This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 2-6 November
News Nov 07, 2015
Mapping brain networks; hypersexual disorder and overactive stress systems; gene delivery via eye drops, and more.
The brain is a series of connected functional networks which coordinate the control of processes like vision and language. Mapping the molecular networks that underlie this connectivity would provide an unprecedented understanding of brain function in health and disease. However, significant technical challenges hinder our ability to study functional and molecular circuits simultaneously—one approach requires an intact brain while the other requires sampling throughout all brain regions. To circumvent these major limitations Richiardi et al. approached the challenge by correlating and mapping two fundamentally distinct circuits in the cortex: gene transcription networks and functional networks.
New research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows that hypersexual disorder—known popularly as sex addiction—can be linked to hyperactive stress systems. In a stress regulation test using the cortisone drug dexamethasone, men with hypersexual disorder showed higher levels of stress hormones than controls, a finding that the researchers hope will contribute to improved therapy for this patient group. The results are published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
After a debate that has lasted more than 130 years, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have found that loss of speech from a stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain can be recovered on the back, right side of the brain. This contradicts recent notions that the right hemisphere interferes with recovery. While the findings will likely not put an immediate end to the debate, they suggest a new direction in treatment.
Deciphering the mechanism that underlies the development of Alzheimer's disease in certain families but not in others, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine have proposed that the malady is actually a collection of diseases that probably should be treated with a variety of different approaches.
A research team including National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering-funded scientists has developed a simplified approach for delivering and monitoring gene therapy for brain disorders. The group used eye drops to deliver the gene for a growth factor called granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in a mouse model of brain ischemia, which refers to a lack of blood and hence, oxygen, to the brain. The treatment led to a significant reduction in brain atrophy, neurological deficits, and death in the mice.
When infants are playing with objects, their early attempts to pay attention to things are accompanied by bursts of high-frequency activity in their brain. But what happens when parents play together with them? New research shows for the first time that when adults are engaged in joint play together with their infant, their own brains show similar bursts of high-frequency activity.
Many species of mammals have evolved what appear to be paradoxical behaviours towards their young. Like humans, most exhibit nurturing, protective behaviours, and in some circumstances even act as surrogate parents. However, virgin males often engage in infanticide as a strategy to propagate their own genes. How are these conflicting social behaviours controlled?