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Looking behind a rare brain disease for clues to treat more common mental disorders: Researchers use genetic manipulation techniques to highlight how the function of a protein can lead to neurodevelopmental delays

Researchers have clarified, for the first time, the mechanism behind a very rare brain disorder called MICPCH (microcephaly, disproportionate pontine and cerebellar hypoplasia) syndrome in animal models. Information gleaned from this study could also inform research into other, more common neurological diseases such as mental retardation, epilepsy, and autism. MICPCH has only affected a total […]

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Uncovering the evolution of the brain: Scientists compare the development of brain cells between humans and nonhuman primates in a novel way

What makes us human, and where does this mysterious property of “humanness” come from? Humans are genetically similar to chimpanzees and bonobos, yet there exist obvious behavioral and cognitive differences. Now, researchers from the Salk Institute, in collaboration with researchers from the anthropology department at UC San Diego, have developed a strategy to more easily […]

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How does the brain learn by talking to itself?

Human beings, like other animals, possess an enormous learning capacity that allows for the apprehension of new sensory information to master new skills or to adapt to an ever-changing environment. However, many of the mechanisms that enable us to learn remain poorly understood. One of the greatest challenges of systems neuroscience is to explain how […]

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Personality and mood affect brain response to personal choice

Personality traits and mental health affect how people value personal control in decision making, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Our brain’s reward and motivation systems show higher activity when we feel personal control in a situation and when we receive rewards that we’ve earned, rather than been given […]

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Repeated interferon stimulation creates innate immune memory

The innate immune system may be able to be trained to react to viral infections more efficiently by repeated exposure to anti-viral signaling molecules. Mammalian cells seem to be able to memorize anti-viral stimulation at the level of DNA-packaging molecules, enabling faster and greater activation of anti-viral genes in subsequent stimulations, according to a study […]

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Stress can impair memory, reduce brain size in middle age

Adults in their 40s and 50s with higher levels of cortisol — a hormone linked to stress — performed worse on memory and other cognitive tasks than peers of the same age with average cortisol levels, research found. Higher cortisol in the blood also was associated with smaller brain volumes, according to the study, published […]

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Breathing through the nose aids memory storage

The way we breathe may affect how well our memories are consolidated (i.e. reinforced and stabilised). If we breathe through the nose rather than the mouth after trying to learn a set of smells, we remember them better, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden report in The Journal of Neuroscience. Research into how breathing affects […]

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New insight into the evolution of the nervous system

Pioneering research has given a fascinating fresh insight into how animal nervous systems evolved from simple structures to become the complex network transmitting signals between different parts of the body. The new study used simple multicellular organisms called Placozoa to reveal the beginnings of the nervous systems found in more complex animals. The international research […]

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Making the right connections

Researchers at VIB and KU Leuven have uncovered a new molecular interaction that governs the formation of specific functional connections between two types of neurons. It gives an important clue as to how unique interactions give shape to precisely organized neuronal networks in the brain. Pyramidal neurons are named after their cell body, which is […]