This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 26-31 October
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Teaching the old new tricks; insulin and the brain; mechanisms to create durable memories, and more.
Looking at brain tissue from mice, monkeys and humans, scientists have found that a molecule known as growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10) is a key player in repair mechanisms following stroke. The findings suggest that GDF10 may be a potential therapy for recovery after stroke.
Rehearsing information immediately after being given it may be all you need to make it a permanent memory, a University of Sussex study suggests. Psychologists found that the same area of the brain activated when laying down a memory is also activated when rehearsing that memory. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, have implications for any situation in which accurate recall of an event is critical, such as witnessing an accident or crime.
Findings from a new study challenge the notion that older adults always lag behind their younger counterparts when it comes to learning new things. The study shows that older adults were actually better than young adults at correcting their mistakes on a general information quiz. "The take home message is that there are some things that older adults can learn extremely well, even better than young adults. Correcting their factual errors--all of their errors--is one of them," say psychological scientists who conducted the study. "There is such a negative stereotype about older adults' cognitive abilities but our findings indicate that reality may not be as bleak as the stereotype implies."
Loud noise, trauma, infections, plain old aging—many things can destroy hair cells, the delicate sensors of balance and sound within the inner ear. And once these sensors are gone, that’s it; the delicate hair cells don’t grow back in humans, leading to hearing loss and problems with balance. But scientists hope to find a way to regenerate these cells by examining how they develop in the first place. New research has identified two genes pivotal to the production of hair cells in young mice, who, just like human babies, lose the ability to generate these sensors shortly after birth.
Insulin, the hormone essential to all mammals for controlling blood sugar levels and a feeling of being full after eating, plays a much stronger role than previously known in regulating release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, new studies by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center show.