This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 22 June – 26 June
News Jun 27, 2015
Sex differences in the CNS; new clues about trauma memory; measuring bird brains, and more.
The brain is an intricate, plastic organ and scientists are only beginning to understand that differences between male and female brains are extremely complex and influenced by genetics, physiology, experience, and learning.
A group of passengers who thought they were going to die when their plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean in August, 2001 have had their brains scanned while recalling the terrifying moments to help science better understand trauma memories and how they are processed in the brain.
Behavioral flexibility -- the ability to change strategy when the rules change -- is controlled by specific neurons in the brain, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have confirmed. Cholinergic interneurons are rare -- they make up just one to two percent of the neurons in the striatum, a key part of the brain involved with higher-level decision-making. Scientists have suspected they play a role in changing strategies, and researchers at OIST recently confirmed this with experiments.
In research, sometimes setting out to demonstrate one concept actually results in proving something entirely different. It's important to be flexible. Take, for example, Corina Logan, whose work focuses on the cognitive abilities of the great-tailed grackle, a member of the blackbird family. A junior research fellow at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)'s SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind when she conducted her research, Logan sought to find a way to accurately approximate the brain size of live grackles by measuring their heads rather than the inside of their skulls.
Stanford University researchers studying how the brain controls movement in people with paralysis, related to their diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), have found that groups of neurons work together, firing in complex rhythms to signal muscles about when and where to move.
A Place to Think: Persistent neuronal activity in human prefrontal cortex links perception and actionNews
Neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response to a perception.READ MORE
Midbrain 'Start' Neurons Initiate and Control LocomotionNews
‘Start neurons’ in the midbrain are essential to take the first step to initiate locomotion and control the speed, mice models show.READ MORE
How We Sense Touch: Skin cells communicate with nerve cellsNews
The study in mice paves the way for future research into the skin–nerve–brain communication errors that occur in disorders such as dermatitis and psoriasis and could inform the development of new topical treatments for these conditions.READ MORE