This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 23 February – 27 February
News Feb 28, 2015
The science of synesthesia; fear generalization & PTSD; emotion recognition treatment in autism, and more.
For most people, the plain, black letters here are rather unremarkable. For less than 4% of the population however, these words are a little more colorful, tactile, or might even ‘taste sweet’ when read. This article examines the neurocognitive mechanisms of synesthesia, the rare neurological phenomenon in which a stimulus produces a second concurrent, involuntary experience.
For those that suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), excessive generalization of fear results in fearful responses, even from cues that are neutral or signal safety. This publication review discusses recent work investigating the neural circuitry of fear generalization in a rat model, the results of which may yield a therapeutic target for treatment of PTSD.
Our brains generate a constant hum of activity: As neurons fire, they produce brain waves that oscillate at different frequencies. Long thought to be merely a byproduct of neuron activity, recent studies suggest that these waves may play a critical role in communication between different parts of the brain. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) neuroscientists adds to that evidence.
Researchers at the Institute for Autism Research at Canisius College have found a unique emotion recognition treatment highly effective for high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder (HFASD). Children in the treatment group demonstrated significantly improved emotion-recognition skills and were rated as significantly better at facial-emotion recognition and expression. The children also had significantly lower parent ratings of autism symptoms, including social impairments following treatment.
Scientists have discovered a skin test that may shed new light on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, according to a study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., April 18 to 25, 2015. The study showed that skin biopsies can be used to detect elevated levels of abnormal proteins found in the two diseases.
Computer bits are binary, with a value of 0 or 1. By contrast, neurons in the brain can have all kinds of different internal states, depending on the input that they received. This allows the brain to process information in a more energy-efficient manner than a computer. A new study hopes to bring the two closer together.