Neuroscience

The human brain works by dividing labor. Although our thinking organ excels in displaying amazing flexibility and plasticity, typically different areas of the brain take over different tasks. While words and language are mainly being processed in the left hemisphere, the right hemisphere is responsible for numerical reasoning.

According to previous findings, this division of labor originates from the fact that the first steps in the processing of letters and numbers are also located individually in the different hemispheres. But this is not the case, at least not when it comes to the visual processing of numbers. 

Dr. Sébastien Jacquemont, a geneticist at the University of Montreal, has correlated genetics to intelligence. "We have just discovered, for example, that a missing copy of a region in chromosome 16 results in a 25-point intelligence quotient (IQ) drop in carriers. Addition of a copy in the same genomic region results in an approximate 16-point drop. Strangely enough, even if carriers show much differentiated sets of symptoms - and sometimes no symptoms at all - the specific effect of these two mutations seems to remain the same."

The brains of children who are obese function differently from those of children of healthy weight, and exhibit an "imbalance" between food-seeking and food-avoiding behaviors, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have found.

Diet and exercise may not be enough to restore normal weight or prevent overweight children from becoming obese, they conclude. It may be necessary to change their brain function.

In a paper published Thursday, Jan. 21, in the journal Heliyon, the researchers suggest that mindfulness, a practice used as a therapeutic technique to focus awareness, should be studied as a way to encourage healthy eating and weight loss in children.

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.