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Insulin in the brain influences dopamins levels -- ScienceDaily

Analysis of the study showed that the intranasal administration of insulin lowered dopamine levels and led to changes in the brain's network structure. "The study provides direct evidence of how and where in the brain signals triggered after eating -- such as insulin release and the reward system -- interact," said Professor Martin Heni, last author of the study, summarizing the results. "We were able to show that insulin is able to decrease dopamine levels in the striatum in normal-weight individuals. The insulin-dependent change in dopamine levels was also associated with functional connectivity changes in whoe-brain networks. Changes in this system may be an important driver of obesity and related diseases."

A diet of essential amino acids could keep dementia at bay: Consuming Amino LP7, a specific combination of essential amino acids, could inhibit the development of dementia, shows a study from Japan -- ScienceDaily

In a recent study published in Science Advances, Japanese researchers showed that a low protein diet can accelerate brain degeneration in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. More importantly, they found that Amino LP7 -- a supplement containing seven specific amino acids -- can slow down brain degeneration and dementia development in these animals. Their work expands on previous studies, which have demonstrated the effectiveness of Amino LP7 in improving cognitive function.

Damage to white matter is linked to worse cognitive outcomes after brain injury -- ScienceDaily

The most unexpected aspect of our findings was that damage to gray matter hubs of the brain that are really interconnected with other regions didn't really tell us much about how poorly people would do on cognitive tests after brain damage. On the other hand, people with damage to the densest white matter connections did much worse on those tests," explains Justin Reber, PhD, a UI postdoctoral research fellow in psychology and first author on the study. "This is important because both scientists and clinicians often focus almost exclusively on the role of gray matter. This study is a reminder that connections between brain regions might matter just as much as those regions themselves, if not more so."

Hypnosis changes the way our brain processes information -- ScienceDaily

"In a normal waking state, different brain regions share information with each other, but during hypnosis this process is kind of fractured and the various brain regions are no longer similarly synchronised," describes researcher Henry Railo from the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Turku. The finding shows that the brain may function quite differently during hypnosis when compared to a normal waking state. This is interesting because the extent to which hypnosis modifies neural processing has been hotly debated in the field. The new findings also help to better understand which types of changes and mechanisms may explain the experiential and behavioural alterations attributed to hypnosis, such as liability to suggestions. The study focused on a single person who has been extensively studied earlier and been shown to react strongly to hypnotic suggestions. During hypnosis, this person can experience phenomena that are not typically possible in a normal waking state, such as vivid and controlled hallucinations.

Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, study finds: The results add to growing evidence that exercise programs may help older adults slow the onset of memory loss and dementia -- ScienceDaily

Scientists have previously shown that lower-than-usual levels of blood flow to the brain, and stiffer blood vessels leading to the brain, are associated with MCI and dementia. Studies have also suggested that regular aerobic exercise may help improve cognition and memory in healthy older adults. However, scientists have not established whether there is a direct link between exercise, stiffer blood vessels, and brain blood flow. "There is still a lot we don't know about the effects of exercise on cognitive decline later in life," says C. Munro Cullum, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UTSW and co-senior author of the study. "MCI and dementia are likely to be influenced by a complex interplay of many factors, and we think that, at least for some people, exercise is one of those factors." In the study, Zhang, Cullum, and their colleagues followed 70 men and women aged 55 to 80 who had been diagnosed with MCI. Participants underwent cognitive exams, fitness tests, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Then they were randomly assigned to either follow a moderate aerobic exercise program or a stretching program for one year. The exercise program involved three to five exercise sessions a week, each with 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise such as a brisk walk.

Brain waves guide us in spotlighting surprises -- ScienceDaily

By measuring thousands of neurons along the surface, or cortex, of the brain in animals as they reacted to predictable and surprising images, the researchers observed that low frequency alpha and beta brain waves, or rhythms, originating in the brain's frontal cognitive regions tamped down neural activity associated with predictable stimuli. That paved the way for neurons in sensory regions in the back of the brain to push forward information associated with unexpected stimuli via higher-frequency gamma waves. The backflow of alpha/beta carrying inhibitory predictions typically channeled through deeper layers of the cortex, while the forward flow of excitatory gamma carrying novel stimuli propagated across superficial layers.

Re-mapping taste in the brain: New study reveals that the cortex -- ScienceDaily

An analysis of the distribution of responses over multiple spatial scales demonstrated that taste representations are distributed across the cortex, with no sign of spatial clustering or topography as would be expected with a map of the gustatory cortex corresponding specific taste sensations. "Our findings are important because they address one of the basic organizing principles of brain function," explains Dr. Fontanini. "Topographical maps are a pervasive feature of brain organization. Demonstrating that the spatial organization of taste responses is not as simple as previously believed makes us re-evaluate the neurobiological processes underlying taste perception and taste-related brain functions."

Brain benefits of exercise can be gained with a single protein: Findings open door to drugs that could help protect the aging brain -- ScienceDaily

The new study, published July 9, 2020 in Science, showed that after mice exercise, their livers secrete a protein called Gpld1 into the blood. Levels of this protein in the blood correspond to improved cognitive function in aged mice, and a collaboration with the UCSF Memory and Aging Center found that the enzyme is also elevated in the blood of elderly humans who exercise regularly. But the researchers showed that simply increasing the amount of Gpld1 produced by the mouse liver could confer many of the same brain benefits as regular exercise.

Exercise improves memory, boosts blood flow to brain: Study: 1-year workout program shows benefits for older people at risk of dementia -- ScienceDaily

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, documented changes in long-term memory and cerebral blood flow in 30 participants, each of them 60 or older with memory problems. Half of them underwent 12 months of aerobic exercise training; the rest did only stretching. The exercise group showed 47 percent improvement in memory scores after one year compared with minimal change in the stretch participants. Brain imaging of the exercise group, taken while they were at rest at the beginning and end of the study, showed increased blood flow into the anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus -- neural regions that play important roles in memory function.

An Alcoholic Parent Can Affect How a Child's Brain Switches Tasks - Scientific American

The scans showed that individuals without FHA went through a transient period between the game task and the resting state in which some brain regions—frontal, parietal and visual areas, in particular—reconfigured the way in which they communicated with one another. People with FHA experienced fewer changes—even after the researchers controlled for factors such as age, gender, motion in the fMRI scanner, drinking and depression. “It looks like FHA impacts the mental preparation to switch from performing one task to another,” Amico says. “This could be analogous to the process of clearing the cache of your smartphone when you want it to switch faster between apps. The problem is that this ‘cache-clearing process’ might be impaired in brains with family history of alcoholism.”

In mice, alcohol dependence results in brain-wide remodeling of functional architecture -- ScienceDaily

"The neuroscience of addiction has made tremendous progress, but the focus has always been on a limited number of brain circuits and neurotransmitters, primarily dopaminergic neurons, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex," said senior author Olivier George, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "Research groups have been fighting for years about whether 'their' brain circuit is the key to addiction. Our results confirm these regions are important, but the fact that we see such a massive remodeling of the functional brain architecture was a real shock. It's like studying the solar system and then discovering that there is an entire universe behind it. It shows that if you really want to understand the neurobiological mechanisms leading to addiction, you can't just look at a handful of brain regions, you need to look at the entire brain, you need to take a step back and consider the whole organ." George said the findings further undermine the idea that addiction is simply a psychological condition or consequence of lifestyle. "You would be surprised at how prevalent this view remains," he said. "The brain-wide remodeling of the functional architecture observed here is not 'normal.' It is not observed in a naïve animal. It is not observed in an animal that drinks recreationally. It is only observed in animals with a history of alcohol dependence and it is massive. Such a decrease in brain modularity has been observed in numerous brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury and seizure disorders." Brain modularity is the theory that there are functionally specialized regions in the brain responsible for different, specific cognitive processes. For example, the frontal lobes of the human brain are involved in executive functions, such as reasoning and planning, while the fusiform face area located in the lower rear of the brain is involved in recognizing faces. Reduced modularity, said George, likely interferes with "normal neuronal activity and information processing and contributes to cognitive impairment, emotional distress and intense craving observed in mice during abstinence from alcohol." Due to the format of the testing, George said it was not clear if the reduced modularity was permanent. "So far, we only know that it lasts at least one week into abstinence. We have not tested longer durations of abstinence, but it's one of our goals."

Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Gray Matter Volume in the Temporal, Frontal, and Cerebellar Regions in the General Population - Mayo Clinic Proceedings

Volumetric analyses revealed associations of CRF with gray matter (GM) volume and total brain volume. After multivariable adjustment, a 1–standard deviation increase in VO2peak was related to a 5.31 cm³ (95% CI, 3.27 to 7.35 cm³) higher GM volume. Whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analyses revealed significant positive relations between CRF and local GM volumes. The VO2peak was strongly associated with GM volume of the left middle temporal gyrus (228 voxels), the right hippocampal gyrus (146 voxels), the left orbitofrontal cortex (348 voxels), and the bilateral cingulate cortex (68 and 43 voxels).

Why Your Brain Needs Exercise - Scientific American

In fact, a growing body of research suggests that exercise that is cognitively stimulating may indeed benefit the brain more than exercise that does not make such cognitive demands. For example, Gerd Kempermann and his colleagues at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden in Germany explored this possibility by comparing the growth and survival of new neurons in the mouse hippocampus after exercise alone or after exercise combined with access to a cognitively enriched environment. They found an additive effect: exercise alone was good for the hippocampus, but combining physical activity with cognitive demands in a stimulating environment was even better, leading to even more new neurons. Using the brain during and after exercise seemed to trigger enhanced neuron survival.

Lithium can reverse radiation damage after brain tumor treatment -- ScienceDaily

"We're only just beginning to understand lithium's effects on the brain's ability to repair itself," says Ola Hermanson, researcher at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet. "In this study we observed that only irradiated cells are affected by lithium. Healthy cells were left relatively untouched. This is an interesting and promising result."

What your friends' brains look like when they think of you: Your brain patterns are reflected in them, study finds -- ScienceDaily

The fMRI took images of each person's brain while they completed a task similar to the one they did earlier. They rated each of their friends and themselves on 48 traits, including lonely, sad, cold, lazy, overcritical, trustworthy, enthusiastic, clumsy, fashionable, helpful, smart, punctual and nice. As they expected from previous research, the researchers saw activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain implicated in thinking about the self and close others, as the participants thought about the personality traits of themselves and their friends. The study found that for each participant, the combined brain activity of their friends evaluating them looked a lot like their own brain activity. This suggests that order to accurately perceive another person, your neural representation of that person -- your patterns of brain activity for their identity -- has to essentially match the pattern in that persons' brain when they are thinking about themselves, Wagner said.

In Alzheimer's research, scientists reveal brain rhythm role -- ScienceDaily

In 2016, Tsai and colleagues showed that Alzheimer's disease model mice exposed to a light flickering at 40 Hz for an hour a day for a week had significantly less buildup of amyloid and tau proteins in the visual cortex, the brain region that processes sight, than experimental control mice did. Amyloid plaques and tangles of phosphorylated tau are both considered telltale hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. But the study raised new questions: Could GENUS prevent memory loss? Could it prevent the loss of neurons? Does it reach other areas of the brain? And could other senses be stimulated for beneficial effect? The new studies addressed those questions. In March, the team reported that sound stimulation reduced amyloid and tau not only in the auditory cortex, but also in the hippocampus, a crucial region for learning and memory. GENUS-exposed mice also performed significantly better on memory tests than unstimulated controls. Simultaneous light and sound, meanwhile, reduced amyloid across the cortex, including the prefrontal cortex, a locus of cognition.

Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing - ScienceBlog.com

Taking advantage of their ability to continuously track the activity of neurons for more than a week, the researchers first confirmed that network dynamics in the visual cortex are robustly tuned to criticality, even across light and dark cycles. Next, by blocking vision in one eye, the researchers revealed that criticality was severely disrupted, more than a day before the manipulation affected the firing rates of individual neurons. Twenty-four hours later, criticality re-emerged in the recordings — at which point individual neurons were suppressed by the visual deprivation.

How relapse happens: Opiates reduce the brain's ability to form, maintain synapses: Preclinical research was focused on revealing the molecular mechanisms behind addiction and relapse -- ScienceDaily

In experiments with rodents, the UB team determined that exposure to heroin and morphine reduced drebrin levels in the nucleus accumbens, a key part of the brain's reward pathway. Synaptic rewiring The researchers found that opiate exposure causes synaptic rewiring in this part of the brain, as well as a decrease in drenditic spines, the protrusions on neurons that play key roles in neuronal transmission, learning and memory. "Opiates fundamentally change how the brain communicates with itself," Dietz said.

Brain waves detected in mini-brains grown in a dish -- ScienceDaily

The pea-sized brains, called cerebral organoids, are derived from human pluripotent stem cells. By putting them in culture that mimics the environment of brain development, the stem cells differentiate into different types of brain cells and self-organize into a 3D structure resembling the developing human brain. Scientists have successfully grown organoids with cellular structures similar to those of human brains. However, none of the previous models developed human-like functional neural networks. Networks appear when neurons are mature and become interconnected, and they are essential for most brain activities. "You can use brain organoids for several things, including understand normal human neurodevelopment, disease modeling, brain evolution, drug screening, and even to inform artificial intelligence," Muotri says. Muotri and colleagues designed a better procedure to grow stem cells, including optimizing the culture medium formula. These adjustments allowed their organoids to become more mature than previous models. The team grew hundreds of organoids for 10 months and used multi-electrode arrays to monitor their neural activities. The team began to detect bursts of brain waves from organoids at about two months. The signals were sparse and had the same frequency, a pattern seen in very immature human brains. As the organoids continued to grow, they produced brain waves at different frequencies, and the signals appeared more regularly. This suggests the organoids have further developed their neural networks.

Structure of brain networks is not fixed - Neuroscience News

“You can think of the brain like an organization where employees work together to make the whole system run,” said Iraji. “For a long time, we thought brain networks were like departments or offices, where the same people were doing the same job every day. But it turns out that they may be more like coworking spaces, where people move in and out and there are different jobs being performed at any given time.” Ignoring these spatial and functional variations could result in an incorrect and incomplete understanding of the brain, Iraji added. “Let’s say we measure functional connectivity between two regions at different times, and we see some variability,” he said. “One view is to say that the strength of connectivity associated with specific task changes over time. But what if that region is responsible for different tasks at different times? Maybe there are different people in these two offices on different days, so that’s why we’re seeing the difference in communication.”

Multiple brain regions moderate and link depressive mood and pain -- ScienceDaily

"We were very surprised about the expansive roles of these regions," said Zeidan. "Brain regions involved in facilitating pain were also associated with lower pain and depression. Brain regions involved in regulating pain where also associated with increasing depression. Perhaps it's not surprising after seeing the results. Why shouldn't specific aspects of the brain perform multiple roles?"

Allen Neuringer's Many Decades of Self-Experimentation - Quantified Self

Allen proceeded to test the effects of movement on his cognitive abilities. He tested memory at first. He had flashcards with faces on one side and names on the other. His A condition would be to run two miles or swim 20 laps and then review 20 of the cards recording how many he got right. The B condition would be to spend the same amount of time working at his desk before reviewing the cards. The effect was clear. His ability to memorize was better after activity. But how does one test idea generation? Allen’s method was to spend 15 minutes moving around in a “quasi-dance” manner and noted any ideas he had on a notecard, writing the date and the condition on the back side, in this case, “move”. He then compared those cards to ones generated during a 15 minute period sitting at a desk. He repeated these AB intervals over the course of weeks, accumulating piles of cards. Months later he went through the cards and evaluated the quality of the ideas, looking at whether or not they were good and how creative they were. He didn’t know which conditions they were, since “sit” and “move” were written on the back side. He calculated the number of subjectively judged “good” ideas for each condition. Again, he noticed there were clear differences. Movement helped. Movement also helped with reading. Allen rigged a book holder out of an old backpack and through his testing found out that he surprisingly reads faster while moving and retains more. But was moving always better? Allen looked at his problem solving abilities in the move and sit conditions, using a similar method that he used for testing idea generation. He found that moving tended to make problem solving easier, with one significant exception: problems involving mathematical reasoning were more difficult to do while moving.

Why visual stimulation may work in fight against Alzheimer's: Mouse study - Neuroscience News

Tsai’s original study on the effects of flickering light showed that visual stimulation at a frequency of 40 hertz (cycles per second) induces brain waves known as gamma oscillations in the visual cortex. These brain waves are believed to contribute to normal brain functions such as attention and memory, and previous studies have suggested that they are impaired in Alzheimer’s patients. Tsai and her colleagues later found that combining the flickering light with sound stimuli — 40-hertz tones — reduced plaques even further and also had farther-reaching effects, extending to the hippocampus and parts of the prefrontal cortex. The researchers have also found cognitive benefits from both the light- and sound-induced gamma oscillations. In their new study, the researchers wanted to delve deeper into how these beneficial effects arise. They focused on two different strains of mice that are genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms. One, known as Tau P301S, has a mutated version of the Tau protein, which forms neurofibrillary tangles like those seen in Alzheimer’s patients. The other, known as CK-p25, can be induced to produce a protein called p25, which causes severe neurodegeneration. Both of these models show much greater neuron loss than the model they used for the original light flickering study, Tsai says. The researchers found that visual stimulation, given one hour a day for three to six weeks, had dramatic effects on neuron degeneration. They started the treatments shortly before degeneration would have been expected to begin, in both types of Alzheimer’s models. After three weeks of treatment, Tau P301S mice showed no neuronal degeneration, while the untreated Tau P301S mice had lost 15 to 20 percent of their neurons. Neurodegeneration was also prevented in the CK-p25 mice, which were treated for six weeks.

Memories are strengthened via brainwaves produced during sleep, new study shows: Researchers use medical imaging to map areas involved in recalling learned information while we slumber -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found that during spindles of the learning night, the regions of the brain that were instrumental in processing faces were reactivated. They also observed that the regions in the brain involved in memory -- especially the hippocampus -- were more active during spindles in the subjects who remembered the task better after sleep. This reactivation during sleep spindles of the regions involved in learning and memory "falls in line with the theory that during sleep, you are strengthening memories by transferring information from the hippocampus to the regions of the cortex that are important for the consolidation of that specific type of information," he says.

Mathematical framework explores how the brain keeps a beat - Neuroscience News

Using neurobiological principles, the researchers built a mathematical model of a group of neurons that can cooperate to learn a musical beat from a rhythmic stimulus and keep the beat after the stimulus stops. The model demonstrates how a network of neurons could act as a “neuronal metronome” by accurately estimating time intervals between beats within tens of millisecond accuracy. This metronome relies on rhythmic brain activity patterns known as gamma oscillations to keep track of time.

Newborn babies have inbuilt ability to pick out words -- ScienceDaily

The researchers discovered two mechanisms in three-day-old infants, which give them the skills to pick out words in a stream of sounds. The first mechanism is known as prosody, the melody of language, allow us to recognise when a word starts and stops. The second is called the statistics of language, which describes how we compute the frequency of when sounds in a word come together. The discovery provides a key insight into a first step to learning language.