Archive for the ‘neuroscience’ category: Page 5

Oct 2, 2021

Fractal Brain Networks Support Complex Thought

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Summary: When people engage in complex thoughts, their brain networks organize into fractal-like patterns.

Source: Dartmouth College.

Understanding how the human brain produces complex thought is daunting given its intricacy and scale. The brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons that coordinate activity through 100 trillion connections, and those connections are organized into networks that are often similar from one person to the next.

Oct 2, 2021

Brain-cleaning sleeping cap gets US Army funding

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience, wearables


Everybody knows sleep is important, but there’s still a lot we don’t understand about what it actually does to the brain – and how its benefits could be boosted. To investigate, the US Army has awarded researchers at Rice University and other institutions a grant to develop a portable skullcap that can monitor and adjust the flow of fluid through the brain during sleep.

Most of us are familiar with the brain fog that comes with not getting enough sleep, but the exact processes going on in there remain mysterious. In 2012 scientists made a huge breakthrough in the field by discovering the glymphatic system, which cleans out toxic waste products from the brain during deep sleep by flushing it with cerebrospinal fluid. Disruptions to sleep – and therefore the glymphatic system – have been increasingly associated with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

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Oct 1, 2021

Celebrity Instagram content linked to negative feelings, Facebook researchers say

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Sept 30 (Reuters) — Major social media stars including Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Charli D’Amelio are among celebrities whose Instagram followers experience more negative feelings about their self-image, according to internal Facebook (FB.O) research revealed by the Wall Street Journal this week, raising questions about the impact of celebrity culture online.

The Journal released the leaked research slide decks on Wednesday, which served as the basis of articles it published earlier this month saying that Facebook knew its apps harmed the mental health of some teenage girls and young users.

The research, titled “Social comparison on Instagram,” surveyed 100,000 people in March and April 2020 in nine countries, including the United States, Australia and Brazil.

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Oct 1, 2021

New Research Exposes the Biological Basis of Empathy

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience

Summary: The brain’s reward system plays a key role in helping behaviors and empathy.

Source: Tel Aviv University.

Are mammals at all able to demonstrate empathy for one another, engage in pro-social behavior, and help others in distress? New research from the Tel Aviv University examined the issue based on an animal model (rats) and found that just as with humans, rats are also split into various groups with different indicators, to the point that they only come to the aid of members of their group but do not help rats from other groups.

Oct 1, 2021

CRISPR Gene Therapy Restores Color Vision in Small Trial

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Genetic diseases are a compelling target for viral gene therapy. One condition that scientists are investigating to see if they can treat with gene therapy is a rare genetic disease called Leber congenital amaurosis, or LCA is a progressive condition that disables critical cells within the retina. The damage begins at birth: it eventually robs patients of central vision and color perception, often rendering them legally blind. But there may be another way. On Wednesday, researchers presented evidence from a breakthrough gene-editing experiment that restored some color vision to patients with LCA vision loss.

CRISPR is already under investigation as a gene therapy for blood disorders like sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. It may well have other uses, such as treating cancer by editing mutated DNA. But the process is not without its hurdles. Treatments for blood disorders like these involve taking cells from the patient’s body, changing them in vitro in the lab, and then re-infusing them back into the patient’s body. That works great for blood, which you can take out, filter, and put back in with relatively few consequences.

But because LCA is a disease of the retina, you can’t just take out cells and then infuse them back in. The retina is a delicate, multilayered membrane that resents any disturbance. The eye also has a system of physical defenses not unlike the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, the immune system sometimes responds with extreme prejudice to eye injuries or infections, to the point of causing an actual autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own eyes. How, then, could researchers get the CRISPR treatment into the retina, past the body’s ferocious defenses and without further damage?

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Oct 1, 2021

Preparing for Exascale: Argonne’s Aurora Supercomputer to Drive Brain Map Construction

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, supercomputing

Using far more advanced imaging techniques than those of their earlier contemporaries, researchers at the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory are working to develop a brain connectome — an accurate map that lays out every connection between every neuron and the precise location of the associated dendrites, axons, and synapses that help form the communications or signaling pathways of a brain.

Sept. 24 2021 — As part of the Aurora Early Science Program, Nicola Ferrier of Argonne National Laboratory is leading a project that will use exascale computing power to help advance efforts to develop a brain connectome.

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Sep 30, 2021

The Scientific Problem of Consciousness

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Anil Seth wants to understand how minds work. As a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex in England, Seth has seen firsthand how neurons do what they do — but he knows that the puzzle of consciousness spills over from neuroscience into other branches of science, and even into philosophy.

Warning: This video may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.

Sep 29, 2021

New clues hint that young boys who get serious viral infections might be more likely to develop autism

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

The mouse study even offers a possible explanation as to why: Childhood infections may cause the body to over-express genes that code for microglia, the central nervous system’s primary immune cells. That, in turn, can affect brain development, which could be at play in some traits commonly associated with autism, such as difficulty communicating verbally or recognizing familiar faces.

So the researchers experimented with drugs that target microglia, and found that they not only prevented those social issues in adult mice — they might have reversed them.

Among boys genetically predisposed to autism, a severe childhood infection could make that diagnosis more likely.

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Sep 29, 2021

Alzheimer’s: ‘Breakthrough’ study finds likely cause

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Recent research in mice turned to the blood-brain barrier for clues as to why Alzheimer’s disease occurs and how to stop it.

Sep 28, 2021

Distinct electrophysiological signatures of task-unrelated and dynamic thoughts

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Our minds rarely stay still when left alone. Such trains of thought, however, may unfold in vastly different ways. Here, we combined electrophysiological recording with thought sampling to assess four types of thoughts: task-unrelated, freely moving, deliberately constrained, and automatically constrained. Parietal P3 was larger for task-related relative to task-unrelated thoughts, whereas frontal P3 was increased for deliberately constrained compared with unconstrained thoughts. Enhanced frontal alpha power was observed during freely moving thoughts compared with non-freely moving thoughts. Alpha-power variability was increased for task-unrelated, freely moving, and unconstrained thoughts. Our findings indicate these thought types have distinct electrophysiological signatures, suggesting that they capture the heterogeneity of our ongoing thoughts.

Humans spend much of their lives engaging with their internal train of thoughts. Traditionally, research focused on whether or not these thoughts are related to ongoing tasks, and has identified reliable and distinct behavioral and neural correlates of task-unrelated and task-related thought. A recent theoretical framework highlighted a different aspect of thinking—how it dynamically moves between topics. However, the neural correlates of such thought dynamics are unknown. The current study aimed to determine the electrophysiological signatures of these dynamics by recording electroencephalogram (EEG) while participants performed an attention task and periodically answered thought-sampling questions about whether their thoughts were 1) task-unrelated, 2) freely moving, 3) deliberately constrained, and 4) automatically constrained.

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