Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Role of cranial modification in identity formation: Did head shape encourage unity and cooperation in politics?
It has long been recognized that the Inka incorporated diverse peoples into their empire, but how these ethnic groups developed historically during the political upheaval of the preceding Late Intermediate Period (LIP; AD 1100-1450) is only now receiving commensurate attention.

Your brain responses to music reveal if you're a musician or not
How your brain responds to music listening can reveal whether you have received musical training, according to new research. By applying methods of computational music analysis and machine learning on brain imaging data collected during music listening, the researchers we able to predict with a significant accuracy whether the listeners were musicians or not.

Finding unravels nature of cognitive inflexibility in Fragile X syndrome
Mice with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) learn and remember normally, but show an inability to learn new information that contradicts what they initially learned, shows a new study by a team of neuroscientists.

Screen-addicted teens are unhappy
Researchers found that teens who spent a lot of time in front of screen devices -- playing computer games, using more social media, texting and video chatting -- were less happy than those who invested time in non-screen activities like sports, reading newspapers and magazines, and face-to-face social interaction. The happiest teens used digital media for less than an hour per day. But after a daily hour of screen time, unhappiness rises steadily along with increasing screen time.

Epilepsy linked to brain volume and thickness differences
Epilepsy is associated with thickness and volume differences in the grey matter of several brain regions, according to new research. The largest-ever neuroimaging study of people with epilepsy, shows that epilepsy involves more widespread physical differences than previously assumed, even in types of epilepsy that are typically considered to be more benign if seizures are under control.

'Explosive evolution' of techniques to restore blood flow to the brain
Recent decades have seen an 'explosive evolution' of techniques to restore blood flow to areas of the brain endangered by stroke or clogged arteries, according to a new report.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students
Major beer companies have rolled out marketing campaigns and products -- such as 'fan cans,' store displays, and billboard ads -- that pair beer with university colors, mascots, and logos. Research shows that such campaigns may enhance the motivational significance of marketed beer brands, especially for students who identify strongly with their university. The researchers conclude that this effect could potentially increase underage students' alcohol consumption.

Hits, not concussions, cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Researchers have identified evidence of early Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) brain pathology after head impact -- even in the absence of signs of concussion. Early indicators of CTE pathology not only persisted long after injury but also spread through the brain, providing the best evidence to date that head impact, not concussion, causes CTE.

Shy parent, shy child?
Previous research has shown that extreme shyness is hereditary, but because shyness is such a broad concept it is difficult to identify specific genes. One researcher has discovered particular brain measurements that can help.

Postmortem schizophrenia study identifies shifts in patterns of glutamate and GABA in visuospatial working memory network
Disruptions in certain regions of the visuospatial working memory network may lead to its impairment in schizophrenia, according to a new study.

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus of the human brain by distinct, sparse sets of neurons.

Brain protein changes could explain how concussions affect patients
Traumatic brain injuries, whether suffered from a blow on the football field or the battle field, can be devastating, leading to disability and shortened lives. However, little is known about how different levels of injury and time affect the brain, hindering efforts to develop effective treatments. Scientists now report results from rodent studies showing that signaling molecules are likely involved in mild cases, also known as concussions.

The creative brain is wired differently
Scientists studying brain scans of people who were asked to come up with inventive uses for everyday objects found a specific pattern of connectivity that correlated with the most creative responses. Researchers were then able to use that pattern to predict how creative other people's responses would be based on their connections in this network.

Novel candidate for antidepressant treatment
A recent article explores how a protein named CK2 could play a key role in the formulation of new antidepressants that work more efficiently and faster for more people.

Oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the background? Though popularly known as the 'love hormone,' a team researchers found evidence that oxytocin actually plays a crucial role in helping the brain process a wide array of social signals.

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run
Strolling around or running to catch the train similarly requires us to move. However, the neuronal mechanisms in the brain that allow us to initiate and control these movements are different, a new study reveals. 'Start neurons' in the midbrain are essential to take the first step to initiate locomotion and control the speed, mice models show.

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain
Recording brain activity via electrodes placed directly on the cortical surface (ECoG) provides much clearer views of thinking activity and how the prefrontal cortex coordinates the brain's response to a perception. With the help of 16 epilepsy patients, neuroscientists tracked the brain's activity as it detects, interprets, settles on a response and activates motor areas to respond. The brain prepares to respond very early, even before we know how we will respond.

Female rugby players shows a regular season of play results in changes in brain
Researchers have shown that a regular season of play can cause changes in the brain that are similar to changes caused by concussion, though less severe. Using sophisticated Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy the researchers looked at metabolite levels in the brains of female varsity rugby players at the beginning of their season, after suffering a concussion, and again at the end of the season.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out
Researchers are using new statistical analysis methods to compare how we observe infants develop new skills with the unseen changes in electrical activity in the brain, or electroencephalography (EEG) power. They found that most babies appear to learn new skills in irregular bursts, while their EEG power grows steadily behind the scenes.

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss actually very limited
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A new study now challenges this view.

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning
A new study provides one of the first looks inside the infant's brain to show where the sense of touch is processed -- not just when a baby feels a touch to the hand or foot, but when the baby sees an adult's hand or foot being touched, as well. Researchers say these connections help lay the groundwork for the developmental and cognitive skills of imitation and empathy.

A high-salt diet produces dementia in mice
A high-salt diet reduces resting blood flow to the brain and causes dementia in mice.

Improving stroke treatment through machine learning
Methods from optogenetics and machine learning should help improve treatment options for stroke patients. Researchers have now developed a computer vision technique to analyze the changes in motor skills that result from targeted stimulation of healthy areas of the brain.

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently
A musician's brain is different to that of a non-musician. Making music requires an interplay of abilities which are also reflected in more developed brain structures. Scientists have discovered that these capabilities are embedded in a much more finely tuned way than assumed: The brain activity of jazz pianists differs from those of classical pianists, even when playing the same piece of music.

Mapping the social landscape
Scientists have, in recent decades, pinpointed neurons called 'place cells' in our brains that encode our own location in the environment, but how our brains represent the positions of others has been a mystery. New research in bats, reveals a sub-population of neurons that encode the specific location of other bats that are flying nearby.

Preterm babies may suffer setbacks in auditory brain development, speech
Preterm babies born early in the third trimester of pregnancy are likely to experience delays in the development of the auditory cortex, a brain region essential to hearing and understanding sound, a new study reveals. Such delays are associated with speech and language impairments at age 2, the researchers found.

Potential brain-machine interface for hand paralysis
A brain-machine interface that combines brain stimulation with a robotic device controlling hand movement increases the output of pathways connecting the brain and spinal cord, according to a study of healthy adults. This work could have implications for restoring function in stroke patients with hand paralysis.

Brain imaging predicts language learning in deaf children
MRI brain scans can predict language improvement after a cochlear implant, laying the foundation for creation of brain specific therapy, according to new research.

Power stations in cells may protect brain against Parkinson´s
A new study shows that impairment in mitochondria may actually protect the brain in Parkinson’s disease.

Commonalities in brains of people with Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease
A new study strongly suggests that the brains of people who have died of Huntington's disease (HD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) show a similar response to a lifetime of neurodegeneration, despite being two very distinct diseases.

Does an exploding brain network cause chronic pain?
New research reports that hyperreactive brain networks could play a part in the hypersensitivity of fibromyalgia.

New method to map miniature brain circuits
In a feat of nanoengineering, scientists have developed a new technique to map electrical circuits in the brain far more comprehensively than ever before. Scientists worldwide could use the technique to uncover the architecture of different parts of the brain.

Genetic analysis can improve depression therapy
The failure of SSRI antidepressants can be a result of genetic variations in patients. Variations within the gene that encodes the CYP2C19 enzyme results in extreme differences in the levels of escitalopram achieved in patients, according to a new study. Prescribing the dose of escitalopram based on a patient's specific genetic constitution would greatly improve therapeutic outcomes.

New technology will create brain wiring diagrams
Scientists have developed new technology that allows them to see which neurons are talking to which other neurons in live fruit flies.

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of Alzheimer's disease in older adults.

What happens when your brain's support cells aren't so supportive?
Salk scientists use gene expression to understand how astrocytes change with age.

The brain's GPS has a buddy system
Brain cells that reflect self position relative to others have been identified in the rat hippocampus. Sometimes these representations are processed jointly by the same cells, depending on a rat's goals and actions. This discovery deepens our understanding of the hippocampus and its role as the brain's positioning system.

Autism: Brain circuit controls social behavior identified
A new study has identified a key brain region of the neural circuit that controls social behavior. Increasing the activity of this region, called the habenula, led to social problems in rodents, whereas decreasing activity of the region prevented social problems.

Genetic 'switches' behind human brain evolution
Researchers have developed the first map of gene regulation in human neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells turn into brain cells and the cerebral cortex expands in size. The scientists identified factors that govern the growth of our brains and, in some cases, set the stage for several brain disorders that appear later in life.

Objectification of women results in lack of empathy
Sexualized representations, especially the emphasis of secondary sexual characteristics, can change the way we perceive an individual. Researchers have shown that empathic feelings and brain responses are reduced when we observe the emotions of sexualized women.

Are there signs of CTE in the brain tissue of younger people with epilepsy?
Younger adults with difficult-to-treat epilepsy may have early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in their brain tissue, but it appears to be uncommon, according to a small, preliminary study.

Personal growth often coexists with post-traumatic stress following natural disasters
The 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, was one of the most destructive in US history -- killing 161 people, injuring 1,150 and destroying approximately one-third of the city's homes. Researchers have found that survivors of natural disasters have the potential to experience positive changes or growth in addition to the stress they experience. Researchers say this finding can help those working in communities after a disaster.

Epileptic seizures and depression may share a common genetic cause, study suggests
From the time of Hippocrates, physicians have suspected a link between epilepsy and depression. Now, for the first time, scientists have found evidence that seizures and mood disorders such as depression may share the same genetic cause in some people with epilepsy, which may lead to better screening and treatment to improve patients' quality of life.

Altered voice processing in young children with autism and delayed language development
Three- to five-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and delayed language development appear to process voices differently than typically developing children, according to a new study.

Oversimplifying beliefs about causes of mental illness may hinder social acceptance
Belief that mental illness is biological has increased among both health experts and the public in recent years. But campaigns to treat it as a disease and remove stigma may be lacking because other factors, such as bad character and upbringing, still are viewed as playing a role, a new study has found.

General anesthetics do more than put you to sleep
A new understanding of the complex ways in which general anesthetics act on the brain could eventually lead to improved drugs for surgery. It remains unclear how general anesthesia works, even though it is one of the most common medical procedures worldwide. University of Queensland researcher, Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen, said his team had overturned previous understanding of what general anaesthetics do to the brain, finding the drugs did much more than induce sleep.

Proteomics analyses could present new opportunities to diagnose and treat dementias
One of the most intriguing properties of the brain is its means to undergo synaptic plasticity which represents the basis for learning and memory, abilities that severely decline in the case of a dementia. New research suggests that particular proteins important in the communication between neurons could be targets for early interventions in patients with different types of dementias.

Uneasiness in observers of unnatural android movements explained
When the human-likeness of androids exceeds a certain threshold, the human's affinity for them decreases and an uncanny feeling about them increases. This effect, however, has been relatively unexplored. Osaka University-centered researchers recently found the visual observation of the android, compared with that of the human model, caused greater activation in the subthalamic nucleus, a brain region also involved in the pathology of Parkinson's disease. The findings further contribute to the knowledge needed to design androids with more natural movements.

Scientists find heightened attention to surprise in veterans with PTSD
Scientists have found that people with PTSD have an increased learning response to surprising events. While most everyone reacts to surprise, people with PTSD tend to pay even more attention to the unexpected.

Brain-cell 'antenna' may be key to understanding obesity
Researchers have discovered that the brain's ability to regulate body weight depends on a novel form of signaling in the brain's 'hunger circuit' via antenna-like structures on neurons called primary cilia.