Social Neuroscience Advances
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Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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Frontiers | Cytokine-Defined B Cell Responses as Therapeutic Targets in Multiple Sclerosis | Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology

Frontiers | Cytokine-Defined B Cell Responses as Therapeutic Targets in Multiple Sclerosis | Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Important antibody-independent pathogenic roles of B cells are emerging in autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS).


Via Gilbert C FAURE
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Alector gets $29.5M for monoclonal antibody approach to Alzheimer’s disease

Alector gets $29.5M for monoclonal antibody approach to Alzheimer’s disease | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The company has a "unique" approach to treating Alzheimer's, CEO Arnon Rosenthal says - taking an immunotherapy approach to neurodegenerative disease.


Via Krishan Maggon
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'Hijacking' and hibernating parasite could alter brain behavior

'Hijacking' and hibernating parasite could alter brain behavior | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Melbourne researchers have discovered how a common parasite hijacks host cells and stockpiles food so it can lie dormant for decades, possibly changing its host's behaviour or personality in the process.

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Absence of serotonin alters development and function of brain circuits

Absence of serotonin alters development and function of brain circuits | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have created the first complete model to describe the role that serotonin plays in brain development and structure.

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Scientists have discovered brain networks linked to intelligence for the first time

Scientists have discovered brain networks linked to intelligence for the first time | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
And we may even be able to manipulate them.
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Improving brain's garbage disposal may slow Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases

Improving brain's garbage disposal may slow Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

A drug that boosts activity in the brain's "garbage disposal" system can decrease levels of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders and improve cognition in mice, a new study ...

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The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex is selective for pain: Results from large-scale reverse inference

The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex is selective for pain: Results from large-scale reverse inference | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
No neural region has been associated with more conflicting accounts of its function than the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), with claims that it contributes to executive processing, conflict monitoring, pain, and salience. However, these claims are based on forward inference analysis, which is the wrong tool for making such claims. Using Neurosynth, an automated brainmapping database, we performed reverse inference analyses to explore the best psychological account of dACC function. Although forward inference analyses reproduced the findings that many processes activate the dACC, reverse inference analyses demonstrated that the dACC is selective for pain and that pain-related terms were the single best reverse inference for this region. This finding has implications for our understanding of pain and distress-related psychological disorders.
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GM mice reveal the secret to a painless life

GM mice reveal the secret to a painless life | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

People born with a rare genetic mutation are unable to feel pain, but previous attempts to recreate this effect with drugs have had surprisingly little success. Using mice modified to carry the same mutation, UCL researchers ...

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Not 'junk' anymore: Obscure DNA has key role in stroke damage

Not 'junk' anymore: Obscure DNA has key role in stroke damage | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

A study of rats released today shows that blocking a type of RNA produced by what used to be called "junk DNA" can prevent a significant portion of the neural destruction that follows a stroke.

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How playing an instrument benefits your brain - Anita Collins

How playing an instrument benefits your brain - Anita Collins | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going o...


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Henry Ford Hospital redefines meaning of 'inoperable brain surgery'

Henry Ford Hospital redefines meaning of 'inoperable brain surgery' | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Neurosurgeon Steven Kalkanis is excited about a cutting edge, newly FDA approved imaging and surgery system for the brain and spine that will enable doctors to give good news to more than two dozen patients with tumors once deemed inoperable.


Via Krishan Maggon
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A Molecular Basis for Memory

A Molecular Basis for Memory | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The brain still harbours many unknowns. Basically, it is assumed that it stores experiences by altering the connections between brain cells. This ability to adapt – which is also called “plasticity” – provides the basis for memory and learning, which is the ability to draw conclusions from memories. On a molecular scale these changes are mediated by modifications of expression of specific genes that as required strengthen or weaken the connections between the brain cells.

Via Miloš Bajčetić
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Alzheimer's treatment closer as brain inflammation shown to be key

Alzheimer's treatment closer as brain inflammation shown to be key | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Study shows inflammation-reducing chemical prevents memory and behavioural problems in diseased mice, raising hopes for human treatment


Via Gilbert C FAURE
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How Our Brains Make Us Generous

How Our Brains Make Us Generous | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

A recent series of ground-breaking neuroscience studies suggest that empathy and altruism are deeply rooted in human nature.

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Circadian rhythm of genes in brain changes with aging

Circadian rhythm of genes in brain changes with aging | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Examination of thousands of genes from nearly 150 human brains shows the circadian rhythm of gene activity changes with aging, according to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh ...

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Thalamus found to add contextual information to visual signals

Thalamus found to add contextual information to visual signals | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The thalamus not only relays visual signals from the eye to the visual cortex as previously thought, but also conveys additional, contextual information. Integrating these different signals is essential to understand and ...

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How the Brain Finds Its Way [Video]

How the Brain Finds Its Way [Video] | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Discoveries about areas of the brain that function as a biological GPS were rewarded with a Nobel Prize in 2014. Watch two of the prizewinners describe this neural navigation system

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The Emerging Neuroscience of Social Media: Trends in Cognitive Sciences

The Emerging Neuroscience of Social Media: Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Social media use is a global phenomenon, with almost two billion people worldwide regularly using these websites. As Internet access around the world increases, so will the number of social media users. Neuroscientists can capitalize on the ubiquity of social media use to gain novel insights about social cognitive processes and the neural systems that support them. This review outlines social motives that drive people to use social media, proposes neural systems supporting social media use, and describes approaches neuroscientists can use to conduct research with social media. We close by noting important directions and ethical considerations of future research with social media.

Trends
Social media use is a global phenomenon. Neuroscientists are beginning to capitalize on the ubiquity of social media use to gain novel insights about social cognitive processes.

Social media provide platforms for users to satisfy fundamental social drives, such as connecting with others and managing one's reputation with others.

Neural systems that support various types of social cognition have been established by research with offline behaviors. These neural systems should be involved in online social media use.

Neuroscientists can take two approaches when using social media in research. They can take advantage of similarities between on- and offline social behaviors, using measures from social media as a proxy for offline behaviors. Alternately, they can capitalize on differences between the on- and offline world, investigating behaviors unique to the online environment.
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NEM Lab

NEM Lab | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Welcome at the website of the Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation (NEM) Lab at the Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri - St. Louis, directed by Dr. Sandra Langeslag. We are intrigued by the relation between the brain and everyday experiences.

Our research focuses on the neurocognition of emotion and motivation. Examples of research topics are the effects of emotion and motivation on attention and memory, and the cognitive regulation of emotions and motivations. While some of our studies are about emotions and motivations in general, most of our studies concern romantic love. Specifically, we study the neurocognition of romantic love, using event-related potentials (ERP), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and behavioral methods. This research is extremely relevant and important because virtually everyone falls in love at least once and falling in love has major impact on people's lives.

In past studies, we have shown that infatuated individuals have increased attention and memory for their beloved and for information that has to do with their beloved. We currently examine how infatuation might distract people from doing other things, such as their work or homework. We currently also investigate whether love feelings can be increased and decreased using cognitive strategies.
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Brain responses to fear differ in individuals with PTSD, trauma exposure

Brain responses to fear differ in individuals with PTSD, trauma exposure | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Functional MRI analysis indicated veterans with PTSD exhibited fear generalization biased to higher emotional stimuli than the original conditioned fear stimulus.


“We know that PTSD patients tend to generalize their fear in response to cues that merely resemble the feared object but are still distinct from it,” Rajendra A. Morey, MD, of Duke University, said in a press release. “This generalization process leads to a proliferation of symptoms over time as patients generalize to a variety of new triggers. Our research maps this in the brain, identifying the regions of the brain involved with these behavioral changes.”

To assess generalization of conditioned fear on fear processing neurocircuitry, researchers conducted functional MRI analysis among 32 military veterans with PTSD and 35 with trauma exposure during fear conditioning. Neutral to fearful stimuli were presented prior to conditioning to determine baseline responses, and then after conditioning to assess changes in neural activity.

Participants with PTSD exhibited greater memory distortion of the stimulus, expressing the highest fear intensity towards the stimulus, compared with participants with trauma exposure.

Participants with PTSD had biased neural activation toward high-intensity stimuli in the fusiform gyrus (P < .02), insula (P < .001), primary visual cortex (P < .05), locus coeruleus (P < .04), thalamus (P < .01), and at the trend-level in inferior frontal gyrus (P = .07).

All regions except the fusiform were affected by childhood trauma.

Functional connectivity in the amygdala calcarine (P = .01) and amygdala thalamus (P = .06) selectively increased among participants with PTSD viewing high-intensity stimuli after conditioning.

Conversely, connectivity in the amygdala ventromedial prefrontal cortex selectively increased among participants with trauma exposure (P = .04) compared with those with PTSD during low-intensity stimuli after conditioning.

“People with PTSD grow anxious based on reminders of past trauma, and generalize that fear to a variety of triggers that resemble the initial trauma,” Morey said in the release. “Current fear conditioning therapies are limited by repeated use of the same cue to trigger the initial trauma, but they might be enhanced by including cues that resemble, but are not identical to, cues in the original trauma.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Grid cells: Reading the neural code for space

Grid cells: Reading the neural code for space | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The cognitive map for spatial navigation is thought to rely on grid cells. Scientists at Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich and Harvard University have now put forward a mathematical theory that explains key grid-cell ...

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Pulsed laser light turns whole-brain activity on and off

Pulsed laser light turns whole-brain activity on and off | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

By flashing high-frequency (40 to 100 pulses per second) optogenetic lasers at the brain’s thalamus, scientists were able to wake up sleeping rats and cause widespread brain activity. In contrast, flashing the laser at 10 pulses per second suppressed the activity of the brain’s sensory cortex and caused rats to enter a seizure-like state of unconsciousness.


“We hope to use this knowledge to develop better treatments for brain injuries and other neurological disorders,” said Jin Hyung Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and bioengineering at Stanford University, and a senior author of the study, published in the open-access journal eLIFE.


Located deep inside the brain, the thalamus regulates arousal, acting as a relay station to the cortex for neural signals from the body. Damage to neurons in the central part of the thalamus may lead to problems with sleep, attention, and memory.*


The observations used a combination of optogenetics and whole-brain functional MRI (fMRI) — known as “ofMRI” — to detect overall effects on the brain, along with EEG and single-unit cell recordings.The researchers noted in the paper that “using targeted, temporally precise optogenetic stimulation in the current study allowed us to selectively excite a single group of neuronal elements and identify their specific role in creating distinct modes of network function.” That could not be achieved with conventional electrode stimulation, the researchers say.


They explain that this method may allow for direct-brain stimulation (DBS) therapeutic methods to be optimized in the clinic “for a wide range of neurological disorders that currently lack such treatment.” “This study takes a big step towards understanding the brain circuitry that controls sleep and arousal,” Yejun (Janet) He, Ph.D., program director at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which partially funded the study.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Biochemical Mechanism Could Explain How Long-Term Memories Are Formed

Biochemical Mechanism Could Explain How Long-Term Memories Are Formed | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

For a memory to endure, and not fade away, the synaptic connections must be kept strong. In a previous study, Kandel and Si identified CPEB as a synaptic protein that is responsible for maintaining the strength of these connections in the sea slug, a model organism used in memory research. In subsequent research at the Stowers Institute, Si and his team identified Orb2 as the fruit fly version of the CPEB synaptic protein.
Illustration of synapses.

In their latest study, Mohammed ‘Repon’ Khan, a predoctoral researcher in the Si Lab and first author of the Cell paper, determined that Orb2 exists in two distinct physical states, monomeric and oligomeric. Monomeric Orb2 is a single molecule capable of binding to other molecules. Like CPEB, oligomeric Orb2 is prion-like – that is, it’s a self-copying cluster. However, unlike disease-causing prions, oligomeric Orb2 and CPEB are not toxic.

The paper describes how monomeric Orb2 represses while oligomeric or prion-like Orb2 activates a crucial step in the complex cellular process that leads to protein synthesis. During this crucial step, messenger RNA (mRNA), which is a RNA copy of a gene’s recipe for a protein, is translated by the cell’s ribosome into the sequence of amino acids that will make up a newly synthesized protein.

“We propose that the monomeric form of Orb2 binds to the target mRNA, and the bound mRNA is kept in a repressed state,” explains Khan.

The Stowers scientists also determined that prion-like Orb2 not only activates translation but imparts its translational state to nearby monomer forms of Orb2. As a result, monomeric Orb2 is transformed into prion-like Orb2, and its role in translation switches from repression to activation. Si thinks this switch is the possible mechanism by which fleeting experiences create an enduring memory.

“Because of the self-sustaining nature of the prion-like state, this creates a local and self-sustaining translation activation of Orb2-target mRNA, which maintains the changed state of synaptic activity over time,” says Si.

The discovery that the two distinct states of Orb2 have opposing roles in the translation process provides “for the first time a biochemical mechanism of synapse-specific persistent translation and long-lasting memory,” he states.


Via Miloš Bajčetić
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Forgetting is key to learning

Forgetting is key to learning | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Forgetting is key to learning

Do you often feel overwhelmed with the amount of information coming at you? Forgotten your shopping list as soon as you've heard the sports results? Don't worry, it's all completely normal – and necessary – according to new research which shows that such forgetting is a key part of learning.

The study, by researchers from the University of Glasgow's Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, is published today in Current Biology and has found that our inability to hold onto new memories is essential to the brain's learning process.

Researchers discovered that 'memory instability' – which prevents us from holding onto new memories – was key to the brain's ability to transfer experiences and skills to new situations. In contrast memories that were stable, or complete, prevented knowledge transfer. In short, forgetting your experience is essential to being able to transfer skills from one job to another.

Participants in the study learned one memory task at 9am followed quickly by another. They were then retested 12 hours later at 9pm on the initial memory task. The word-list was a repeating sequence of 12 simple words; while the skilled action was a new sequence of movements similar to that used when tapping out our PIN to get cash from an ATM.

The study found that learning transferred from actions to words, and vice versa. For example, learning a list of words helped participants learn a new skilled action. The information transferred between these diverse situations was on a 'higher abstract level', rather than simply transferring specific knowledge of each situation. Critically learning transferred only when a memory was unstable

Via Miloš Bajčetić
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