Tag Archives: Brain Research

Preview: New Scientist Magazine – July 23, 2022

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What lab-grown ‘mini-brains’ are revealing about this mysterious organ

Blobs of human brain cells cultivated in the lab, known as brain organoids or “mini-brains”, are transforming our understanding of neural development and disease. Now, researchers are working to make them more like the real thing

  • FEATURES – Historical plagues led to revolutions – could coronavirus do the same?
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  • FEATURES – What lab-grown ‘mini-brains’ are revealing about this mysterious organ

March 2022 Previews: Scientific American Mind

March 2022 - Scientific American

CONSCIOUSNESS

Astonishing Conscious Mind

Neuroscientists may have discovered the brain regions that give rise to our identity

Human consciousness remains one of the biggest puzzles in science. Indeed, we have made moderate progress on how to measure it but less on how it arises in the first place. And what gives rise to our sense of self? In February we published a special collector’s edition exploring these mysteries and more. This issue’s cover story, by researcher Robert Martone, is a fascinating look at new discoveries on a region of the brain that helps us create a mental picture of our present and future identities (see “How Our Brain Preserves Our Sense of Self”).

Elsewhere in this issue, contributing editor Daisy Yuhas talks with linguist Sarah Frances Phillips about new research illuminating the neurological basis for multilingualism (see “How Brains Seamlessly Switch between Languages”). How the brain both creates our individual reality and enables us to thrive in that reality is nothing short of astonishing.

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Science: 2021 Top Stories Of The Year, Marijuana Research, Book Reviews

On this week’s show: The best of our online stories, what we know about the effects of cannabinoids, and the last in our series of books on race and science.

First, Online News Editor David Grimm brings the top online stories of the year—from headless slugs to Dyson spheres. You can find out the other top stories and the most popular online story of the year here.

Then, Tibor Harkany, a professor of molecular neuroscience at the Medical University of Vienna’s Center for Brain Research, talks with host Sarah Crespi about the state of marijuana research. Pot has been legalized in many places, and many people take cannabinoids—but what do we know about the effects of these molecules on people? Tibor calls for more research into their helpful and harmful potential. 

Finally, we have the very last installment of our series of books on race and science. Books host Angela Saini talks with physician and science fiction author Tade Thompson about his book Rosewater. Listen to the whole series.

Previews: New Scientist Magazine – August 28

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The Brain: ‘Learning & Memory’ – Neuroscience & Disease Research (Video)

Neuroscience Professor Seth Tomchik, PhD, focuses on two major research areas, the neuroscience of learning and memory, and diseases that affect learning and memory, including neurofibromatosis type one. Neuroscience is now the largest department on the Florida campus of Scripps Research.

The department’s faculty and staff, together with graduate students enrolled in the institute’s Skaggs Graduate School, push the boundaries of scientific knowledge to benefit humanity. Watch all 11 videos in this series to see their work in more detail. Scripps Research is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute ranked the most influential in the world for its impact on innovation. With campuses in La Jolla, California, and Jupiter, Florida, the institute advances human health through profound discoveries that address pressing medical concerns around the globe. Scripps Research also trains the next generation of leading scientists at the Skaggs Graduate School, consistently named among the top 10 U.S. programs for chemistry and biological sciences. Learn more at http://www.scripps.edu.

Brain Research: 40% Of Dementia Cases Prevented With Lifestyle Changes

Dementia Risk Reduced by Lifestyle factors - USC Keck Medicine Infographic

“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” says commission member and AAIC presenter Lon Schneider, MD, co-director of the USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center‘s clinical core and professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

LOS ANGELES — Modifying 12 risk factors over a lifetime could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an updated report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020).

Twenty-eight world-leading dementia experts added three new risk factors in the new report — excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life. These are in addition to nine factors previously identified by the commission in 2017: less education early in life; mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes later in life (65 and up).

Schneider and commission members recommend that policymakers and individuals adopt the following interventions:

  • Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
  • Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
  • Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
  • Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
  • Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
  • Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
  • Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
  • Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.

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Cognition & Brain Studies: Apathy, Not Depression, Associated With Dementia

‘Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry” (July 10, 2020):

jnnp-2020-July-91-7-677-F1.mediumWe tested the hypothesis that apathy, but not depression, is associated with dementia in patients with SVD. We found that higher baseline apathy, as well as increasing apathy over time, were associated with an increased dementia risk. In contrast, neither baseline depression or change in depression was associated with dementia. The relationship between apathy and dementia remained after controlling for other well-established risk factors including age, education and cognition. Finally, adding apathy to models predicting dementia improved model fit. These results suggest that apathy may be a prodromal symptom of dementia in patients with SVD.

Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is the leading vascular cause of dementia and plays a major role in cognitive decline and mortality.1 2 SVD affects the small vessels of the brain, leading to damage in the subcortical grey and white matter.1 The resulting clinical presentation includes cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms.1

Apathy is a reduction in goal-directed behaviour, which is a common neuropsychiatric symptom in SVD.3 Importantly, apathy is dissociable from depression,3 4 another symptom in SVD for which low mood is a predominant manifestation.5 Although there is some symptomatic overlap between the two,6 research using diffusion imaging reported that apathy, but not depression, was associated with white matter network damage in SVD.3 Many of the white matter pathways underlying apathy overlap with those related to cognitive impairment, and accordingly apathy, rather than depression, has been associated with cognitive deficits in SVD.7 These results suggest that apathy and cognitive impairment are symptomatic of prodromal dementia in SVD.

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New Research Podcasts: “Human Brains Are Wired To Enjoy Musical Pitch”

The Scientist PodcastsIn this month’s episode, we learn that human brains differentiate musical pitch a way that macaque monkeys do not. In fact, speech and music shaped the human brain’s hearing circuits. Researchers are studying these circuits with an eye on developing treatments for neurological disorders. 

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Top New Books: “The Idea Of The Brain” By Matthew Cobb – “A Supercomputer”

The Idea of the Brain - Matthew Cobb - April 2020Although it might seem to be a story of ever-increasing knowledge of biology, Cobb shows how our ideas about the brain have been shaped by each era’s most significant technologies. Today we might think the brain is like a supercomputer. In the past, it has been compared to a telegraph, a telephone exchange, or some kind of hydraulic system. What will we think the brain is like tomorrow, when new technology arises?

For thousands of years, thinkers and scientists have tried to understand what the brain does. Yet, despite the astonishing discoveries of science, we still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain works. In The Idea of the Brain, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

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The result is an essential read for anyone interested in the complex processes that drive science and the forces that have shaped our marvelous brains.

Matthew Cobb is Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester. His previous books include Life’s Greatest Secret:The Race to Discover the Genetic Code, which was shortlisted for the the Royal Society Winton Book Prize, and the acclaimed histories The Resistance and Eleven Days in August. He is also the award-winning translator of books on the history of molecular biology, on Darwin’s ideas and on the nature of life.

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