April 22, 2019

    Certain brain function restored in pig hours after death.
    Brain function partially restored in pig after death - interesting science news

    Immediately after death, once the oxygen and blood supply is cut off, the electrical brain activity disappears immediately, while the energy stores get depleted within minutes. This has always lead to believe that brain functions end after death irreversibly.

    Now, researchers restored the circulation and cellular activity in the pig’s brain 4 hours after its death. The circulated a uniquely formulated solution specially made to preserve brain tissue and found that neural cell integrity was preserved and certain neuronal functions were restored.

    While this technique does not have any immediate application, it could be used in future to salvage brain function in stroke patients and test new drugs for brain cellular recovery after injury.

    Read the full story: Yale University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Anger experienced in dreams originates in the frontal cortex
    Where do angry dreams arise in the brain? - interesting science news

    In a new study conducted in healthy adults, researchers have identified a pattern of brain activity which can predict anger experienced during dreams.

    Researchers collected EEG recordings from heathy study participants during sleep studies on two separate nights. Immediately after a five minute bout of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is associated with dreams, the study participants were woken up and inquired about their dream. It was found that those individuals who displayed greater alpha band brain activity in the right frontal cortex and not the left, both during evening wakefulness and REM sleep experienced more anger in their sleep.

    This neural signature called frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) might be the universal indicator of emotional regulation and studying this could be important since it could give us insights into nightmares which are common in several mental and sleep disorders.

    Read the full story: Society for Neuroscience (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    Neurofeedback increases brain connections quickly
    How to change your brain: Train it - interesting science news

    Researchers have found out that even 1 hour of brain training exercises using neurofeedback can increase the strength of neuronal connections and improved communication between different brain regions.

    Individuals who were trained on neurofeedback and then scanned in a MRI machine showed a positive impact on the default mode network, which is the brain network, impaired after stroke, Parkinson’s disease and depression.

    This shows that neurofeedback could be a powerful way to induce brain changes quickly and hence it would be next tested in patients with neurological disorders.

    Read the full story: D’Or Institute for Research and Education (via NeuroscienceNews)
    Scientific publication: NeuroImage


    Earlier detection of CTE could be possible with this new PET scan
    NFL players have higher abnormal proteins in the brain - interesting science news

    Scientists conducted a PET scan in living National Football League (NFL) players who displayed certain cognitive and behavioural symptoms. They found that these players had abnormal levels of tau protein in the brain regions which are usually affected by Chronic Traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    Further, there was a significant positive correlation between more years spent playing tackle football and the levels of the tau proteins.

    Currently, CTE can be diagnosed only post mortem and this is the first study, which shows that it can be detected even before death. CTE is associated with progressive neuronal loss and this study could help us catch it earlier.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Boston Medical Center (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: NEJM


    Electrical stimulation to the brain could restore memory in older individuals
    Electrical pulses to restore memory - interesting science news

    Researchers have shown that a decline in memory due to ageing can be temporarily reversed using electrical brain stimulation.

    Scientists used non-invasive brain stimulation in 42 individuals aged between 60 – 76 years and found that these individuals showed brain responses similar to young individuals between the age of 20-29 years.

    It is hypothesized that as age increases there is a disconnection between two brain regions namely the prefrontal cortex and the temporal cortex. Electrically stimulating these brain regions helps synchronize these connections.

    Read the full story: Boston University (via The Guardian)
    Scientific publication: Nature Neuroscience


    A zebrafish brain, with dopamine-producing nerve cells in red and the stem cells that produce them in green. Thomas Becker, The University of Edinburgh
    More insight into Parkinson’s disease - brain short science news

    Brain cells that produce dopamine are the ones that are lost in Parkinson’s disease patients.

    A new study has found that these cells regenerate constantly from a pool of specialized stem cells in the brains of zebrafish, and that the immune system plays a key role in this.

    Understanding how the immune system does this precisely could lead to novel treatment options for Parkinson’s disease patients.

    Read the full story: University of Edingburgh
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    Blocking the CD22 protein could be our answer to Alzheimer's disease
    Cognition restored in old mice by blocking a protein - interesting science news

    Microglia, the garbage collecting cells in the brain have several genes which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease and these genes are active only in the microglia. These genes show abnormal activity patterns in Parkinson’s disease and ALS too.

    Researchers selected 3000 genes which are responsible for encoding proteins in these microglia and selectively blocked one gene at a time. Surprisingly, only one gene which encodes CD22 found in both humans and mice was substantially upregulated in old mice.

    Blocking the protein produced by this gene in the hippocampus of the brain of old mice resulted in old mice outperforming normal mice in various tasks associated with learning and memory indicating that the cognitive ability of these mice was improved.

    Read the full story: Stanford University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Excessive multimedia use linked to obesity
    Digital multitasking linked to obesity - interesting science news

    Researchers have found out that mindlessly switching between several digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lower self-control which could ultimately lead to weight gain.

    The scientists used the Media Multitasking Revised scale which measures compulsive behavior like urge to check the phone for messages while interacting with someone else and passive behaviors like media distracting us from work. The higher score on this scale was associated with higher BMI as well as higher body fat.

    Further, certain participants then underwent a functional MRI scan and it was observed that people with higher BMI and body fat showed increased activity in the brain regions associated with food temptation on exposure to food photos.

    Read the full story: Rice university
    Scientific publication: Brain Imagaing and Behavior


    Poverty experiences in childhood could have long-lasting effects on the brain
    How poverty affects brain activity of children - interesting science news

    Researchers compared the brain activity of children from poor rural Indian background to those coming from families in Midwest America and found that the former had weaker brain activity and hence were more likely to be distracted.

    The scientists studied the visual memory which stores information momentarily. This skill develops early in childhood and is an excellent marker of cognitive development. The children from the poor Indian backgrounds performed poorly and showed increased distractibility. The frontal cortex which is involved in working memory was affected in these children.

    This shows that being born in a poor environment significantly impacts the neurological development which then could contribute to the vicious cycle of poverty.

    Read the full story: University of East Anglia
    Scientific publication: Developmental Science


    Stem cells are a source of continious new neurons even in adult life
    The source of new neurons in the brain discovered - interesting science news

    While it was once believed that mammals cannot make new neurons throughout life, researchers have shown that in mice there is a type of stem cell that makes adult neurons in the brain hippocampus all along.

    It has been shown for the first time that neurons from in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus come from a single population of stem cells and these are more flexible as compared to mature neurons which is important for healthy memory, learning and mood.

    This is like adding new units to a computers motherboard thereby keeping it at an optimal functional status. This discovery could help us understand how to repair and regenerate brain parts after injury and aging.

    Read the full story: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Cell


    A woman with a rare genetic mutation could hold the key for pain management
    Real-life X-men: A woman living pain free - interesting science news

    How is that for a superpower? A woman in Scotland has a genetic mutation in a previously unidentified gene, now dubbed as FAAH-OUT. This gene is involved in endocannabinoid signalling, which is involved in pain sensation, mood and memory.

    This woman feels no pain and also experiences almost no anxiety or fear. Its thought that she could also have enhanced wound healing abilities. This could truly guide development of new treatments for a host of conditions.

    While there have been several unsuccessful clinical trials with the FAAH-protein, the FAAH-OUT gene could change this scenario especially for post-surgical pain.

    Read the full story: University College of London
    Scientific publication: British Journal of Anesthesia


    Salt craving neurons triggered by taste sensation discovered
    Neurons that love salt - interesting science news

    Salt is truly one of the main components of today’s fast food. However excessive salt consumption is also associated with cardiovascular diseases and cognitive disorders. Now, researchers have discovered neurons in mouse brain that control salt cravings.

    These neurons located in the hind brain which are triggered into action once the body senses that it is low on sodium. Scientists artificially stimulated these neurons with light to increase the sodium intake in these mice even if they were completely satiated with salt.

    Further they discovered that these neurons are stimulated from the taste system on the tongue and not if the salt is directly infused in the stomach. This could be a first step in regulating cravings in humans.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Human serotonergic neuron projections (red) and cell bodies (green) that play a role in depression. Image: Salk Institute
    Why 30% of depressed individuals do not respond to treatment - brain short science news

    Abnormal neural growth may explain why SSRI’s do not work in 30% of depressed individuals, a new study found.

    Neurons from depressed people that do not respond to the SSRI treatment, which increases the communication between neurons by means of the messenger molecule serotonin, appear to develop longer neuron projections than those of patients that do respond to SSRI’s. This means that the communication between neurons in some parts of the brain could be stronger, but weaker in others.

    Thus, the brain circuit that uses serotonin as a modulator of neuronal activity may not work properly in some depressed individuals, so that SSRI treatment does not alleviate depressive symptoms.

    Read the full story: Salk Institute
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry


    The taste of food is detected in the part of our brain known as the insula
    Taste center in the human brain discovered - brain short science news

    The part of the human cortex that is known as the insula has been found to be able to discriminate tastes, a new study reports.

    Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and novel statistical methods, it turned out that the insula not only responds to different tastes (sweet, bitter, sour and salty), but also encodes these sensations by different activity patterns.

    This is the first time that there is evidence for a human gustatory cortex, capable of distinguishing tastes.

    Read the full story: Cornell University
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Mushrooms could reduce the cognitive impairment seen in elderly
    Another reason to like mushrooms. They reduce cognitive impairment - interesting science news

    Mushrooms are usually liked across the population for their taste and texture. Now researchers have found that elderly who consume more than two portions of mushrooms a week have a 50% reduced chance of developing mild cognitive impairment.

    The scientists studied six commonly used Mushrooms namely, golden, oyster, shiitake, white button, dried and canned. They believe that the advantages offered by all these mushrooms could be due to a common ingredient called ergothioneine due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Further previous research has shown that ergothioneine deficiency increases risk for neurodegeneration and hence the next step is to test these results in a controlled clinical trial.

    Read the full story: National University of Signapore
    Scientific publication: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease


    Forgetting a memory activates the brain more than remembering it
    Forgetting takes more effort - interesting science news

    Researchers have found out that choosing to forget something requires more mental effort than remembering it. Further, the research indicates that, if one wants to forget an unwanted experience, one needs to focus more attention on it.

    This study focused on the sensory and perception areas of the brain, i.e. the ventral temporal cortex and found that humans have an ability to control what they want to forget but it requires more activity in this brain region than when we are trying to remember these memories.

    This could help form the basis of therapy necessary to eliminate memories, which can trigger maladaptive responses, so that we can form new more healthy memories.

    Read the full story: University of Texas at Austin
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    People laughing together reveals their relationship even to kids
    For kids, the difference between a friend and stranger is a laugh - interesting science news

    We need to give more credit to kids than we do. Infants who are as young as 5 months are able to distinguish between friends and strangers. Smart, isn’t it?

    It has been recently shown that colaughter, i.e. two or ore people laughing simultaneously allows adult listeners to evaluate the nature of relationships between people. This seems to hold true even for kids.

    When exposed to social interactions in which the infants were shown pictures of two people laughing together, the infants spent more time looking at them if they were friends. They also listened to colaughter of friends longer than strangers thereby proving that they could predict the nature of the relationships.

    Read the full story: New York University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Sleep helps in DNA repair and hence important
    Why do we need sleep? - interesting science news

    This question has been bugging biologists since several years. Why do animals sleep when there is this constant threat of predators? Researchers have found the first evidence of an unexpected function of sleep.

    They used 3D time-lapse imaging technique in live zebrafish and were able to show that single neurons require sleep to perform nuclear maintenance. DNA damage can occur due to several reasons like radiation, oxidative stress and regular neural activity. This damage accumulates during wakefulness and can reach unsafe levels too.

    Sleep helps in repairing this DNA damage in each neuron. The DNA repair process does not occur efficiently during wakefulness and requires an offline sleep period during which there are reduced inputs. This could explain how sleep and sleep disturbances can affect brain performance as well as ageing and other brain disorders.

    Read the full story: Bar-Ilan University (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Nature Communication


    There are several forms of autism that share a common risk gene profile
    Common risks genes discovered for autism - brain short science news

    While pinpointing the precise contribution of genes to the development of autism spectrum disorders has been difficult, researchers have now established a set of several genes that are common to all forms of autism.

    Also, they have found genes that are risk factors for specific forms. The genes involved are responsible for proper development of the cortex of the brain.

    As the hereditary factor of autism is about 80%, the new findings are expected to lead to better diagnosis and counseling for individual persons suffering from one of the forms of autism.

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


    Missing a gene is not normally good news. However, in this case, it might as it helps recovery from stroke
    Missing a gene helps recovery from mild stroke - science news articles

    Scientists have found that patients missing a gene called CCR5 recover better from mild stokes than patients having the gene.

    The study looked at 446 patients recovering after stroke and discovered that individuals without this gene improved faster in walking, arm and leg control, and other types of movement. The findings were confirmed in lab animals where the gene was manipulated by researchers.

    Interestingly, one year after stroke, patients missing CCR5 also scored higher in tests assessing memory, verbal function and attention. This discovery could one day lead scientist to the development of a treatment for reversing the damage induced by stroke.

    Read the full story: University of California, Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Scientists continue to look for the genetic origin of depression
    Reversing depression by exciting excitatory neurons - brain short science news

    Activation of a gene known as SIRT1 in the prefrontal cortex can reduce the symptoms of depression in male mice, a new study shows.

    In the absence of this gene, the excitatory neurons in the prefrontal cortex have less mitochondria, the energy generators of the cell, and the mice show depressive behavior. SIRT1 is thus necessary to energize the excitatory neurons to prevent depression.

    While the SIRT1 gene had been found to be related to depression previously in women, modulating the amount of SIRT1 in female mice was without effect. Thus, SIRT1 has anti-depressive activity, but more research is needed to translate this finding to the clinic.

    Read the full story: Augusta University
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry


    Teenage cannabis use linked to adult depression - interesting science news
    Adolescent cannabis smoking might be considered cool, but it causes mental health problems

    Cannabis has been lot in news lately with all the health benefits it is touted for especially for psychosis. However, not much attention is given to its use and the risk of depression and anxiety.

    Now, researchers have done a huge meta-analysis comprising of 11 international studies, which included a total of 23,317 patients, and it shows that cannabis use especially in adolescents is associated with increased risk of depression and suicide in adulthood. However, its use is not linked to anxiety.

    This translates to about 400,000 adolescent cases of depression in the US alone. However, the study falls short of finding a dose-dependent risk of cannabis use.

    Read the full story: University of Oxford (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: JAMA Psychiatry


    Virtual reality scenarios may help autistic patients cope with their fears
    Immersive virtual reality to treat autism phobias - latest science news in brief

    Immersive virtual reality (VR) can help children with autism to overcome their phobias, according to a new research study. Scientists created a special room for VR experiences, which requires no googles, to allow patients to investigate various scenarios with the help of a therapist.

    In a randomized controlled trial, 32 children with autism received treatment for phobias using the VR system. According to the authors, 40% of children showed improvements 2 weeks later and 45% after six months.

    In a separate study, the VR room was also used for adults with autism. Although this study only tested on eight adults, five of them reported improved symptoms six months after the therapy.

    Read the full story: Newcastle University
    Scientific publication: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders


    Diabetes and its link to Alzheimer's revealed
    Alzheimer’s linked to insulin signaling failure - interesting science news

    Researchers have found that impaired insulin signalling in the brain diminishes its learning and memory properties as a result of which those with type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

    Researchers developed a new mouse model in which they blocked the expression of insulin and insulin like growth factor receptors in the brain regions involved with learning and memory by testing these mice in a maze.

    These mice also had decreased expression of the glutamate receptor GluA1 which is involved in making important brain connections. This could be the reason for altered mood and cognition impairment in these mice.

    Read the full story: Joslin Diabetes Center
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    A specific type of neurons might mediate cocaine addiction
    Cocaine addiction linked to increased number of orexin neurons - top science news stories

    In a new research study, scientists found an interesting correlation between a type of brain cells called orexin neurons and cocaine addiction. When the number of orexin neurons is higher the chance of becoming addicted or relapsing is increased.

    The study involved rats that were addicted. These animals had a greater number of brain cells that produce orexins. The increase in neurons lasted for up to six months after cocaine use, which might explain why addicts often relapse.

    Interestingly, when researchers restored the number of neurons to normal, cocaine-seeking rats were no longer addicted. Moreover, a previous study already showed a similar pattern in humans that were addicted to heroin.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: Biological Psychiatry


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