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  • November 30, 2015
  • 01:34 AM

Carving Up Brain Disorders

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Neurology and Psychiatry are two distinct specialties within medicine, both of which treat disorders of the brain. It's completely uncontroversial to say that neurologists treat patients with brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These two diseases produce distinct patterns of neurodegeneration that are visible on brain scans. For example, Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder caused by the loss of dopamine neurons in the midbrain.Fig. 3 (modified from Golds........ Read more »

Crossley, N., Scott, J., Ellison-Wright, I., & Mechelli, A. (2015) Neuroimaging distinction between neurological and psychiatric disorders. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 429-434. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.154393  

David, A., & Nicholson, T. (2015) Are neurological and psychiatric disorders different?. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 373-374. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.158550  

  • November 28, 2015
  • 03:20 PM

The silence of the genes, an epigenetic tale

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Research led by Dr. Keiji Tanimoto from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, has brought us closer to understanding the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of genomic imprinting. In this intriguing event, one copy of a gene is ‘turned off’, or silenced, depending on whether it was derived from the mother or the father.... Read more »

Matsuzaki H, Okamura E, Takahashi T, Ushiki A, Nakamura T, Nakano T, Hata K, Fukamizu A, & Tanimoto K. (2015) De novo DNA methylation through the 5'-segment of the H19 ICR maintains its imprint during early embryogenesis. Development (Cambridge, England), 142(22), 3833-44. PMID: 26417043  

  • November 27, 2015
  • 03:05 PM

Synapse discovery could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of researchers led by UNSW Australia scientists has discovered how connections between brain cells are destroyed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – work that opens up a new avenue for research on possible treatments for the degenerative brain condition.... Read more »

  • November 23, 2015
  • 07:00 PM

Dopamine measurements reveal insights into how we learn

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have reported measurements of dopamine release with unprecedented temporal precision in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. The measurements, collected during brain surgery as the conscious patients played an investment game, demonstrate how rapid dopamine release encodes information crucial for human choice.... Read more »

Kenneth T. Kishida, Ignacio Saez, Terry Lohrenz, Mark R. Witcher, Adrian W. Laxton, Stephen B. Tatter, Jason P. White, Thomas L. Ellis, Paul E. M. Phillips, & P. Read Montague. (2015) Subsecond dopamine fluctuations in human striatum encode superposed error signals about actual and counterfactual reward. Proceedings of the natural sciences academy of the United States of America. info:/10.1073/pnas.1513619112

  • November 23, 2015
  • 12:06 PM

Gambling and Brain Frontal-Striatum Connections

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

For the remainder of 2015, Brain Posts will focus on pathological gambling and also highlight the top-viewed posts for the year.Functional connectivity is a relatively recent brain imaging technique that provides a new look at brain circuitry at rest and with tasks.Resting state connectivity using fMRI provides a snapshot of brain connections in each individual. There is increasing study of resting connectivity in individuals with disorders in neuroscience medicine compared to control population........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2015
  • 12:58 AM

Happiness Is a Large Precuneus

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What is happiness, and how do we find it? There are 93,290 books on happiness at Happiness is Life's Most Important Skill, an Advantage and a Project and a Hypothesis that we can Stumble On and Hard-Wire in 21 Days.The Pursuit of Happiness is an Unalienable Right granted to all human beings, but it also generates billions of dollars for the self-help industry.And now the search for happiness is over! Scientists have determined that happiness is located in a small region of your righ........ Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

  • November 22, 2015
  • 10:30 PM

History of neuroscience: The mystery of trepanation

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

In 1867, an archaeologist and diplomat named Ephraim George Squier sought out the help of Paul Pierre Broca, the esteemed anatomist and surgeon. He was trying to solve a mystery about an ancient Incan skull that had been given to him by a wealthy artifact collector in Peru. In addition to its age, the Neolithic skull had a unique feature: on the top of the cranium a rectangular piece of bone had been removed. The presence of several cross-cuts surrounding the hole suggested that it was not a sim........ Read more »

  • November 22, 2015
  • 03:01 PM

Neuroscience and the search for happiness

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books… we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is? Wataru Sato and his team at Kyoto University have found an answer from a neurological perspective.... Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:06 PM

Multiple Personalities, Blindness and the Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper reports the fascinating and perplexing case of a woman who reported that she was host to multiple personalities - some of whom were completely blind. The paper is called Sight and blindness in the same person: gating in the visual system, authored by German psychologists Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel.

The patient in this case, "B. T.", aged 33, has a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition formerly known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). B. ... Read more »

  • November 20, 2015
  • 02:43 PM

Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

About one third of people with depression have high levels of inflammation markers in their blood. New research indicates that persistent inflammation affects the brain in ways that are connected with stubborn symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.... Read more »

  • November 19, 2015
  • 07:55 PM

Yin and yang of serotonin neurons in mood regulation

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Low levels of serotonin in the brain are known to play a role in depression and anxiety, and it is customary to treat these disorders with medications that increase the amount of this neurotransmitter. However, a new study carried out by researchers suggests that this approach may be too simple. It appears that neighboring serotonin-producing brainstem regions exert different and sometimes opposing effects on behavior.... Read more »

Anne Teissier, Alexei Chemiakine, Benjamin Inbar, Susan M. Dymecki, Holly Moore, & Mark S. Ansorge. (2015) Activity of Raphe´ Serotonergic Neurons Controls Emotional Behaviors. Cell Reports. info:/

  • November 18, 2015
  • 07:37 PM

Master switch for brain development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz have unraveled a complex regulatory mechanism that explains how a single gene can drive the formation of brain cells. The research is an important step towards a better understanding of how the brain develops. It also harbors potential for regenerative medicine.... Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 01:00 PM

Predictors of Poor Outcome After Traumatic Brain Injury

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The outcome following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often unpredictable and variable.Two individuals with similar types of TBI can have quite different outcomes ranging from total disability to functional employment.Torun Finnanger and colleagues from Norway and Australia recently reported on a study that examined a number of predictor variables on self-reported outcome following TBI.In this study, 67 adolescents and adults with moderate to severe TBI completed baseline assessments and were fo........ Read more »

  • November 17, 2015
  • 04:48 PM

What’s in a name? More than you think…

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

What’s in a name? In the case of the usernames of video gamers, a remarkable amount of information about their real world personalities, according to research. Analysis of anonymised data from one of the world’s most popular computer games by scientists in the Department of Psychology at York also revealed information about their ages.... Read more »

  • November 16, 2015
  • 08:37 PM

Strongest evidence yet of a link between breakfast and educational outcomes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A direct and positive link between pupils’ breakfast quality and consumption, and their educational attainment, has for the first time been demonstrated in a ground-breaking new study carried out by public health experts at Cardiff University. The study of 5000 9-11 year-olds from more than 100 primary schools sought to examine the link between breakfast consumption and quality and subsequent attainment in Key Stage 2 Teacher Assessments* 6-18 months later.... Read more »

  • November 16, 2015
  • 11:40 AM

Smell Test in Screening for Parkinson's Disease Risk

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Molecular model of polypeptide parkinIdentification of early or prodromal stages of the diseases of neuroscience medicine is an important clinical and research goal.Identification of prodromal illness allows for enhanced surveillance and initiation of secondary prevention interventions.Impairment of smell or olfactory sensation is a key early clue for Parkinson's disease (PD).Danna Jennings and colleagues recently published an important study of the role of smell impairment in prodromal PD.This ........ Read more »

Jennings D, Siderowf A, Stern M, Seibyl J, Eberly S, Oakes D, Marek K, & PARS Investigators. (2014) Imaging prodromal Parkinson disease: the Parkinson Associated Risk Syndrome Study. Neurology, 83(19), 1739-46. PMID: 25298306  

  • November 16, 2015
  • 05:50 AM

The Neuroscience of Social Media: An Unofficial History

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

There's a new article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences about how neuroscientists can incorporate social media into their research on the neural correlates of social cognition (Meshi et al., 2015). The authors outlined the sorts of social behaviors that can be studied via participants' use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.: (1) broadcasting information; (2) receiving feedback; (3) observing others' broadcasts; (4) providing feedback; (5) comparing self to others.Meshi, Tamir, and Heekeren / Tr........ Read more »

Meshi D, Tamir TI, Heekeren HR. (2015) The Emerging Neuroscience of Social Media. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. info:/10.1016/j.tics.2015.09.004

  • November 15, 2015
  • 07:34 AM

Meta-Neuroscience: Studying the Brains of Neuroscientists

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

How do neuroscientists' brains work?

In a remarkable (and very meta) new paper, German researchers Frieder Michel Paulus et al. scanned some neuroscientists (their own colleagues) using fMRI, to measure the brain response to seeing neuroscience papers. The study is out now in PLoS ONE: Journal Impact Factor Shapes Scientists' Reward Signal in the Prospect of Publication

Paulus et al.'s paper has already got a lot of attention: it's been featured on the famous Improbable Research blog, ... Read more »

  • November 15, 2015
  • 06:51 AM

Know your brain: Vestibular system

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the vestibular system?The vestibular system is comprised of several structures and tracts, but the main components of the system are found in the inner ear in a system of interconnected compartments called the vestibular labyrinth. The vestibular labyrinth is made up of the semicircular canals and the otolith organs (all discussed below), and contains receptors for vestibular sensations. These receptors send vestibular information via the vestibulocochlear nerve to the cerebellum and to........ Read more »

Khan S, Chang R. (2013) Anatomy of the vestibular system: A review. NeuroRehabilitation, 32(3), 437-443. info:/

  • November 14, 2015
  • 04:18 PM

3-D printing aids in understanding food enjoyment

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Tasting food relies on food volatiles moving from the back of the mouth to the nasal cavity, but researchers have wondered why airflow doesn’t carry them in the other direction, into the lungs. Now a team of engineers, using a 3D printed model of the human airway from nostril to trachea, has determined that the shape of the airway preferentially transfers volatiles to the nasal cavity and allows humans to enjoy the smell of good food.... Read more »

Ni, R., Michalski, M., Brown, E., Doan, N., Zinter, J., Ouellette, N., & Shepherd, G. (2015) Optimal directional volatile transport in retronasal olfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1511495112  

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