Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

How the brain dials up the volume to hear someone in a crowd
Our brains have a remarkable ability to pick out one voice from among many. Now, a team has uncovered the steps that take place in the brain to make this feat possible. Today's discovery helps to solve a long-standing scientific question as to how the brain's listening center can decode and amplify one voice over others. It also stands to spur development of hearing-aid technologies and brain-computer interfaces that more closely resemble the brain.

New way to think about brain's link to postpartum depression
Chronic stress during pregnancy triggers an immune response in the brain that has potential to alter brain functions in ways that could contribute to postpartum depression, new research in animals suggests.

Animal study shows how stress and mother's abuse affects infant brain
A new study in rats shows the extent of brain damage in newborn rodents from even short-term abuse by their mother.

Gene variants influence size of brainstem, other structures
Three-hundred researchers have identified 48 common genetic variants that are associated with the size of the brainstem and other subcortical structures deep within the brain. This is the first step toward understanding how to devise treatments for disorders affecting these structures.

Unique brain changes in people with Huntington's disease
The part of the brain that selectively degenerates in people with Huntington's disease (HD), called the striatum, is almost entirely destroyed in the late stages of the disease. Brain samples from mutant HD gene positive individuals who had not yet developed symptoms by time of death are extremely rare. As a consequence, very little is known about the active disease process that causes the devastating symptoms of HD.

The night gardeners: Immune cells rewire, repair brain while we sleep
Science tells us that a lot of good things happen in our brains while we sleep -- learning and memories are consolidated and waste is removed, among other things. New research shows for the first time that important immune cells called microglia -- which play an important role in reorganizing the connections between nerve cells, fighting infections, and repairing damage -- are also primarily active while we sleep.

Make some noise: How background noise affects brain activity
Have you ever found it difficult to focus on a task due to background noise? Scientists are studying just how these sounds impact our brain activity -- and what that impact means for designing neurotechnology.

A new discovery: How our memories stabilize while we sleep
Scientists have shown that delta waves emitted while we sleep are not generalized periods of silence during which the cortex rests, as has been described for decades in the scientific literature. Instead, they isolate assemblies of neurons that play an essential role in long-term memory formation.

New clinical research offers possibility of future rehabilitation for patients in minimally conscious or vegetative state
Non-invasive brain stimulation is to be trialled for the first time alongside advanced brain imaging techniques in patients who are minimally conscious or in a vegetative state.

Male and female mice have different brain cells
Scientists discover that a brain region known to control sex and violence contains rare cell types that differ in male versus female mice.

BARseq builds a better brain map
A brain mapping technique called BARseq is capable of mapping thousands of neurons in a single mouse, at single neuron resolution, while also detailing which neuron expresses what genes. It could be a game-changer for how neuroscientists look at brains.

Cultivating joy through mindfulness: An antidote to opioid misuse, the disease of despair
New research shows that a specific mind-body therapy, Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), increases the brain's response to natural, healthy rewards while also decreasing the brain's response to opioid-related cues.

Scientists develop test for uncommon brain diseases
Scientists have developed an ultrasensitive new test to detect abnormal forms of the protein tau associated with uncommon types of neurodegenerative diseases called tauopathies. This advance gives them hope of using cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF -- an accessible patient sample -- to diagnose these and perhaps other, more common neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease.

How hunger makes food tastier: A neural circuit in the hypothalamus
Using optogenetic and chemogenetic techniques, researchers have identified brain circuits underlying hunger-induced changes in the preferences for sweet and aversive tastes in mice. These circuits involved Agouti-related peptide-expressing neurons, which projected to glutamate neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. From there, glutamate neurons projecting to the lateral septum increased sweetness preferences, and glutamate neurons projecting to the lateral habenula decreased sensitivity to aversive tastes.

Stress during pregnancy may affect baby's sex, risk of preterm birth
A new study has identified markers of maternal stress -- both physical and psychological -- that may influence a baby's sex and the likelihood of preterm birth.

Deaf infants more attuned to parent's visual cues
A new study finds that deaf infants exposed to American Sign Language are especially tuned to a parent's eye gaze, itself a social connection between parent and child that is linked to early learning.

Glowing particles in the blood may help diagnose and monitor brain cancer
A chemical that has improved surgeries for brain cancer by making tumor cells fluorescent may also help doctors safely diagnose the disease and monitor its response to treatment.

More aggressive blood pressure control benefits brains of older adults
A new study followed 199 hypertension patients 75 years of age and older for 3 years.

The brain does not follow the head
The human brain is about three times the size of the brains of great apes. This has to do, among other things, with the evolution of novel brain structures that enabled complex behaviors such as language and tool production. A study by anthropologists now shows that changes in the brain occurred independent of evolutionary rearrangements of the braincase.

How babies integrate new events into their knowledge
Babies seek to understand the world around them and learn many new things every day. Unexpected events -- for example when a ball falls through a table -- provide researchers with the unique opportunity to understand infants' learning processes. What happens in their brains as they learn and integrate new information?

Happy, angry or neutral expressions? Eyes react just as fast
Scientists have investigated how our eyes and brain react when we see emotionally charged or neutral faces. She combined eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG). The result: reflex-like eye movements are independent of the expression a face shows; our attention is drawn to them just as fast.

Potential therapy to treat detrimental effects of marijuana
A new study using a preclinical animal model suggests that prenatal exposure to THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, makes the brain's dopamine neurons (an integral component of the reward system) hyperactive and increases sensitivity to the behavioral effects of THC during pre-adolescence.

Sensory and motor brain plasticity is not limited by location
The new function of unused cortical regions is not necessarily determined by the function of nearby cortical regions, according to new research in adults born without one hand.

Reading the past like an open book: Researchers use text to measure 200 years of happiness
Using innovative new methods researchers have built a new index that uses data from books and newspaper to track levels of national happiness from 1820. Their research could help governments to make better decisions about policy priorities.

Brain protein promotes maintenance of chronic pain
Study results illuminate the potential of novel approach for the treatment of chronic pain.

Slower walkers have older brains and bodies at 45
The walking speed of 45-year-olds can be used as a marker of their aging brains and bodies. The evidence was there in neurocognitive testing these individuals took at age 3 to indicate who would become the slower walkers. At 45, slower walkers have 'accelerated aging' on a 19-measure scale devised by researchers, and their lungs, teeth and immune systems tended to be in worse shape than the people who walked faster.

Habitual tea drinking modulates brain efficiency: Evidence from brain connectivity evaluation
The researchers recruited healthy older participants to two groups according to their history of tea drinking frequency and investigated both functional and structural networks to reveal the role of tea drinking on brain organization.

Overcoming the blood-brain-barrier: Delivering therapeutics to the brain
For the first time, scientists have identified a simple way that can effectively transport medication into the brain - which could lead to improved treatments for neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.

Illumination of abnormal neuronal activities caused by myelin impairment
The neural circuit basis for motor learning tasks when myelination is impaired has been illuminated for the first time. Researchers also succeeded in compensating for the impaired motor learning process by pairing appropriate actions with brain photo-simulation to promote synchronization of neuronal activities. This could contribute to future treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases in which white matter function is impaired.

Targeting immune cells may be potential therapy for Alzheimer's
A study has found that microglia drive neurodegeneration in diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, that are linked to tau protein. Targeting microglia may help treat such diseases.

Enhancing memory network via brain stimulation
Magnetic stimulation of the posterior parietal cortex increases functional connectivity of a neural network implicated in memory, shows human research. This finding confirms a previous study, validating further exploration of this technique for experimental and clinical applications.

Brain scans may provide clues to suicide risk
Researchers have identified brain circuitry differences that might be associated with suicidal behavior in individuals with mood disorders. The study provides a promising lead toward tools that can predict which individuals are at the highest risk for suicide.

Why rats prefer company of the young and stressed
Researchers have identified a neural pathway implicated in social interaction between adult and juvenile animals.

One in five cardiac rehab patients are depressed, anxious, or stressed
Patients with depression, anxiety or stress are more likely to drop out of cardiac rehabilitation, reports a new study.

Brain mechanisms have potential to block arthritis pain
Because pain is a complex condition, treating it efficiently continues to pose challenge for physicians. Past pain research typically has focused upon the spinal cord or the peripheral areas of the nervous system located outside the spinal cord and brain. However, a research team recently investigated how some mechanisms in the brain contribute to pain.

New mechanism fueling brain metastasis
Scientists described a novel mechanism through which astrocytes, the most abundant supporting cells in the brain, also promote cancer cell growth and metastasis in the brain.

Core symptom of schizophrenia reversed in adult mice
Researchers have restored normal working memory to a mouse model of schizophrenia, eliminating a core symptom of the disorder that, in people, has proven virtually impossible to treat.

Scientists find gender-distinct circuit for depression
Depression affects women nearly twice as much as men, but unraveling the brain's blueprint that regulates this behavior, let alone identifying specific molecular differences between sexes, has proven difficult. Researchers, however, have found and flipped a switch in the brain, revealing a single circuit in mice that activates during stress and is controlled by testosterone.

Finding upends theory about the cerebellum's role in reading and dyslexia
New brain imaging research debunks a controversial theory about dyslexia that can impact how it is sometimes treated. The cerebellum, a brain structure traditionally considered to be involved in motor function, has been implicated in the reading disability, developmental dyslexia, however, this 'cerebellar deficit hypothesis' has always been controversial. The new research shows that the cerebellum is not engaged during reading in typical readers and does not differ in children who have dyslexia.

Siblings of problem gamblers also impulsive, prone to risk-taking
Biological siblings of people with gambling disorder also display markers of increased impulsivity and risk-taking, according to a new psychology study. The findings suggest people with gambling disorder -- a psychiatric term for serious gambling problems -- may have pre-existing genetic vulnerabilities to the illness.

Blood test could help to accelerate brain cancer diagnosis
A blood test which could help to accelerate the diagnosis of brain cancer has been developed in new research.

How neuronal migration and outgrowth shape network architecture
Neurons are not randomly arranged in the human brain. In the cortex, they are organized in interconnected clusters with high intrinsic connectivity. This modular connectivity structure, in which clusters eventually serve as functional units, is formed in early phases of development. The underlying self-organization process is regulated by neuronal activity but the detailed mechanisms are still poorly understood. Based on in vitro studies and computational modeling, neuroscientists have now made an important contribution to the understanding of brain networks and their development: in their current study, they show how neuronal outgrowth and migration interact in shaping network architecture and the degree of modularity in mature networks.

Impact of police stops on youth's mental health
New research looks into the impact police stops have on the mental health of youth. Researchers reveal that youth experiencing intrusive police stops are at risk of heightened emotional distress. The researchers found that youth who were stopped more often by police officers were more likely to report emotional trauma.

How can ultrasonic brain stimulation cure brain diseases?
Scientists found a calcium channel expressed in astrocytes in the brain to be a highly sensitive target for LILFU-induced neuronal activity in the motor cortex, such as tail movement.

Prenatal stress could affect baby's brain
New research has found that maternal stress before and during pregnancy could affect a baby's brain development.

Navigating 'Neuralville': Virtual town helps map brain functions
Experiments showed that the brain's parahippocampal place area is involved in recognizing a particular kind of place, while the brain's retrosplenial complex is involved in mentally mapping the locations of particular places.

Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing
Criticality is truly a set point, and not a mere inevitability. New research confirms this long-standing prediction in the brains of freely behaving animals.

Computer model helps make sense of human memory
Researchers have created an artificial network to simulate the brain, demonstrating that tinkering with inhibitory circuits leads to extended memory.

Dealing a therapeutic counterblow to traumatic brain injury
A team of biomedical engineers are developing a therapy which shows early indications it can protect neurons and stimulate the regrowth of blood vessels in damaged tissue.

Long-term study data shows DBS is effective treatment for most severe form of depression
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of an area in the brain called the subcallosal cingulate (SCC) provides a robust antidepressant effect that is sustained over a long period of time in patients with treatment-resistant depression -- the most severely depressed patients who have not responded to other treatments.