reverses social deficits in several mouse models of autism. L. reuteri does not do this by restoring the normal intestinal bacteria population (which differs in autistic patients from that found in healthy controls), but through the vagal nerve that connects the gut and the brain, and the neuropeptide oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes social behavior by activating the reward center in the brain.

    Thus, microbial treatment of social deficits in autism might become reality in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: Baylor College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    Limiting alcohol intake might help with controlling weight in diabetes
    Controlling alcohol intake could help weight loss in diabetes - short science news and articles

    Researchers studied 5000 people who were overweight and had diabetes for a period of 4 years. They found that people who abstained for alcohol consumption over these four years lost significantly more weight (5% more) as compared to those who drank any amount of alcohol during this period.

    Also, those who were heavy drinkers but abstained from alcohol during these four years did not have severe weight loss as was feared by the researchers.

    This shows that heavy alcohol drinkers are at a risk of not losing sufficient weight during treatment of diabetes which is necessary for their long term overall health. So, one intervention could be to limit the alcohol intake in patients with diabetes to manage their weight.

    Read the full story: University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
    Scientific publication: Obesity


    Sleeping late could be bad for you
    Maybe being a night-owl is not good after all - short science news and articles

    In a review article published recently, researchers have been able to show that night owls are at an increased risk of health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. One of the primary reasons for this is because they have unhealthier eating patterns and diets.

    The increased risk of diabetes (2.5 times) was due to the change in the way glucose is metabolized in the body. Glucose which normally decline to its lowest level at night, is increased in night owls because they eat shortly before going to bed and the body cannot follow the normal biological process.

    Also, this problem was seen in shift workers especially those working in rotating shifts since they have to constantly adjust their work hours which decreases their insulin sensitivity and affects the glucose tolerance.

    Read the full story: Northumbria University
    Scientific publication: Advances in Nutrition


    The general belief is that a bigger brain means a smarter person, but is it true?
    Do bigger brains mean smarter brains - short science news

    For almost two centuries scientists have been looking for an association between the size of the brain and intelligence, but the connection remained unclear. Now, a new research study brings new data to shine some light on this matter.

    The study used MRI information to assess the brain size and correlated this with performance during cognitive tests and educational parameters. It included over 13,600 people. The study claims that indeed bigger brains make people more intelligent, but the effect is small. The size of the brain only explained 2% of the variability in intelligence.

    This implies that other factors are more important in determining how smart a person is. Such factors may include education, alimentation, stress, parenting style, among others.

    Read the full story: University of Pennsylvania
    Scientific publication: Psychological Science


    Stimulating the OFC could acutely improve mood
    Stimulating the brain for treatment of depression - short science news and articles

    Researchers have identified the lateral orbitofrontal cortex are a new region for treatment of depression by electrical stimulation. Stimulating the lateral OFC seems to produce brain activity patterns similar to naturally experienced positive mood states.

    Importantly, these effects were not seen in patients with mood symptoms indicating that brain stimulation works to act on only the mood-related circuits. The study was conducted in epilepsy patients who also suffered from depression and who had electrodes placed in the brain for specific medical reasons to identify origins of their seizure activity.

    The effects of electrical stimulation were acute and produced a sustained effect indicating it should be explored for its clinical application.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Some maybe be better adept at not being affected by violence
    Resilience could have a neurobiological basis - short science news and articles

    Exposure to neighborhood violence is consistently associated with increased of impaired cardiometabolic heath in youth. However, not all youth are equally affected and some show better abilities to handle this kind of stress.

    Researchers have now identified that the youth who have a lower frontoparietal Central executive network resting state connectivity (CEN) on a functional MRI were most susceptible. Those with higher resting state connectivity in this brain network did not have increased risk poor metabolic health such as obesity or insulin resistance.

    This could be associated with better self-control and higher abilities to reinterpret threatening events as well as ability to suppress unwanted emotional imagery due to high resting state activity in these circuits.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    As we age, RNA fragments accumulate in certain brain cells, and reduce the production of proteins
    RNA fragments accumulate in brain cells during aging and could interfere with brain cell function - brain short science news

    Neuroscientists have found that damage to aging neurons caused by oxidative stress produces a surprising pileup of short RNA fragments. These fragments bind to ribosomes, the protein factories of the cell, so that the cells will decrease protein production.

    This phenomenon was found in discrete brain regions (frontal cortex and striatum) and for about 400 genes with a wide variety of functions. Also, some brain cell types were more affected than others.

    While it is presently unknown what the precise functional consequences are for brain cell function, the RNA fragments can be considered to be a hallmark of aging, in mice and humans alike.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Cell Reports


    Genes associated with increased risk of ADHD identified
    Genes that increase risk for ADHD identified for the first time - short science news and articles

    A huge international collaborative study has identified genetic risk factors of ADHD for the first time. The entire genome of 20,000 people with ADHD and 35,000 without ADHD was studied and the researchers were able to identify 12 sites in the genome with a particular genetic variation associated with increased risk of ADHD.

    Interestingly, the same genes identified in this study are also associated with increased impulsivity and decreased attention in the general population. It is noteworthy to understand that these behaviours are hallmarks of ADHD.

    Further increased of ADHD due to these genetic variants was also associated poor education performance and increased risk of being overweight and type 2 diabetes.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University
    Scientific publication: Nature Genetics


    High impact sports in youth affects brain development
    Playing American football affects youth brain development - short science news and articles

    Playing even a single season of contact sports might affect the development of the brain of young football players. Researchers have found out that repeated head impacts could affect the normal pruning of the neurons in the brain which is necessary for normal development.

    For this experiment, they selected 60 youths with no prior neurological problems and who were fitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS). By dividing the players into low-impact and high-impact players they found that those with high impact had weaker connections between different brain regions due to affected development.

    These brain regions are involved in higher cognitive functions such as control of social behavior and planning indicating that even one season of playing could be dangerous.

    Read the full story: Radiological Society of North America


    Shopping personalities determine your Black Friday
    Why some love and some hate Black Friday - short science news and articles

    Researchers are trying to find why some people enjoy the thrill of Black Friday shopping while others loathe it. While some search for bargains like they train for marathons, others stay in the safe confines of their homes happy that no one will invade their personal space.

    Now, researchers say that there are two types of shoppers, namely task-oriented shoppers and social shoppers. While the task-oriented shoppers find even a handful of other shoppers to be a crowd and deem them an obstacle, the social shoppers are in fact energized by the presence of other consumers. These later shoppers who don’t require much personal space feel increased excitement when others are around them.

    So, under which category do you fall into?

    Read the full story: The Conversation


    A new vaccine could help our fight against Alzheimer's disease
    DNA vaccine for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease - short science articles and news

    Alzheimer’s disease is associated with accumulation of tau and amyloid beta proteins in the brain leading to neurodegeneration. Now, researchers have developed a DNA vaccine, which decreases the accumulation of these proteins in mice.

    This DNA vaccine contained a coding sequence for a segment of beta-amyloid protein. After injecting it into mice, the immune system produces antibodies against the amyloid protein thereby decreasing its accumulation in the brain. Interestingly, it also reduced the tau protein accumulation in these mice modeled to have Alzheimer’s disease.

    If found successful in future tests, this could pave the way for future human clinical trials.

    Read the full story: UT Southwestern Medical Center
    Scientific publication: Alzheimer's Research & Therapy


    Two different ways brain predicts the future
    Brain uses two clocks to predict the future - short science news and articles

    While one clock uses memories from past experiences, the other clock relies on the rhythm. And importantly both are necessary to navigate through this world. Researchers studied people with Parkinson’s disease in which there is impairment of the basal ganglia and people with cerebellar degeneration to come to this conclusion.

    Interestingly, the interval timing clock which relies on past experiences relies on the cerebellum, while the rhythmic timing clock relies on the basal ganglia. This is opposite to the dogmatic evidence that the brain uses only one system to handle all our timing needs.

    This also means that we can modify the environments of these patients to make their interactions with the world much easier.

    Read the full story: University of California - Berkeley
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    A group of humans can solve complex problems by balancing innovation and refining solutions based on previous experience
    How citizen scientists solve complex problems - latest science news - mind and brain

    When citizen scientists are asked to perform a complex task, they can compete with state-of-the-art algorithms in terms of solving natural science problems. But it is not clear why a collective of citizen scientists can solve such complex tasks.

    In a new experiment, scientists gave experts and citizen scientists live access to a complicated problem involving an ultra-cold quantum gas experiment. By manipulating laser beams and magnetic fields, the task was to cool as many atoms as possible down to just above absolute zero at -273.15°C.

    Both groups successfully completed the problem. The researchers concluded that what makes human problem solving unique is how a collective of individuals balance new attempts and refine existing solutions based on their previous performance. This can provide inspiration for future algorithmic improvements for supercomputers.

    Read the full story: University of Sussex
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)


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