This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 13 July – 17 July
News Jul 17, 2015
The memory game; learning and brain processes; stem cells and pain relief, and more.
The formation of memories occurs rapidly, sometimes even after a single experience. Memory formation depends on an area of the brain known as the medial temporal lobe. However, the mechanism for how memories are so swiftly encoded is largely unknown and large technical challenges generally hinder experiments in awake behaving humans.
Stimulant drug abuse has long-term effects on brain volume in women, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology. Brain structures involved in reward, learning and executive control showed vast changes even after a prolonged period of abstinence from drug use.
From the smell of flowers to the taste of wine, our perception is strongly influenced by prior knowledge and expectations, a cognitive process known as top-down control. In a University of California, San Diego School of Medicine study, a research team led by Takaki Komiyama, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences and neurobiology, reports that in mouse models, the brain significantly changed its visual cortex operation modes by implementing top-down processes during learning.
Conventional wisdom has long blamed age-related hearing loss almost entirely on the death of sensory hair cells in the inner ear, but research from neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins has provided new information about the workings of nerve cells that suggests otherwise.
Chronic pain caused by the nerve damage of type 2 diabetes, surgical amputation, chemotherapy and other conditions is especially intractable because it resists painkilling medications. But in a study on mice, a Duke University team has shown that injections of stem cells from bone marrow might be able to relieve this type of neuropathic pain. The researchers say their findings may also advance cell-based therapies in chronic pain conditions, lower back pain and spinal cord injuries.
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.