Neuroscience

Do we hear sounds as they are, or do our expectations about what we are going to hear shape the way sound is processed? 

Through the use of computational neuroscience models, Bournemouth University’s Dr. Emili Balaguer-Ballester and colleagues are trying to map the way that the brain processes sound.

A study of 2,377 children with autism, their parents and siblings - data from families with one child with autism and one or more children without the condition - has led to new information on how different types of mutations affect autism risk.

The genetic data was obtained from exome sequencing, which looks at only the protein-coding portions of the genome and came from families participating in the Simons Simplex Collection and from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, including millions of genetic variants, and has been made freely available to other autism researchers.


Researchers have discovered that a brain protein plays a key role in controlling binge drinking, defined as drinking to the point of intoxication. They found that deleting the gene for this protein in mice ramped up alcohol consumption and prevented the brain from signaling the rewarding properties of alcohol. 

The goal of the new study was to identify the role of a member of the "G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium channel" (GIRK) family in the behavioral and cellular responses to alcohol.


Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to a new study which found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.


It's been known since the 16th century that neurons and blood vessels often traverse the body side by side but it was only more recently discovered that the growth of neuronal and vascular networks is controlled by the same molecules. 

“Most interesting is the interaction between neurons and blood vessels in the cerebral cortex. To date, we know very little about how neurons communicate with endothelial cells in order to structure a functional network in the brain.” explains Prof. Dr. Amparo Acker-Palmer, who plans to assess these processes in the layering of the cerebral cortex during embryonic development.

During the short, dreary days of winter, some people feel tired and oversleep, they are depressed and irritable and have trouble concentrating.  But once spring arrives, they say they feel fine.

4 percent of the American public say they suffer from this seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year.

Biologists know that variations in the amount of sunlight a person receives and her or his circadian clock play a role in the disorder and some have proposed that the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin may be involved. However, they have not yet identified the underlying neurobiological mechanisms responsible.


Virtual reality (VR) equipment has tended to be cumbersome and expensive, all heavy headsets and awkward gloves.

Until recently it’s been beyond the reach of the home consumer, but with the appearance of Oculus Rift (since bought by Facebook), Microsoft’s HoloLens, and even DIY options such as Google Cardboard, it seems VR is coming to a living room near you soon.

People with depression or bipolar disorder often feel their thinking ability has gotten "fuzzy", or less sharp than before their symptoms began, and a new study published in BRAIN finds that the effect is real - and rooted in brain activity differences that show up on advanced brain scans. 


Researchers have succeeded in reconstructing the neuronal networks that interconnect the elementary units of sensory cortex, called cortical columns. A key challenge in neuroscience research is identifying organizational principles of how the brain integrates sensory information from its environment to generate behavior. One of the major determinants of these principles is the structural organization of the highly complex, interconnected networks of neurons in the brain.

To help, researchers constructed anatomically-realistic 3D models of such neuronal networks in the rodent brain. 


People with insomnia and other sleep problems also report increased sensitivity to pain, reports a new study.

The study included more than 10,400 adults from a large, ongoing Norwegian health study. Each subject underwent a standard test of pain sensitivity--the cold pressor test--in which subjects are asked to keep their hand submerged in a cold water bath.The effect on pain tolerance appears strongest in people who suffer from both insomnia and chronic pain, who may benefit from treatments targeting both conditions.