Social Neuroscience Advances
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Redlight Special: Optogenetic Toolkit Goes Multicolor

Redlight Special: Optogenetic Toolkit Goes Multicolor | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
New light-sensitive proteins allow scientists to study how multiple sets of neurons interact with each other.


Optogenetics is a technique that allows scientists to control neurons’ electrical activity with light by engineering them to express light-sensitive proteins. Within the past decade, it has become a very powerful tool for discovering the functions of different types of cells in the brain.

Most of these light-sensitive proteins, known as opsins, respond to light in the blue-green range. Now, a team led by MIT has discovered an opsin that is sensitive to red light, which allows researchers to independently control the activity of two populations of neurons at once, enabling much more complex studies of brain function.


Opsins occur naturally in many algae and bacteria, which use the light-sensitive proteins to help them respond to their environment and generate energy.


To achieve optical control of neurons, scientists genetically modify brain cells of mice to express the gene for an opsin, which transports ions across the cell’s membrane to alter its voltage. Depending on the opsin used, shining light on the cell either lowers the voltage and silences neuron firing, or boosts voltage and provokes the cell to generate an electrical impulse. This effect is nearly instantaneous and easily reversible.


Using this approach, researchers can selectively turn a population of cells on or off and observe what happens in the brain. However, until now, they could activate only one population at a time, because the only opsins that responded to red light also responded to blue light, so they couldn’t be paired with other opsins to control two different cell populations.


To seek additional useful opsins, the MIT researchers worked with Gane Ka-Shu Wong, a professor of medicine and biological sciences at the University of Alberta, the paper’s other senior author. Wong’s team  is sequencing the transcriptomes of 1,000 plants, including some algae. (The transcriptome is similar to the genome but includes only the genes that are expressed by a cell, not the entirety of its genetic material.)


Once the team obtained genetic sequences that appeared to code for opsins, Klapoetke tested their light-responsiveness in mammalian brain tissue, working with Martha Constantine-Paton, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and of biology, a member of the McGovern Institute, and an author of the paper. The red-light-sensitive opsin, which the researchers named Chrimson, can mediate neural activity in response to light with a 735-nanometer wavelength.


The researchers also discovered a blue-light-driven opsin that has two highly desirable traits: It operates at high speed, and it is sensitive to very dim light. This opsin, called Chronos, can be stimulated with levels of blue light that are too weak to activate Chrimson.


Most optogenetic studies thus far have been done in mice, but Chrimson could be used for optogenetic studies of fruit flies, a commonly used experimental organism. Researchers have had trouble using blue-light-sensitive opsins in fruit flies because the light can get into the flies’ eyes and startle them, interfering with the behavior being studied.

Vivek Jayaraman, a research group leader at Janelia Farms and an author of the paper, was able to show that this startle response does not occur when red light is used to stimulate Chrimson in fruit flies.

Because red light is less damaging to tissue than blue light, Chrimson also holds potential for eventual therapeutic use in humans, Boyden says. Animal studies with other opsins have shown promise in helping to restore vision after the loss of photoreceptor cells in the retina.

The researchers are now trying to modify Chrimson to respond to light in the infrared range. They are also working on making both Chrimson and Chronos faster and more light sensitive.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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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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Pills for anxiety and sleep problems not linked to increased dementia risk

Pills for anxiety and sleep problems not linked to increased dementia risk | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Taking benzodiazepines (widely used drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia) is not associated with an increased dementia risk in older adults, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

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10 Myths About Traumatic Brain Injury

10 Myths About Traumatic Brain Injury | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Traumatic brain injury and its causes, symptoms, and treatment are often misunderstood and can lead to mishandling of the issues surrounding it.

Via Gerald Carey
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Gerald Carey's curator insight, February 6, 6:22 PM

Although the author doesn't use a lot of references or links, she is an expert on combat trauma and this makes this list worth reading.

Gage Tarrant's curator insight, March 4, 8:53 PM

Although the author doesn't use a lot of references or links, she is an expert on combat trauma and this makes this list worth reading.

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How the GyroGlove Steadies Hands of Parkinson’s Patients

How the GyroGlove Steadies Hands of Parkinson’s Patients | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A wearable device promises to help steady hand tremors by using an old technology—gyroscopes.


When he was a 24-year-old medical student living in London, Faii Ong was assigned to care for a 103-year-old patient who suffered from Parkinson’s, the progressive neurological condition that affects a person’s ease of movement. After watching her struggle to eat a bowl of soup, Ong asked another nurse what more could be done to help the woman. “There’s nothing,” he was grimly told.


Ong, now 26, didn’t accept the answer. He began to search for a solution that might offset the tremulous symptoms of Parkinson’s, a disease that affects one in 500 people, not through drugs but physics. After evaluating the use of elastic bands, weights, springs, hydraulics, and even soft robotics, Ong settled on a simpler solution, one that he recognized from childhood toys. “Mechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,” he explains. “My idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a person’s hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand.”


Together with a number of other students from Imperial College London, Ong worked in the university’s prototyping laboratory to run numerous tests. An early prototype of a device, called GyroGlove, proved his instinct correct. Patients report that wearing the GyroGlove, which Ong believes to be the first wearable treatment solution for hand tremors, is like plunging your hand into thick syrup, where movement is free but simultaneously slowed. In benchtop tests, the team found the glove reduces tremors by up to 90 percent.


GyroGlove’s design is simple. It uses a miniature, dynamically adjustable gyroscope, which sits on the back of the hand, within a plastic casing attached to the glove’s material. When the device is switched on, the battery-powered gyroscope whirs to life. Its orientation is adjusted by a precession hinge and turntable, both controlled by a small circuit board, thereby pushing back against the wearer’s movements as the gyroscope tries to right itself.


While the initial prototypes of the device still require refinements to size and noise, Alison McGregor, professor of musculoskeletal biodynamics at Imperial College, who has been a mentor to the team, says the device “holds great promise and could have a significant impact on users’ quality of life.” Helen Matthews of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust agrees: “GyroGlove will make everyday tasks such as using a computer, writing, cooking, and driving possible for sufferers,” she says.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Mike Oehme's curator insight, January 26, 2:47 AM

Interesting idea, unfortunately I don't have a gyro trainer at home anymore

 

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Viral Tool Maps Brain Activity in Real Time

Viral Tool Maps Brain Activity in Real Time | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.
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Testosterone Influences Emotional Regulation in Psychopathic Brain

Testosterone Influences Emotional Regulation in Psychopathic Brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.
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Capacity For Memory is Ten Times Greater Than Previously Thought

Capacity For Memory is Ten Times Greater Than Previously Thought | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.

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Predicting Who May Develop Alzheimer’s, and Who May Not

Predicting Who May Develop Alzheimer’s, and Who May Not | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Investigators have wondered why the brains of some cognitively-intact elderly individuals have abundant pathology on autopsy or significant amyloid deposition on neuroimaging that are characteristic of Alzheimer disease (AD). Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Pathology investigated biochemical factors and identified differences in proteins from parietal cortex synapses between patients with and those without manifestation of dementia. Specifically, early-stage AD patients had elevated concentrations of synaptic soluble amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomers compared to controls who were not demented but displayed signs of AD pathology. Synapse-associated hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) levels did not increase until late-stage AD.

 

"Investigators examined whether synaptic Aβ levels were associated with neuritic plaque levels in the parietal cortex. They found little or no evidence of Aβ immunolabeling in either of the control groups but observed a rise in synaptic Aβ concentration associated with increasing neuropathologic disease stages. Synaptic Aβ levels highly correlated with the occurrence of plaque. Image is for illustrative purposes only."


Via iPamba, Miloš Bajčetić
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Eat Less and Be Happy

Eat Less and Be Happy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join.

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How The Brain Distinguishes Safety From Danger

How The Brain Distinguishes Safety From Danger | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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What Are The Odds of That? Risky Gambling Choices Influenced by Single Brain Connection

What Are The Odds of That? Risky Gambling Choices Influenced by Single Brain Connection | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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SumaLateral Whole Brain Image

SumaLateral Whole Brain Image | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Multi-color image of whole brain for brain imaging research. This image was created using a computer image processing program (called SUMA), which is used to make sense of data generated by functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

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Revolutionary Neuroscience Technique Slated for Human Clinical Trials

Revolutionary Neuroscience Technique Slated for Human Clinical Trials | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Optogenetics may treat chronic pain and other neurological disorders

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'Schizophrenia' does not exist, argues expert

'Schizophrenia' does not exist, argues expert | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The term "schizophrenia," with its connotation of hopeless chronic brain disease, should be dropped and replaced with something like "psychosis spectrum syndrome," argues a professor of psychiatry in The BMJ today.

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Receptors inside nerve cells may be a key to controlling pain

Receptors inside nerve cells may be a key to controlling pain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

In real estate, location is key. It now seems the same concept holds true when it comes to stopping pain.

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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.

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

adicionar sua visão ...

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Transition to Chaos in Random Neuronal Networks

Transition to Chaos in Random Neuronal Networks | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Cortical neural circuits have been hypothesized to operate in a regime termed the “edge of chaos.” A new theoretical study puts this regime in a more biologically plausible perspective.

 

Transition to Chaos in Random Neuronal Networks
Jonathan Kadmon and Haim Sompolinsky
Phys. Rev. X 5, 041030 (2015)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevX.5.041030


Via Complexity Digest, Miloš Bajčetić
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Anxiety and Chronic Stress May Increase Depression and Alzheimer’s Risk

Anxiety and Chronic Stress May Increase Depression and Alzheimer’s Risk | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
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How Our Memories Guide Attention

How Our Memories Guide Attention | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A team of researchers has discovered that differences in the types of memories we have influence the nature of our future encounters. Their findings show how distinct parts of the brain, underlying different kinds of memories, also influence our attention in new situations.

“We’ve long understood there are different types of memories, but what these findings reveal are how different kinds of memories can drive our attention in the future,” explains Elizabeth Goldfarb, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology.

It’s been established that the types of memories we have include episodic memories—characterized by our recollections of the contextual details of life events, such as remembering the layout and location of objects in a familiar room —as well as “habitual” or “rigid” memories. The latter are frequently invoked in our daily lives and are reflexive in nature—for instance, if you take a right turn at a stop sign you pass on your way to work everyday, and you then habitually take a right instead of a left even when you are not going to work.

Previous research has shown that these different types of memories depend on different brain systems, with the hippocampus important for episodic memories and the striatum mediating habitual memories. Less understood, however, are the neurological processes by which these different kinds of memories can function as guides of attention to novel situations.

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Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy

Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Larry Young from Emory University, who studies prairie voles, has seen this behavior again and again. To him, it's a sign that the rodents are showing empathy.

Such claims have proven controversial in the past. For example, in 2012, scientists at the University of Chicago showed that rats will free trapped cage-mates, even if they have to sacrifice a bit of chocolate to do so. The researchers billed these rescues as evidence of empathy—that “rats free their cagemate in order to end distress.”


ED YONG


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I Wonder What It’s Like To Have Empathy

I Wonder What It’s Like To Have Empathy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

There is a bit of a coldness to many of us on the spectrum. That’s not to say we’re mean. Not at all. In my experience individuals with autism tend to be more patient, loyal, and tolerant of differences than other people. But we do tend to look at things in a more utilitarian light.


Empathy means you feel what other people feel, right? That’s affective empathy. Cognitive empathy is knowing why someone feels the way they do. I read a study somewhere that said autistics have affective empathy and not cognitive. But, personally speaking, most autistics I know are much better at predicting someone’s feelings than connecting with them.


We can learn social skills with time.


By Gwendolyn Kansen 


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Retinal Implants Improve Image Sharpness For Those With Vision Loss

Retinal Implants Improve Image Sharpness For Those With Vision Loss | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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Questioning Our Morality: Zoning Out or Deep Thinking?

Questioning Our Morality: Zoning Out or Deep Thinking? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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The Five Myths of Self-Compassion

The Five Myths of Self-Compassion | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Kristin Neff tackles the misconceptions that stop us from being kinder to ourselves.

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Blocking brain inflammation 'halts Alzheimer's disease' - BBC News

Blocking brain inflammation 'halts Alzheimer's disease' - BBC News | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Blocking the production of new immune cells in the brain could reduce memory problems seen in Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.


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