Social Neuroscience Advances
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Neural stem cells in the adult human brain

For decades, it was believed that the adult brain was a quiescent organ unable to produce new neurons. At the beginning of the1960's, this dogma was challenged by a small group of neuroscientists. To date, it is well-known that new neurons are generated in the adult brain throughout life. Adult neurogenesis is primary confined to the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the forebrain and the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus within the hippocampus. In both the human and the rodent brain, the primary progenitor of adult SVZ is a subpopulation of astrocytes that have stem-cell-like features. The human SVZ possesses a peculiar cell composition and displays important organizational differences when compared to the SVZ of other mammals. Some evidence suggests that the human SVZ may be not only an endogenous source of neural precursor cells for brain repair, but also a source of brain tumors. In this review, we described the cytoarchitecture and cellular composition of the SVZ in the adult human brain. We also discussed some clinical implications of SVZ, such as: stem-cell-based therapies against neurodegenerative diseases and its potential as a source of malignant cells. Understanding the biology of human SVZ and its neural progenitors is one of the crucial steps to develop novel therapies against neurological diseases in humans.

Via Miloš Bajčetić
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What happens in your brain when you make a memory?

What happens in your brain when you make a memory? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
You might imagine memory is a Santa’s sack of life events and the first half of jokes. You would be wrong. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains all in our new series, Use your head

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The rise and fall of cognitive skills – different parts of the brain work best at different ages

The rise and fall of cognitive skills – different parts of the brain work best at different ages | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline. However, more recent findings, including a new study from neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suggest that the real picture is much more complex.

The study, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, finds that different components of fluid intelligence peak at different ages, some as late as age 40.

 

“At any given age, you’re getting better at some things, you’re getting worse at some other things, and you’re at a plateau at some other things. There’s probably not one age at which you’re peak on most things, much less all of them,” says Joshua Hartshorne, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and one of the paper’s authors.

 

“It paints a different picture of the way we change over the lifespan than psychology and neuroscience have traditionally painted,” adds Laura Germine, a postdoc in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental genetics at MGH and the paper’s other author.

 

Through the websites gameswithwords.org and testmybrain.org, Hartshorne and Germine were able to harness the power of the Internet to run a large-scale study with participants across a broad age range. They examined four different cognitive tasks, as well as a task that measured participants’ ability to perceive others’ emotional state.

 

Together, test data from nearly 50,000 subjects provided a very clear picture that showed each cognitive skill peaking at a different age. For example, the speed with which participants processed information appeared to peak early, around age 18 or 19, and then immediately started to decline. Short-term memory seemed to improve until around age 25, level off for several years, and then begin to drop around age 35. The ability to evaluate other people’s emotional states, on the other hand, peaked much later, when participants were in their 40s or 50s.

 

It’s not yet clear why these skills tend to peak at different ages, but previous research suggests that it may have to do with changes in gene expression or brain structure as we age.

 

The researchers also included a vocabulary test, which serves as a measure of what is known as crystallized intelligence — the accumulation of facts and knowledge. While the results confirmed that crystallized intelligence peaks later in life, the new data indicated that the peak occurred when participants were in their late 60s or early 70s, even later than previously thought.

 

The researchers believe this could be explained by today’s adults having higher levels of education, jobs that require a lot of reading, and more opportunities for intellectual stimulation in comparison to previous generations.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Miloš Bajčetić, Lynnette Van Dyke
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Dementia breakthrough: Experts reveal two key ways to fight disease

Dementia breakthrough: Experts reveal two key ways to fight disease | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
KEEPING the brain active and eating a healthy diet are the best ways to protect against dementia in old age, say experts.

 

Two breakthrough new studies have revealed that being good with words and eating just a handful of walnuts every day can help stave off the ravages of the brain disease. The simple tips mean that millions of people could protect themselves from Alzheimer's in old age by introducing the easy changes to their daily lives.

 

Proving the old adage "use it or lose it", a new study has shown that being good with words could help stave off ageing conditions including dementia. Experts have discovered that having a rich and varied vocabulary, just like TV personalities Stephen Fry and Will Self, protects against brain decline. As people get older, their brain's intelligence is put under strain. But researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain have studied what factors can help to improve this ability and they conclude that having a higher level of vocabulary is one such factor.

 

"Cognitive reserve" is the name given to the brain's capacity to compensate for the loss of its functions. Cristina Lojo Seoane, co-author of the study published in the journal Annals of Psychology, said: "We focused on level of vocabulary as it is considered an indicator of crystallised intelligence - the use of previously acquired intellectual skills. he said:

 

"This led us to the conclusion that a higher level of vocabulary, as a measure of cognitive reserve, can protect against cognitive impairment."

 

A second study, from experts at New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), revealed that eating a diet packed with a handful of walnuts every day can have a major impact on keeping dementia at bay.  The new research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found that potent ingredients in the popular nuts can have a beneficial effects in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, slowing the progression of, or preventing Alzheimer's.

 

Led by Dr Abha Chauhan, the study found significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet. The researchers believe that it is the high antioxidant content of walnuts which may protect the brain from the degeneration typically seen in Alzheimer's.

 

Read more here: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/526195/New-dementia-breakthrough-experts-two-ways-fight-disease

 

The associated research articles can be read here: 

http://iospress.metapress.com/content/n644184610325684/

[Spanish] http://revistas.um.es/analesps/article/view/analesps.30.3.158481


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, October 29, 2014 11:07 AM

Exercise http://sco.lt/789qRV and Green Tea http://sco.lt/8niYE5 have also been shown to be effective in preventing dementia

 

Elderly suffering from dementia may not remember events but they do remember feelings http://sco.lt/7jzwWX

 

More scoops about Alzheimer's can be read here: 

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Alzheimer%E2%80%99s

 

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A compound found in turmeric encourages brain repair

A compound found in turmeric encourages brain repair | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Scientists have discovered that a common curry spice encourages the growth of neural stem cells in rats, and could help the brain heal itself.

 

New research suggests that aromatic-tumerone, a compound found in the spice turmeric, could be used to create future drugs to treat patients with neural impairment, such as sufferers of strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Research Centre Juelich in Germany studied the impact that aromatic-tumerone has on neural cells by injecting the compound into the brains of rats. Scans revealed that, after being injected with the compound, the regions of the brain involved in nerve cell growth were more active. 

 

The researchers also tested the impact of the compound directly on neural stem cells, which are cells that have the ability to transform into any type of brain cell and, in theory, should be able to repair damage or disease. But in humans and other mammals this process doesn’t seem to work so well.

 

"In humans and higher developed animals their abilities do not seem to be sufficient to repair the brain but in fish and smaller animals they seem to work well,” Maria Adele Rueger, a neuroscientist who was part of the research team, told Smitha Mundasad from BBC News.

 

The turmeric compound also sped up the differentiation of the stem cells. The results are published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy http://stemcellres.com/content/5/4/100

 

Read more here: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20142909-26250.html


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, October 8, 2014 3:33 AM

My PhD research was on the bioactive properties of gingers and I find this study rather interesting. I did not work on stem cells and I focused more on the Etlingera genus but turmeric is interesting nonetheless.  http://arrow.monash.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/monash:25662

 

Read more scoops on functional foods and regenerative medicine here: 

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Regeneration

http://www.scoop.it/t/food-health-and-nutrition/?tag=Functional+Foods

 

Susan Walker-Meere's curator insight, October 19, 2014 3:32 PM

Using ethnological knowledge, one would think that simmering it in oil like curries are prepared or making it bio-available during a fermentation process like in a kimchi, or adding to a secondary kefir ferment would make it more efficacious.

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Mapping the social and cognitive functions of the brain

Mapping the social and cognitive functions of the brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

By studying the injuries and aptitudes of Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating head wounds during the war, researchers have found that brain regions that contribute to optimal social functioning are also vital to general intelligence and emotional intelligence.

 

“We are trying to understand the nature of general intelligence and to what extent our intellectual abilities are grounded in social cognitive abilities,” said Aron Barbey, a University of Illinois professor of neuroscience, psychology, and speech and hearing science. Barbey, an affiliate of the Beckman Institute and he Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, led the new study with an international team of collaborators. 

 

The study involved 144 Vietnam veterans injured by shrapnel or bullets that penetrated the skull, damaging distinct brain tissues while leaving neighboring tissues intact. Using CT scans, the scientists painstakingly mapped the affected brain regions of each participant, then pooled the data to build a collective map of the brain. They then looked for damage in specific brain regions tied to deficits in the participants’ ability to navigate intellectual, emotional or social realms. Social problem solving in this analysis primarily involved conflict resolution with friends, family and peers at work.

 

As in their earlier studies of general intelligence and emotional intelligence, the researchers found that regions of the frontal cortex (at the front of the brain), the parietal cortex (further back near the top of the head) and the temporal lobes (on the sides of the head behind the ears) are all implicated in social problem solving. The regions that contributed to social functioning in the parietal and temporal lobes were located only in the brain’s left hemisphere, while both left and right frontal lobes were involved.

 

Read the full article here:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-social-origins-of-intelligence-in-the-brain

 

Findings were reported in the journal Brain and can be read here:

http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/07/27/brain.awu207


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Eric Chan Wei Chiang
Jocelyn Stoller's insight:

Strange that CT scans were used. High resolution Functional MRI would show both structure and activity. Other imaging methods such as optogenetics, MEG, TMS, BOLD, etc. could also help to pinpoint these areas without using radiation on an already-injured brain.

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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, August 2, 2014 12:30 PM

There is a popular myth that humans use no more than 10% of their brains throughout their entire life. This has been shown to be untrue as brain damage consistently results in loss of function. Nonetheless, this myth provided the premise for some great movies such as the 2014 film, Lucy 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_(2014_film)

 

Read more scoops on the brain here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Brain

Helen Teague's curator insight, August 3, 2014 9:32 AM

From Dr. Stefan Gruenwald:

By studying the injuries and aptitudes of Vietnam War veterans who suffered penetrating head wounds during the war, researchers have found that brain regions that contribute to optimal social functioning are also vital to general intelligence and emotional intelligence.

 

This finding, reported in the journal Brain, bolsters the view that general intelligence emerges from the emotional and social context of one’s life.

“We are trying to understand the nature of general intelligence and to what extent our intellectual abilities are grounded in social cognitive abilities,” said Aron Barbey, a University of Illinois professor of neuroscience, psychology, and speech and hearing science.

 

Barbey, an affiliate of the Beckman Institute and he Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, led the new study with an international team of collaborators.

 

The study involved 144 Vietnam veterans injured by shrapnel or bullets that penetrated the skull, damaging distinct brain tissues while leaving neighboring tissues intact. Using CT scans, the scientists painstakingly mapped the affected brain regions of each participant, then pooled the data to build a collective map of the brain.

 

The researchers used a battery of carefully designed tests to assess participants’ intellectual, emotional and social capabilities. They then looked for damage in specific brain regions tied to deficits in the participants’ ability to navigate intellectual, emotional or social realms. Social problem solving in this analysis primarily involved conflict resolution with friends, family and peers at work.

 

As in their earlier studies of general intelligence and emotional intelligence, the researchers found that regions of the frontal cortex (at the front of the brain), the parietal cortex (further back near the top of the head) and the temporal lobes (on the sides of the head behind the ears) are all implicated in social problem solving. The regions that contributed to social functioning in the parietal and temporal lobes were located only in the brain’s left hemisphere, while both left and right frontal lobes were involved.

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Chronic stress hurts your memory

Chronic stress hurts your memory | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Studies show that memory and stress are more connected than we once thought. There's nothing like stress to make your memory go a little spotty. A 2010 study found that chronic stress reduces spatial memory: the memory that helps you recall locations and relate objects.

 

University of Iowa researchers recently found a connection between the stress hormone cortisol and short-term memory loss in older rats. Their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience this week, showed that cortisol reduced synapses -- connections between neurons -- in the animals' pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain that houses short-term memory.

 

But there's a difference between how your brain processes long-term job stress, for example, and the stress of getting into a car accident. Research suggests low levels of anxiety can affect your ability to recall memories; acute or high-anxiety situations, on the other hand, can actually reinforce the learning process.

 

Acute stress increases your brain's ability to encode and recall traumatic events, according to studies. These memories get stored in the part of the brain responsible for survival, and serve as a warning and defense mechanism against future trauma.

 

If the stress you're experiencing is ongoing, however, there can be devastating effects.

 

Read the accompanying slideshow: 6 ways to keep the brain young

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/17/health/memory-stress-link/

 

Read the academic publications here:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584609003893

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/34/25/8387

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22688258

 

 


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, June 20, 2014 2:51 AM

Stress has a lot to do with how adversity is perceived. Stess helps us perform better to overcome adversity but over time optimism and impetus changes to depression. Indeed, scientists have also found a link between stress and depression  http://sco.lt/777VfF

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Electric “thinking cap” controls learning speed

Electric “thinking cap” controls learning speed | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Electric “thinking cap” controls learning speed. Vanderbilt psychologists show it is possible to selectively manipulate our ability to learn through the application of a mild electrical current to the brain, and that this effect can be enhanced or depressed depending on the direction of the current.

 

Vanderbilt psychologists Robert Reinhart, a Ph.D. candidate, and Geoffrey Woodman, assistant professor of psychology, show that it is possible to selectively manipulate our ability to learn through the application of a mild electrical current to the brain, and that this effect can be enhanced or depressed depending on the direction of the current.

 

Using an elastic headband that secured two electrodes conducted by saline-soaked sponges to the cheek and the crown of the head, the researchers applied 20 minutes of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to each subject. In tDCS, a very mild direct current travels from the anodal electrode, through the skin, muscle, bones and brain, and out through the corresponding cathodal electrode to complete the circuit. “It’s one of the safest ways to noninvasively stimulate the brain,” Reinhart said. The current is so gentle that subjects reported only a few seconds of tingling or itching at the beginning of each stimulation session.

 

After 20 minutes of stimulation, subjects were given a learning task that involved figuring out by trial and error which buttons on a game controller corresponded to specific colors displayed on a monitor. The researchers found that the effects of a 20-minute stimulation did transfer to other tasks and lasted about five hours.

The implications of the findings extend beyond the potential to improve learning. It may also have clinical benefits in the treatment of conditions like schizophrenia and ADHD, which are associated with performance-monitoring deficits.

 

Read more here: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/03/thinking-cap/

 

The research article published in the Journal of Neuroscience can be viewed here: 

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/34/12/4214.full


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, August 10, 2014 3:16 AM

More recently, researchers have mapped the function of different regions of the brain http://sco.lt/7aOUyn; and found an on/off switch for human consciousness http://sco.lt/7pCq0H

 

Read more scoops on the human brain here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Brain

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Modulation of NMDA receptor at the synapse: Promising therapeutic interventions in disorders of the nervous system

Modulation of NMDA receptor at the synapse: Promising therapeutic interventions in disorders of the nervous system | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

[Review] There is general agreement that excessive activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors plays a key role in mediating at least some aspects of synaptic dysfunction in several central nervous system disorders. On this view, in the last decades, research focused on the discovery of different compounds able to reduce NMDA receptor activity, such as classical and/or subunit-specific antagonists. However, the increasing body of knowledge on specific signaling pathways downstream NMDA receptors led to the identification of new pharmacological targets for NMDA receptor-related pathological conditions. Moreover, besides over-activation, several studies indicated that also abnormal NMDA receptor trafficking, resulting in the modification of the receptor subunit composition at the synapse, has a major role in the pathogenesis of several brain disorders. For this reason, the discovery of the molecular mechanisms regulating the abundance of synaptic versus extra-synaptic NMDA receptors as well as the activation of the specific signaling pathways downstream the different NMDA receptor subtypes is needed for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic dysfunction. (...) - Mellone M. & Gardoni FEuropean Journal of Pharmacology

Volume 719, Issues 1–3, 5 November 2013, Pages 75–83


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Learning and reconsolidation implicate different synaptic mechanisms

Learning and reconsolidation implicate different synaptic mechanisms | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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., PNASvol. 110 no. 12, 47984803



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Why is Storytelling so Powerful? A Look at What it does to our Brain

Why is Storytelling so Powerful? A Look at What it does to our Brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Storytelling is one of the most overused and underused techniques at the same time. In this post, we are revealing what storytelling does to our brains.

Long before we had writing as we know it there has been an oral tradition of storytelling. This post looks at the science around storytelling.

Learn about how a story "can put your whole brain to work" and why "our brains become more active when we tell stories." Find out why the brain "learns to ignore certain overused words and phrases" and much more. If you enjoy telling stories, writing stories, or listening to stories check out this post to learn more!


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Roy Sheneman, PhD's curator insight, July 10, 2013 5:22 PM

Excellent!

44Doors's curator insight, March 11, 2014 10:27 AM

"Anything you’ve experienced, you can get others to experience the same. Or at least, get their brain areas that you’ve activated that way, active too:"

 

"use simple, yet heartfelt language."

"Quick last fact: Our brain learns to ignore certain overused words and phrases that used to make stories awesome"

Art Jones's curator insight, October 28, 2014 5:50 PM

"our brains become more active when we tell stories."

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Why your brain sees men as people and women as body parts

Why your brain sees men as people and women as body parts | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The sexual objectification of women isn’t just in your head—it’s in everyone’s. A new study finds that our brains see men as people and women as body parts.

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Differences in reality monitoring correlate with prefrontal cortex variations

Differences in reality monitoring correlate with prefrontal cortex variations | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Voxel-based morphometry revealed a significant negative correlation between anterior PFC gray matter and reality monitoring performance. The findings provide evidence that individual differences in introspective abilities like reality monitoring may be associated with specific structural variability in the PFC.


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Modelling how the brain makes complex decisions

Modelling how the brain makes complex decisions | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers have constructed the first comprehensive model of how neurons in the brain behave when faced with a complex decision-making process, and how they adapt and learn from mistakes.

The mathematical model, developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge, is the first biologically realistic account of the process, and is able to predict not only behaviour, but also neural activity. The results, reported in The Journal of Neuroscience, could aid in the understanding of conditions from obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction to Parkinson’s disease.

The model was compared to experimental data for a wide-ranging set of tasks, from simple binary choices to multistep sequential decision making. It accurately captures behavioural choice probabilities and predicts choice reversal in an experiment, a hallmark of complex decision making.

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Carlos Rodrigues Cadre's curator insight, February 7, 7:54 AM

adicionar sua visão ...

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New Neurons in Adult Brains Remodel Memory

New Neurons in Adult Brains Remodel Memory | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The brain is extremely dynamic, building and pruning connections in milliseconds with many different types of neuroplasticity simultaneously arising in large circuits all over the brain. The holy grail of neuroplasticity has been the creation of new brain cells in adults. Research looking for one cell in a region of the brain is much more difficult than a needle in a haystack. Despite, overwhelming odds, study shows new neurons arising in at least three, and possibly more, places in the adult brain—both humans and other animals.

Recent research shows that new neurons at least in the critical memory center of the hippocampus, are critical to learning and memory and rapidly become part of existing circuits. In fact, they remodel the circuit to take in new material in new ways. A previous post described that more than a thousand different types of neurons exist. Neurogenesis research shows that these new adult born neurons may be completely new types of cells with increased excitability, more widespread connections, a new window of opportunity, and increased neuroplasticity. New neurons in adult brains remodel memory circuits to make information more specific.

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Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech

Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Building on previous studies targeting the amygdala, a team of researchers has found that some brain cells recognize emotions based on the viewer's preconceptions rather than the true emotion being expressed.

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Sharrock's curator insight, March 1, 2015 4:49 PM

"These are very exciting findings suggesting that the amygdala doesn't just respond to what we see out there in the world, but rather to what we imagine or believe about the world," says Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Caltech and coauthor of a paper that discusses the team's study.  "It's particularly interesting because the amygdala has been linked to so many psychiatric diseases, ranging from anxiety to depression to autism.  All of those diseases are about experiences happening in the minds of the patients, rather than objective facts about the world that everyone shares."


Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, March 2, 2015 12:49 AM

emotions are the products of our mind, as much as they are of objective reality out there!

Miklos Szilagyi's curator insight, March 4, 2015 3:29 AM

Another, deeper roots to our biases... on the brain-cell level... well, that might be a challenge...

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Our brains have an internal calorie counter, research suggests

Our brains have an internal calorie counter, research suggests | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new neuroimaging study suggests that our brain evaluates food based on caloric density, even when we're not conscious of how many calories something contains, which is perhaps why many of us prefer junk food.

 

Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University in the US, have discovered that our brain subconsciously makes decisions on what food to eat based on the food’s calorie content. The findings which are published in the journal Psychological Science, could explain why many people choose high calorie foods.

 

"Earlier studies found that children and adults tend to choose high-calorie food" said Alain Dagher, neurologist and lead author of the study, in a press release. "The easy availability and low cost of high-calorie food has been blamed for the rise in obesity. Their consumption is largely governed by the anticipated effects of these foods, which are likely learned through experience.”

 

The study involved a group of participants who were asked to rate pictures of familiar foods based on which they would like to consume. They were then asked to estimate the calorie content of each food item. Observations showed that the participants preferred high caloric food, even though they were not able to accurately indicate the calorie content.

 

The team also performed brain scans on the participants while they were evaluating the food images which supported the observations. The scan results showed that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - an area of the brain that is involved in decision making - was correlated with the foods’ caloric content. While the participants were rating the foods, there was increased activity in the insular cortex - a part of the brain that is involved in processing the sensory properties of food.


“Our study sought to determine how people's awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options. We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods,” said Dagher. 


Read more here: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20142110-26369.html


The associated research article can be read here:

pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/10/08/0956797614552081


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, October 22, 2014 12:35 PM

The ability of our brains to evaluate the calorific content of food is tied very closely to hunger. Cutting calories would make us hungry and eat more in the long run http://sco.lt/7lEwkb Therefore, it is important that we choose foods with a decent calorific content but a low glyceamic index so that our bodies do not metabolize all the carbohydrates at one go http://sco.lt/59Yakz ;

 

Similarly, artificial sweeteners throws off our brain's ability to monitor calories and has been linked to glucose intolerance http://sco.lt/7leSVF ;

 

On the plus side, research has shown that it is possible to train our brains to prefer healthy foods http://sco.lt/5IXUzR Read more scoops on the human brain here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Brain

http://www.scoop.it/t/food-health-and-nutrition/?tag=Brain

Elena Ceciu's curator insight, October 23, 2014 5:10 AM

”Un nou studiu neuroimagistic sugereaza ca creierul nostru evalueaza alimentele in functie de densitatea lor calorica, chiar si atunci cand nu suntem constienti de cate calorii contine ceva, si poate de aceea multi dintre noi preferam junk food.”

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Junk Food Craving Linked to Brain Lapse

Junk Food Craving Linked to Brain Lapse | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Reduced activity in the area that controls self-restraint can boost high-calorie cravings, study shows

 

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps people control their own behavior, according to the study. Previous studies have shown that increasing activity in this part of the brain can cut cravings for unhealthy foods, but the new research found that reduced activity has the opposite effect and can lead to overindulgence in junk food.

 

"It has long been thought that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps to keep automatic, or knee-jerk, reactions in check," study senior author Peter Hall, from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, explained in a news release. "We discovered that when you temporarily dampen the operation of this particular part of the brain, strongly ingrained and quite universal preferences for high-calorie foods start to hijack people's thought patterns and even their eating patterns."

 

Using a form of magnetic stimulation of the brain, the researchers temporarily reduced activity in the left dorsolateral cortex of participants' brains. The study, published recently in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, revealed that the lowered activity caused greater food cravings for calorie-dense foods as well as greater intake of junk food.

 

"This is the first study to demonstrate that taking the prefrontal cortex temporarily offline results in increased snacking," study author Cassandra Lowe, doctoral student in the university's School of Public Health and Health Systems, said in a news release. The researchers concluded their findings suggest brain health should be an integral part of public health campaigns.

 

Read more here: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140925/junk-food-cravings-linked-to-brain-lapse

 

Read the associated research article here: 

http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Fulltext/2014/09000/The_Effects_of_Continuous_Theta_Burst_Stimulation.6.aspx


Via Eric Chan Wei Chiang
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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, September 30, 2014 3:06 AM

This study shows the part of the brain controlling food cravings. However, this does not mean that high high-calorie cravings are inevitable. Other study's have shown that it is possible to train our brain to prefer healthier foods http://sco.lt/5IXUzR; and our food choices can influence brain chemistry and cause depression http://sco.lt/4xwpAv


Read more scoops on the human brain here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Brain

http://www.scoop.it/t/food-health-and-nutrition/?tag=Brain

Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from Chasing the Future
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The Human Brain’s Remarkably Low Power Consumption, and How Computers Might Mimic its Efficiency

The Human Brain’s Remarkably Low Power Consumption, and How Computers Might Mimic its Efficiency | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new paper discusses the efficiency of neuronal computing and the ways in which we might better model the brain's function in future hardware. In some significant ways, we're clearly on the right track already.

Via Miguel Prazeres, Sílvia Dias
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Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from Neuroscience in The News
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Brain-mapping projects to join forces

Brain-mapping projects to join forces | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

US and European research programmes will begin coordinating research.

 

It seems a natural pairing, almost like the hemispheres of a human brain: two controversial and ambitious projects that seek to decipher the body's control center are poised to join forces.

The European Union’s €1-billion (US$1.3-billion) Human Brain Project (HBP) and the United States’ $1-billion Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative will launch a collaboration later this year, according to government officials involved in both projects.(...) - by Sara Reardon, Nature, 18 March 2014


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Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from Biotech and Beyond
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Can Brain Scans Diagnose Mental Illnesses?

Can Brain Scans Diagnose Mental Illnesses? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
One common complaint about psychiatry is its subjective nature: it lacks definitive tests for many diseases. So the idea of diagnosing disorders using only brain scans holds great appeal.


A paper published recently in PLOS ONE describes such a system, although it was presented only as an initial proof of concept. The paper used data from several earlier studies, in which researchers outlined key brain regions in MRI scans of people with bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia or Tourette's syndrome; people with low or high risk of developing major depressive disorder; and a healthy group. 


In the new study, scientists divided the scans randomly into two sets, one to build the diagnostic system and the other to test it. Their software then grouped the scans in the first set by the shape of various regions. Each group was labeled with the most common diagnosis found within it.


Read more about the caveats here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/22/brain-scan-mental-illness_n_3635599.html


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Brain mapping reveals neurological basis of decision-making in rats

Brain mapping reveals neurological basis of decision-making in rats | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Scientists at UC San Francisco have discovered how memory recall is linked to decision-making in rats, showing that measurable activity in one part of the brain occurs when rats in a maze are playing out memories that help them decide which way to turn. The more they play out these memories, the more likely they are to find their way correctly to the end of the maze. (...) - by UCSF, ScienceBlog


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Perceptual Object and Action Maps in the Human Brain

Alex Huth, first author of our new paper, talks about how visual information about thousands of objects and actions are represented across human visual cortex. For more information, please visit our web site (gallantlab.org) or get the paper: Huth, A.G., S. Nishimoto, A.T. Vu & J.L. Gallant (2012). A continuous semantic space describes representation of thousands of object and action categories across the human brain. Neuron, December 20 2012.


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Sakis Koukouvis's curator insight, December 23, 2012 9:38 AM

For more information about this paper or our other work please visit our lab web page:
http://gallantlab.org

Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from Neuroscience_topics
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Pain-related changes in the brain: diagnostic and therapeutic potentials

Pain-related changes in the brain: diagnostic and therapeutic potentials | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

[Review] Emerging evidence suggests that chronic pain is a disease that can alter brain function. Imaging studies have demonstrated structural remapping and functional reorganization of brain circuits under various pain conditions. In parallel, preclinical models have demonstrated that chronic pain causes long-term neuroplasticity. For example, thalamo–cortical oscillations are dysregulated and neurons in the sensory thalamus undergo ectopic firing linked to misexpression of membrane ion channels. In theory, physiological changes at the single-unit, multi-unit, and circuitry levels can be used as predictors of pain, and possibly to guide targeted neuromodulation of specific brain regions for therapeutic purposes. Therefore, multidisciplinary research into the mechanisms of pain-related phenomena in the brain may offer insights into novel approaches for the diagnosis, monitoring, and management of persistent pain. (...) - by Carl Y. Saab, Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 35, Issue 10, October 2012, Pages 629–637


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Women Are Better Connected… Neurally

Women Are Better Connected… Neurally | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The search for differences between the brains of men and women has a long and rather confusing history. Any structural differences are small, and their significance is controversial. The one rock-solid finding is that men’s brains are slightly bigger on average. Then again, men are slightly bigger on average in general.


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