Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

In older people, type 2 diabetes is associated with a decline in brain function over 5 years, study shows
New research shows that in older people living in the community, type 2 diabetes is associated with a decline in verbal memory and fluency over five years.

Neanderthal genes give clues to human brain evolution
A distinctive feature of modern humans is our round (globular) skulls and brains. Researchers report that present-day humans who carry particular Neanderthal DNA fragments have heads that are slightly less rounded, revealing genetic clues to the evolution of modern brain shape and function.

Chemical biologists unearth cause of a rare brain disorder
In pontocerebellar hypoplasia type 1b, two key biological structures are blocked from binding to one another -- which ultimately stunts critical brain growth.

Regular trips out guard against depression in old age
Regular visits to the cinema, theatre or to museums could dramatically reduce the chances of becoming depressed in older age a new study has found. Researchers found a clear link between the frequency of 'cultural engagement' and the chances of someone over 50 developing depression. It is the first such study to show that cultural activities not only help people manage and recover from depression but actually help to prevent it.

Widespread brain alterations in children with callousness
Children with elevated levels of callous traits -- such as a lack of remorse and disregard for other people's feelings -- show widespread differences in brain structure compared with children with lower levels of the traits, according to a new study.

Ritalin drives greater connection between brain areas key to memory, attention
Scientists have described increased connections between key parts of the brains of monkeys who have taken methylphenidate (Ritalin).

How bullying affects the structure of the teen brain
The effects of constantly being bullied are more than just psychological. Research now shows that there may be physical structural differences in the brains of adolescents who are regularly victimized, and this could increase the chance that they suffer from mental illness.

Resting easy: Oxygen promotes deep, restorative sleep
Exposure to high levels of oxygen encourages the brain to remain in deep, restorative sleep, according to a new study.

Developing brains of premature babies benefit from caffeine therapy
New research shows early caffeine treatment of premature babies born less than 29 weeks' gestation has no long-term negative effects on brain development.

Attention, please! Anticipation of touch takes focus, executive skills
A study examines what happens in children's brains when they anticipate a touch to the hand, and relates this brain activity to the executive functions the child demonstrates on other mental tasks.

Brain activity shows development of visual sensitivity in autism
Research investigating how the brain responds to visual patterns in people with autism has shown that sensory responses change between childhood and adulthood.

New models sense human trust in smart machines
New 'classification models' sense how well humans trust intelligent machines they collaborate with, a step toward improving the quality of interactions and teamwork.

Discovery of new neural mechanism underlying anxiety points to possible treatments
According to some estimates, up to one in three people around the world may experience severe anxiety in their lifetime. Researchers have now revealed a previously unknown mechanism underlying anxiety. Targeting this biochemical pathway may help develop new therapies for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Improved treatment of anxiety disorders
Traumatic experiences can become deeply entrenched in a person's memory. How can fears following a traumatic event be reduced in the long term and prevented from becoming a permanent stress-related disorder? Researchers have recently shed new light on these questions.

Attention training improves intelligence and functioning of children's brain
Being able to voluntarily regulate our attention is crucial for mental processes such as intelligence and learning in children. With this in mind, researchers have carried out a study in which they evaluated the influence of a computer-based attention-training intervention on intelligence scores and brain functioning on a group of pre-school age children.

Meditation adapts the brain to respond better to feedback
Researchers have discovered a link between meditation and how individuals respond to feedback.

Music evokes powerful positive emotions through personal memories
Music is known to evoke emotions through a range of mechanisms. A new study gives insights into the way positive emotional reactions can be triggered by music and pictures.

Regrowing damaged nerves hinges on shutting down key genes
Neurons in the brain and spinal cord don't grow back after injury, unlike those in the rest of the body. Now, researchers have identified some of the key steps taken by nerves in the legs as they regenerate. The findings lay out a path that spinal cord neurons might be able to follow -- potentially leading to improved recovery for people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.

Your brain on imagination: It's a lot like reality, study shows
New brain imaging research shows that imagining a threat lights up similar regions as experiencing it does. It suggests imagination can be a powerful tool in overcoming phobias or post traumatic stress.

Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy
A new study suggests that a slow-growing brain tumor arising in patients affected by neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) may be vulnerable to immunotherapy, which gives the immune system a boost in fighting cancer.

Dopamine's yin-yang personality: It's an upper and a downer
Dopamine has a reputation as the key player in the brain's reward circuits, making us seek out pleasurable experiences, but growing evidence points to a multipronged role for the neurotransmitter. In particular, dopamine may also reinforce avoidance of painful experiences. Researchers have now mapped dopamine neurons in the brain with fiber photometry and discovered two parallel dopamine circuits driving attractive and aversive reinforcement learning and motivation.

Two compounds in coffee may team up to fight Parkinson's
Scientists have found a compound in coffee that may team up with caffeine to fight Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia -- two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration.

Promising diagnostic tool for Alzheimer's disease
Researchers have identified in live human brains new radioactive 'tracer' molecules that bind to and 'light up' tau tangles, a protein associated with a number of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias.

Activating parts of the brain could help alleviate opioid-related social isolation
One of the many painful and challenging aspects of the US opioid crisis is that people abusing opioids often isolate themselves from family and friends, making it difficult for loved ones to help people on a path towards recovery.

Being yelled at: Our brain on alert in a flash
What happens within the brain when it perceives a threatening signal, such as an aggressive voice? Researchers have studied brain activity during the processing of various emotional voices. They discovered that we notice a voice much faster when it is considered threatening than when it is perceived as normal or happy. Our attention is more focused on threatening voices to enable us to clearly recognize the location of the potential threat.

What sets primates apart from other mammals?
Researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates -- great apes and humans -- apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder.

'Chemo brain' caused by malfunction in three types of brain cells, study finds
In a new study explaining the cellular mechanisms behind cognitive impairment from chemotherapy, scientists have demonstrated that a widely used chemotherapy drug, methotrexate, causes a complex set of problems in three major cell types within the brain's white matter. The study also identifies a potential remedy.

Mom, I can't recognize your face from profile view!
Babies recognize faces from profile view in the second half of the first year of life, new research shows.

Glutamate receptor affects the development of brain cells after birth
Whenever we learn or save information, the so-called ionotropic glutamate receptors play a crucial role in the brain. A subgroup of glutamate receptors are kainate receptors. They had been traditionally known for aiding the regulation of neuronal networks. Now, researchers have discovered that they also affect the way nerve cells develop immediately after birth.

Drawing is better than writing for memory retention
Researchers from the University of Waterloo found that even if people weren't good at it, drawing, as a method to help retain new information, was better than re-writing notes, visualization exercises or passively looking at images.

Classifying brain microglia: Which are good and which are bad?
Microglia are important to brain function, and also seem to play a role in disease. New work offers the most comprehensive accounting of brain microglia to date and opens a new chapter in brain exploration. The researchers performed RNA sequencing of 76,000 individual cells -- the most comprehensive accounting to date -- and spatially mapped them. Their findings could help scientists tell whether microglia are contributing to disease or trying to repair the brain, informing treatment strategies.

Discovering neurons that rapidly catch our mistakes
Scientists identify single neurons in the human brain that catch our mistakes and correct future behavior.

Whole-brain imaging of mice during behavior
In a new study, researchers demonstrate how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, brain-wide activity maps of mice for specific behaviors. The non-invasive technology has promising applications for ophthalmologic, neurologic and psychiatric diseases.

Friend or foe? Brain area that controls social memory also triggers aggression
Scientists have identified a brain region that helps tell an animal when to attack an intruder and when to accept it into its home.

How the brain hears and fears
What does the brain do when things go bump in the night? Researchers are looking at neural activity in the amygdala by studying how mice react when they hear a sound they've been taught to fear.

Neurotechnology provides real-time readouts of where rats think they are
Scientists have demonstrated a new neurotechnology for reading out neural signals of position in real-time as rats run a maze, or replay it during sleep, with a high degree of accuracy, with more than 1,000 input channels, and the ability to account for the statistical relevance of the readings almost instantly after they are made.

Novel approach improves understanding of the formation of new neurons in the mammalian adult brain
A team of researchers has developed a powerful new approach to understand the formation of new neurons in the mammalian adult brain.

Mothers whose responses to infants' facial cues increase report stronger bonds with babies
A new study examines whether pregnancy changes mothers' neural sensitivity to infants' facial cues, and whether such changes affect mother-infant bonding. The study finds that increases in cortical responses to infants' faces from the prenatal to the postnatal period in individual mothers are associated with more positive relationships with the baby (as reported by the mothers) after birth.

Mountain splendor? Scientists know where your eyes will look
Using precise brain measurements, researchers predicted how people's eyes move when viewing natural scenes, an advance in understanding the human visual system that can improve a host of artificial intelligence efforts, such as the development of driverless cars.

Boys with social difficulties most susceptible to early substance use
Boys who enter sixth-grade with co-occurring social skills, anxiety, learning and conduct problems are at the greatest risk of developing aggressive behavior and using tobacco, alcohol and marijuana by the end of eighth grade, a new study found.

Scientists use EEG to decode how people navigate complex sequences
To perform a song, a dance or write computer code, people need to call upon the basic elements of their craft and then order and recombine them in creative ways. How the brain builds such complex sequences have been captured with the use of EEG.

Clues to brain changes in depression
In new pre-clinical research, scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), led by Scott Thompson, PhD, Professor of Physiology, have identified changes in brain activity linked to the pleasure and reward system.

In vitro cell culture findings could lead to novel interventions for Schizophrenia
A recent study has shown how using cultured cells from patients with psychotic disorders to investigate abnormalities in nerve connections in the brain could lead to new treatments.

Bigger brains are smarter, but not by much
Using a large dataset and controlling for a variety of factors, including sex, age, height, socioeconomic status, and genetic ancestry, scientists found that people with larger brains rated higher on measures of intelligence and educational attainment. Size was far from everything, however, explaining only about two percent of the variation in smarts.

Researchers alleviate Schizophrenia symptoms in new mouse models
Does all the tinkering in young mice hamper their brain development, causing schizophrenia-like symptoms? Or, do their brain cells develop normally, but in adulthood struggle to communicate? Researchers need to know whether to focus their efforts on brain cell development or communication, or both, because the answer to these questions implies different therapeutic approaches.

How you respond to drama depends on if you are a holistic or analytical thinker
Researchers showed volunteers the film My Sister's Keeper on a screen while the research subjects were lying down in an MRI scanner. The study compared the volunteers' brain activity, and concluded that holistic thinkers saw the film more similarly with each other than analytical thinkers. In addition, holistic thinkers processed the film's moral issues and factual connections within the film more similarly with each other than the analytical thinkers.

New information about infant brain structure
Infant brain development is still poorly understood. Thus, research on the topic is vital as developing brains are sensitive to early environmental factors.

How prions invade the brain
The spread of prions to the brain does not occur by direct transmission across the blood-brain barrier, according to a new study. As noted by the authors, insights into how prions enter the brain could lead to the development of effective strategies to prevent neurodegeneration, even after infection outside the nervous system has already taken place.

Effective new target for mood-boosting brain stimulation found
Researchers have found an effective target in the brain for electrical stimulation to improve mood in people suffering from depression. Stimulation of a brain region called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) reliably produced acute improvement in mood in patients who suffered from depression at the start of the study.

How sounds going into our ears become words going through our brains
In a new study, researchers were able to see where in the brain, and how quickly -- in milliseconds -- the brain's neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to processing the language-based words of the speech.