In autism, brain regions tailored to respond to voices are poorly connected to reward-processing circuits, according to a new study by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The research could help explain why children with autism struggle to grasp the social and emotional aspects of human speech. "Weak brain connectivity may impede children with autism from experiencing speech as pleasurable," said Vinod Menon, PhD, senior author of the study, published online June 17 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[Videos] Read Montague is interested in the human dopamine system -- or, as he puts it in this illuminating talk from TEDGlobal 2012, that which makes us "chase sex, food and salt" and therefore survive. (...) - by Kate Torgovnick, TED blog, September 24, 2012
The first role of trained infotention is to recognize whether or not multitasking, single-minded focus, or alert but diffused attention is the most appropriate mind-tool for the task at hand. However, for those many situations in which multitasking is either necessary or preferable or both, the most important question is whether -- and to what degree -- multitasking more effectively is a learnable skill. -- Howard
"Results showed that participants did much better at multitasking after training. Interestingly the benefits transferred to the untrained dual task. Brain training can thus be used to get better at multitasking!"
Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings. (...) - By Yasmin Anwar, Media Relations UC Berkeley News Center, December 19, 2012
The CDC estimated a 1% worldwide prevalence for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In the United States, 1 out of 88 kids is diagnosed with ASD (according to data from a survey conducted in 2008). Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by diminished social interaction skills, stereotypic engagement in repetitive tasks, lengthy visual engagement with a target, refusal to deviate from set rituals and diminished spontaneity in expressing emotions. In addition to behavioral difficulties, reduced motor abilities are also reported. (...) - by Shefali Sabharanjak, PhD, Brain Blogger, February 27, 2013
[Abstract] Over the past three decades numerous imaging studies have revealed structural and functional brain abnormalities in patients with neuropsychiatric diseases. These structural and functional brain changes are frequently found in multiple, discrete brain areas and may include frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital cortices as well as subcortical brain areas. However, while the structural and functional brain changes in patients are found in anatomically separated areas, these are connected through (long distance) fibers, together forming networks. Thus, instead of representing separate (patho)-physiological entities, these local changes in the brains of patients with psychiatric disorders may in fact represent different parts of the same ‘elephant’, i.e., the (altered) brain network. Recent developments in quantitative analysis of complex networks, based largely on graph theory, have revealed that the brain's structure and functions have features of complex networks. Here we briefly introduce several recent developments in neural network studies relevant for psychiatry, including from the 2013 special issue on Neural Networks in Psychiatry in European Neuropsychopharmacology. We conclude that new insights will be revealed from the neural network approaches to brain imaging in psychiatry that hold the potential to find causes for psychiatric disorders and (preventive) treatments in the future. - by Pol HH et al., European Neuropsychopharmacology, in Press, Available online 8 February 2013
Pacific Standard Your Child's Brain on Math Pacific Standard Parents whose children are struggling with math often view intense tutoring as the best way to help them master crucial skills, but a new study released on Monday suggests that for some...
Synaptic mechanisms underlying memory reconsolidation after retrieval are largely unknown. Here we report that synapses in projections to the lateral nucleus of the amygdala implicated in auditory fear conditioning, which are potentiated by learning, enter a labile state after memory reactivation, and must be restabilized through a postsynaptic mechanism implicating the mammalian target of rapamycin kinase-dependent signaling. Fear-conditioning–induced synaptic enhancements were primarily presynaptic in origin. Reconsolidation blockade with rapamycin, inhibiting mammalian target of rapamycin kinase activity, suppressed synaptic potentiation in slices from fear-conditioned rats. Surprisingly, this reduction of synaptic efficacy was mediated by post- but not presynaptic mechanisms. These findings suggest that different plasticity rules may apply to the processes underlying the acquisition of original fear memory and postreactivational stabilization of fear-conditioning–induced synaptic enhancements mediating fear memory reconsolidation. - by Li Y. et al., PNAS, vol. 110 no. 12, 4798–4803
"There is...a growing body of research that technology can be both beneficial and harmful to different ways in which children think. Moreover, this influence isn’t just affecting children on the surface of their thinking. Rather, because their brains are still developing and malleable, frequent exposure by so-called digital natives to technology is actually wiring the brain in ways very different than in previous generations. What is clear is that, as with advances throughout history, the technology that is available determines how our brains develops. For example, as the technology writer Nicholas Carr has observed, the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative. In contrast, the rise of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently.
"The effects of technology on children are complicated, with both benefits and costs. Whether technology helps or hurts in the development of your children’s thinking depends on what specific technology is used and how and what frequency it is used. At least early in their lives, the power to dictate your children’s relationship with technology and, as a result, its influence on them, from synaptic activity to conscious thought.
"Over the next several weeks, I’m going to focus on the areas in which the latest thinking and research has shown technology to have the greatest influence on how children think: attention, information overload, decision making, and memory/learning. Importantly, all of these areas are ones in which you can have a counteracting influence on how technology affects your children."
The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity. (...) - by John Markoff, The New York Times, February 17,2013
A better understanding of the role of chemokines and their receptors in the CNS in addition to the immune system.This review focuses on recent data about three couples CXCL12/CXCR4, CCL2/CCR2, and CX3CL1/CX3CR1 in the adult CNS.Description of their cellular expression, distributions, and roles in neurotransmission and neuromodulation.This review summarizes current evidence on the role of these chemokine systems in the pathogenesis of CNS disorders.
by Réaux-Le Goazigo A. et al., Progress in Neurobiology, In Press, Available online 27 February 2013
As part of our State of Opportunity reporting project, Michigan Radio's Jennifer White hosted a special, hour-long call-in show examining the importance (RT @Ready_Nation: Radion in #Michigan on #PreK education http://t.co/Bs9ZJelu...