Have you grown up without the ability to recognize voices? If so, University College London wants to hear from you (no pun intended).
Skin provides the first level of defense to infection, serving not only as a physical barrier, but also as a site for white blood cells to attack invading bacteria and viruses. The immune cells in skin can over-react, however, resulting in inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Stress can trigger an outbreak in patients suffering from inflammatory skin conditions. This cross talk between stress perception, which involves the brain, and the skin is mediated the through the "brain-skin connection". Yet, little is know about the means by which stress aggravates skin diseases.
The birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) does not end completely during development but continues throughout all life in two areas of the adult nervous system, i.e. subventricular zone and hippocampus. Recent research has shown that hippocampal neurogenesis is crucial for memory formation. These studies, however, have not yet clarified how the newborn neurons are integrated in the existing circuits and thus contribute to new memories formation and to the maintenance of old ones.
Learning a second language is usually difficult and often when we speak it we cannot disguise our origin or accent. However, there are important differences between individuals with regard to the degree to which a second language is mastered, even for people who have lived in a bilingual environment since childhood.
People living with synaesthesia (known as synaesthetes) experience abnormal interactions between the senses. Digit-color synaesthetes, for instance, will experience certain numbers in specific colors (for example, they might experience the number seven as red). A possible reason put forward for this phenomenon is the existence of extra connections between brain areas in synaesthetes, but the new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggests otherwise.
Are you missing that special someone? To let him or her know you really care, nothing says 'I love you' like a lab report showing your corticotropin-releasing factor levels are elevated.
A paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology
notes that evidence suggests social bonds have a positive impact on health and buffer against stressors. Absence or sudden disruption of those bonds can lead to anxiety-like and depressive-like disorders. "Thus," the authors say, "understanding the neurobiological consequences of partner loss, particularly with respect to increased susceptibility to depression, may be informative for developing strategies for coping with the loss of a loved one."
New studies conducted by April Benasich, professor of neuroscience at Rutgers University in Newark, and her colleagues reveal that gamma wave activity in the brains of children provide a window into their cognitive development, and could open the way for more effective intervention for those likely to experience language problems.
"Research into the adult brain has shown that gamma activity is the 'glue' that binds together perceptions, thoughts and memories," notes Benasich. "Little research, however, has been conducted into the development of gamma activity in the infant brain and its possible connection to cognitive and language skills."
Yale researchers have described how dueling brain systems may explain why you forget to drop off the dry cleaning and may point to ways that substance abusers and people with obsessive compulsive disorder can overcome bad habits.
In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Christopher J. Pittenger, M.D., and colleagues describe a sort of competition between areas of the brain involved in learning that results in what Pittenger calls the “dry cleaning effect.”
One area of the brain called the striatum helps record cues or landmarks that lead to a familiar destination. It is the area of the commuter’s brain that goes on autopilot and allows people to get to work, often with little memory of the trip.
Research into tobacco dependence published online today (Friday 17 October 2008) in the November issue of Addiction, has shown that recent ex-smokers who find exposure to other people's cigarette smoke pleasant are not any more likely to relapse than those who find it unpleasant.
Led by Dr Hayden McRobbie and Professor Peter Hajek of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, researchers examined the hypothesis that those who find the smell of smoke pleasant are more likely to relapse than those who have a neutral or negative reaction to it. Surprisingly, they concluded that finding the smell of other people's cigarettes pleasant does not make abstaining smokers any more likely to relapse.
Using brain imaging and chocolate milkshakes, scientists have found that women with weakened "reward circuitry" in their brains are at increased risk of weight gain over time and potential obesity. The risk increases even more for women who also have a gene associated with compromised dopamine signaling in the brain.
The results, drawn from two studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at the University of Oregon's Lewis Center for Neuroimaging, appear in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Science. The first-of-its-kind approach unveiled blunted activation in the brain's dorsal stratium when subjects were given milkshakes, which may reflect less-than-normal dopamine output.