Neuroscience

Human sounds may convey emotions clearer and faster than words, according to a new paper.

It takes just one-tenth of a second for our brains to begin to recognize emotions conveyed by vocalizations, according to the researchers\. It doesn't matter whether the non-verbal sounds are growls of anger, the laughter of happiness or cries of sadness. More importantly, the researchers have also discovered that we pay more attention when an emotion - such as happiness, sadness or anger - is expressed through vocalizations than we do when the same emotion is expressed in speech.

A songbirds' vocal muscles work like those of human speakers and singers, finds a new study. The research on Bengalese finches showed that each of their vocal muscles can change its function to help produce different parameters of sounds, in a manner similar to that of a trained opera singer.

Pitch, for example, is important to songbird vocalization, but there is no single muscle devoted to controlling it. They don't just contract one muscle to change pitch, they have to activate a lot of different muscles in concert, and these changes are different for different vocalizations. Depending on what syllable the bird is singing, a particular muscle might increase pitch or decrease pitch.

Naturally occurring changes in brain wiring can help patients at high genetic risk of developing bipolar disorder avert the onset of the illness, according to a new study in Translational Psychiatry.  

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes fluctuations in patients' mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder is highly heritable, meaning that people with a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder have a much greater risk of developing the illness, compared with individuals with no family history.

Over the past decade, neuroimaging studies, basically taking snapshots of neural circuitry as behavior occurs and mapping cause to effect, have sought to identify components of a neural circuit that operates across various domains of creativity. A new paper suggests, however, that creativity cannot be fully explained in terms of the activation or deactivation of a fixed network of brain regions. Rather, the scholars say, when creative acts engage brain areas involved in emotional expression, activity in these regions strongly influences which parts of the brain's creativity network are activated, and to what extent.

It’s that time of year when we raise a glass to celebrate Christmas, the beginning of holidays, the new year, or simply to join with our friends. Many of us will pay a price, even if it’s “just” in the form of a hangover.

Brain scans from nearly 200 adolescent boys provide evidence that the brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently.

Chronic video game play is associated with hyperconnectivity between several pairs of brain networks. Some of the changes are predicted to help game players respond to new information. Other changes are associated with distractibility and poor impulse control. The research, a collaboration between the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Chung-Ang University in South Korea.

(Boston)--For the first time, CTE has been confirmed as a unique disease that can be definitively diagnosed by neuropathological examination of brain tissue. A consensus panel of expert neuropathologists concluded that CTE has a pathognomonic signature in the brain, an advance that represents a milestone for CTE research and lays the foundation for future studies defining the clinical symptoms, genetic risk factors and therapeutic strategies for CTE.

The neuropathological criteria defining CTE, or the NINDS CTE criteria, which appear in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, had been announced earlier this year at the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) board meeting.

Taste buds vary widely in humans, which is one reason why some kids prefer sweet or salty treats and others do not, but it may also be the reason that some kids need more sugar to get that same sweet taste.  

The amygdala, a small structure at the front end of the brain's temporal lobe, has long been associated with negative behaviors generally, and specifically with fear. But new research shows this collection of nuclei can also influence positive social functions like kindness and what might be called charitable giving in humans. 

  

How are insomniacs able to function well with less sleep than others? It may be a beneficial biological trait.