Neuroscience

Older people who suffer "mental lapses," or episodes when their thinking seems disorganized or illogical, may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than people who do not have these lapses, according to a study published in the January 19, 2010, issue of Neurology.

These cognitive fluctuations, are common in a type of dementia called dementia with Lewy bodies, but researchers previously did not know how frequently they occurred in people with Alzheimer's disease and, equally important, what effect fluctuations might have on their thinking abilities or assessment scores.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have identified neurons in the songbird brain that convey the auditory feedback needed to learn a song. Their research, published in Neuron, lays the foundation for improving human speech, for example, in people whose auditory nerves are damaged and who must learn to speak without the benefit of hearing their own voices.

"This work is the first study to identify an auditory feedback pathway in the brain that is harnessed for learned vocal control," said Richard Mooney, Ph.D., Duke professor of neurobiology and senior author of the study. The researchers also devised an elegant way to carefully alter the activity of these neurons to prove that they interact with the motor networks that control singing.
 Loss of smell function may predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the January 13 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. The research links a loss of smell function in Alzheimer's disease (AD) model animals with amyloid ß (protein) accumulation in the brain, a distinguishing hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
Blocking the function of an enzyme called cPLA2 with a specific kind of vitamin E can prevent nerve cells from dying after a stroke, new research published in the Journal of Neurochemistry suggests. Using mouse brain cells, scientists found that the tocotrienol (TCT) form of vitamin E stopped the enzyme from releasing fatty acids that eventually kill neurons.

Vitamin E occurs naturally in eight different forms. The best-known form of vitamin E belongs to a variety called tocopherols. The form of vitamin E in this study, tocotrienol or TCT, is not abundant in the American diet but is available as a nutritional supplement. It is a common component of a typical Southeast Asian diet.
Joggers love their head phones. If you ask them why, they’ll tell you it keeps them motivated. The right song can transform what is by all rights an arduous half hour of ascetic masochism into an exhilarating whirlwind (or, in my case, into what feels like only 25 minutes of ascetic masochism).

Music-driven joggers may be experiencing a pleasurable diversion, but to the joggers and bikers in their vicinity, they’re Tasmanian Devils.
Neuroscientists have forged an interesting partnership with some unlikely molecular characters to accelerate their fight against diseases of the brain and nervous system. Researchers have brought together the herpes virus and a molecule known as Sleeping Beauty to improve gene therapy, a technology which aims to manipulate genes to correct for molecular flaws that cause disease.

Detailed in a paper published online in Gene Therapy, the effort has allowed scientists shuttle into brain cells a relatively large gene that can remain on for an extended period of time.
A team of radiologists publishing in Autism Research says that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) process sound and language a fraction of a second slower than children without ASDs, and measuring magnetic signals that mark this delay may become a standardized way to diagnose autism.

The researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG), which detects magnetic fields in the brain, similar to the way electroencephalography (EEG) detects electrical fields. Using a helmet that surrounds the child’s head, the team presents a series of recorded beeps, vowels and sentences. As the child’s brain responds to each sound, noninvasive detectors in the MEG machine analyze the brain’s changing magnetic fields.
If your friends and family give you trouble for spending too much time on your cell phone, scientists at the University of South Florida may have discovered the ultimate excuse for your constant yakking. In a surprising study published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers reported the first evidence that long-term exposure to electromagnetic waves associated with cell phone use may actually protect against, and even reverse, Alzheimer's disease. The study also challenges claims that EMF exposure causes brain cancer
Bacon and Eggs are delicious. And most people probably wouldn't mind having more of both in their diets for that reason alone. Pregnant women, however, may have a real reason to eat bacon and eggs: research published in the January 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal shows that choline, found in pork as well as chicken eggs, plays a critical role in helping fetal brains develop regions associated with memory. 
Many illusions are like spherically curved space. Below on the left (fig. 1 ) is a geometrical illusion, and on the right is a ball with some great arcs drawn on it.

Notice the similarities: the distortions in the illusion are qualitatively similar to the non-Euclidean nature of the contours on the ball.

Why? Is there something in perception that’s like curved space?

figure 1