Monday, June 13, 2016

Neuroscience In The News On June 13

These are articles that I found of interest relating to news about Neuroscience.  In this issue, I have highlighted articles about the signaling network of the brain, making and breaking a habit in the brain, and Trauma and Neuroscience learning.

Please check out the article links below and feel free to comment with other information related to these subjects.  I enjoy learning as much as I can about the brain and passing this information on to everyone else that shares these passions.

This is for the week beginning June 13, 2016.

Please come back each week and hopefully I will have some more highlights.  Feel free to share with me ones that you have found and I may highlight those as well.

Feel free to check out the highlighted articles from June 6, 2016

Signaling Network Of The Brain

Researchers have taken an important step toward deciphering the brain's complex neuroelectric communication system that could underlie sleep disorders and conditions such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

The complex communication network connects groups of neurons that can be identified and studied by imaging the brain while a person rests using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Because the brain's resting state is not biased by any particular task, the approach provides a way to study its "intrinsic functional organization," said Zhongming Liu, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

"Data related to blood flow are different from the language used by the neurons themselves," said Liu, whose research is also affiliated with the Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience. "The neurons use electrical signals to talk to each other, and these electrical signals happen much faster than blood flow. So we are translating those slow blood-flow signals into the fast signals the neurons use."

Article Link:

Making And Breaking A Habit

Not all habits are bad. Some are even necessary. It's a good thing, for example, that we can find our way home on "autopilot" or wash our hands without having to ponder every step. But inability to switch from acting habitually to acting in a deliberate way can underlie addiction and obsessive compulsive disorders.

The study is published in Neuron and was led by Christina Gremel, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego, who began the work as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health.

The study provides the strongest evidence to date, Gremel said, that the brain's circuits for habitual and goal-directed action compete for control -- in the orbitofrontal cortex, a decision-making area of the brain -- and that neurochemicals called endocannabinoids allow for habit to take over, by acting as a sort of brake on the goal-directed circuit.

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Trauma and Neuroscience Learning

“We have a reasonable understanding of the negative spectrum of emotions like fear and stress responses, but we don’t know much about the positive side. What regulates joy? Where is our sense of resilience? Optimism?” Vaidya asks. “And all of these are clearly regulated by our brain.” Her lab at TIFR is one of the few in India to explore these complex questions.

Vaidya finds it fascinating how we all develop such unique circuitry, and, consequently, such different ways of responding to trauma despite sharing an identical neurological architecture. “It’s like this,” she explains. “In the beginning, an architect designs all the flats in a building identically. But after people start living in them, the homes will look extremely different because they bring in their own personal flavour. Similarly, genetically, our brains are designed on a blueprint, we all have prefrontal cortex in the same place, and yet in the micro details we vary.”

A study from her lab showed proof of this. “We showed that when you have traumatic events happen in the early window of life you actually show ageing-related effects two years down the road. The ability of the hippocampus [a part of the brain] to make new neurons drops abnormally in trauma. This tells us that if there is a traumatic early event, you may not see effects right away but there are effects down the road waiting for you.”

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