Science News: Our Weekly Picks from Around the Web

Children’s Brains Change As They Learn To Think About Others
Researchers have shown that activity in a certain region of the brain changes as children learn to reason about what other people might be thinking. (08/10/2012)

Scientists Discover Stem Cells Responsible for Big Brains and Higher Functions
Neuroscientists from The Scripps Institute have identified a specialized population of stem cells that have an impressive vocational calling: higher brain functioning. (08/10/2012)

Living In The Moment Is Not Possible According To Study
Neuroscientists have identified an area in the brain, which is responsible for using past decisions and outcomes to guide future behavior. (08/10/2012)

Women’s Migraines Not Linked to Mental Decline
Researchers have some reassuring news for women who suffer from migraines: There is no strong link between the intensely painful headaches and cognitive decline or dementia. (08/10/2012)

Natural Birth Stimulates Baby Brain Development
Vaginal birth triggers the expression of a protein in the brains of newborns that improves brain development and function, says a new study. (08/08/2012)

Device to Mimic Brain to Test Drug Therapies
Vanderbilt University is working on a device containing human brain cells that will mimic how organs respond to experimental medicines. (08/10/2012)

Chemical in Artificial Butter Popcorn Linked to Alzheimer’s Plaque Build-Up
An ingredient used in artificial butter flavoring for popcorn may worsen the effects of an abnormal brain protein that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. (08/09/2012)

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Cool Down With a Hot Drink? It’s Not As Crazy As You Think Say Neuroscientists
Hot tea might not sound like the most refreshing of drinks for a 100-degree day. But neuroscientists say that receptors in your mouth may send a cool message when they detect hot foods. (07/11/2012)

Mayo Clinic Maps Brain, Finds Alzheimer’s Patients Drive Differently
The results of a new study suggest varying brain activity may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (07/13/2012)

Size of Brain Area Linked to Willingness to Give
The size of a small brain re­gion in­flu­ences one’s pre­dis­po­si­tion for al­tru­is­tic be­hav­ior, a study has found. (07/14/2012)

Alzheimer’s Brain Changes Occur 25 Years Before Memory Problems
Washington University researchers say the first Alzheimer’s-related changes begin to develop 25 years before memory and thinking problems appear. (07/11/2012)

How the Deaf Brain Rewires Itself to ‘Hear’ Touch and Sight
The auditory portions of a deaf person’s brain can learn to process touch and vision. Mapping these communications may advance the technology of cochlear implants. (07/11/2012)

Study Identifies How Muscles Are Paralyzed During Sleep
Two powerful brain chemical systems work together to paralyze skeletal muscles during REM sleep, according to new research published in ‘The Journal of Neuroscience.’ (07/11/2012)

Actress With Ph.D. From UCLA Blends Talents on Hit TV Sitcom
Mayim Bialik spoke with Huffington Post science correspondent Cara Santa Maria about why she became a neuroscientist and how she balances the many aspects of her busy life. (07/10/2012)

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Bee Brain Study Links Reversal Of Aging-Related Decline To Social Involvement
When older honeybees take on tasks usually handled by younger bees, aging of their brains is effectively reversed, a new study finds. (07/05/2012)

Brain Bluffs Humans Differently Than Machines
The temporal parietal junctions of poker players behaved differently when they were bluffing another human versus bluffing a computer. (07/05/2012)

Diabetes Drug Stimulates New Brain Cell Growth, Could Aid Alzheimer’s Patients
A common diabetes drug called metformin, has been shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells in mice in a new Canadian study. (07/05/2012)

July issue of Neurosurgery provides update on Human Connectome Project
A research effort called the Human Connectome Project is seeking to explore, define, and map the functional connections of the human brain. An update on its progress appears in the July issue of ‘Neurosurgery’. (07/03/2012)

Some brains may be primed for pain
A signal in the brain can predict who will continue to suffer back pain more than a year after an initial injury. This early warning sign could reveal new ways to reverse or prevent pain that lingers long after an injury heals. (07/01/2012)

Headset Creates ‘Soundscape’ for Blind People to See
A new headset, still in its prototype stage, tells visually impaired people what’s in front of them by playing different sounds for different objects. (07/06/2012)

Birds Bolster Their Brains To Retain Song
Research published in the May issue of the ‘Journal of Neuroscience’, could influence research into neurodegenerative illnesses in humans, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. (07/06/2012)

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Tai Chi Makes Your Brain Bigger and Improves Memory
Tai Chi makes your brain bigger and can improve memory and thinking – possibly delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, claim scientists. (06/22/2012)

Deep Brain Stimulation May Offer Longer-Term Relief for Parkinson’s
3-year study found similar benefits from stimulating two different areas of the brain. (06/20/2012)

Love Activates the Same Region in the Brain as Drug Addiction
Neuroscientists working out of Concordia University in Canada appear to have shown that love and sexual desire activate separate but related areas of the brain. (06/21/2012)

Study of Angry Mice Could Find Drugs to Prevent Pathological Rage
Shutting down a brain receptor in mice — a receptor that also exists in humans — can block pathological rage, a new study says. (06/20/2012)

Distinct Brain Regions Organize Objects Based on their Physical Size
Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences have discovered that the brain organizes objects based on their physical size. (06/21/2012)

Scientists Trace a Wiring Plan for Entire Mouse Brain
The first images from a project that has set out to map the whole mouse brain are now publicly available. (06/22/2012)

Photo: By Jakub Hałun [Licensed under: GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Science News: Our Weekly Picks from Around the Web

Fish Oil Fail: Omega-3s May Not Protect Brain Health After All
A meta-analysis finds that taking omega-3 supplements may not do much to preserve memory, but here’s why the finding isn’t the last word. (06/13/2012)

Brain-Bank Glitch Mars Research Into Autism
A freezer malfunction extensively damaged one of the world’s largest collections of brain samples for autism research, a hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School said Monday. (06/11/2012)

Neuroscience On Twitter: 30 High-Profile Scientists Who Tweet
HuffPost Science introduces renowned experts in neuroscience whose tweets can help keep you abreast of the latest findings and continuing controversies in the realm of the brain and mind. (06/11/2012)

Do Brain Scans of Comatose Patients Reveal a Conscious State?
Scans allow a researcher to communicate with people previously written off as unreachable and offer hope in identifying those who might respond to rehabilitation (06/15/2012)

Scientists Use Light to Control Brain With Flick of a Switch
Implants that deliver pulses of light into the brain could lead to new treatments for diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease. (06/17/2012)

Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Science News: Our Weekly Picks from Around the Web

Music training improves the aging process, researchers say
“Music training has a lifelong good impact on the aging process, says a new study out of Northwestern University.” (06/07/2012)

Targeting the Brain’s Appetite Control Switch
“Researchers studying mice at Columbia University Medical Center found that when they messed with a certain protein that is found in the brains of mice – and humans – the rodents’ appetite and metabolism changed.” (06/07/2012)

Tricking Blind Person’s Brain Into Thinking It Is Seeing Things
Researchers have discovered how a visual prosthetic device could stimulate the brain to generate mental images – the blind person could wear eyeglasses with a tiny webcam that transmits data to a computer chip which is implanted in the brain.” (06/07/2012)

Where Music Intersects With the Brain: A Guide to Art and Science
“Preeminent music-and-brain neuroscientist Ani Patel, who’s a senior fellow at Neurosciences Institute, teamed up with cellist Ronald Thomas, who plays annually with local music organization Mainly Mozart. The pair explored the questions of timbre and musical expression, and the way our brains perceive it.” (06/07/2012)

Gladstone Scientists Reprogram Skin Cells into Brain Cells
“Innovative Technique Lays Groundwork for Novel Stem Cell Therapies” (06/07/2012)

Study Supports Guilt’s Role in Depression
“Guilt appears to play a role in depression, according to a new study.” (06/05/2012)

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Childhood ‘screen time’: Warning over TV and computers
“Parents need to do more to stop children spending too much time watching television or playing computer games, according to a psychologist.” (05/21/2012)

Face Your Fears and Scare the Phobia Out of Your Brain
“A single positive exposure to a dreaded thing, like a spider, can reset the fright mechanism, research suggests.” (05/21/2012)

Neuroscience Art: Greg Dunn’s Neurons Painted In Japanese Sumi-e Style
“Greg Dunn is a neuroscience PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania and an artist passionate about Japanese minimalist scrolls. While these interests may appear radically incongruous, Dunn’s artwork suggests otherwise. The artist creates dazzling works of enamel, gold leaf and ink inspired by science.” (05/23/2012)

Healthy Brain Connections Keep Us Smart In Old Age
“Maintaining healthy nerve connections among distant brain areas may help keep us smart in old age, according to new research published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry this week.” (05/23/2012)

Some Fats May Harm the Brain More
“Some studies have linked dietary fat to the development of dementia later in life. A new study suggests that the risk may depend on the type of fat consumed.” (05/21/2012)

Brain cells prune circuits in the brain by eating away excess synapses
“We’re born with our brains prewired, but as information comes in from our environment, this circuitry is updated. A study from Boston Children’s Hospital provides a new glimpse of how this happens: Brain cells known as microglia, tuned into the crosstalk between neurons, literally engulf unnecessary connections, known as synapses, and prune them away.” (05/24/2012)

UCSF receives $20M Sandler Foundation gift for neuroscience research and care
“UCSF has received a challenge gift of $20 million from the Sandler Foundation that will provide major support for the university’s groundbreaking research and clinical care efforts regarding neurological diseases.” (05/25/2012)

Science News: Our Weekly Picks from Around the Web

Music training benefits babies’ brains
“Early musical training benefits children even before they can walk or talk, says the first-ever study of its kind.” (05/13/2012)

Journey to the centre of the brain
“Researchers have a goal so ambitious it is almost unthinkable – learning how all 85 billion neurons in the human brain are wired up.” The Sydney Morning Herald reports of Harvard University Neuroscientist Dr. Jeff Lichtman’s Connectome Project. (05/10/2012)

Reducing brain activity improves memory after cognitive decline
“A study led by a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist suggests a potential new therapeutic approach for improving memory and interrupting disease progression in patients with a form of cognitive impairment that often leads to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.” (05/10/2012)

Why We Talk About Ourselves: The Brain Likes It
“Science has now proved what kindergarten teachers, reality-show fans and Catholic priests discover anew every day: humans can’t help talking about themselves. It just feels too good.” (05/08/2012)

Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure
“Scientists who scanned the brains of men convicted of murder, rape and violent assaults have found the strongest evidence yet that psychopaths have structural abnormalities in their brains.” (05/07/2012)

Science News: Our Weekly Picks from Around the Web

Matisse was a neuroscientist
“Modern art is an explosion of colors, smooth lines, flat portraits — and it turns out, neuroscience. It also once triggered some strong psychology” (04/14/2012)

Groundbreaking Brain Injection For Parkinson’s Disease Brings Fresh Hope To Sufferers
“A brand new form of ‘gene therapy’ for Parkinson’s disease has excited experts today, after it was revealed that it could revolutionise the way the neurodegenerative disease is treated.” (04/12/2012)

UW work helps pinpoint autism indicator in infants’ brains
“In what appears to be the earliest biomarker for autism, researchers at the University of Washington and other study sites found differences in brain “wiring” of children just 6 months old.” (04/14/2012)

Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
“Study of head injury patients helps identify regions involved in thinking abilities” (04/13/2012)

Personality Traits Correlate With Brain Activity
“Patterns of brain activity reflect our character” (04/14/2012)

Image: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Science News: Our Weekly Picks From Around the Web

Early nurturing fosters healthy brain development
A new study provides another reason why parents’ nurturing skills are crucial for children’s social and emotional development. (02/09/2012)

Neuroscientists link brain-wave pattern to energy consumption
New model of neuro-electric activity could help scientists better understand quiescent brain states such as coma. (02/08/2012)

Alzheimer’s brain plaques ‘rapidly cleared’ in mice
Destructive plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients have been rapidly cleared by researchers testing a cancer drug on mice. (02/09/2012)

Memory Can Be Boosted By Stimulating Brain
New research from UCLA shows that stimulating key area of the brain can improve the memory. (02/10/2010)

Therapy for MS prods brain to re-cloak neurons
A new gene therapy, applied directly to the brain, may help protect neurons from damage by diseases like multiple sclerosis. (02/10/2012)

Nifty stem-cell engineering sheds light on Parkinson’s disease
Researchers at the University at Buffalo may have taken a significant step toward unraveling the way Parkinson’s disease assails the human nervous system–thanks in part to a nifty bit of stem-cell engineering. (02/09/2012)

Troops could ‘control guns with their minds’, scientists suggest
Soldiers could control weapons systems simply by using their minds, British scientists have suggested. (02/07/2012)