Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Deletion of a stem cell factor promotes traumatic brain injury recovery in mice
Researchers found that conditional deletion of Sox2 – the gene encoding the SOX2 stem cell transcription factor – and the associated dampening of astrocyte reactivity appear to promote functional recovery, including behavioral recovery, after traumatic brain injury.

Brain activity buffers against worsening anxiety
Boosting activity in brain areas related to thinking and problem-solving may also protect against worsening anxiety, suggests a new study. Using noninvasive brain imaging, the researchers found that at-risk people were less likely to develop anxiety if they had higher activity in a region of the brain responsible for complex mental operations. The results may be a step towards tailoring psychological therapies to the specific brain functioning of individual patients.

Investigating patterns of degeneration in Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is known to cause memory loss and cognitive decline, but other functions of the brain can remain intact. The reasons cells in some brain regions degenerate while others are protected is largely unknown. Researchers have found that factors encoded in the DNA of brain cells contribute to the patterns of degeneration, or vulnerability, in AD.

Brain astrocytes linked to Alzheimer's disease
Astrocytes, the supporting cells of the brain, could play a significant role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a new study. This is the first time researchers discovered a direct association between astrocytes and AD.

When male voles drink alcohol, but their partner doesn't, their relationship suffers
Researchers find that the relationship between prairie vole couples suffers when the male has access to alcohol, but his female partner doesn't - similar to what has been observed in human couples. The researchers also found changes in a specific brain region in the male voles. The results could help researchers find strategies to overcome the negative effects of alcohol on human relationships.

Noninvasive brain imaging shows readiness of trainees to perform operations
While simulation platforms have been used to train surgeons before they enter an actual operating room (OR), few studies have evaluated how well trainees transfer those skills from the simulator to the OR. Now, a study that used noninvasive brain imaging to evaluate brain activity has found that simulator-trained medical students successfully transferred those skills to operating on cadavers and were faster than peers who had no simulator training.

Workplace sexual harassment 'a chronic problem,' says expert
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive, chronic problem that can cause enduring psychological harm, according to an expert.

Stress can lead to risky decisions
Making decisions that require weighing pros and cons of two choices is dramatically affected by chronic stress, neuroscientists have discovered. In a study of rats and mice, they found stressed animals were far likelier to choose high-risk, high-payoff options. They also found that impairments of a specific brain circuit underlie this abnormal decision making.

Neurobiology: Fixated on food?
Contrast has an impact on the optokinetic reflex, which enables us to clearly perceive the landscape from a moving train. Researchers have now shown that visual features that modulate this ability are encoded in the retina.

How bacteria in the gut influence neurodegenerative disorders
Humans have roughly as many bacterial cells in their bodies as human cells, and most of those bacteria live in the gut. New research released today reveals links between the gut microbiome -- the population of microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal tract -- and brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, including potential new ways to track and treat these diseases.

A delicate crossing: Controller developed to open the blood-brain barrier with precision
Researchers are investigating a way to temporarily loosen the blood-brain barrier to deliver drugs with the assistance of microbubbles. In a new advancement, they have developed a system in preclinical models that offers a finer degree of control - and, therefore, safety -- in opening the barrier.

Potential mediator for social memory formation
The ability to form long-term social memories is essential for remembering faces and developing social bonds. Scientists have now discovered that the tiny CA2 region in the hippocampus is involved in the linking up of memory fragments (consolidation) to form long-term memories, and that a neuropeptide, substance P, is involved in this process. Since CA2 is responsible for social memory, this finding has significant implications for how long-term social memories are formed.

Head injury does not worsen drinking behavior in heavy drinkers
Head injury, which often damages brain regions overlapping with those involved in addictive behaviors, does not worsen drinking behavior in people with heavy alcohol use, according to a new study. The study also found that combining head injury with heavy alcohol use did not further alter the structure or function of the brain.

Chimp study reveals how brain's structure shaped our evolution
Chimpanzee brains may be more different from those of humans than was previously thought, according to new research that sheds light on our evolution.

'Left-handed' fish and asymmetrical brains
Biologists have discovered the relationship between “handedness”, brain structure and genes in extremely specialized cichlid fish.

Improving clinical trials with machine learning
Machine learning could improve our ability to determine whether a new drug works in the brain, potentially enabling researchers to detect drug effects that would be missed entirely by conventional statistical tests, finds a new study.

Consuming nuts strengthens brainwave function
A new study has found that eating nuts on a regular basis strengthens brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory and other key brain functions.

The brain auditions different cells when learning a task, some don't make the cut
For decades, neuroscientists have wondered how the brain can continue to learn new skills without needing to grow in size or volume over a person's lifetime. Evidence suggests that the number of brain cells -- neurons, synapses, and glial cells -- does initially increase as we're learning, but many are eventually pruned away or assigned to other roles.

New insights into why sleep is good for our memory
Researchers have shed new light on sleep's vital role in helping us make the most of our memory.

Ibuprofen may block damage from fetal-alcohol exposure
An anti-inflammatory drug may have the potential to stall the damaging effects of alcohol on the fetal brain, a new study suggests.

Injury from contact sport has harmful, though temporary effect on memory
Neuroscientists studying sports-related head injuries have found that it takes less than a full concussion to cause memory loss, possibly because even mild trauma can interrupt the production of new neurons in a region of the brain responsible for memory.

Quick! What's that smell? Mammal brains identify type of scent faster than once thought
It takes less than one-tenth of a second -- a fraction of the time previously thought -- for the sense of smell to distinguish between one odor and another, new experiments in mice show.

Exercise increases brain size, new research finds
Aerobic exercise can improve memory function and maintain brain health as we age, a new study has found.

Left-brained: Study suggests conservative Democrats don't compute for liberal voters
Magnetic resonance imaging research finds self-identified liberals more likely to notice when candidates deviate from the party line. Liberals also tend to take longer to react to inconsistent positions from Democrats. In the majority of instances, they evaluated those inconsistent positions as 'bad.'

Why head and face pain causes more suffering
Scientists have discovered why pain from the head and face can be more disruptive, and more emotionally draining, than pain elsewhere in the body. The team found that sensory neurons from the head and face are wired directly into one of the brain's principal emotional signaling hubs, while sensory neurons from the body are connected only indirectly. The results may pave the way toward more effective treatments for chronic head pain.

Brain structure, cognitive function in treated HIV-positive individuals
Adults with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and good viral suppression on combination antiretroviral therapy had poorer cognition and reduced brain thickness and volume on magnetic resonance imaging than adults without HIV, but changes over time in cognitive performance and brain structure were similar between the two groups over two years.

Experts call for ethics rules to protect privacy, free will, as brain implants advance
Neuroscientists call for ethical guidelines to cover the evolving use of computer hardware and software to enhance or restore human capabilities.

Hair cortisol levels predict which mothers are more likely to suffer postpartum depression
Hair cortisol levels, which is a steroid hormone secreted as a response to stress, are higher in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy for those women that will later suffer postpartum depression, new research indicates.

What can Twitter reveal about people with ADHD?
People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder tend to tweet using words like 'hate' or 'disappointed,' messages related to lack of focus, self-regulation, intention and failure and expressions of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, according to recent research. Better understanding this condition can help clinicians more effectively treat patients.

Deadly combination in neurodegenerative diseases revealed
Aging is the key risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases, and accumulation of the protein TDP-43 in neurons is a pathological feature of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, the specific effect of aging on the protein TDP-43 has not been investigated. Researchers have now found in mice that interneuron degeneration occurs upon aging, and TDP-43 accelerates age-dependent neuronal degeneration, which may be related to the impaired memory of TDP-43 transgenic mice.

Landmark study may impact standard stroke treatment guidelines
Standard guidelines for stroke treatment currently recommend clot removal only within six hours of stroke onset. But a milestone study shows that clot removal up to 24 hours after stroke led to significantly reduced disability for properly selected patients.

Both obese and anorexic women have low levels of 'feel good' neurosteroid
Women at opposite extremes of the weight spectrum have low levels of the neuroactive steroid allopregnanolone, according to new research.

Breakthrough research suggests potential treatment for autism, intellectual disability
A research team has identified the pathological mechanism for a certain type of autism and intellectual disability by creating a genetically modified mouse. They are hopeful it could eventually lead to a therapeutic fix.

Blue lighting is scientifically proven to help us relax faster than white lighting after an argument
Researchers say that blue light accelerates the relaxation process after acute psychosocial stress such as arguing with a friend or when someone pressures you to quickly finish some task.

Biomarker may predict early Alzheimer's disease
Researchers have identified a peptide that could lead to the early detection of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The discovery may also provide a means of homing drugs to diseased areas of the brain to treat AD, Parkinson's disease, as well as glioblastoma, brain injuries and stroke.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War illness as unique disorders, brain chemistry study shows
Researchers have found distinct molecular signatures in two brain disorders long thought to be psychological in origin -- chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI). In addition, the work supports a previous observation of two variants of GWI.

Dementia treatment research: Exit through the lymphatic system
Scientists have disproved a decades-old orthodoxy: cerebrospinal fluid does not leave the cranial cavity via blood vessels, but instead through the lymphatic system. This finding has far-reaching implications in new treatments for dementia.

New wake-promoting node pinpointed in brain
Neurologists had suspected that a component of the 'ascending arousal system' could be found supramammillary nucleus, part of the caudal hypothalamus in the brain for more than 100 years. In mice, activating this region using targeted chemical genetic techniques resulted in prolonged wakefulness during the animals' normal sleep periods.

How challenges change the way you think
New research shows that challenging situations make it harder to understand where you are and what's happening around you. Researchers showed participants three clips from feature films -- one neutral, two challenging. After watching the challenging scenes, the participants were less able to acquire spatial and sequential context -- that is, they became worse at mapping out where objects were and the order in which things happened.

Bear or chipmunk? Engineer finds how brain encodes sounds
When you are out in the woods and hear a cracking sound, your brain needs to process quickly whether the sound is coming from, say, a bear or a chipmunk. A biomedical engineer now has a new interpretation for an old observation, debunking an established theory in the process.

Scientists create a recipe to make human blood-brain-barrier
A defined, step-by-step process to make a more exact mimic of the human blood-brain-barrier in the laboratory dish has now been detailed by researchers in a new report. The new model will permit more robust exploration of the cells, their properties and how scientists might circumvent the barrier for therapeutic purposes.

Probe thinner than a human hair provides high definition recording of brain activity
Scientists have developed a new device that could revolutionize our understanding of the brain by allowing researchers to map the activity of complex neural networks that control behavior and decision making, in a way never before possible.

When you're tired, your brain cells actually slow down
A new study finds that individual neurons slow down when we are sleep deprived, leading to delayed behavioral responses to events taking place around us. The slowdown affects the brain's visual perception and memory associations.

Why do we believe in gods? Religious belief 'not linked to intuition or rational thinking'
Religious beliefs are not linked to intuition or rational thinking, according to a new study. Previous studies have suggested people who hold strong religious beliefs are more intuitive and less analytical, and when they think more analytically their religious beliefs decrease. But new research suggests that is not the case, and that people are not 'born believers'.

'Bursts' of beta waves, not sustained rhythms, filter sensory processing in brain
Scientists have found that people and mice alike use brief bursts of beta brainwaves, rather than sustained rhythms, to control attention and perception.

Brain imaging reveals ADHD as a collection of different disorders
Researchers have found that patients with different types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have impairments in unique brain systems, indicating that there may not be a one-size-fits-all explanation for the cause of the disorder. Based on performance on behavioral tests, adolescents with ADHD fit into one of three subgroups, where each group demonstrated distinct impairments in the brain with no common abnormalities between them.

Lending late neurons a helping hand
Researchers have discovered that even a slight delay of the neuronal migration may lead to behavioral disorders that are similar to autistic characteristics in human. Furthermore, they found that these disorders are due to the abnormally low activity of the late neurons, which leads to permanent deficit of interneuronal connections. They succeeded in correcting the activity of the relevant neurons, thereby restoring the missing connections and preventing the appearance of behavioral disorders.

Healthiest college students keep weight down, spirits up
Optimists and happy people are healthier overall, enjoying lower blood pressure and less depression and anxiety, among other measures, research shows.

Neuroscientists identify source of early brain activity
A new study neuroscientists is the first to identify a mechanism that could explain an early link between sound input and cognitive function, often called the 'Mozart effect.' Working with an animal model, the researchers found that a type of cell present in the brain's primary processing area during early development, long thought to form structural scaffolding with no role in transmitting sensory information, may conduct such signals after all.

Potential treatment to stop glaucoma in its tracks
Vision scientists have discovered that naturally occurring molecules known as lipid mediators have the potential to halt the progression of glaucoma, the world's second-leading cause of blindness.