Neuroscience

We know that there is sound on planets and moons in the solar system – places where there’s a medium through which sound waves can be transmitted, such as an atmosphere or an ocean. But what about empty space? You may have been told definitively that space is silent, maybe by your teacher or through the marketing of the movie Alien – “In space no one can hear you scream”. The common explanation for this is that space is a vacuum and so there’s no medium for sound to travel through.

But that isn’t exactly right. Space is never completely empty – there are a few particles and sound waves floating around. In fact, sound waves in the space around the Earth are very important to our continued technological existence. They also they sound pretty weird!

Taking music lessons increases brain fiber connections in children, according to a recent small study. The researchers studied 23 healthy children between the ages of five and six years old. All of the children were right handed and had no history of sensory, perception or neurological disorders.

None of the children had been trained in any artistic discipline in the past.

The study participants underwent pre- and post-musical-training evaluation with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the brain. DTI is an advanced MRI technique, which identifies microstructural changes in the brain's white matter.


Hearing voices that other people can’t is a meaningful experience. Like dreams, they can usually be understood in terms of one’s life experiences. Within mental health services, however, the prevailing medical model means some practitioners pay attention only to their presence, not their meaning.

A novel computational approach to design has created a new compound that in laboratory studies has reduced deficits and neurodegenerative symptoms that underlie Parkinson’s disease.

In their study, the researchers describe how their compound, dubbed NPT100-18A, prevents the binding and accumulation of alpha-synuclein or α-syn in neuronal membranes, now considered a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease and a related disorder called dementia with Lewy bodies.

A new review of acupuncture evidence published in Acupuncture in Medicine claims acupuncture may help to improve mild cognitive impairment, the memory loss that may precede the development of dementia - at least if medicine is also used.


Back in the good old days, most deaths were due to infectious diseases. Today, thanks to modern technology,life expectancy has increased and the pattern of deaths has changed. 

According to the CDC, today’s top ten leading causes of death only include two due toinfection. Both are infections of the lungs  - one is a mixture of infections (#3) and the other is influenza plus pneumonia (#8).

In humans and other mammals, the cerebral cortex is responsible for sensory, motor, and cognitive functions. Understanding the organization of the neuronal networks in the cortex should provide insights into the computations that they carry out.

A study shows that the global architecture of the cortical networks in primates (with large brains) and rodents (with small brains) is organized by common principles. Despite the overall network invariances, primate brains have much weaker long-distance connections, which could explain why large brains are more susceptible to certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease. 


For many years, scientists have believed that there is a connection between severe antisocial behavior and abnormal brain development. But there has been very little research testing this idea.

Why does delaying bedtime create chronic sleepiness?

We may be creeping a little closer to knowing, thanks to a paper on fruit flies in Cell
Fruit flies have sleep remarkably similar to people and researchers say they found a group of brain cells in charge of so-called sleep drive that becomes more active the longer flies are kept awake. The same mechanism, they say, also plays a role in putting the flies to sleep and keeping them that way.


Our brains work on inductance, that is why electricity can take us to a very weird place. But safe levels of electrical stimulation can enhance your capacity to think more creatively, according to a new paper in Cerebral Cortex.