Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Phantom limb sensation explained
After a limb amputation, brain areas responsible for movement and sensation alter their functional communication. This is the conclusion of a new study. The findings may help to understand why some patients report phantom sensations and others do not.

Smartphones help researcher better understand the nature of depression and anxiety
A psychologist's research using smartphones is providing valuable data in real time, information that could provide treatment benefits for patients struggling with anxiety and depression.

Signals on the scales: How the brain processes images
How are the images cast on the retina reassembled in the brain? Researchers have found that processing of visual stimuli occurs at the earliest waystation on the way to the visual cortex -- but not all are treated equally.

How blood vessels protect the brain during inflammation
Researchers have discovered how blood vessels protect the brain during inflammation -- a finding that could lead to the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

EEG helps scientists predict epileptic seizures minutes in advance
A new study shows that acetate, an acid found in some foods, may help doctors intervene when seizures are imminent. Scientists can monitor the brain activity of a specific cell type to predict epileptic seizures four minutes in advance in humans and mice.

Young bone marrow rejuvenates aging mouse brains
A new study has found that transplanting the bone marrow of young laboratory mice into old mice prevented cognitive decline in the old mice, preserving their memory and learning abilities. The findings support an emerging model that attributes cognitive decline, in part, to aging of blood cells, which are produced in bone marrow.

Extinguishing fear memories relies on an unusual change to DNA
Researchers have discovered a DNA modification that enhances our ability to extinguish fear. The findings could help guide the development of new treatments for fear-related anxiety disorders. Professor Timothy Bredy of UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) said while fear is an important survival mechanism which uses cues in the environment to prompt certain responses, so too is the ability to inhibit fear when it's no longer needed.

Brain's primitive sensory region also participates in sophisticated learning
Neuroscientists have revealed that a simple brain region, known for processing basic sensory information, can also guide complex feats of mental activity. The new study involving mice demonstrated that cells in the somatosensory cortex, the brain area responsible for touch, also play a key role in reward learning. It is the basis for how we connect our work in the office to that paycheck, or that A+ to the studying we did in preparation for the test.

Altered brain activity patterns of Parkinson's captured in mice
Researchers pinpoint how brain activity changes in mouse models of Parkinson's disease, hinting at what may drive symptoms in humans.

Scientists create new map of brain's immune system
A team of researchers under the direction of the Medical Center -- University of Freiburg has created an entirely new map of the brain's own immune system in humans and mice.

New model mimics persistent interneuron loss seen in prematurity
Research-clinicians created a novel preclinical model that mimics the persistent interneuron loss seen in preterm human infants, identifying interneuron subtypes that could become future therapeutic targets to prevent or lessen neurodevelopmental risks.

Mapping brain circuits in newborns may aid early detection of autism
A new map of newborn babies' brains offers details of structure that will provide a new reference for researchers studying both typical brain development and neurological disorders. Using noninvasive, 20-minute MRI scans, researchers have revealed some of the complex and precisely organized brain architecture that emerges as the brain reshapes itself during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Depression reversed in male mice by activating gene that helps excite neurons
Directly activating a gene important to exciting our excitatory neurons and associated with major depression may help turn around classic symptoms like social isolation and loss of interest, at least for males, scientists report.

Brain discovery explains a great mystery of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's
One of the great mysteries of neuroscience may finally have an answer: Scientists have identified a potential explanation for the mysterious death of specific brain cells seen in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

First model of mitochondrial epilepsy
Researchers have become the first to describe a model of mitochondrial epilepsy which raises hope for better therapies for patients with this incapacitating condition.Despite the severity of this epilepsy, up to now there have been no animal models available to provide a mechanistic understanding of the condition. That is set to change though as researchers can now explain the important role that astrocytes play in seizure generation.

Brain pathways of aversion identified
What happens in the brain when we feel discomfort? Researchers are now one step closer to finding the answer. They identify which pathways in the mouse brain control behaviour associated with aversion.

Neural processing with trauma and adversity interact to increase core symptom of PTSD
Lifetime adversity and increased neural processing during a traumatic event combine to increase the frequency of intrusive traumatic memories and the distress they cause, according to a new study.

New molecules reverse memory loss linked to depression, aging
New therapeutic molecules show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging. These molecules not only rapidly improve symptoms, but remarkably, also appear to renew the underlying brain impairments causing memory loss in preclinical models.

The language of conversation impacts on the 'synchronization' of our brains
Experts have shown for the first time that the way in which the activity of two brains is connected depends on whether the dialogue takes place in the native language or in a foreign language.

Controlling and visualizing receptor signals in neural cells with light
Using a novel optogenetic tool, researchers have successfully controlled, reproduced and visualized serotonin receptor signals in neural cells. To this end, they modified a photosensitive membrane receptor in the eye, namely melanopsin. They were able to switch the receptor on and off using light; it also acted like a sensor indicating via fluorescence if specific signalling pathways in the cell had been activated. The sensor was, moreover, specifically designed to migrate to those domains in the neural cells that are sensitive to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Cannabis use in teens linked to risk of depression in young adults
Cannabis is the most commonly used recreational drug by teenagers worldwide. In Canada, among youth aged 15 to 19 years, the rate of past-year cannabis use is 20.6 percent, while in England, 4 percent of adolescents aged 11 to 15 years used cannabis in the last month.

Scientists discover how neuroactive steroids dampen inflammatory signaling in cells
For the first time, scientists discovered how neuroactive steroids naturally found in the brain and bloodstream inhibit the activity of a specific kind of protein called Toll-like receptors (TLR4), which have been known to play a role in inflammation in many organs, including the brain.

Stimulating the vagus nerve in the neck might help ease pain associated with PTSD
In a randomized, controlled pilot trial, researchers found that participants pre-treated with noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation experienced less pain after heat stimulus than mock-treated participants.

Shedding light on the pathway to put the traumatic past behind
By shedding light on the underlying brain circuits of ABS pairing's powerful effects to reduce fear, this study can come as a powerful reassurance of its fear-reducing effects to PTSD patients.

Exercise gives older men a better brain boost
New research suggests that the relationship between physical and brain fitness varies in older adults by virtue of their sex.

Newly isolated human gut bacterium reveals possible connection to depression
Researchers have established a correlation between depression and a group of neurotransmitter-producing bacteria found in the human gut.

Movement impairments in autism could be reversible
Researchers from Cardiff University have established a link between a genetic mutation and developmental movement impairments in autism.

Brain clock ticks differently in autism
The neural 'time windows' in certain small brain areas contribute to the complex cognitive symptoms of autism, new research suggests. In a brain imaging study of adults, the severity of autistic symptoms was linked to how long these brain areas stored information. The differences in neural timescales may underlie features of autism like hypersensitivity and could be useful as a future diagnostic tool.

PTSD alone didn't increase heart disease risk in veterans with PTSD
Coexisting medical conditions, psychiatric disorders, heavy smoking and illicit drug use may explain the increased risk for heart disease among veterans with PTSD.

Uncovering the evolution of the brain
What makes us human, and where does this mysterious property of 'humanness' come from? Humans are genetically similar to chimpanzees and bonobos, yet there exist obvious behavioral and cognitive differences. Now, researchers have developed a strategy to more easily study the early development of human neurons compared with the neurons of nonhuman primates.

Consciousness rests on the brain's ability to sustain rich dynamics of neural activity
Consciousness, from the moment we go to sleep until we wake up, seems to come and go every day. Consciousness can be temporarily abolished by pharmacological agents or more permanently by brain injury. Each of these departures from conscious wakefulness brings about different changes in brain function, behavior and in the brain's neurochemistry. However, they all share a common feature: the lack of reported subjective experience.

Brain protein crucial to recovery from stroke
Researchers have identified a brain protein at the root of how the brain recovers from stroke. The finding offers a promising avenue for developing therapies that could work even when given beyond the first few hours after a stroke.

Beyond romance: Empathy and bonding
Love can make us do crazy things. It often prompts us to behave in counterintuitive ways, like, for example, placing the wellbeing of our loved ones above our own. But why?

New Alzheimer's therapy with brain blood flow discovery?
By discovering the culprit behind decreased blood flow in the brain of people with Alzheimer's, biomedical engineers at have made possible promising new therapies for the disease.

Learning a second alphabet for a first language
A part of the brain that maps letters to sounds can acquire a second, visually distinct alphabet for the same language, according to a study of English speakers. The research challenges theoretical constraints on the range of visual forms available to represent written language.

Pitch perfect: Brain differences behind a rare musical ability
New research reports features of the brain in musicians with absolute, or perfect, pitch (AP) that likely enable individuals with this rare ability -- shared by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven -- to precisely identify musical notes.

Rats in augmented reality help show how the brain determines location
Before the age of GPS, humans had to orient themselves without on-screen arrows pointing down an exact street, but rather, by memorizing landmarks and using learned relationships among time, speed and distance. They had to know, for instance, that 10 minutes of brisk walking might equate to half a mile traveled. A new Johns Hopkins study found that rats' ability to recalibrate these learned relationships is ever-evolving, moment-by-moment.

Spinal cord is 'smarter' than previously thought
New research has shown that the spinal cord is able to process and control complex functions, like the positioning of your hand in external space. 'This research has shown that a least one important function is being done at the level of the spinal cord and it opens up a whole new area of investigation.

Oral contraceptives could impair women's recognition of complex emotions
Women who take the pill are nearly 10 percent worse at recognizing subtle expressions of complex emotions like pride or contempt, according to new research. Previous research suggests the relationship is causal, but the impact on women's ability to form intimate relationships is unknown.

New target could help protect vision following optic nerve trauma
When a car crash or explosion results in an optic nerve injury, eliminating an enzyme known to promote inflammation appears to aid recovery, scientists report.

How exercise may protect against Alzheimer's
A hormone called irisin -- produced during exercise -- may protect neurons against Alzheimer's disease.

How the brain responds to texture
New research by neuroscientists shows that as neurons process information about texture from the skin, they each respond differently to various features of a surface, creating a high-dimensional representation of texture in the brain.

Size and time impact outcomes when mechanical clot removal used for large core strokes
Patient outcomes with large core stroke damage are worse the larger the core volume and the longer the time lapse between stroke onset and treatment. Perfusion imaging may help identify large core stroke patients who are potential candidates for mechanical thrombectomy (clot removal).

Identifying brain's preparation for action
Neuroscientists have identified the processes which occur in our brains milliseconds before we undertake a series of movements, crucial for speech, handwriting, sports or playing a musical instrument. Tracking brain activity, researchers could distinguish between neural mechanisms associated with skilled and error-prone actions. Following further research, this new information could lead to the development of interventions which would assist with rehabilitation post-stroke or improve life for people living with stutter, dyspraxia or other similar conditions.

How the immune system 'thinks'
New research has demonstrated that immune cells make brain chemicals to fight off infections.

Normal brain aging patterns occur at a faster rate in people with psychosis
Patients with psychosis have accelerated aging of two brain networks important for general cognition -- the frontoparietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular network (CON) -- according to a new study.

Working it out: Researchers find exercise may help fight depression in seniors
The benefits of exercise are widely known but kinesiologists have for the first time found that physical activity may help fight depression in seniors by stimulating muscle-generated mood boosters.

New study examines the way estrogen affects methamphetamine addiction
Researchers look at how methamphetamine affects female rats. Findings show that the drug induces different signaling changes in the brains of male rats versus their female counterparts, which may suggest there are sex-related mechanisms behind methamphetamine addiction. Delving further into these brain changes could offer insight into sex-specific treatment strategies that could offer better outcomes for people struggling with addiction.

Heavy drinking in teens causes lasting changes in emotional center of brain
Lasting changes in the brain caused by drinking that starts in adolescence are the result of epigenetic changes that alter the expression of a protein crucial for the formation and maintenance of neural connections in the amygdala -- the part of the brain involved in emotion, fear and anxiety.

Sickle cell disease and the silent stroke
Silent strokes are a common symptom of sickle cell disease, though they can be debilitating. Researchers recently showed that silent strokes may be caused by decreased oxygen delivery to a part of the brain called the white matter.