Neuroscience

 Deteriorating screws in bridges, fish that listen in the dark, medical devices that use sound to treat disease, the detected comeback of a long-gone whale, the sound of hyenas, cheese, and bagpipes, and what evolution can teach us about cowardice.

These are just a few of the topics that will be covered at the 157th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), which convenes from May 18-22 at the Hilton Portland&Executive Tower in Portland, Oregon. There, acoustical scientists and engineers will present more than 1,000 talks and posters related to acoustics, a cross-section of diverse disciplines devoted to architecture, underwater research, psychology, physics, animal bioacoustics, medicine, music, noise control, and speech.



Every brain has a soundtrack. Its tempo and tone will vary, depending on mood, frame of mind, and other features of the brain itself. When that soundtrack is recorded and played back -- to an emergency responder, or a firefighter -- it may sharpen their reflexes during a crisis, and calm their nerves afterward.
Utah and Texas researchers have learned how quiet sounds are magnified by bundles of tiny, hair-like tubes atop “hair cells” in the ear: when the tubes dance back and forth, they act as “flexoelectric motors” that amplify sound mechanically.

“We are reporting discovery of a new nanoscale motor in the ear,” says Richard Rabbitt, the study’s principal author and a professor and chair of bioengineering at the University of Utah College of Engineering. “The ear has a mechanical amplifier in it that uses electrical power to do mechanical amplification.”
When we emerge from a supermarket laden down with bags and faced with a sea of vehicles, how do we remember where we've parked our car and translate the memory into the correct action to get back there? A paper in PLoS Biology identifies the specific parts of the brain responsible for solving this everyday problem, which could have implications for understanding the functional significance of a prominent brain abnormality observed in neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia. 
A collaboration between more than 70 researchers across the globe has uncovered nine new genes on the X chromosome that, when knocked-out, lead to learning disabilities. The international team studied almost all X chromosome genes in 208 families with learning disabilities - the largest screen of this type ever reported. 
New research provides insight into how the brain can execute different actions in response to the same stimulus. The study, published by Cell Press in the April 16 issue of the journal Neuron, suggests that information from single brain cells cannot be interpreted differently within a short time period, a finding that is important for understanding both normal cognition and psychiatric disorders.
A UQ researcher has revealed a new treatment for a speech disorder that commonly affects those who have suffered a stroke or brain injury. 

PhD graduate Dr Rachel Wenke has shown in a recent study that the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment® may be an effective option for dysarthria patients suffering from stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

Dysarthria is a speech disorder which negatively affects a person's ability to communicate as they can be difficult to understand and may sound like they have slurred or unclear speech. 

The disorder affects 75% of individuals with Parkinson's disease, up to 30% of those who have experienced a stroke and about 60% of individuals with TBI. 
After about seven months growing in the womb, a human fetus spends most of its time asleep. Its brain cycles back and forth between the frenzied activity of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and the quiet resting state of non-REM sleep. But whether the brains of younger, immature fetuses cycle with sleep or are simply inactive has remained a mystery - until now.


Researchers from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) in the Faculty of Medicine at University of Calgary have uncovered the first evidence that neurons talk to ‘glial’ cells in the digestive tract: a discovery that could help find a way to regulate and restore balance in the gut for the one in 10 Canadians suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the more than 200,000 Canadians suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 
According to a new study published by the Mayo Clinic, patients with Parkinson disease (PD) have another problem to deal with. Researchers have found that one in six patients taking therapeutic doses of
certain prescription drugs for management of PD have developed troubling behavioral symptoms. The most problematic symptoms include compulsive gambling and hypersexuality.