Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Primate brain size does not predict their intelligence
A research team has systematically investigated the cognitive abilities of lemurs, which have relatively small brains compared to other primates. Conducting systematic tests with identical methods revealed that cognitive abilities of lemurs hardly differ from those of monkeys and great apes. Instead, this study revealed that the relationship between brain size and cognitive abilities cannot be generalized and it provides new insights into the evolution of primates.

Twinkling, star-shaped brain cells may hold the key to why, how we sleep
A new study suggests that star-shaped brain cells known as astrocytes could be as important to the regulation of sleep as neurons. The study builds new momentum toward ultimately solving the mystery of why we sleep and how sleep works in the brain. The discovery may also set the stage for potential future treatment strategies for sleep disorders and neurological diseases and other conditions associated with troubled sleep.

World first study links obesity with reduced brain plasticity
A world-first study has found that severely overweight people are less likely to be able to re-wire their brains and find new neural pathways, a discovery that has significant implications for people recovering from a stroke or brain injury.

New brain cell-like nanodevices work together to identify mutations in viruses
Scientists have described a new nanodevice that acts almost identically to a brain cell. Furthermore, they have shown that these synthetic brain cells can be joined together to form intricate networks that can then solve problems in a brain-like manner.

How microbes in a mother's intestines affect fetal neurodevelopment
During pregnancy in mice, the billions of bacteria and other microbes that live in a mother's intestines regulate key metabolites, small molecules that are important for healthy fetal brain development, biologists report. Scientists had not known until now whether the maternal gut microbiota influenced brain development during critical prenatal periods.

Fructose made in the brain could be a mechanism driving Alzheimer's disease, researchers propose
New research proposes that Alzheimer's disease may be driven by the overactivation of fructose made in the brain. The study outlined the hypothesis that Alzheimer's is a modern disease driven by changes in dietary lifestyle that has resulted in excessive fructose metabolism in the brain.

Meditation for mind-control
Scientists have discovered that mindful meditation can help subjects learn and improve the ability to mind-control brain computer interfaces (BCIs).

Sport and memory go hand in hand
If sport is good for the body, it also seems to be good for the brain. By evaluating memory performance following a sport session, neuroscientists demonstrate that an intensive physical exercise session improves memory. How? Through the action of endocanabinoids, molecules known to increase synaptic plasticity. School programs and strategies aimed at reducing the effects of neurodegeneration on memory could benefit from the study.

Neurological consequences of COVID-19: The 'Silent Wave'
Is the world prepared a wave of neurological consequences that may be on its way as a result of COVID-19? A team of neuroscientists and clinicians are examining the potential link between COVID-19 and increased risk of Parkinson's disease, and measures to get ahead of the curve.

Parkinson's disease is not one, but two diseases
Researchers around the world have been puzzled by the different symptoms and varied disease pathways of Parkinson's patients. A major study has now identified that there are actually two types of the disease.

The overlap between fear and anxiety brain circuits
Fear and anxiety reflect overlapping brain circuits, according to research recently published in JNeurosci. The findings highlight a need to reevaluate the existing models guiding anxiety research.

Neurobiology: To keep pain in check, count down
Diverse cognitive strategies affect our perception of pain. Studies have now linked the phenomenon to the coordinated activity of neural circuits located in different brain areas.

Scientists advance understanding of blood-brain barrier health
In a study with potential impacts on a variety of neurological diseases, researchers have provided the first experimental evidence from a living organism to show that an abundant, star-shaped brain cell known as an astrocyte is essential for blood-brain barrier health.

A computer predicts your thoughts, creating images based on them
Researchers have developed a technique in which a computer models visual perception by monitoring human brain signals. In a way, it is as if the computer tries to imagine what a human is thinking about. As a result of this imagining, the computer is able to produce entirely new information, such as fictional images that were never before seen. The technique is based on a novel brain-computer interface.

Vitamin E needed for proper nervous system development
In research with key ramifications for women of childbearing age, scientists show that embryos produced by vitamin E-deficient zebrafish have malformed brains and nervous systems.

Mosquito-borne viruses linked to stroke
A deadly combination of two mosquito-borne viruses may be a trigger for stroke, new research has found.

Mapping the decision-making pathways in the brain
Scientists have identified a new area of the brain that could be involved in cost-benefit decision-making.

A scientific first: How psychedelics bind to key brain cell receptor
For the first time, scientists solved the high-resolution structure of these compounds when they are actively bound to the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor on the surface of brain cells. This discovery is already leading to the exploration of more precise compounds that could eliminate hallucinations but still have strong therapeutic effects. Psilocybin - the psychedelic compound in mushrooms - has already been granted breakthrough status by the FDA to treat depression.

Scientists discover what happens in our brains when we make educated guesses
Researchers have identified how cells in our brains work together to join up memories of separate experiences, allowing us to make educated guesses in everyday life. By studying both human and mouse brain activity, they report that this process happens in a region of the brain called the hippocampus.

Potential target identified for migraine therapy
Researchers have identified the protein GLT-1 as the neurotransmitter glutamate transporter in the brain that is related to cortical spreading depression, a pathological condition that underlies migraines. The researchers found that mice lacking GLT-1, but not other glutamate receptors, were more susceptible to cortical spreading depression than were controls. GLT-1 might therefore be a potential target for migraine therapy.

Live imaging method brings structural information to mapping of brain function
Neuroscientists distinguish brain regions based on what they do, but now have a new way to overlay information about how they are built, too.

The key to happiness: Friends or family?
Think spending time with your kids and spouse is the key to your happiness? You may actually be happier getting together with your friends, a new study finds.

Brain circuitry underlying dissociative experiences
Scientists identified key brain circuitry that plays a role in the mysterious experience called dissociation, in which people can feel disconnected from their own body and from reality.

Reprogramming brain cells enables flexible decision-making
Humans, like other animals, have the ability to constantly adapt to new situations. Researchers have utilized a mouse model to reveal which neurons in the brain are in command in guiding adaptive behavior. Their new study contributes to our understanding of decision-making processes in healthy and infirm people.

Older people with early, asymptomatic Alzheimer's at risk of falls
Older people without cognitive problems who experience a fall may have undetected neurodegeneration in their brains that puts them at high risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia, according to a new study.

Key role of immune cells in brain infection
Researchers have identified the specific type of immune cell that induces brain inflammation in herpes simplex virus (HSV) encephalitis. Crucially, they have also determined the signalling protein that calls this immune cell into the brain from the bloodstream. The findings could aid the development of targeted treatments for the brain infection, which is the most common cause of viral encephalitis worldwide.

Real neurons are noisy: Can neural implants figure that out?
Signals sent from the retina to the brain have a lot of background noise, yet we see the world clearly. Researchers show that to achieve visual clarity the brain must accurately measure how this noise is distributed across neurons when processing the signals sent down the optic nerve. These results are likely to shape the design of future retinal prosthetics and other brain-machine interfaces.

New dopamine sensors could help unlock the mysteries of brain chemistry
Scientists developed dLight1, a single fluorescent protein-based biosensor. This sensor allows high resolution, real-time imaging of the spatial and temporal release of dopamine in live animals. Now, the team expanded the color spectrum of dLight1 to YdLight1 and RdLight1. The increased light penetration and imaging depth of these variants provide enhanced dopamine signal quality allowing researchers to optically dissect dopamine's release and model its effects on neural circuits.

Risk gene for Alzheimer's has early effects on the brain
A genetic predisposition to late-onset Alzheimer's disease affects how the brains of young adults cope with certain memory tasks. Researchers find are based on studies with magnetic resonance imaging in individuals at the age of about 20 years. The scientists suspect that the observed effects could be related to very early disease processes.

Immune system affects mind and body, study indicates
Researchers have discovered that a molecule produced by the immune system acts on the brain to change the behavior of mice.

New X-ray microscopy technique enables comprehensive imaging of dense neural circuits
A new x-ray microscopy technique could help accelerate efforts to map neural circuits and ultimately the brain itself. Combined with artificial intelligence-driven image analysis, researchers used XNH to reconstruct dense neural circuits in 3D, comprehensively cataloging neurons and even tracing individual neurons from muscles to the central nervous system in fruit flies.

Certain coping strategies can help offset pandemic's mental health hits
The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to negative mental health effects for many in the U.S., according to new Penn State research. But the researchers also found that some coping techniques -- like wearing masks and focusing on self-care -- were linked with positive mental health.

Touch-and-know: Brain activity during tactile stimuli reveals hand preferences in people
Scientists show that it is possible to distinguish between left-handed and right-handed people by noninvasively monitoring just their brain activity during passive tactile stimulation. These results are key in haptic research (the study of sensory systems) and have various important implications for brain-computer interfaces, augmented reality, and even artificial intelligence.

TRESK regulates brain to track time using sunlight as its cue
Research has found that TRESK, a calcium regulated two-pore potassium channel, regulates the brain's central circadian clock to differentiate behavior between day and night.

FABP4: Preschool-aged biomarker discovered for autism spectrum disorder
Researchers have discovered a biomarker that can detect autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in preschool-aged children. The new study found that levels of the protein FABP4 were much lower in four- to six-year-old children with ASD than they were in other typically developing children. Experiments in mice that lacked FABP4 revealed changes in neurons that resemble those found in the postmortem brains of people with ASD.

How loss of single gene fuels deadly childhood brain cancer
Researchers describe how the functional loss of a single gene negatively impacts neural development and promotes the growth of a particularly deadly form of pediatric brain cancer.

Research sheds light on earliest stages of Angelman syndrome
New research provides insights into the earliest stages of Angelman syndrome. The work also demonstrates how human cerebral organoids can be used to shed light on genetic disorders that affect human development.

Binge-drinkers' brains have to work harder to feel empathy for others
New research shows that binge-drinkers' brains have to put more effort into trying to feel empathy for other people in pain.

Concussion discovery reveals dire, unknown effect of even mild brain injuries
Even mild concussions cause severe and long-lasting impairments in the brain's ability to clean itself, and this may seed it for Alzheimer's, dementia and other neurodegenerative problems.

Lifestyle improvements may lessen cognitive decline
Results from a new study suggest that lifestyle changes may help to improve cognition in older adults experiencing cognitive decline that precedes dementia.

Biological roots for teen risk-taking: Uneven brain growth
Why do some adolescents take more risks than others? Research suggests that two centers in the brain, one which makes adolescents want to take risks and the other which prevents them from acting on these impulses, physically mature at different rates and that adolescents with large differences in the rate of development between these two brain regions are more likely to be risk-takers.

Vitamin B1 deficiency a key factor in the development of alcohol-related dementia
A research group has now developed a hypothesis whereby iron deposits in the brain -- resulting from alcohol-induced vitamin B1 deficiency -- can be regarded as key factors in cognitive decline.

People who were children when their parents divorced have less 'love hormone'
People who were children when their parents were divorced showed lower levels of oxytocin -- the so-called 'love hormone' -- when they were adults than those whose parents remained married, according to a new study. The lower level may play a role in having trouble forming attachments when they are grown.

People with anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder show brain similarities, differences
A new study shows partially overlapping patterns of brain function in people with anorexia nervosa and those with body dysmorphic disorder, a related psychiatric condition characterized by misperception that particular physical characteristics are defective.

Cell in zebrafish critical to brain assembly, function
New research documents the presence of astrocytes in zebrafish, a milestone that will open new avenues of research into a star-shaped type of glial cell in the brain that is critical for nearly every aspect of brain assembly and function.

Brain stimulation reduces dyslexia deficits
Restoring normal patterns of rhythmic neural activity through non-invasive electrical stimulation of the brain alleviates sound-processing deficits and improves reading accuracy in adults with dyslexia, according to a new study.

Research unravels what makes memories so detailed and enduring
Researchers report a breakthrough in understanding how memories can be so distinct and long-lasting without getting muddled up.

Older women with type 2 diabetes have different patterns of blood use in their brains
A researcher is reporting that the brains of older women with Type 2 diabetes do not use as much oxygenated blood as those who don't have the disease. The research is the first to point to changes in blood use in the brain as the primary reason for diabetes-related deficits in motor function.

Star-cells 'shine' to make sense of touch
A research group reports a rather surprise finding as to how GABA works to control the tactile sense. GABA, known for its inhibitory function, actually enhances the sensory input processing by accelerating the signal processing and sharpening the sensitivity of signal magnitude.

As information flows through brain's heirarchy, higher regions use higher frequency waves
To produce your thoughts and actions, your brain processes information in a hierarchy of regions along its surface, or cortex, ranging from "lower" areas that do basic parsing of incoming sensations to "higher" executive regions that formulate your plans for employing that newfound knowledge. In a new study, neuroscientists seeking to explain how this organization emerges report two broad trends: In each of three distinct regions, information encoding or its inhibition was associated with a similar tug of war between specific brain wave frequency bands, and the higher a region's status in the hierarchy, the higher the peak frequency of its waves in each of those bands.