This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 27 April – 1 May
News May 01, 2015
Maternal social bonding; the adolescent brain on alcohol; brain differences with dyslexia, and more.
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide important for controlling social behaviors such as pair bonding and parenting. It does this in part by increasing the salience of socially relevant sensory input. However, it has not been clear which neurons in the brain respond to oxytocin, or how oxytocin modifies neural circuits to increase the prominence of social information. A recent study by Marlin et al. examined the role of oxytocin in social behavior, using a mouse model to investigate a common mammalian maternal behavior, pup retrieval.
Repeated alcohol exposure during adolescence results in long-lasting changes in the region of the brain that controls learning and memory, according to a research team at Duke Medicine that used a rodent model as a surrogate for humans. The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, provides new insights at the cellular level for how alcohol exposure during adolescence, before the brain is fully developed, can result in cellular and synaptic abnormalities that have enduring, detrimental effects on behavior.
Patients with traumatic brain injuries are not benefiting from recent advances in cognitive neuroscience research -- and they should be, scientists report in a special issue of Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.
University of Washington (UW) research shows that using a single category of learning disability to qualify students with written language challenges for special education services is not scientifically supported. Some students only have writing disabilities, but some have both reading and writing disabilities.
An effective solution to get rid of earworms, those annoying tunes that keep on re-playing in never ending loops in our heads, has been found by a team of scientists at the University of Reading, UK. Published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology the results of the research show the best way to block obsessive melodies is neither to read a good novel nor solve complex anagrams but, simply, to chew gum.
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.