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This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 23-27 November

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Prenatal exposure to recreational drugs; real-time view of neural impulses; epilepsy diet mechanism uncovered, and more.

Brains with autism adapt differently during implicit learning

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have discovered a crucial difference in the way learning occurs in the brains of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Published in NeuroImage, Sarah Schipul and Marcel Just examined how the brains of typical and ASD individuals gradually became adapted to visual patterns they were learning, without awareness of the pattern, or implicit learning.

Vision test gives insight into the effect of prenatal exposure to recreational drugs

Children exposed to marijuana in the womb show a significant improvement in their ability to track moving objects at age four, according to new vision research. But researchers are warning that the results do not mean marijuana has a beneficial effect on fetal development. The study from the University of Waterloo, University of Aukland and Brown University appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

An eagle-eye, real-time view of neural activity

Every second of every day, the 100 billion neurons in your brain are capable of firing off a burst of electricity, an action potential, up to 100 times per second. For neurologists trying to study how this overwhelming amount of activity across an entire brain translates into specific thoughts and behaviors, the task can be…well…overwhelming. That’s because existing techniques for monitoring neurons are too slow or have too narrow a scope to generate a holistic view. But in a new study, researchers reveal a technique for watching the brain’s neurons in action with a temporal resolution of about 0.2 milliseconds—a speed that is just fast enough to capture the action potentials in mammalian brains.

‘Connector hubs’ are the champions of brain coordination

A new University of California, Berkeley, study suggests the human brain's aptitude and versatility can be credited in large part to "connector hubs," which filter and route information. They coordinate and integrate the flow of data so that brain networks dedicated to specific roles, such as vision and movement, can focus on their jobs. "Our findings show that connector hubs allow for distinct networks to each do their own thing, yet still interact with each other effectively," said study lead author Maxwell Bertolero.

Drug-resistant epilepsy diet: Therapeutic mechanism uncovered

Scientists from Royal Holloway, University of London and University College London have identified how a specific diet can be used to help treat patients with uncontrolled epilepsy. The findings, which reveal how the ketogenic diet acts to block seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, are published in the journal Brain.