February 19, 2019

    Children can effortlessly learn a second language by the age of 18, but to have a similar level with a native speaker they must start before the age of 10
    Study identifies the best age for children to learn a second language - short science news

    It is a well-known fact that children learn a language much faster than adults. However, it is unclear until when do they have this ability? A new study tried to define the optimal age interval for children to easily learn a second language. This is called the critical period and is the time frame during which the brain can quickly absorb new information. According to the study, children are skilled at learning grammar until the age of 18 years, much longer than previously believed. However, to achieve perfection they must start learning it before the age of 10. The study involved nearly 670,000 people.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Cognition


    Germ free upbringing could increase likelihood of mental illness
    Growing up in cities without pets could increase mental illness vulnerability - short science articles

    Children who are raised in rural environments and grow surrounded by animals and bacteria-rich dust, have a more stress-resilient immune system and also lower risk of mental illness than their city living pet free counterparts. This adds to the increasing evidence for the 'hygiene hypothesis' which states that excessively sterile environments lead to higher health problems. This exaggerated immune response could be associated with the higher development of depression and PTSD later in life. Researchers propose that if not exposed to microbes in our childhood, our immune system doesn't develop adequately leading to a low-grade chronic inflammation making us vulnerable to psychiatric conditions.

    Read the full story: University of Colorado Boulder
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Religious fundamentalism correlated with higher error sensitivity
    Higher sensitivity to errors is observed in religious fundamentalism - short science articles

    Scientists have started to explore the relationship between religious fundamentalism and cognitive processes. In a preliminary investigation, it was found that religious fundamentalism is associated with a intense processing of error-related stimuli.
    The research was conducted in 34 participants in whom the EEG recordings were conducted to examine their brain activity while performing a Stroop task in which a person has to identify the colour in which a word in written and not the word itself. Researchers observed that people who were religious fundamentalist show an increased N400 response to error related words which is an electrical pattern of brain activity seen due to the processing of unexpected or inappropriate information.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Psychiatry


    Spinal cord stimulation could help restore some voluntary movement
    Two paraplegic patients gain voluntary movement with spinal cord stimulation - short science articles

    Researchers were able to restore voluntary movement in two paraplegic patients by spinal cord stimulation who had an injury between C6 and T10 vertebrae and the injury was more than one year old. Paraplegic patients frequently suffer from hypotension and this therapy could restore their blood pressure too. Further, there was an improvement in the muscle strength measured by the EMG within just first five follow-ups. Also, there was a partial restoration of bowel bladder control in these patients. This is probably the first evidence that spinal cord stimulation could help restore some normal body functions in paraplegic patients.

    Read the full story: Neuroscience News


    Work-life imbalance affects all equally
    Work life balance needs to be taken seriously for all - short science articles

    Most of us spend at least one-third of our day working and hence having a good work-life balance is important to our overall wellbeing. Researchers found that work-life balance is an issue not only for working mothers but also for men and those without children and some employees feel that their careers will suffer if they take time off from work for personal commitments. These individuals tend to not only have a lower work satisfaction but also have more likelihood of leaving their jobs. This can negatively affect all other employees too and hence marks the importance of changing the work structure so that employees do not feel threatened when they try to balance their work and home life; the home life being whether or not they have children.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Sociological Perspectives


    Music therapy activates brain regions of Alzheimer's patients not damaged by the disease
    Brain regions spared by Alzheimer's activated by music - short science articles

    The salience networks of the brain which are islands of remembrance are spared from Alzheimer's disease (AD) and these are the very regions that light up when AD patients listen to familiar music. Researchers state that AD patients regularly face unfamiliar worlds around them which leads to disorientation and anxiety and researchers believe that playing familiar music makes them come alive. They found that familiar music activates the visual, salience, executive networks causing the whole brain regions to communicate. This could form the basis of an alternative way of communicating with patients with AD making the symptoms more manageable and increasing the patients quality of life.

    Read the full story: University of Utah


    Regularly heading the soccer ball could lead to cognitive impairment
    Headings in football and not collisions result in worse cognitive impairments - short science articles

    The current prevention strategies towards decreasing concussions in soccer concentrate on decreasing unintentional head impacts with very little attention given to headings. However, researchers have found out that there is a more severe effect on cognitive function due to recurrent ball headings than due to collisions. They studied 308 amateur soccer players in the New York City and found that players who reported most headings had the poorest performance on psychomotor speed and attentional tasks. In contrast, players with unintentional collisions did not have impairment of these cognitive functions. Scientists suspect that recurrent headings could lead to microstructural changes in the brain leading to persistent impaired function.

    Read the full story: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Neurology


    A stressed school teacher is not what we want
    93% of teachers have high levels of job stress, which reflects on their students’ performance - short science news

    The student-teacher relationship is impacted by the levels of stress amongst teachers. Researchers from the University of Missouri have found out that job-related stress affects 93% of teachers. This is significantly higher than previously estimated. Worse still, teachers with high-stress levels have the students with the poorest performance, as shown by low grades and recurrent behavioral problems. The researchers outlined in their study a few methods that might better support highly stressed teachers.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Journal of Positive Behavioural interventions


    Labeling alcoholic drinks as lower in strength could encourage people to drink more
    People drink more if we label alcoholic drinks as lower in strength - short science articles

    As a part of a strategy, policymakers in the UK, currently allow the industry to label a wide range of alcohol products as being lower in alcohol to encourage people to pick these instead of high alcohol-containing drinks.
    To test whether this works, researchers studied the behaviour of 264 weekly wine and beer drinkers in a bar setting. Results indicated that the lower the label on the drink for the strength of alcohol higher was the consumption volume. So, while 'Super Low' drink consumption was 214 ml on average, the consumption of regularly labelled drinks was lower i.e about 177 ml only. This shows that labelling alcohol drinks as lower in strength may have a paradoxical effect such that they end up drinking more.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Health psychology


    Long term affection of childhood health due to alcohol intake
    Don't drink during pregnancy. It could affect your baby's long term health - short science articles

    Scientists tested the effects of alcohol drinking in pregnant female rats in two patterns, both habitual and intermittent to see the effects in their offsprings. At the end of the experiment, both the rat mother and its offsprings underwent a series of behavioural experiments. Surprisingly, the offsprings of those mother rats who were exposed to binge drinking showed a lower response to natural rewards like food, sugar or sexual contact. Also, these rats exhibited a behavioural despair, which is reminiscent of depressive behaviour.
    On the other hand, offsprings of rats exposed to binge drinking patterns showed higher vulnerability to alcohol abuse during their adolescence.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Psychiatry


    Brain ependymal cells with hairs that make brain fluid circulate. Courtesy of Chay Kuo, Duke University
    Molecular cause of hydrocephalus found - brain science news

    Viruses that cause hydrocephalus do so by switching off the production of a transcription factor called Foxj1 in specialised brain cells that make the fluid in the brain circulate. The specialised brain cells are ependymal cells and have hairs on their surface with which they beat continuously. Without Foxj1, they loose their hairs, and the circulation of brain fluid stops. Current treatment of hydrocephalus is inserting a shunt to drain excess fluid, which can suffer from side effects and is not always effective. In the future, restoring the production of Foxj1 by pharmacological means might provide a better alternative.

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


    Folding of the brain indicates psychosis at an early stage
    Predicting psychosis early by looking at the structure of the brain - brain science news

    The folding pattern of the brain can predict whether somebody will develop psychosis later in life with 80% accuracy, an imaging study suggests. The study revealed that the folding in regions of the cortex in patients with an initial psychotic episode and those with later psychosis have reduced integration and increased segregation as compared with healthy people. This is in line with the idea that psychosis is caused by disturbed communication between various groups of nerve cells. With the newly found anatomical signature of psychosis, it is possible to diagnose psychosis at a much earlier stage than before, so that treatment can be started earlier with possibly better outcomes for the patients.

    Read the full story: University of Basel
    Scientific publication: JAMA Psychiatry


    Altruistic individuals seem to care more about the future compare to egoists
    Egoists don’t care about the future - short science news - psychology

    People generally think about the future quite often. However, this seems to be different for egoistic individuals, according to a new research study. Scanning the brain activity of people classified as egoistic showed that they did not care too much about the distant future, compared to altruistic people. Psychologists hope to use the data in order to devise methods to improve people’s ability to project into the future and become more sensitive.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Cognitive, Affective & Behavioural Neuroscience


    Childhood obesity and depression may coexist
    Pediatric obesity and depression could be connected - short science articles

    In a first, scientists have seen that the brain MRI scans of children who suffered from both depression and obesity showed lower brain volumes of regions which are linked to reward processing. For this study researchers recruited 42 young participants with a BMI above 85 percentile and also had moderate to severe depressive symptoms. They found that lower volumes of two brain regions, the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex were negatively correlated to their degree of depression. Further, these children also had insulin resistance which could make them vulnerable to the early onset of diabetes.

    Read the full story: Stanford Medical


    Light therapy could help relieve chronic pain
    Using light to control chronic pain - short science articles - neuroscience

    Chronic pain is one of the most difficult pains to treat especially if the nerves involved are damaged. Now scientists might have found a way to treat this variety of severe pain. In an experiment conducted in mice, researchers have found a special population of neurons in the skin, which are usually associated with gentle touch but if damaged also lead to chronic neuropathic pain. These cells were first damaged by chemical injection and then infrared light was shown on the skin surface which lead abolishment of pain by their retraction. Interestingly, other neurons which are necessary for vibration, cold, heat and other sensations weren’t affected similarly and functioned as normal. The treatment lasted for a few week and was also tested on human tissue. Further human studies in neuropathic pain patients would be extremely important to test this new mode of treatment.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Nature communications


    Asthma might be linked to Psychiatric disorders.
    Hay fever and asthma linked to psychiatric disorders - short science articles - health

    As many as 11% patients with the most common allergy conditions go on to develop psychiatric disorders within a 15 year period. This is a 1.66 fold increase as compared to those who do not have the allergic conditions. Amongst these, asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and atopic dermatitis (eczema) which are commonly called the three 'A', are the most common allergic disorders. The study consists of approximately 45,000 patients with allergies and 140,000 without allergies thereby being one of the biggest such studies ever conducted. While the reasons need to be explored more, it is still beneficial for doctors to help monitor patients with allergies diseases.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Psychiatry


    Reading is a complex activity that literally changes brain and improves cognitive abilities
    Reading is good for the brain and positively affects the mind - short mind and brain news

    Reading and writing are everyday activities, but few people realize how complex these activities are and what are their benefits. Reading requires many perceptual and cognitive functions, including visual skills, oculomotor control, attention mechanisms, executive control, long-term memory, etc. A new scientific paper describes the benefits of reading. Science has shown that learning to read modifies the structure and function of the brain in a positive way. People that are unable to read have difficulties in processing sequences of images and in assessing the spatial orientation of objects. The ability to read helps develop the ability to analyze complex problems and to think critically.

    Read the full story: MedicalXpress
    Scientific publication: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience


    Fish meat contains a high concentration of parvalbumin protein which could contribute to the prevention of Parkinson disease
    Eating fish may protect against Parkinson disease - short science news - mind and brain, neuroscience

    A new study investigated the link between fish consumption and long-term neurological health. The study shows that a protein called parvalbumin, common in many types of fish, may improve the health of the brain. Paravalbumin has the ability to prevent accumulation of abnormal proteins in neurons, a phenomenon associated with Parkinson disease. This mechanism was proved in laboratory conditions, and if it works the same in the human body that may explain some the previously known health benefits of fish consumption. Herring, cod, carp, and redfish, including sockeye salmon and red snapper, have particularly high levels of parvalbumin, but it is common in many other fish species too.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Researchers can now grow mini-brains to study the genetics of mental disorders
    Growing mini-brains to study mental illness - brain science news

    Researchers have managed to grow small brains from human stem cells that they can modify genetically to study the genetic underpinnings of brain disorders. If they knocked-out the gene DISC1, involved in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the anatomy of the minibrain became abnormal, which was associated with biochemical changes. These mini-brains are an important new tool for researchers of brain disease, as it allows them to study brain development in a three dimensional structure in a petri dish.

    Read the full story: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
    Scientific publication: Translational Psychiatry


    Limiting sugar consumption during pregnancy could be a good idea
    Pregnant? Limit your sugar intake to protect your baby's brain function - short science articles - health

    Researchers have found that children have poor childhood cognition, especially in learning and memory if the mother during pregnancy or the child during early childhood consumed high quantities of sugar. This was especially true for consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and worse, substituting diet soda for the sweetened version during pregnancy had the same negative effect. However, consumption of fruits by children had a beneficial effect being associated with higher cognitive scores indicating that its time to ditch the sodas all-together and shift towards more healthy fruity options.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Preventive Medicine


    Men are less forgiving than women are met out more punishment
    Men can be more punishing than women just to get ahead in life - short science articles - psychology

    Psychologists have observed gender differences in cooperation and punishment behaviour. Especially, men punish more than women to obtain higher ranks. This could be because men view punishment as physical conflict and men prefer physical punishment for unfair behaviour. Further, the status of a person affects cooperative behaviour and men use punishment as a tool to advance in ranks. Overall, men punish twice as much as women and are generally less generous than their female counterparts. Scientists say that this study connects their academic research to the current #metoo movement.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: American Sociological Association


    Implanting electrodes in the brain could help develop moveable prosthetic limbs
    A paralyzed man feels and moves again - short science articles - neuroscience

    Scientists have implanted multitudes of small electrodes in the brain of a paralyzed man and have induced feelings of touch and movement in the arm of a paralyzed man. The patient had become paralyzed neck down after a freak accident three years ago resulting in a spinal cord injury. Scientists have introduced electrodes in the somatosensory cortex and stimulated the neurons with small pulses of electricity. The patient felt several sensations like tapping, squeezing and elevation resulting for the first time such demonstrations using intra-cortical neural stimulations. The next step is to develop a brain-machine interface to connect a prosthetic arm to the electrodes implanted in the brain to transmit information to induce movement in the arm.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: eLife


    Higher the office level more is the risk you take
    Do you have a top floor office - you are prone to take more financial risk - short science articles - psychology

    Now, this is amazingly intriguing. Psychologists have found that higher the elevation in an office building, more is the subconscious sense of power which could lead to people taking higher financial risk. They analyzed data of 3000 hedge funds which accounted for over $300 billion and found a correlation between the level of volatility of the fund with the floor level of the firm. Another experiment was conducted in which participants were asked to take betting decisions while moving up or down a glass elevator of a tall building. Surprisingly those who were ascending opted for risky as compared to those who were descending who took more conservative decisions. However, informing people of this bias made people take better decisions.

    Read the full story: Society for consumer psychology
    Scientific publication: Journal of Consumer Psychology


    Exercising could improve your attention
    Sweat a bit and you could improve learning- short science articles - neuroscience

    We all know the feeling of sitting in a lecture room and our mind wandering with us paying no attention to the teacher at all. Well, now researchers have found out that short exercise breaks during lectures could be useful to improve learning and recall. Researchers found that these short exercise breaks help university students to focus their attention, retain information and overall improve their learning. This improvement was recorded immediately afterwards and also 48 hours later. Such new strategies could help students learning faster and stay focussed.

    Read the full story: McMaster University
    Scientific publication: Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition


    Ketamine could help decrease suicidal thoughts in depressed patients
    Fast-acting ketamine for treatment of depression and suicidal thoughts- short science articles - neuroscience

    While ketamine has been long hailed as the new cure for depression, a latest study has validated this claim. In a double-blind trial which compared standard treatment + ketamine nasal spray to standard treatment found that patients treated with ketamine showed rapid improvement in depressive symptoms and abatement of suicidal thoughts. The compound used is called esketamine which is a nasally delivered form of ketamine and it could help bridge the gap that currently exists due to the delayed effects of the commonly used antidepressants. The study is a phase 2 proof of concept study and needs to be further validated before receiving FDA approval.

    Read the full story: American Psychiatric Association
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Psychiatry


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