This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 12-16 October
News Oct 17, 2015
Seeing inside the living brain; how the brain controls sleep; brain activity in anorexia nervosa, and more.
It is not enough to observe what abilities are altered in those with autism, we also need to understand how each function interacts with the others. In fact, whereas in typical subjects, joint attention appears to facilitate facial mimicry (both are skills relevant for human social interaction), the opposite holds true for those with autism. That is what a new study, just published in Autism Research, suggests.
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have used a noninvasive light-based imaging technology to literally see inside the living brain, providing a new tool to study how diseases like dementia, Alzheimer's, and brain tumors change brain tissue over time. The work is reported by Woo June Choi and Ruikang Wang of the UW Department of Bioengineering, in the Journal of Biomedical Optics.
Sleep is usually considered an all-or-nothing state: The brain is either entirely awake or entirely asleep. However, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake.
Researchers at Aalto University and University of Turku have revealed how obesity surgery recovers opioid neurotransmission in the brain. Finnish researchers found that obesity surgery and concomitant weight loss normalized brain’s opioid neurotransmission, which is involved in generating pleasurable sensations. Obesity surgery provides an effective means for rapid weight loss, and the research also shows that obesity surgery also normalizes brain circuits triggering pleasurable sensations when eating. The research outcome was recently published in Molecular Psychiatry journal.
When people with anorexia nervosa decide what to eat, they engage a part of the brain associated with habitual behavior. This finding by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute, the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and New York University is published in Nature Neuroscience.
Neurons in the human brain receive electrical signals from thousands of other cells, and long neural extensions called dendrites play a critical role in incorporating all of that information. Using hard-to-obtain samples of human brain tissue, MIT neuroscientists have now discovered that human dendrites have different electrical properties from those of other species.