Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Researchers solve mystery of how ALL enters the central nervous system
A deadly feature of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is its invasion of the central nervous system. ALL in the central nervous system is very difficult to treat, because most drugs are blocked from the organ system due to a "blood-brain barrier" designed to protect the brain. How cancer cells enter the central nervous system has been an unanswered question for researchers and clinicians for decades. A research team has now found that this blood cancer infiltrates the central nervous system not by breaching the blood-brain barrier, but by evading the barrier altogether.

Neurons can carry more than one signal at a time
New research shows that neurons in the brain can carry two signals at once, using a strategy similar to multiplexing in telecommunications. The results may explain how the brain processes complex information from the world around us, and may also provide insight into some of our perceptual and cognitive limitations.

Brain iron levels may predict multiple sclerosis disabilities
A new, highly accurate MRI technique can monitor iron levels in the brains of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and help identify those at a higher risk for developing physical disability, according to a new study.

Childhood adversity increases susceptibility to addiction via immune response
Childhood adversity permanently alters the peripheral and central immune systems, increasing the sensitivity of the body's immune response to cocaine, reports a new study.

How cannabis affects appetite: Brain changes
New research on how cannabis use alters eating behavior could lead to treatments for appetite loss in chronic illness, according to experts. Using a new procedure to dose lab rats with cannabis vapor, the researchers found how the drug triggers hunger hormones. They also identified specific brain regions that shift to 'hungry' mode while under the influence.

Researchers identify brain area linked to motivational disruptions in binge eating
Scientists have discovered that a small group of brain cells in the hypothalamus called 'orexin' neurons could be a promising target for medications for controlling binge eating episodes in individuals with obesity. These neurons, named for the chemical messenger they use to communicate with other brain cells, have previously been shown to be important for addiction to several drugs, including cocaine.

Mindset during meal planning changes food choices and brain responses to food
A simple instruction to change your thinking as mealtime approaches can help cut calories, according to new research. By encouraging study participants to concentrate on different types of information when planning their meal, the experimenters saw portion sizes shift. Adopting a health-focused mindset produced better outcomes than focusing on pleasure or the desire to fill up.

Who made the error? The brain distinguishes causes of errors to perform adaptation
Scientists examined positions to detect motor and target errors and whether error signals from these positions were used for learning, finding that the parietal lobe detected causes of motor errors in arm reaching and provided signals to compensate for errors. They also revealed that Brodmann area 5 detected the self-generated motor error and that Brodmann area 7 detected target error caused by target movements, both providing error signals for adaptation.

Key social reward circuit in the brain impaired in kids with autism
Children with autism have structural and functional abnormalities in the brain circuit that normally makes social interaction feel rewarding, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Test for Alzheimer's disease directly measures synaptic loss
Researchers have tested a new method for directly measuring synaptic loss in individuals with Alzheimer's disease. The method, which uses PET imaging technology to scan for a specific protein in the brain linked to synapses, has the potential to accelerate research for new Alzheimer's treatments, the researchers said.

Early puberty in white adolescent boys increases substance use risk
White adolescent boys experiencing early puberty are at higher risk for substance use than later developing boys, a new study finds.

New development in 3D super-resolution imaging gives insight on Alzheimer's disease
One major problem with understanding Alzheimer's is not being able to clearly see why the disease starts. A super-resolution 'nanoscope' now provides a 3D view of brain molecules with 10 times greater detail. This imaging technique could help reveal how the disease progresses and where new treatments could intervene.

Reward and unease are closely linked in the brain
Mice that lack a certain receptor in the brain are attracted to situations associated with discomfort, such as inflammation and nausea, according to a new study.

Plastic chemical linked to smaller prefrontal cortex, reduced cognitive ability in rats
Adult rats that had been exposed before birth and during nursing to a mixture of chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products have a smaller medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and perform worse on an attention-switching task than rats not exposed to the chemicals early in life. These findings demonstrate a long-term influence of endocrine-disrupting compounds on brain development.

A constellation of symptoms presages first definitive signs of multiple sclerosis
Researchers document the health problems that precede a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

Synapse-specific plasticity governs the identity of overlapping memory traces
Each memory is stored in a specific population of neurons called engram cells. When a memory is linked with another to generate an associative memory, two memory traces overlap. At the same time, individual memories maintain their own identities. Using two overlapping fear memories in mice, researchers show that synapse-specific plasticity guarantees both storage and identity of individual memories. They also show that memory traces no longer exist in the brain after complete retrograde amnesia.

One step closer to finding a cure for brain diseases
Researchers have identified a mechanism for signaling brain nerve cells through excitatory synaptic binding proteins. The finding provides important clues to understanding the principles of synaptic nerve transmission and thus can be used to analyze the fundamental causes of brain diseases and treat them.

Headers may cause balance issues
Soccer players who head the ball may be more likely to experience short-term balance problems, suggesting that repetitive head impacts could have the potential to cause subtle neurological deficits not previously known, according to a preliminary study.

Antioxidant benefits of sleep
Scientists found that short-sleeping fruit fly mutants shared the common defect of sensitivity to acute oxidative stress, and thus that sleep supports antioxidant processes.

Machine learning helps to predict the treatment outcomes of schizophrenia
Researchers have used artificial intelligence to help identify patients suffering from schizophrenia and to ascertain if they would respond to treatment.

Herpes linked to Alzheimer's: Antivirals may help
A new commentary on a study by epidemiologists supports the viability of a potential way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. When the authors looked at subjects who suffered severe herpes infection and who were treated aggressively with antiviral drugs, the relative risk of dementia was reduced by a factor of 10.

Brain function partly replicated by nanomaterials
Researchers have created extremely dense, random SWNT/POM network molecular neuromorphic devices, generating spontaneous spikes similar to nerve impulses of neurons. They conducted simulation calculations of the random molecular network model complexed with POM molecules, which are able to store electric charges, replicating spikes generated from the random molecular network. They also demonstrated that this molecular model would very likely become a component of reservoir computing devices. Reservoir computing is anticipated as next-generation artificial intelligence.

Why the left hemisphere of the brain understands language better than the right
Nerve cells in the brain region planum temporale have more synapses in the left hemisphere than in the right hemisphere -- which is vital for rapid processing of auditory speech, according to new research. There has already been ample evidence of left hemisphere language dominance; however, the underlying processes on the neuroanatomical level had not yet been fully understood.

Science fiction enthusiasts have a positive attitude to the digitizing of the brain
The goal of a technology known as mind upload is to make it possible to create functional copies of the human brain on computers. The development of this technology, which involves scanning of the brain and detailed cell-specific emulation, is currently receiving billions in funding. Science fiction enthusiasts express a more positive attitude towards the technology compared to others.

A gene required for addictive behavior
Cocaine can have a devastating effect on people. It directly stimulates the brain's reward center, and, more importantly, induces long-term changes to the reward circuitry that are responsible for addictive behaviors. Scientists have now uncovered that a gene called Maged1 plays a crucial role in controlling these pathological changes.

15-minutes of exercise creates optimal brain state for mastering new motor skills
A recent study demonstrates that exercise performed immediately after practicing a new motor skill improves its long-term retention. More specifically, the research shows, for the first time, that as little as a single fifteen-minute bout of cardiovascular exercise increases brain connectivity and efficiency. It's a discovery that could, in principle, accelerate recovery of motor skills in patients who have suffered a stroke or who face mobility problems following an injury.

Stress affects people with schizophrenia differently
Stressful situations affect the brain and body differently in people with schizophrenia compared to people without the mental illness or individuals at high risk for developing psychosis, a new study shows. The relationship between two chemicals released when people experienced stress -- one released in the brain and the other in saliva -- differs in people with schizophrenia. The discovery may provide clues into how to act early to prevent schizophrenia.

Reaching for tissues at the symphony? It's probably solo time
A new study helps illuminate the ways in which a composer might intentionally impart sadness into the lines of an orchestral piece. Here's a clue: It doesn't take much. The solo player proves to be an important element of the kind of songs that tighten our throats and leave us searching for a tissue mid-performance, found a new study.

The audiovisual integration of material information in preverbal infants
Researchers have revealed that infants aged 4- to 5-months already hold a primary cerebral representation of audiovisual integration of material information in their right hemisphere, and the number of types of material which can be processed by infants' brain increases with the experience of the materials. This finding may lead to understand the trajectory of acquiring general knowledge about objects around us.

Breakthrough in construction of computers for mimicking human brain
A computer built to mimic the brain's neural networks produces similar results to that of the best brain-simulation supercomputer software currently used for neural-signaling research. Tested for accuracy, speed and energy efficiency, this custom-built computer named SpiNNaker, has the potential to overcome the speed and power consumption problems of conventional supercomputers, with the aim of advancing our knowledge of neural processing in the brain, including learning and disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.

Suppressing negative emotions during health scare may whip up spiral of fear
Trying to suppress worries during a health scare, like the recent Zika outbreak, may lead to an ever-intensifying cycle of emotional suppression and fear, according to a team of researchers.

As brain extracts meaning from vision, study tracks progression of processing
Study finds that six brain regions shared more responsibility than thought for how the brain moves from raw perception to determining the categorical meaning of what's seen.

Brain metastases common and difficult to treat in ROS1 lung cancer
Brain metastases were found to be fairly common in stage IV ROS1-positive cancers and in 47 percent of ROS1 patients, the brain was the first and only site of progression.

Brain arousal compound noradrenaline plays critical role in sensory perception
A new study suggests that noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter responsible for arousal in the brain, plays a vital role in early sensory perceptions of the world.

Every person has a unique brain anatomy
Like with fingerprints, no two people have the same brain anatomy, a study has shown. This uniqueness is the result of a combination of genetic factors and individual life experiences.

Vitamin D no defense against dementia
New research has shown that vitamin D (also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin) is unlikely to protect individuals from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or other brain-related disorders.

Pucker up, baby! Lips take center stage in infants' brains
Researchers used brain imaging to gauge how the hand, foot and lips are represented in the brains of 2-month-olds -- a much younger age than has been studied previously. It is believed to be the first to reveal the greater neurological activity associated with the lips than with other body parts represented in the infant brain. It also indicates how soon infants' brains begin to make sense of their bodies, a first step toward other developmental milestones.

A new study identifies 40 genes related to aggressive behavior in humans and mice
The origins of the violent behavior are multifactorial and respond to the interaction of several factors --biological, cultural, social, etc. -- which can modify the expression of the human behavior. Now, an international study has identified forty genes related to aggressive behavior in humans and mice.

Complex brain circuitry revealed using new single-cell sequencing technology
Researchers are studying the brain's striatum, which not only is responsible for controlling how we move, but also contributes to the brain's decision-making and the initiation of action. Nearly 95 percent of the cells that make up the striatum are known as medium spiny neurons (MSN), which is associated with many psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, schizophrenia, drug addition and ADHD.

Training in musical improvisation may teach your brain to think differently
Skilled improvisers were better than musicians with limited improvisational experience at distinguishing between chords that can be used interchangeably in a piece of music and those that cannot, a new study finds. The results suggest that musical improvisation, like so many other skills, improves with practice as the brain learns to categorize musical structures in a new way.

New research detects brain cell that improves learning
The workings of memory and learning have yet to be clarified, especially at the neural circuitry level. But researchers have now discovered a specific brain neuron with a central role in learning. The study may have a bearing on the potential for counteracting memory loss in Alzheimer's disease.

New brain pathway for escaping predators found
New research reveals how the zebrafish brain perceives and reacts to predators.

Neuronal 'barcodes' shape complex networks in the brain
Understanding how billions of brain cells succeed in making precise connections is a major challenge for neuroscientists. Researchers have unraveled a molecular code that determines the shape, location and function of connections between individual neurons. These findings could help us better understand brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Pathway of Alzheimer's degeneration discovered
Scientists have used a unique approach to track brain degeneration in Alzheimer's disease, uncovering a pathway through which degeneration spreads from one region to another.

Shining new light on the pineal gland
Biologists have identified a gene controlling left-right asymmetry in the brain and sleep-wake cycles.

Sleep disorder linked with changes to brain structure typical of dementia
Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with changes to the structure of the brain that are also seen in the early stages of dementia, according to a new study.

Brain study paves way for therapy for common cause of dementia
Scientists have uncovered a potential approach to treat one of the commonest causes of dementia and stroke in older people. Studies with rats found the treatment can reverse changes in blood vessels in the brain associated with the condition, called cerebral small vessel disease. Treatment also prevents damage to brain cells caused by these blood vessel changes, raising hope that it could offer a therapy for dementia.

Why males are more at risk than females for neurodevelopmental disorders
Researchers have recently begun to realize that biological sex plays a key role in disease risk. Sex plays a role in hypertension, diabetes, arthritis -- and in many neurological and psychiatric disorders. Depression and anxiety affect females more, while neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, early onset schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity, affect more males. Males are also more sensitive to prenatal insults, such as gestational stress, maternal infection and drug exposure.

Small talk not as bad as previously thought
People who engage in more substantive conversations tend to be happier, a new study confirms. Yet researchers found, contrary to previous findings, that idle small talk is not necessarily negatively related to well-being.

Neuroscientists uncover secret to intelligence in parrots
Neuroscientists have identified the neural circuit that may underlay intelligence in birds, according to a new study. The discovery is an example of convergent evolution between the brains of birds and primates, with the potential to provide insight into the neural basis of human intelligence.