Neuroscience

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.

Adjusting a specific deep-brain circuit's firing frequency immediately and dramatically alters rats' forebrain activity and alertness levels,  which could eventually take deep brain stimulation to a whole new level.

Deep brain stimulation may one day have potential for restoring consciousness in minimally conscious patients and countering other cases of impaired consciousness. The findings also highlight the importance of determining optimal stimulation frequencies for DBS devices used across a wide range of brain disorders and demonstrate a method for making those determinations. 

Playing three-dimensional video games can boost the formation of memories, along with improving hand-eye coordination and reaction time, this finding shows the potential for novel virtual approaches to helping people who lose memory as they age or suffer from dementia. 

For their research, scholars recruited non-gamer college students to play either a video game with a passive, two-dimensional environment ("Angry Birds") or one with an intricate, 3-D setting ("Super Mario 3D World") for 30 minutes per day over two weeks.