Neuroscience

 According to a new study soon to appear in NeuroImage, active cocaine abusers were, on average, able to suppress activity in brain regions linked to drug cravings when asked to inhibit their response to a "cocaine-cues" video.

The findings suggest that clinical interventions designed to strengthen these inhibitory responses could help cocaine abusers stop using drugs and avoid relapse.

Scientists used a brain-scanning technique called positron emission tomography (PET) and a radioactively "tagged" form of glucose — the brain's main fuel — to measure brain activity in 24 active cocaine abusers during three different conditions: 1) while subjects simply lay
Around 5% of people are claustrophobic, fearing tight spaces and restricted movements. One of the major sources of fear by claustrophobics is the fear of suffocating. As it turns out, suffocating is downright terrifying all by itself, and it's not just the overall fear of death kicking in: according to new research published in Cell, increases in CO2 can actually induce fear via pH levels in our brains.
Whether you're a liberal or a libertarian, it's generally accepted across the political spectrum that, in some form, the opportunity to make a lot of money drives the economic recessions and depressions the global economy experiences.

Since we seem doomed to repeat the mistakes that brings us to the brink of economic meltdown every few decades, is there perhaps a scientific explanation for our behavior?

According to a study soon to appear in Cortex, monetary gain, or even the mere possibility of receiving a reward, is known to activate an area of the brain called the striatum, and high-risk/high-gain decisions cause higher levels of activation than more conservative decisions.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have identified a gene, FoxJ1, that tells embryonic stem cells in the brain when to stop producing neurons. The research is a significant advance in understanding the development of the nervous system, which is essential to addressing conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders.
 
The bulk of neuron production in the central nervous system takes place before birth, and comes to a halt by birth. But scientists have identified specific regions in the core of the brain that retain stem cells into adulthood and continue to produce new neurons.
No one draws pictures of heads with little gears or hydraulics inside any more. The modern conceptualization of the brain is firmly computational. The brain may be wet, squooshy, and easy to serve with an ice cream scooper, but it is nevertheless a computer. 


However, there is a rather blaring difficulty with this view, and it is encapsulated in the following question: If our brains are computers, why doesn’t size matter? In the real world of computers, bigger tends to mean smarter. But this is not the case for animals: bigger brains are not generally smarter. Most of the brain size differences across mammals seem to make no behavioral difference at all to the animal.
Mice who had the PKCI/HINT1 gene removed had an anti-depressant-like and anxiolytic-like effect, say esearchers writing in BMC Neuroscience who applied a battery of behavioral tests to the PKCI/HINT1 knockout animals, concluding that the deleted gene may have an important role in mood regulation. Elisabeth Barbier and Jia Bei Wang, from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland, USA, carried out the experiments to investigate the role of the gene in regulating mood function. Wang, the corresponding author of the paper, said, "The knockout mice displayed behaviors indicative of changes in mood function, such as increased perseverance and reduced anxiety in open spaces".
Enhancing the effects of dopamine influences how people make life choices by affecting expectations of pleasure, according to new research from the UCL Institute of Neurology.

 Published today in Current Biology, the study confirms an important role for dopamine in how human expectations are formed and how people make complex decisions. It also contributes to an understanding of how pleasure expectation can go awry, for example in drug addiction.

The study builds on earlier research which used brain imaging as participants imagined holiday destinations. An area of the brain called the straitum tracked expectations and the
If you're sore from a strenuous workout or your thumb is pulsating because you hit it with a hammer, look at a pretty picture or listen to your favorite song. It just might help you cope with whatever unpleasant feeling you're experiencing . That's the conclusion of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looked at the connection between human emotions and physical pain.

"Emotions – or mood – can alter how we react to pain since they're interlinked," says lead author Mathieu Roy. "Our tests revealed when pain is perceived by our brain and how that pain can be amplified when combined with negative emotions."
Boston University Researchers have shown that intermittent access to fatty and sugary foods induces changes in the brain that are comparable to those observed in drug dependence. The findings, reported in the  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help explain how abstinence from these foods contributes to relapse eating among dieters as well as related eating disorders.

The researchers used 155 rats to measure the neurobiological responses. The first group, the diet cycled subjects, repeatedly ate standard rat chow for five days, followed by a highly palatable, high-sugar, chocolate-flavored chow for two days.
Everybody has memories they'd like to forget forever. Now, thanks to research conducted by scientists at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, there might be a pill for that.

According to their study recently published in Science, it may soon be possible to control fear memories with extinction-based drug therapies.

The Researchers studied proteins in mice known as extracellular matrix chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans and discovered that they form 'neural nets' in the brain which protect against the erasure of fear memories. By giving the mice a drug called chondroitinase ABC, the researchers say they were able to degrade these perineuronal nets and render subsequently acquired fear memories susceptible to erasure.