Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Subtle hearing loss while young changes brain function
New research has found that young people with subtle hearing loss -- the kind they aren't even aware of -- are putting demands on their brains that typically wouldn't be seen until later in life.

Mice brain structure linked with sex-based differences in anxiety behavior
Using male individuals has long been a tradition in scientific mice studies. But new research enforces the importance of using a balanced population of male and female mice. Scientists studying the locus coeruleus brain structure in mice unexpectedly found substantial differences in the molecular structures of this part of the brain between male and female mice.

Mechanisms of harmful overhydration and brain swelling
We are all familiar with the drawbacks of dehydration, but we rarely hear about the harmful effects of overhydration. Scientists have now uncovered a key piece to the puzzle of how our brains detect hyponatremia and regulate overhydration. The new study unearths the fundamental mechanism of how hyponatremia is detected in the brain.

Deep space radiation treatment reboots brain's immune system
NASA and private company SpaceX plan to send humans to Mars within the next 15 years -- but need to figure out how to protect astronauts from the dangerous cosmic radiation of deep space. Now neuroscientists have identified a potential treatment for the brain damage caused by cosmic rays -- a drug that prevents memory impairment in mice exposed to simulated space radiation.

Personalizing therapeutic brain stimulation
A study of epilepsy patients with implanted electrodes provides an unprecedented view of the changes in brain activity created by electrical stimulation. These findings have the potential to improve noninvasive stimulation approaches toward the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Mice regrow brain tissue after stroke with bioengineered gel
In a first-of-its-kind finding, a new stroke-healing gel helped regrow neurons and blood vessels in mice with stroke-damaged brains, researchers report.

Reading the minds of pilots on the fly
Wearable brain monitoring sensors allowed researchers to measure cognitive workload while aircraft pilots completed memory tasks.

Does pupil dilation occur before insight?
Researchers have measured the human pupil upon gaining insight into an object. It is known that pupils dilate/narrow to adjust the amount of light entering the eye and that emotional state affects the extent of dilation/narrowing. This study indicates that dilation extent varies depending on if inspiration occurs and that dilation occurs before inspiration.

How social isolation transforms the brain
Researchers gain new insights into the brain mechanisms underlying the negative effects caused by long-term social isolation.

Microglia are key defenders against prion diseases
Prion diseases are slow degenerative brain diseases that occur in people and various other mammals. No vaccines or treatments are available, and these diseases are almost always fatal. Scientists have found little evidence of a protective immune response to prion infections. Further, microglia -- brain cells usually involved in the first level of host defense against infections of the brain -- have been thought to worsen these diseases by secreting toxic molecules that can damage nerve cells.

Brain abnormality indicates general risk for mental illness
A new study reports an abnormality in visual regions of the brain that is associated with a person's general risk for mental illness. The findings indicate a signature abnormality shared between common forms of mental illness, which could help clinicians assess a patient's general risk for developing a mental illness.

Mechanism underlying malformation associated with severe epilepsy is revealed
Study suggests dysregulation of gene NEUROG2 could be linked to development of focal cortical dysplasia, one of the most common causes of drug-resistant epilepsy. NEUROG2 is involved in cell differentiation and, when overexpressed, it maintains the neurogenesis signal active into adulthood, what helps explaining the presence of abnormal neurons and glial cells in patients' brains.

Smarter brains run on sparsely connected neurons
The more intelligent a person, the fewer connections there are between the neurons in his or her cerebral cortex, according to a new study performed using a specific neuroimaging technique that provides insights into the wiring of the brain on a microstructural level.

For older adults, a better diet may prevent brain shrinkage
People who eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish may have bigger brains, according to a new study.

Our brains are obsessed with being social
Our brains are obsessed with being social even when we are not in social situations. A new study finds that the brain may tune towards social learning even when it is at rest. The findings demonstrate empirically for the first time how two regions of the brain experience increased connectivity during rest after encoding new social information.

How the gut influences neurologic disease
A study sheds new light on the connection between the gut and the brain, untangling the complex interplay that allows the byproducts of microorganisms living in the gut to influence the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Intimacy in later life does not slow memory loss
Older people who enjoy a sexually active and emotionally close relationship with their partner tend to perform better at memory tests than sexually inactive older adults on a short-term basis, but this is not the case over a longer period of time. This is according to a study using data from more than 6000 adults aged 50 and over.

Artificial Intelligence improves stroke and dementia diagnosis in most common brain scan
Artificial Intelligence improves stroke and dementia diagnosis in commonest form of brain scan.

National trial: EEG brain tests help patients overcome depression
A new study found that measuring electrical activity in the brain can help predict a patient's response to an antidepressant.

New findings explain how melatonin promotes sleep
Researchers have discovered how melatonin suppresses neurons in the brain that keeps you awake and alert. These findings could lead to new therapies for those who suffer from insomnia.

How REM and non-REM sleep may work together to help us solve problems
Sleep is known to be important for creative thinking, but exactly how it helps and what role each sleep stage -- REM and non-REM -- plays remains unclear. A team of researchers have now developed a theory to explain how the interleaving of REM and non-REM sleep might facilitate creative problem solving in different but complementary ways.

How can we help children with brain injuries transition back to school?
Children with brain injuries face significant challenges when transitioning from hospital or home to school where they face issues such as lack of educator understanding and catching up with missed work. Leading researchers in the field of pediatric brain injury from across the globe identify today's key issues in supporting children and youth with brain injuries as they transition to school or college.

Magnetic stimulation dampens brain response to drug cues in addiction
In a study investigating the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for drug addiction, researchers are the first to demonstrate that the noninvasive brain stimulation technique can dampen brain activity in response to drug cues in chronic alcohol users and chronic cocaine users.

Why some people resist authority
Control aversion -- the urge to rebel against control over one's decisions -- can be explained by connectivity between two regions of the brain as well as behavioral measures of distrust and lack of understanding.

New hope for patients with depression and anxiety
There is a strong link between depression and anxiety disorders and autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), a chronic thyroid condition affecting approximately 10 percent of the population. Scientists have now demonstrated that special treatment could help many sufferers, especially women.

Where hominid brains are concerned, size doesn't matter
Researchers pieced together traces of Homo naledi's brain shape from an extraordinary collection of skull fragments and partial crania, from at least five adult individuals. One of these bore a very clear imprint of the convolutions on the surface of the brain's left frontal lobe.

How the brain decides to make an effort
From deciding to quit hitting the snooze button and get out of bed in the morning to opting to switch off the TV and prepare for sleep at night, the mind weighs the costs versus benefits of each choice we make. A new study reveals the mechanics of how the brain makes such effortful decisions, calculating whether it is worth expending effort in exchange for potential rewards.

Biologists 'transfer' a memory through RNA injection
Biologists report they have transferred a memory from one marine snail to another, creating an artificial memory, by injecting RNA from one to another. This research could lead to new ways to treat traumatic memories with RNA -- perhaps a traumatic memory could be altered -- and perhaps new ways to restore lost memories.

Revealed: Why drug users prefer heroin at home, but cocaine while out
New research shows that response of brain and emotions to addictive drugs depends on both the setting and the substance of use. The findings could change treatments for drug users to help prevent relapses.

Discovery of differences in the brains of rats classified as workers vs. slackers
Neurologists have uncovered a network of regions in the brain that are involved in determining the choice of being a 'hard-worker' or a 'slacker.' Understanding how the brain makes such decisions is one of the most fundamental questions in neuroscience and psychology, and sophisticated animal behavioral testing, coupled with advance brain imaging and stimulation techniques are shedding light on this important process.

Details of brain networks in autism
A new study analyzing more than 1,000 brain scans reveals surprising new insights into brain networks in people with autism, after applying a new personalized approach to brain mapping. The new approach provides a way to examine the location of individual brain networks with more precision.

Gene variant may increase psychiatric risk after traumatic brain injury
A gene variant known to predict Alzheimer's risk was linked to worse psychiatric symptoms in those with a traumatic brain injury. Study participants with the gene variant and at least one TBI had more severe PTSD, anxiety, and depression, compared with TBI patients without the same variant.

Brain size mediates the association between height and cognitive ability
Several studies have found that height and general cognitive ability, or intelligence, are positively associated. A recent study reveals a biological factor underlying this relationship: the size of the cerebral cortex.

Snorers suffer from nerve and muscle damage in the palate
People who snore may have extensive tissue damage in the nerves and muscles of the soft palate. This can in turn create problems with swallowing and contribute to development of sleep apnea. Treatment strategies aimed at early intervention to stop snoring might have beneficial effects in healing or preventing development of sleep apnea.

Noninvasive brain stimulation leads to fine motor improvement after stroke
A new analysis finds that non-invasive brain stimulation may have beneficial effects on fine motor movement in stroke patients and healthy participants.

Gadolinium deposition in the brain not dose dependent
Investigators have determined that in children receiving gadolinium as a contrast agent to enhance MRI examinations, signal changes attributed solely to deposition of this material in the brain are not dependent on the amount of gadolinium administered but rather these changes are seen in association with other factors such as the presence of brain tumors and treatment using brain irradiation.

Scientists uncover brain circuits behind putting up a fight or freezing in place
In a study of mice, researchers describe a new circuit involved in fine-tuning the brain's decision either to hide or confront threats.

Eyes in the back of the head
A team has tested the human spatial ability to perceive our surroundings without actually seeing it.

Gene disruption signals cerebral palsy and autism link
Researchers have uncovered a genetic signal common to both cerebral palsy and autism. The finding comes from the first large-scale study of gene expression in children with cerebral palsy.

Putting distinct memories of similar events in their place
Neuroscientists have found new evidence on how distinct memories of similar events are represented in the brain.

The Yogi masters were right -- meditation and breathing exercises can sharpen your mind
It has long been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists that meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, strengthen our ability to focus on tasks. A new study explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.

Depression linked to memory problems and brain aging
Depression in older adults may be linked to memory problems, according to new research. The study also showed that older people with greater symptoms of depression may have structural differences in the brain compared to people without symptoms.

Breakdown of brain's visual networks linked to mental illness
Brain regions that help process what we see may play a key role in mental health. Researchers used brain imaging to identify patterns of brain connectivity -- the ability of brain regions to talk to each other -- that affect a person's likelihood for developing common forms of mental illness. They found that risk of mental illness increases when the visual cortex struggles to communicate with brain networks responsible for focus and introspection.

Stress helps unlearn fear
Stress can have a positive effect on extinction learning, which causes previously learned associations to dissolve. According to the findings of cognitive psychologists, stress causes extinction learning to occur independent of context. This might prove useful for example in therapies for anxiety disorders.

People with OCD process emotions differently than their unaffected siblings
A new study reports that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) feel more distress when viewing images to provoke OCD-related emotions than their unaffected siblings. Although the unaffected siblings showed lower levels of distress, they had higher levels of brain activity in regions important for attention. The findings suggest that the family members may draw on additional brain resources to compensate for potential abnormalities in emotion regulation.

Basing everyday decisions on risk of pain or loss linked to increased anxiety
Scientists have shone new light on how the human brain uses past experiences and generalizes them to future events, helping us safely navigate the world around us.

Breast cancer linked to the body's internal clock
For years, doctors have associated the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations with an increased risk of breast cancer. But researchers have now identified another gene that may have an impact on breast cancer --associated with the body's circadian rhythm.

A new mechanism for neurodegeneration in a form of dementia
A new study reports that dementia-related and psychiatric-related proteins cluster together to form aggregates in the brain, leading to abnormal cell function and behavior. Aggregation of the protein TDP-43 is a hallmark of a pathological process that leads to dementia called frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). The study showed that as TDP-43 accumulates in the brain of patients with FTLD, it ropes in DISC1, an important protein in the pathology of many mental conditions.

Prolonged exposure to air pollution leads to genetic changes in rat brains, study finds
Prolonged exposure to particulate matter in air pollution in the Los Angeles Basin triggered inflammation and the appearance of cancer-related genes in the brains of rats, a new study has found.

Possibility of new ways to treat, manage epilepsy seizures
New findings demonstrate that there may be ways to address blood-brain barrier dysfunction in epilepsy.