Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Epilepsy and sudden death linked to bad gene
In sudden death in epilepsy, people stop breathing for no apparent reason and die. Now, a group of UConn neuroscientists have a lead as to why. Many neurologists argue that a bad seizure can travel through the brain to cause breathing or heartbeat malfunction, and that's what kills. But epileptics can die suddenly without having an obvious seizure. Instead, the researchers have evidence a genetic mutation that causes the seizures also disrupts the cells that control breathing.

Largest study of CTE finds it in 6% of subjects
Nearly 6% of athletes and non-athletes were found to have the neurodegenerative disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the largest, and broadest, study conducted of the disease to date. Kevin F. Bieniek, Ph.D., of UT Health San Antonio is the lead author.

Pigs help scientists understand human brain
For the first time, researchers have used an imaging method normally reserved for humans to analyze brain activity in live agricultural swine models, and they have discovered that pig brains are even better platforms than previously thought for the study of human neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Early-and-regular cannabis use by youth is associated with alteration in brain circuits that support cognitive control
The development of neural circuits in youth, at a particularly important time in their lives, can be heavily influenced by external factors -- specifically the frequent and regular use of cannabis. A new study reports that alterations in cognitive control -- an ensemble of processes by which the mind governs, regulates and guides behaviors, impulses, and decision-making based on goals are directly affected.

Joint hypermobility related to anxiety, also in animals
Researchers report the first evidence in a non-human species, the domestic dog, of a relation between joint hypermobility and excitability: dogs with more joint mobility and flexibility tend to have more anxiety problems.

'Goldilocks' neurons promote REM sleep
It has been a mystery why REM sleep, or dream sleep, increases when the room temperature is 'just right'. Neuroscientists show that melanin-concentrating hormone neurons within the hypothalamus increase REM sleep when the need for body temperature defense is minimized, such as when sleeping in a warm and comfortable room temperature. These data have important implications for the function of REM sleep.

Brain anatomy links cognitive and perceptual symptoms in autism
Neuroscientists have found an anatomical link between cognitive and perceptual symptoms in autism. The study identified a posterior region of the brain whose size -- amount of gray matter -- is related to both cognitive rigidity and overly stable visual perception, two symptoms of autism that until now were only conceptually related.

Afraid of food? The answer may be in the basal forebrain
A brain circuit in the mouse basal forebrain that is involved in perceiving the outside world, connects with and overrides feeding behaviors regulated by the hypothalamus.

Biology of leptin, the hunger hormone, revealed
New research offers insight into leptin, a hormone that plays a key role in appetite, overeating, and obesity. The findings advance knowledge about leptin and weight gain, and also suggest a potential strategy for developing future weight-loss treatments, they said.

Antidepressants can reduce empathy for those in pain
Depression is a disorder that often comes along with strong impairments of social functioning. Until recently, researchers assumed that acute episodes of depression also impair empathy, an essential skill for successful social interactions and understanding others. Novel insights show that antidepressant treatment can lead to impaired empathy regarding perception of pain, and not just the state of depression itself.

Antioxidant puts up fight, but loses battle against protein linked to Alzheimer's disease
New research may explain why an antioxidant that protects the brain is also associated with deterioration in areas susceptible to Alzheimer's disease. The antioxidant, superoxide dismutase or SOD1, improves cognition, but a research team found SOD1's protective benefits dramatically weaken when levels of tau proteins -- a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease -- increase.

The brain consumes half of a child's energy -- and that could matter for weight gain
A new study proposes that variation in the energy needs of brain development across kids -- in terms of the timing, intensity and duration of energy use -- could influence patterns of energy expenditure and weight gain.

Your circle of friends is more predictive of your health, study finds
To get a better reading on your overall health and wellness, you'd be better off looking at the strength and structure of your circle of friends, according to a new study.

Introduced a new paradigm of cell transplantation with scaffold microrobots
Scientists developed a microrobot that can precisely transplant stem cells in various in vivo and vitro environments. Expects to improve the efficiency of treating degenerative neural disorders such as Alzheimer by accurately and safely delivering to a desired location.

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer
Schizophrenia may be related to the deletion syndrome. However, not everyone who has the syndrome necessarily develops psychotic symptoms. What triggers the illness? Researchers (UNIGE) have provided an initial answer after analysing several years of patients with deletion syndrome. They found that the size of the hippocampus was smaller than normal but followed the same developmental curve as in healthy subjects. Yet, when the first psychotic symptoms appear - generally in adolescence - the hippocampus atrophies dramatically.

Hypertension drug may hold promise for Alzheimer's disease
The blood pressure drug nilvadipine increased blood flow to the brain's memory and learning center, without affecting other brain regions among people with Alzheimer's disease. These findings indicate that the known decrease in cerebral blood flow in patients with Alzheimer's can be reversed in some regions. However, it is unclear if this translates to clinical benefits.

Scientists develop 'mini-brain' model of human prion disease
Scientists have used human skin cells to create what they believe is the first cerebral organoid system, or 'mini-brain,' for studying sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). CJD is a fatal neurodegenerative brain disease of humans believed to be caused by infectious prion protein. The researchers hope the human organoid model will enable them to evaluate potential CJD therapeutics and provide greater detail about human prion disease subtypes.

Hidden brain signals behind working memory
Making a specific type of brain pattern last longer improves short-term memory in rats, a new study finds.

Braces won't always bring happiness
New research overturns the belief that turning your crooked teeth into a beautiful smile will automatically boost your self-confidence.

Formation of habitual use drives cannabis addiction
A shift from brain systems controlling reward-driven use to habit-driven use differentiates heavy cannabis users who are addicted to the drug from users who aren't, according to a new study. The findings help explain how the brain becomes dependent on cannabis, and why not all cannabis users develop an addiction, even with long-term regular use.

Using gene editing, neuroscientists develop a new model for autism
By introducing a gene variant associated with autism into monkeys, researchers hope to study treatment options for severe neurodevelopmental disorders.

First blood-brain barrier chip using stem cells
Researchers have, for the first time, duplicated a patient's blood-brain barrier (BBB), creating a human BBB chip with stem cells, which can be used to develop personalized medicine and new techniques to research brain disorders.

Reaching and grasping: Learning fine motor coordination changes the brain
When we train the reaching for and grasping of objects, we also train our brain. In other words, this action brings about changes in the connections of a certain neuronal population in the red nucleus, a region of the midbrain. Researchers have discovered this group of nerve cells in the red nucleus. They have also shown how fine motor tasks promote plastic reorganization of this brain region.

Mouse study finds BPA exposure has transgenerational effects on gene linked to autism
Transgenerational bisphenol A (BPA) exposure may contribute to autism, according to a mouse study.

Brain activation provides individual-level prediction of bipolar disorder risk
Patterns of brain activation during reward anticipation may help identify people most at risk for developing bipolar spectrum disorders (BPSD), according to a new study. Mania in people with BPSD is often accompanied by impulsivity, including impulsive responses to potential rewards. In the study, patterns of neural activation during a reward task predicted the severity of the mania symptom in young adults who have not yet developed the disorder.

Education, intelligence may protect cognition, but don't prevent Alzheimer's disease
In a search for clues to what may delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease, scientists report that smarter, more educated people aren't protected from the disease, but do get a cognitive 'head start' that may keep their minds functioning better temporarily.

Early life stress plus overexpressed FKBP5 protein increases anxiety behavior
A new preclinical study finds that anxiety-like behavior increases when early life adversity combines with high levels of FKBP5 -- a protein capable of modifying hormonal stress response. Moreover, the researchers demonstrate this genetic-early life stress interaction amplifies anxiety by selectively altering signaling of the enzyme AKT in the dorsal hippocampus, a portion of the brain primarily responsible for cognitive functions like learning and memory.

How the brain changes when mastering a new skill
Researchers have discovered what happens in the brain as people learn how to perform tasks, which could lead to improved lives for people with brain injuries. The study revealed that new neural activity patterns emerge with long-term learning and established a causal link between these patterns and new behavioral abilities.

How electrical stimulation reorganizes the brain
Recordings of neural activity during therapeutic stimulation can be used to predict subsequent changes in brain connectivity, according to a study of epilepsy patients. This approach could inform efforts to improve brain stimulation treatments for depression and other psychiatric disorders.

AI software reveals the inner workings of short-term memory
Neuroscientists show how short-term, working memory uses networks of neurons differently depending on the complexity of the task at hand.

Disturbed sleep linked to mental health problems in natural disaster survivors
Preliminary results from a new study suggest that sleep disturbances are associated with mental health problems among survivors of a natural disaster even two years after the event.

Alzheimer's disease protein links plaques to cell death in mice
A new protein involved in Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been identified by researchers. CAPON may facilitate the connection between the two most well-known AD culprits, amyloid plaques and tau pathology, whose interactions cause brain cell death and symptoms of dementia.

Research sheds new light on how brain stem cells are activated
Scientists have found that neural stem cells use molecules that form a complex called STRIPAK to 'wake up' and produce new neurons (nerve cells) and surrounding glial cells in the brain.

Ultrasound method restores dopaminergic pathway in brain at Parkinson's early stages
Researchers have developed a technique that could open up new ways to facilitate targeted drug delivery into the brain, enabling drugs to treat brain diseases more focally. They used transcranial, focused ultrasound and intravenously injected microbubbles into the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to make a localized, transient opening that allows drugs to cross through the BBB reversibly and noninvasively.

Brain disorder leaves lasting legacy of disability
Four out of five people with a hidden brain condition that causes limb weakness or paralysis experience lasting physical difficulties.

Improved human brain organoids to boost neurological disease research
Research has optimized the process of making human brain 'organoids' -- miniature 3D organ models -- so they consistently follow growth patterns observed in the developing human brain. Researchers can use this reproducible experimental system to test drugs for neuropsychiatric diseases like autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia directly in human tissues.

Was Mona Lisa's smile a lie?
Using chimeric -- or mirror -- images, researchers have determined that one half of Mona Lisa's smile displays happiness while the other half is neutral reflecting a non-genuine emotion.

Weak upper and lower body physical performance associated with depression and anxiety
Physical fitness is associated with a number of key health outcomes, including heart disease, cognition, mortality, and an overall feeling of well-being. A new study now links physical performance with mental health and emotions, suggesting that weak upper and lower body fitness can cause more serious depression and anxiety in midlife women.

How chronic inflammation may drive down dopamine and motivation
A new computational method will allow scientists to measure the effects of chronic inflammation on energy availability and effort-based decision-making. The method may yield insights into how chronic, low-grade inflammation contributes to motivational impairments in some cases of depression, schizophrenia and other medical disorders.

Children's brains reorganize after epilepsy surgery to retain visual perception
Children can keep full visual perception -- the ability to process and understand visual information -- after brain surgery for severe epilepsy, according to a new study. A study of children who had undergone epilepsy surgery suggests that the lasting effects on visual perception can be minimal, even among children who lost tissue in the brain's visual centers.

Tolerance to stress is a 'trade-off' as fruit flies age
With the help of the common fruit fly (D. melanogaster), which ages quickly because it only lives about 60 days, neuroscientists provide insights into healthy aging by investigating the effects of a foraging gene on age and stress tolerance.

Diabetes drug alleviates anxiety in mice
The antidiabetic medication metformin reduces anxiety-like behaviors in male mice by increasing serotonin availability in the brain, according to a new study. These findings could have implications for the treatment of patients with both metabolic and mental disorders.

Which brain hemorrhage patients have treatable underlying conditions
A new study identifies patients more likely to have underlying lesions from brain-bleeds, a finding that could help doctors treat the condition more rapidly.

Brush your teeth -- postpone Alzheimer's
Researchers in Norway have discovered a clear connection between oral health and Alzheimer's disease.

A small electrical zap to the brain could help you retrieve a forgotten memory
Psychologists have provided strong evidence that a certain region of the brain plays a critical role in memory recall. The research also shows for the first time that using an electrical current to stimulate that region, the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex, improves people's ability to retrieve memories.

Searching for the origins of the depressive symptoms in Huntington's disease
An altered function of Cdk5 kinase -- an essential enzyme in several cell signalling pathways -- could explain the physiopathology of the depressive-like behavior in Huntington's disease.

Childhood adversity linked to early puberty, premature brain development and mental illness
Growing up in poverty and experiencing traumatic events like a bad accident or sexual assault were linked to accelerated puberty and brain maturation, abnormal brain development, and greater mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, according to a new study.

Circadian clocks: Body parts respond to day and night independently from brain, studies show
Researchers have suspected that the body's various circadian clocks can operate independently from the central clock in the hypothalamus of the brain. Now, they have found a way to test that theory.

Concussion symptoms reversed by magnetic therapy
Concussion symptoms -- such as loss of balance and ability to walk straight -- can be reversed by a new type of magnetic stimulation.

Brain activity in teens predicts future mood health
An imbalance of functioning in attention-related brain systems may help forecast the course of teen depression, according to a new study.