Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Erasing memories associated with cocaine use reduces drug seeking behavior
Researchers identified the brain circuits that form memories associating environmental cues with cocaine use. Targeting these memories may improve the success of exposure therapy to prevent relapse.

Supplement makes (mouse) moms' milk better; pups benefit for life
Giving nursing mouse mothers a supplement called nicotinamide riboside (NR) promotes maternal weight loss, boosts milk production and quality, and leads to long-lasting physical, neurological, and behavioral benefits in the pups.

Noninvasive light-sensitive recombinase for deep brain genetic manipulation
A research team presents a noninvasive light-sensitive photoactivatable recombinase suitable for genetic manipulation in vivo. The highly light-sensitive property of photoactivatable Flp recombinase will be ideal for controlling genetic manipulation in deep mouse brain regions by illumination with a noninvasive light-emitting diode. This easy-to-use optogenetic module will provide a side-effect free and expandable genetic manipulation tool for neuroscience research.

A tradeoff in the neural code
New research suggests that our brains are like modern washing machines -- evolved to have the latest sophisticated programming, but more vulnerable to breakdown and prone to develop costly disorders. Scientists conducted experiments comparing the efficiency of the neural code in non-human and human primates and found that as the neural code gets more efficient, the robustness that prevents errors is reduced.

Inability to integrate reward info contributes to undervalued rewards in schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia have a hard time integrating information about a reward -- the size of the reward and the probability of receiving it -- when assessing its value, according to a new study.

Concussions linked to epilepsy development
Experiments show a strong relationship between changes in astrocytes after mild traumatic brain injury and the eventual occurrence of a seizure.

Neurons in the human visual cortex that respond to faces
A new study identifies the neurons in the human visual cortex that selectively respond to faces. The researchers showed that the neurons in the visual cortex (in the vicinity of the Fusiform Face Area) responded much more strongly to faces than to city landscapes or objects. In an additional experiment, the neurons exhibited face-selectivity to human and animal faces that appeared within a movie. The results provide unique insights into human brain functioning at the cellular level during face processing.

Youthful cognitive ability strongly predicts mental capacity later in life
Early adult general cognitive ability is a stronger predictor of cognitive function and reserve later in life than other factors, such as higher education, occupational complexity or engaging in late-life intellectual activities.

How our brains distinguish between self-touch and touch by others
Our brains seem to reduce sensory perception from an area of our skin when we touch it ourselves, according to a new study. The finding increases our understanding of how the brain distinguishes between being touched by another person and self-touch.

Early prediction of Alzheimer's progression: Blood protein
Scientists have shown that a protein found in the blood can be used to precisely monitor disease progression of Alzheimer's long before first clinical signs appear. This blood marker offers new possibilities for testing therapies.

Unexpected link found between feeding and memory brain areas
Researchers reveal an unexpected connection between the lateral hypothalamus and the hippocampus, the respective feeding and the memory centers of the brain.

In China, a link between happiness and air quality
New research reveals that higher levels of pollution are associated with a decrease in people's happiness levels.

Scientists find genes with large effects on head and brain size
The size of children's heads is not only related to the growth of their skull, but also their brain. A genome-wide analysis now reports the largest known genetic effects on head circumference and the related measure of intracranial volume.

Brain training app improves users' concentration
A new 'brain training' game improves users' concentration, according to new research published today. The scientists behind the venture say this could provide a welcome antidote to the daily distractions that we face in a busy world.

Targeting 'hidden pocket' for treatment of stroke and seizure
By closely examining a special neuron receptor that is involved in memory, learning, and much more, researchers have identified a hidden molecular 'pocket.' By creating chemical compounds that affect this pocket only in very specific circumstances, they are one step closer to creating ideal treatments for stroke and seizures.

Specific cognitive deficits in individuals with spinal cord injury
A multidisciplinary team of researchers has identified specific cognitive deficits in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Their findings support the theory of accelerated aging after SCI, and have important implications for further research.

Synaptic logic for connections between two brain hemispheres
Researchers have developed a new combination of technologies that allows them to identify the functional properties of individual synapses that link the two hemispheres and determine how they are arranged within a neuron's dendritic field.

'Happiness' exercises can boost mood in those recovering from substance use disorder
Brief, text-based, self-administered exercises can significantly increase in-the-moment happiness for adults recovering from substance use disorders, report researchers.

Bioethicists call for oversight of consumer 'neurotechnologies' with unproven benefits
The marketing of consumer 'neurotechnologies' can be enticing: apps that diagnose a mental state, and brain devices that improve cognition or 'read' one's emotional state. However, many of these increasingly popular products aren't fully supported by science and have little to no regulatory oversight, which poses potential health risks to the public. Two bioethicists suggest the creation of a working group that would further study, monitor, and provide guidance for this growing industry -- which is expected to top $3 billion by 2020.

New findings reveal surprising role of the cerebellum in reward and social behaviors
A study in rodents found that the brain's cerebellum -- known to play a role in motor coordination -- also helps control the brain's reward circuitry. Researchers found a direct neural connection from the cerebellum to the ventral tegmental area (a brain area long known to be involved in reward processing and encoding). The findings shed light on the brain circuits critical to the affective and social dysfunction seen across multiple psychiatric disorders.

Wired for obesity
Researchers have discovered a set of genes that help to establish brain connections governing body weight.

How to rapidly image entire brains at nanoscale resolution
A powerful new technique combines expansion microscopy with lattice light-sheet microscopy for nanoscale imaging of fly and mouse neuronal circuits and their molecular constituents that's roughly 1,000 times faster than other methods.

Scientists search for new methods to cure neurodegenerative diseases
Most neurons in the human brain are generated from neural stem cells during embryonic development. After birth, a small reservoir of stem cells remains in the brain that keeps on producing new neurons throughout life. However, the question arises as to whether these new neurons really support brain function? And if so, can we improve brain capacity by increasing the number of neurons? A research group has now answered these questions.

Epigenetics contribute to male and female differences in fear memory
In a mouse model of traumatic memory, male mice recall fear-related memories better than female mice, according to a new study.

New findings on eye-signal blending
Knowing precisely where the signals meet and the brain processes them is vital to treating amblyopia, or reduced vision in one eye because the brain and eye aren't working together properly.

Risk for developing more than one mental health disorder revealed
A new study has revealed the risks behind developing a seconds mental health disorder after an initial diagnosis in the largest and most comprehensive study of comorbidity to date.

A new hope in treating neurodegenerative disease
Korean researchers have identified the inhibition of autophagy in microglia, brain immune cells. It is expected to help develop treatments for Alzheimer's diseases which occur due to the inhibition of autophagy.

Acupressure relieves long-term symptoms of breast cancer treatment, study finds
A new study finds acupressure could be a low-cost, at-home solution to a suite of persistent side effects that linger after breast cancer treatment ends.

When activated, 'social' brain circuits inhibit feeding behavior in mice
Feeding behavior and social stimulation activate intermingled but distinct brain circuits, and activating one circuit can inhibit the other, according to a new study.

Schizophrenia can be caused by structural abnormality in adolescent brain associated with genetic risk
Schizophrenia could be caused by a genetic mutation that causes a structural abnormality in the brain during adolescence. Therefore testing for the gene SLC39A8, and brain scans for schizophrenia could predict whether or not someone will develop it, researchers have found.

Alterations in hippocampal structural connections differentiate between responders of ECT
A new study in people with major depression reports that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) induces changes in the fibers connecting the hippocampus to brain regions involved in mood and emotion.

Born to run: Just not on cocaine
A study finds a surprising response to cocaine in a novel strain of mutant mice -- they failed to show hyperactivity seen in normal mice when given cocaine and didn't run around. In other tests, they still found cocaine appealing, but displayed an inability to shake the memory of cocaine's actions when the drug was no longer administered. The key change that blocks cocaine's stimulant effects in these mice is serotonin, not dopamine, which is responsible for producing a high.

Differences among brain neurons that coincide with psychiatric conditions
Scientists have found about 13,000 regions of epigenetic differences between neurons in different brain regions that vary by at least 10 percent. The location of those epigenetic changes -- covering about 12 million bases in the genome -- co-locate with the genetic signal contributing to addictive behavior, schizophrenia and neuroses such as biopolar disorder.

A new way by which the human brain marks time
With a little help from HBO's 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' neurobiologists have uncovered a key component of how the human brain marks time.

Helping anxious students excel on science exams
A new study released today reveals that helping lower-income high school freshman to regulate their test-taking anxiety can cut their biology course failure rates in half. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by Barnard College President Sian Leah Beilock and her research team found that brief pre-exam de-stressing strategies could reduce the performance gap often seen between lower-income and higher income students.

Early child deprivation and neglect impair memory and executive functioning at age 16
Young children experiencing deprivation and neglect in institutional settings have impaired memory and executive functioning at ages 8 and 16 compared with peers placed early in quality foster homes, report investigators.

The 17 different ways your face conveys happiness
Human beings can configure their faces in thousands and thousands of ways to convey emotion, but only 35 expressions actually get the job done across cultures, a new study has found.

Stroke drug may also prevent Alzheimer's disease
Researchers have discovered that a drug currently being developed to treat stroke patients could also prevent Alzheimer's disease. The study shows that the genetically engineered protein 3K3A-APC protects the brains of mice with Alzheimer's-like symptoms, reducing the buildup of toxic peptides and preventing memory loss.

Teen brain volume changes with small amount of cannabis use, study finds
At a time when several states are moving to legalize recreational use of marijuana, new research shows that concerns about the drug's impact on teens may be warranted. The study shows that even a small amount of cannabis use by teenagers is linked to differences in their brains.

Diving deeper into developmental dyslexia
Men with dyslexia have altered structural connections between the thalamus and auditory cortex on the left side of the brain, new research reveals. The study extends similar observations of the dyslexic visual system and highlights the importance of early sensory processing for reading proficiency.

Dementia: New culprit and potential treatment target
A study shows people with the worst memory problems also had the most leakage in their brain's blood vessels -- regardless of whether abnormal proteins amyloid and tau were present.

Military spouses face higher perinatal depression risk
Women whose partners are away on military deployment are at greater risk of developing mental illness during the perinatal period, according to a review article.

The human brain works backwards to retrieve memories
When we remember a past event, the human brain reconstructs that experience in reverse order, according to a new study.

Parasites from patients with cerebral malaria stick preferentially in their brains
Scientists have provided, for the first time, evidence which links the ability of red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite to bind to the cells lining the blood vessels of the brain, with the clinical syndrome cerebral malaria.

Scope advance reveals first look through all cortical layers of awake brain
Improvements in three-photon microscopy have allowed scientists to see activity in all layers of the visual cortex and the 'subplate' below.

New role for brain's support cells in controlling circadian rhythms
A new study has found that astrocytes, previously thought of as just supporting neurons in regulating circadian rhythms, can actually lead the tempo of the body's internal clock and have been shown for the first time to be able to control patterns of daily behavior in mammals.

Neuroimaging shows social exclusion spurs extremism in those vulnerable to radicalization
A new study used neuroimaging techniques to show that social exclusion increases the number of ideological and group values worth fighting and dying for in populations vulnerable to radicalization. The study focused on neural activity in a region of the brain related to rule retrieval and sacred values. The results can help guide policies and actions capable of counteracting vulnerability to radicalization and propensity to violent extremism.

Scientists harness machine learning to uncover new insights into the human brain
An inter-disciplinary research team has successfully employed machine learning to uncover new insights into the cellular architecture of the human brain. This approach could potentially be used to assess treatment of neurological disorders, and to develop new therapies.

Newly discovered leukodystrophy in children: Potential cure
Medical researchers have uncovered a novel disease of children affecting the brain white matter -- the myelin sheath --, leading to severe incapacity and death in some cases. These defects were corrected by a treatment with fingolimod, a drug in use for multiple sclerosis which interferes with this pathway.

Excessive body fat around the middle linked to smaller brain size, study finds
Carrying extra body fat, especially around the middle, may be linked to brain shrinkage, according to new research. For the study, researchers determined obesity by measuring body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio in study participants and found those with higher ratios of both measures had the lowest brain volume.