Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

Why experiences are better gifts for older children
What should we get for our kids this holiday? As children get older, giving them something they can experience (live through) instead of material things makes them happier, according to new research.

Hormone found to switch off hunger could help tackle obesity
A hormone that can suppress food intake and increase the feeling of fullness in mice has shown similar results in humans and non-human primates, says a new study.

Stress in pregnancy may influence baby brain development
Infants' brains may be shaped by levels of stress their mother experiences during pregnancy, a brain scanning study has revealed.

AI helps scientists understand brain activity behind thoughts
Researchers have developed artificial intelligence (AI) models that help them better understand the brain computations that underlie thoughts.

Cocoa flavanols boost brain oxygenation, cognition in healthy adults
The brains of healthy adults recovered faster from a mild vascular challenge and performed better on complex tests if the participants consumed cocoa flavanols beforehand, researchers report. In the study, 14 of 18 participants saw these improvements after ingesting the flavanols.

Brain waves guide us in spotlighting surprises
Neuroscientists have found that the dynamic interplay of different brain wave frequencies, rather than dedicated circuitry, appears to govern the brain's knack for highlighting what's surprising and downplaying what's predictable.

Scientists identify brain cells that help drive bodily reaction to fear, anxiety
Scientists have discovered that artificially forcing the activity of BNST cells in mice produced an arousal response in the form of dilated pupils and faster heart rate, and worsened anxiety-like behaviors. This helps illuminate the neural roots of emotions, and point to the possibility that the human-brain counterpart of the newly identified population of arousal-related neurons might be a target of future treatments for anxiety disorders and other illnesses involving abnormal arousal responses.

A hunger for social contact
Neuroscientists have found that the longings for social interaction felt during isolation are neurologically very similar to the food cravings people experience when hungry.

Newfound ability to change baby brain activity could lead to rehabilitation for injured brains
Researchers have identified the brain activity for the first time in a newborn baby when they are learning an association between different types of sensory experiences. Using advanced MRI scanning techniques and robotics, the researchers found that a baby's brain activity can be changed through these associations, shedding new light on the possibility of rehabilitating babies with injured brains and promoting the development of life-long skills such as speech, language and movement.

Magnetic brain waves to detect injury and disease
Researchers have designed a new Optically Pumped Magnetometer (OPM) sensor for magnetoencephalography (MEG). The sensor is smaller and more robust in detecting magnetic brain signals and distinguishing them from background noise than existing sensors. Benchmarking tests showed good performance in environmental conditions where other sensors do not work, and it is able to detect brain signals against background magnetic noise, raising the possibility of MEG testing outside a specialised unit.

Memories create 'fingerprints' that reveal how the brain is organized
While the broad architecture and organization of the human brain is universal, new research shows how the differences between how people reimagine common scenarios can be observed in brain activity and quantified. These unique neurological signatures could ultimately be used to understand, study, and even improve treatment of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Altered 'coat' disguises fatal brain virus from neutralizing antibodies
A genetic modification in the 'coat' of a brain infection-causing virus may allow it to escape antibodies, according to researchers. They say testing people for this and other viral mutations may help identify patients at risk for developing a fatal brain disease.

Drug eases recovery for those with severe alcohol withdrawal
Scientists say a drug originally developed to treat high blood pressure can reduce severe withdrawal symptoms for patients diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.

Taking out the trash is essential for brain health
Researchers have identified a protein called Wipi3 that is essential for cellular waste disposal via the alternative autophagy system. Deletion of Wipi3 in the brains of mice causes growth and motor defects attributed to neuronal accumulation of iron, resulting in neurodegeneration. However, over-expression of another alternative autophagy protein, Dram1, reverses the effects in Wipi3 deficiency, and may represent a novel treatment for neurodegenerative diseases.

Does air pollution increase women's risk of dementia?
Older women who live in locations with higher levels of air pollution may have more brain shrinkage, the kind seen in Alzheimer's disease, than women who live in locations with lower levels, according to a new study.

For neural research, wireless chip shines light on the brain
Researchers have developed a chip that is powered wirelessly and can be surgically implanted to read neural signals and stimulate the brain with both light and electrical current. The technology has been demonstrated successfully in rats and is designed for use as a research tool.

Early details of brain damage in COVID-19 patients
Looking at six patients using a specialized magnetic resonance technique, researchers found that COVID-19 patients with neurological symptoms show some of the same metabolic disturbances in the brain as other patients who have suffered oxygen deprivation from other causes, but there are also notable differences.

Technology lets clinicians objectively detect tinnitus for first time
A technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) can be used to objectively measure tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, according to a new study.

A regular dose of nature may improve mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
A new study suggests that nature around one's home may help mitigate some of the negative mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learning a new language changes the brain's division of labor
Learning a language later in life changes how the two halves of the brain contribute. As skills improve, language comprehension changes hemisphere specialization, but production does not, according to new research.

Changes to the brain's reward system may drive overeating in mice
A combination of innate differences and diet-induced changes to the reward system may predispose some mice to overeat, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.

Chronic alcohol use reshapes the brain's immune landscape, driving anxiety and addiction
Deep within the brain, a small almond-shaped region called the amygdala plays a vital role in how we exhibit emotion, behavior and motivation; it's also strongly implicated in alcohol abuse. Now, for the first time, a team has identified important changes to anti-inflammatory mechanisms and cellular activity in the amygdala that drive alcohol addiction.

'Alarming' COVID-19 study shows 80 percent of respondents report significant symptoms of depression
A new national survey, looking at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted young U.S. adults' loneliness, reveals 'significant depressive symptoms' in 80 percent of participants.

Scientists discover new mechanism controlling brain size
International research has led to the discovery of a new mechanism that controls the size of our brains. The finding, which is based on studies on a rare congenital brain disease, delivers an important piece of data in our knowledge about how the human brain is formed during development.

Parasite infection discovery could assist mental health treatments
New research into how a common parasite infection alters human behavior could help development of treatments for schizophrenia and other neurological disorders. T. gondii currently infects 2.5 billion people worldwide and causes the disease Toxoplasmosis.

Overly reactivated star-shaped cells explain the unpredictability of Alzheimer's disease
Researchers have demonstrated that the severity of 'reactive astrocytes' is a key indicator for the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Worms reveal why melatonin promotes sleep
Melatonin is used as a dietary supplement to promote sleep and get over jet lag, but nobody really understands how it works in the brain. Now, researchers show that melatonin helps worms sleep, too, and they suspect they've identified what it does in us.

From the inside out: How the brain forms sensory memories
A new study identifies a region of the thalamus as a key source of signals encoding past experiences in the neocortex.

Promising MS drug may worsen disease
The drug has not yet made it to human trials for multiple sclerosis, but scientists are urging their colleagues to move cautiously.

Link between Alzheimer's disease and gut microbiota is confirmed
In recent years, the scientific community has suspected that the gut microbiota plays a role in the development of the disease. A team now confirms the correlation, in humans, between an imbalance in the gut microbiota and the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are at the origin of Alzheimer's disease.

Re-mapping taste in the brain
A new study found that the map of neural responses mediating taste perception does not involve, as previously believed, specialized groups of neurons in the brain, but rather overlapping and spatially distributed populations.

Astrocytes identified as master 'conductors' of the brain
A team of scientists has found that glial astrocytes are involved in regulating inhibitory synapses by binding to neurons through an adhesion molecule called NrCAM.

Repeated small blasts put military, law enforcement at risk for brain injury
Military and law-enforcement personnel repeatedly exposed to low-level blasts have significant brain changes - including an increased level of brain injury and inflammation -- compared with a control group, a new study has found.

What happens in the sensory cortex when learning and recognizing patterns
Scientists are challenging the common understanding of how mammalian brains work.

Individualized brain stimulation therapy improves language performance in stroke survivors
Individualized brain stimulation therapy improves language performance in stroke survivors.

Framework to study brain connectivity in living organisms
A new study lays out a large medical analytics framework that can be used in neuroscience and neurology to study brain connectivity in living organisms.

Protein in blood may predict prognosis, recovery from stroke
Researchers have found that a biomarker in the blood may determine the extent of brain injury from different types of strokes and predict prognosis in these patients.

Compounds block stress-enhanced nicotine intake in rats
Researchers have discovered that compounds that activate GABA receptors in the brain can keep rats from self-administering increased levels of nicotine during stressful conditions in an animal model for relapse.

Detecting Alzheimer's disease before symptoms arise
Both of Andrew Kiselica's grandfathers developed dementia when he was in graduate school.

Researchers light-up mouse brain, revealing previously hidden areas susceptible to opioids
New work shows that kappa opioid receptors actually are distributed widely throughout the brain. The researchers made this discovery after lighting up the brains of mice using a technique called CLARITY followed by three-dimensional (3D) fluorescent imaging. The study is the first to apply the imaging technique to better understand opioid receptor localization across the whole brain in 3D images.

Former NFL players may not suffer more severe cognitive impairment than others, study indicates
Even though repeated hits to the head are common in professional sports, the long-term effects of concussions are still poorly understood. While many believe that professional athletes who experience multiple concussions will end up with severe cognitive impairment later in life, a new study suggests that may not necessarily be the case.

DNA repair supports brain cognitive development
Researchers showed that na enzyme functions in genome maintenance by preventing double-stranded breaks in DNA during brain development in mice. In mice lacking this enzyme, these breaks occurred during epigenetic regulation of gene expression in the developing hippocampus, peaking two weeks after birth. The increased breaks were associated with abnormal neuronal dendrites and poor memory ability.

Link between sleep apnea and increased risk of dementia
A new study by Monash University has found that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been linked to an increased risk of dementia.

Sleep loss hijacks brain's activity during learning
Sleep is crucial for consolidating our memories, and sleep deprivation has long been known to interfere with learning and memory. Now a new study shows that getting only half a night's sleep - as many medical workers and military personnel often do - hijacks the brain's ability to unlearn fear-related memories. That might put people at greater risk of conditions such as anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder.

Breakthrough discovery on brain cortex functionality
A team of researchers from UTSA's Neurosciences Institute is challenging the historical belief that the organization of the cortical circuit of GABAergic neurons is exclusively local.

Research identifies 'volume control' in the brain that supports learning and memory
A 'molecular volume knob' regulating electrical signals in the brain helps with learning and memory, according to a new study. The finding could help researchers in their search for ways to manage neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research shows.

Backup mechanism removes cellular debris from the brain
Microglia -- the brain's immune cells -- play a primary role in removing cellular debris from the brain. A research team has found that another kind of brain cell, called astrocyte, is also involved in removing debris as a backup to microglia.

Fish give insight on sound sensitivity in autism
Scientists used zebrafish that carry the same genetic mutations as humans with Fragile X syndrome and autism, and discovered the neural networks and pathways that produce the hypersensitivities to sound in both species.

Empathy and perspective taking: How social skills are built
Being able to feel empathy and to take in the other person's perspective are two abilities through which we understand what is going on in the other's mind. But it is still unclear what exactly they constitute. Researches have now developed a model which explains what empathy and perspective taking are made of: It is not one specific competence rather than many individual factors that vary according to the situation.