Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

A lack of self control during adolescence is not uniquely human
Impulsiveness in adolescence isn't just a phase, it's biology. And despite all the social factors that define our teen years, the human brain and the brains of other primates go through very similar changes, particularly in the areas that affect self-control.

Painting a bigger biosociological picture of chronic pain
An integrated approach that unifies psychosocial factors with neurobiology sheds light on chronic pain traits and their underlying brain networks, according to a new study.

City parks lift mood as much as Christmas
New research shows that visitors to urban parks use happier words and express less negativity on Twitter than before their visit -- and that their elevated mood lasts for up to four hours. The effect is so strong that it's equivalent to the mood spike on Christmas, the happiest day each year on Twitter. With increasing urbanization and mood disorders, this research may have powerful implications for public health and urban planning.

Brain takes a beating as arteries age
Researchers have presented a model that explains why memory deteriorates as the body ages. With age, the brain receives an increased load from the heart's beating as the body's large arteries stiffen over the years, causing damage to the smallest blood vessels in the brain.

Risk of psychotic disorders has disease-specific brain effects
Brain abnormalities in people at familial risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder emerge in unique patterns, despite the symptom and genetic overlap of the disorders, according to a new study. Similarities between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have led to the diagnoses being increasingly combined in studies of psychosis, but the findings highlight that risk for the disorders has distinct effects on the brain.

Alzheimer's drug reverses brain damage from adolescent alcohol exposure in rats
A drug used to slow cognitive decline in adults with Alzheimer's disease appears to reverse brain inflammation and neuron damage in rats exposed to alcohol during adolescence.

A map of the brain can tell what you're reading about
Neuroscientists have created interactive maps that can predict where different categories of words activate the brain. Their latest map is focused on what happens in the brain when you read stories.

Online brain games can extend in-game 'cognitive youth' into old age
A new study has found that online brain game exercises can enable people in their 70s and even 80s to multitask cognitively as well as individuals 50 years their junior. This is an increasingly valuable skill, given today's daily information onslaught, which can divide attention and be particularly taxing for older adults.

Regulating blood supply to limbs improves stroke recovery
Cutting off and then restoring blood supply to a limb following a stroke reduces tissue damage and swelling and improves functional recovery, according to a new study.

Optic nerve stimulation to aid the blind
Scientists are investigating new ways to provide visual signals to the blind by directly stimulating the optic nerve. Their preliminary study uses a new type of neural electrode and provides distinct signals.

Type of brain cell involved in stuttering identified
Researchers believe that stuttering -- a potentially lifelong and debilitating speech disorder -- stems from problems with the circuits in the brain that control speech, but precisely how and where these problems occur is unknown. Using a mouse model of stuttering, scientists report that a loss of cells in the brain called astrocytes are associated with stuttering. The mice had been engineered with a human gene mutation previously linked to stuttering. The study offers insights into the neurological deficits associated with stuttering.

Traumas change perception in the long-term
Adults who have experienced maltreatment as children have a changed perception of social stimuli. Traumatized people found touch stimuli less comforting than people who had not experienced trauma. They also maintained a greater social distance from strangers. In addition, the researchers discovered changes in the activation of certain brain areas.

How stress can curb the desire to eat in an animal model
Eating disorder researchers have discovered a neurocircuit in mice that, when activated, increased their stress levels while decreasing their desire to eat.

Researchers refine guidelines for pediatric brain injuries
There are no guidelines on whether a noninvasive method of measuring carbon dioxide from patients' exhalations, known as end-tidal capnography, is as effective as drawing blood through a child's artery. This study found that measuring the carbon dioxide level through an artery is still the most accurate diagnostic for pediatric brain trauma.

Neuronal mechanism that is central to human free recall identified
Recently Weizmann Institute scientists succeeded in recording these rapid bursts of activity -- called 'hippocampal ripples' -- in the human brain, and they were able to demonstrate their importance as a neuronal mechanism underlying the engraving of new memories and their subsequent recall.

Researcher decodes the brain to help patients with mental illnesses
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year. Severe mental illnesses cause the brain to have trouble dealing with cognitively effortful states, like focusing attention over long periods of time, discriminating between two things that are difficult to tell apart, and responding quickly to information that is coming in fast.

Non-invasive electrical stimulation alters blood flow in brain tumors
Scientists demonstrated that applying low-intensity electrical stimulation to the brains of patients with tumors resulted in decreased blood flow within tumors while leaving the rest of the brain unchanged. Although further study is needed, the findings suggest that a series of such treatments could modify tumor growth and progression.

Adults with mild cognitive impairment can learn and benefit from mindfulness meditation
A pilot study shows promising evidence that adults with MCI can learn to practice mindfulness meditation, and by doing so may boost their cognitive reserve.

Predictability of parent interaction positively influences child's development
Scientists have investigated the impact of the predictability of parent interaction on a child's development. The study showed that a higher predictability of the parent's interaction signals in infancy was associated with the child's ability to better control and regulate their own actions and emotions.

New study shows how autism can be measured through a non-verbal marker
Researchers have identified a non-verbal, neural marker of autism. This marker shows that individuals with autism are slower to dampen neural activity in response to visual signals in the brain. This first-of-its kind marker was found to be independent of intelligence and offers an objective way to potentially diagnose autism in the future.

Altered behavior and brain activity among people wearing bike helmets
A bike helmet suggests safety -- even if the wearer is not sitting on a bike and the helmet cannot fulfill its function.

Pores for thought: Ion channel study beckons first whole-brain simulation
Voltage-gated ion channels at the surface of neurons and muscle cells control your every thought, movement; the very beating of your heart. For the first time, researchers have mapped the behavior of the largest family of these channels. Their pioneering work will power virtual drug discovery -- and, they hope, the first whole-brain simulation.

Brain molecule identified as key in anxiety model
Boosting a single molecule in the brain can change 'dispositional anxiety,' the tendency to perceive many situations as threatening, in nonhuman primates, researchers have found. The molecule, neurotrophin-3, stimulates neurons to grow and make new connections.

Scientists reverse aging process in rat brain stem cells
Scientists say the results have far reaching implications for how we understand the aging process, and how we might develop much-needed treatments for age-related brain diseases.

How our brain remembers the order of events
For centuries understanding how the order of events is stored in memory has been a mystery. However, researchers have worked out how the order of events in memory could be stored and later recalled in the hippocampal memory system in the brain.

Greater blood pressure control linked to better brain health
For adults with high blood pressure, greater blood pressure control than what's currently considered standard is associated with fewer adverse changes of the brain, which could mean lower risks of dementia and cognitive impairment.

Researchers identify glial cells as critical players in brain's response to social stress
Exposure to violence, social conflict, and other stressors increase risk for psychiatric conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A new paper suggests that the behavior of oligodendrocytes -- the glial cells that produce the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers -- plays a critical role in determining whether we succumb to or tolerate stress.

Smoldering spots in the brain may signal severe MS
Aided by a high-powered brain scanner and a 3D printer, researchers peered inside the brains of hundreds of multiple sclerosis patients and found that dark rimmed spots representing ongoing, 'smoldering' inflammation, called chronic active lesions, may be a hallmark of more aggressive and disabling forms of the disease.

Gut-brain connection helps explain how overeating leads to obesity
A multi-institutional team reveals a previously unknown gut-brain connection that helps explain how those extra servings lead to weight gain.

Study finds older adults less distracted by negative information
USC researchers looked at 'emotion-induced blindness,' which refers to distractions caused by emotionally arousing stimuli. In four experiments using a quickly presented sequence of images, they examined how older adults prioritize emotional information. They found both younger and older adults demonstrated emotion-induced blindness, but older adults were more distracted by positive information and less distracted by negative information.

Estrogen improves Parkinson's disease symptoms
Brain-selective estrogen treatment improves the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in male mice, according to new research. These findings may help explain the sex differences in Parkinson's disease and could lead to estrogen-based treatments.

Negative memory storage affects depression symptoms
Physical manifestations of negative memories in the hippocampus could underlie cognitive symptoms of depression, according to new research.

Tissue model reveals role of blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer's
A new study shows how the Alzheimer's disease allows toxins to pass through the blood-brain barrier, further harming neurons.

More than just jaundice: Mouse study shows bilirubin may protect the brain
In studies in mice, researchers report they have found that bilirubin, a bile pigment most commonly known for yellowing the skin of people with jaundice, may play an unexpected role in protecting brain cells from damage from oxidative stress.

Alzheimer's disease destroys neurons that keep us awake
Researchers have noted excessive daytime napping can develop long before memory problems of Alzheimer's disease appear. Prior studies considered excessive daytime napping compensation for poor nighttime sleep caused by Alzheimer's-related disruptions in sleep-promoting brain regions; others argued that the sleep problems contribute to progression of the disease. But now scientists have provided a new explanation for this phenomenon, showing that Alzheimer's disease directly attacks brain regions responsible for daytime wakefulness.

Why stress and anxiety aren't always bad
People generally think of stress and anxiety as negative concepts, but while both stress and anxiety can reach unhealthy levels, psychologists have long known that both are unavoidable -- and that they often play a helpful, not harmful, role in our daily lives.

Depression symptoms in Alzheimer's could be signs for cognitive decline
Depression symptoms in cognitively healthy older individuals together with brain amyloid, a biological marker of Alzheimer's could trigger changes in memory and thinking over time.

Disrupted genetic clocks in schizophrenia-affected brains reveal clues to the disease
Researchers studying schizophrenia-affected brains have discovered that the daily timing of gene expression is highly disrupted in the region responsible for cognition and memory. The findings could help reveal previously missed genetic links to the disease.

Gene protective against fruit fly heat-induced seizures may explain some human seizures
Researchers identified a gene in fruit flies that helps prevent the hyperexcitability of specific neurons that trigger seizures. In humans, mutations in the gene may be linked to seizures associated with Long QT Syndrome.

Good heart health at age 50 linked to lower dementia risk later in life
Good cardiovascular health at age 50 is associated with a lower risk of dementia later in life, finds a new study.

Routine hits playing football cause damage to the brain
New research indicates that concussions aren't the sole cause of damage to the brain in contact sports. A study of college football players found that typical hits sustained from playing just one season cause structural changes to the brain.

Fear of predators causes PTSD-like changes in brains of wild animals
A new study demonstrates that the fear predators inspire can leave long-lasting traces in the neural circuitry of wild animals and induce enduringly fearful behavior, comparable to effects seen in PTSD research.

Brain stimulation for PTSD patients
Electrical engineers report that the tiny beads of sweat, which appear in patients experiencing PTSD or other neuropsychiatric disorders can be measured and used to design and more responsive brain stimulator for therapy.

Cannabis' effects on brain neurochemistry
A new study provides the first evidence of a blunted response to stress-induced dopamine signaling in the brain's prefrontal cortex in individuals at high risk for psychosis who regularly used cannabis.

Virtual treasure hunt shows brain maps time sequence of memories
We have little difficulty in remembering the chronology of events. We can tell how much time passed between two events and which one occurred first. Apparently, memories of events in the brain are linked when they occur close together. Using an experiment that combines learning in virtual reality and brain scans, researchers describe how a temporal map of memories is created in the brain.

Raising the standard for psychology research
Researchers have used supercomputers to apply more rigorous statistical methods to psychological studies of self-regulation. The work aimed to uncover the underlying structures of the mind, a process they call ''data-driven ontology discovery.'' They found that some issues had simple ontological fingerprints, but that others were more complicated. They also found that task-based studies -- common in psychological research -- had almost no predictive ability.

Thyroid screening may not be needed in all youth with psychiatric disorders
A new study looks at the prevalence of abnormal thyroid function in youth with severe mood and anxiety disorder. It is the largest study to date of this population and will help mental health professionals better understand the predictors of abnormal thyroid function, like weight gain, family history, or treatment with specific medications.

Scientists shed new light on how we perceive vibrations through touch
Researchers have demonstrated a universal decoding system in humans that determines how we perceive vibrations of different frequencies through touch.

Prenatal parental stress linked to behaviour problems in toddlers
Expectant parents' emotional struggles predict emotional and behavioral problems in 2-year-olds, new research shows. The same study reveals, for the first time, that couple conflict helps explain emotional problems in very young children.

Scientists can now manipulate brain cells using smartphone
A team of scientists have invented a device that can control neural circuits using a tiny brain implant controlled by a smartphone. The device could speed up efforts to uncover brain diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, addiction, depression, and pain.