Neuroscience

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center say that increasing the normally occurring process of making nerve cells might prevent addiction. The conclusion is based on a rodent study demonstrating that blocking new growth of specific brain nerve cells increases vulnerability for cocaine addiction and relapse.

Published in Journal of Neuroscience, the study's findings are the first to directly link addiction with the process, called neurogenesis, in the region of the brain called the hippocampus.

While the research specifically focused on what happens when neurogenesis is blocked, the scientists said the results suggest that increasing adult neurogenesis might be a potential way to combat drug addiction and relapse.
New research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows that abuse or emotional neglect during childhood combined with genetic factors can result in structural brain changes, rendering some individuals more vulnerable to  depression. The study results appear in Neuropsychopharmacology.
New research from Tel Aviv University and MIT suggests that magnesium, a key nutrient for the functioning of memory, may be even more critical than previously thought. The multi-center experiment focused on a new magnesium supplement, magnesium-L-theronate (MgT), and found that the synthetic compound enhances memory or prevents its impairment in young and aging animals. The research was carried out over a five-year period and may have significant implications for the use of over-the-counter magnesium supplements.
University of Pittsburgh researchers say they have taken a significant step toward unraveling the brain activity that drives adolescents to engage in impulsive, self-indulgent, or self-destructive behavior. Published in the current edition of Behavioral Neuroscience, the study demonstrates that adolescent brains are more sensitive to internal and environmental factors than adult brains and suggests that the teenage tendency to experiment with drugs and develop psychological disorders could stem from this susceptibility.

Although the exact mechanics of the adolescent brain's reaction need further investigation, the current study may be a good starting point for mapping the neural path from stimuli to behavior in the adolescent brain.
Did music evolve before language?  It's not a trivial idea and there has been debate about it since literally the days of Darwin - Sir Charles himself proposed the notion in "The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex" that a 'musical protolanguage' model could mean that music came before language.
The criteria used to assign patients to specific psychiatric disease categories are set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. (There is also a World Health Organisation equivalent, the International Classification of Disease). Every so often, these criteria are revised to reflect new research and changing concepts of disease. The APA has just released a draft of preliminary revisions to the current diagnostic criteria (available at http://www.dsm5.org/) as part of the preparations for the fifth release (DSM-5), due out in 2013.
There's a reason attractive human faces are used to market just about everything consumers purchase today – when people see pretty faces, their brains begin computing how much the experience is worth. New brain-imaging research shows it's even possible to predict how much people might be willing to pay to see a particular face. Scientists say the findings may allow them to predict future purchases of different market segments.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that as participants were watching a sequence of faces, their brains were simultaneously evaluating those faces in two distinct ways: for the quality of the viewing experience and for what they would trade to see the face again.
Although it is well established that all behaviors and experiences, spiritual or otherwise, must originate in the brain, information on the causative link between brain activity and spirituality is lacking. Neuroimaging studies have associated activity within a large network in the brain that connects the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortexes with spiritual experiences, but researchers have been unable to establish a causative relationship between such a network and spirituality.

In order to establish that relationship, researchers studied the personality trait self-transcendence (ST), which is thought to be a measure of spiritual feeling, thinking, and behaviors, in patients before and after surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Researchers have isolated an independent processing channel of synapses inside the brain's auditory cortex that deals specifically with shutting off sound processing at appropriate times. The discovery, detailed this week in Neuron, challenges a long-held assumption that the signaling of a sound's appearance and its subsequent disappearance are both handled by the same pathway.

The new finding could lead to new, distinctly targeted therapies such as improved hearing devices, said Michael Wehr, a professor of psychology and member of the University of Oregon Institute of Neuroscience.
A study of the phenomenon known as loss aversion in two patients with lesions to the amygdala, a region deep within the brain involved in emotions and decision-making, may help explain how we make decisions and what makes us dislike the thought of losing money.

 Loss aversion describes the avoidance of choices which can lead to losses, even when accompanied by equal or much larger gains . Examples in the everyday life include how we make a decision on whether to proceed with an operation: the more serious the potential complications from the operation – even if the risk is low compared to the chances of success – the less likely we would be to proceed.