New stuff in neuroscience

#1
Sleep after learning strengthens connections between brain cells and enhances memory
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-brain-cells-memory.html

In study published today in Science, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center show for the first time that sleep after learning encourages the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions from brain cells that connect to other brain cells and facilitate the passage of information across synapses, the junctions at which brain cells meet. Moreover, the activity of brain cells during deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep, after learning is critical for such growth.

Researchers find genome sequencing can be used to identify severe intellectual disability
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-genome-sequencing-severe-intellectual-disability.html
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers based in the Netherlands has found that whole genome sequencing can be used to identify a large percentage of patients who have a severe intellectual disability (SID). In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes how they took a new approach when analyzing gene sequences of SID patients and found that a pattern of genetic abnormalities could be used to diagnose the disorder with an accuracy of 62 percent.

* Brain circuit problem likely sets stage for the 'voices' that are symptom of schizophrenia
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-brain-circuit-problem-stage-voices.html
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have identified problems in a connection between brain structures that may predispose individuals to hearing the "voices" that are a common symptom of schizophrenia. The work appears in the June 6 issue of the journal Science.


Researchers linked the problem to a gene deletion. This leads to changes in brain chemistry that reduce the flow of information between two brain structures involved in processing auditory information.

Researchers use rhythmic brain activity to track memories in progress
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-rhythmic-brain-track-memories.html
University of Oregon researchers have tapped the rhythm of memories as they occur in near real time in the human brain.


Using electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes attached to the scalps of 25 student subjects, a UO team led by psychology doctoral student David E. Anderson captured synchronized neural activity while they held a held a simple oriented bar located within a circle in short-term memory. The team, by monitoring these alpha rhythms, was able to decode the precise angle of the bar the subjects were locking onto and use that brain activity to predict which individuals could store memories with the highest quality or precision
Enjoy.

* Reminds me of the thesis by Julian Jaynes; The Bicameral Brain
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#5
Might be worth some thought ->

Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience

A study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect, but it is less well appreciated that low power also reduces the likelihood that a statistically significant result reflects a true effect. Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low. The consequences of this include overestimates of effect size and low reproducibility of results. There are also ethical dimensions to this problem, as unreliable research is inefficient and wasteful. Improving reproducibility in neuroscience is a key priority and requires attention to well-established but often ignored methodological principles.
 
#7
More new stuff.

Brain waves may be spread by weak electrical field
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University may have found a new way information is communicated throughout the brain.


Their discovery could lead to identifying possible new targets to investigate brain waves associated with memory and epilepsy and better understand healthy physiology.

They recorded neural spikes traveling at a speed too slow for known mechanisms to circulate throughout the brain. The only explanation, the scientists say, is the wave is spread by a mild electrical field they could detect. Computer modeling and in-vitro testing support their theory.

"Others have been working on such phenomena for decades, but no one has ever made these connections," said Steven J. Schiff, director of the Center for Neural Engineering at Penn State University, who was not involved in the study. "The implications are that such directed fields can be used to modulate both pathological activities, such as seizures, and to interact with cognitive rhythms that help regulate a variety of processes in the brain." http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-01-brain-weak-electrical-field.html
How the brain's wiring leads to cognitive control
How does the brain determine which direction to let its thoughts fly? Looking for the mechanisms behind cognitive control of thought, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California and United States Army Research Laboratory have used brain scans to shed new light on this question.


By using structural imaging techniques to convert brain scans into "wiring diagrams" of connections between brain regions, the researchers used the structure of these neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert "cognitive control" over thoughts and actions.

Earlier research has long placed the frontal cortex as the core of this cognitive control network, which allows people to stay focused on one task or switch to a radically different one. This study is the first to provide a mechanistic explanation for how the frontal cortex accomplishes this feat, exerting control over trillions of individual neurons. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-10-brain-wiring-cognitive.html


 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#10
Ayahuasca stimulates the birth of new brain cells – latest findings from the Beckley/Sant Pau Research Programme

http://beckleyfoundation.org/2016/0...-from-the-beckleysant-pau-research-programme/
This is the first study ever conducted that demonstrates that components of the Ayahuasca brew have potent neurogenic properties. Although the results are preliminary, they show that the addition of harmine and tetrahydroharmine to cell cultures containing neural stem cells dramatically increased their differentiation, and their maturation into neurons.

We are currently conducting additional experiments to discern the magnitude of the observed effects, as well as undertaking studies on live animals.

The replication of the present findings in vivo would open a totally new avenue of research for ayahuasca and its active principles. Potential applications would range from treating neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, to redressing brain damage associated with stroke or trauma.
Important to keep in mind a variety of things that work on animals don't translate to people, and this hasn't even gotten that far.

Additionally there are a variety of potential issues with using ayahuasca, not everyone has a positive mental experience - some are in fact deeply negatively affected.

As always, see sites like Neurosoup for discussion on safe use.

So basically possibly big ramifications, but need to wait just like any other research avenue.
 
#11
Ayahuasca stimulates the birth of new brain cells – latest findings from the Beckley/Sant Pau Research Programme

http://beckleyfoundation.org/2016/0...-from-the-beckleysant-pau-research-programme/


Important to keep in mind a variety of things that work on animals don't translate to people, and this hasn't even gotten that far.

Additionally there are a variety of potential issues with using ayahuasca, not everyone has a positive mental experience - some are in fact deeply negatively affected.

As always, see sites like Neurosoup for discussion on safe use.

So basically possibly big ramifications, but need to wait just like any other research avenue.
Why might new brain cells be beneficial? ;)
 
#14
Now, not only do we know memories are stored in the brain, but anti-memories too! What happens when my memories collide with my anti-memories? Instant annihilation ... of my whole head!?

http://theconversation.com/antimatt...mories-could-revolutionise-neuroscience-56703

When memories are created and recalled, new and stronger electrical connections are created between neurons in the brain. The memory is represented by this new association between neurons. But a new theory, backed by animal research and mathematical models, suggests that at the same time that a memory is created, an “antimemory” is also spawned – that is, connections between neurons are made that provide the exact opposite pattern of electrical activity to those forming the original memory. Scientists believe that this helps maintain the balance of electrical activity in the brain.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
Is that the hypothesis that memories lie outside the brain but, in some way we don't fully understand, interact with the brain?
Nah, you're thinking of the one where memories are just ultimately swirls of atoms...but only very specific currently mysterious (promissory?) swirls. ;-)
 
#19
Is that the hypothesis that memories lie outside the brain but, in some way we don't fully understand, interact with the brain?
Thinking outside the"computer = brain tissue" viewpoint, leads to simple takes on the process of memories and biological interaction with them.

One possible process view would swap where the detection is originating. Even though it "feels" like information just flows into organisms, every channel is separate and trackable. Information doesn't reach into the organism, the organism reaches out into the ambient environment where there is vital information. Probing informational detection as activity coming from the mind - could be subsumed by electrochemical signalling whose functional purpose is to experience the informational structures in the informational environment open to the creature. The informational environment of a living thing includes past, present and future informational structures.

All creatures have senses that describe the inner condition of their biology. There are a special category of these - called the 5 senses. These information detection systems interact with physical disturbances occurring within a creature's biological detectors (eyes ears etc..). Why would "mental understanding" be any different? The reason that this world-view is not fully explored by science is that an experimenter is not allowed to believe in in-situ structured information comprising information objects. Even though field theories now predominate in physics -- and the behavior of "material" particles is equal portion wavelike.

Every world language is arranged around abstract information objects and symbols that represent deeper-meaning. It seems really obvious to me that in an evolutionary sense -- creatures making their information processing capability larger -- enhance their reproductive success. There must be a simple reason for mental evolution.

I think the term consciousness, confusing as it is an amalgam of categories. This process of mind can be parsed by the units of measure now in use by information science.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#20
Bucky's thread:

Interpretation of functional MRI data called into question.

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2014: Failed Replications: A Reality Check for Neuroscience?

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Where is Subjective Experience in the Brain?

Current science has no explanation for subjective experience. There isn’t even an adequate definition of consciousness. Recent research continues many approaches in attempts to find a brain region that is correlated with basic awareness or consciousness. In order to proceed without definitions, study attempts to find simple awareness without specific content.

But, recent findings show that for most mental events, almost the entire brain is part of wide circuits signaling in milliseconds. No modules have been found, including modules for awareness. In fact, integration of all regions seems to be more relevant than modules. As someone slips into coma and anesthesia, modules appear when people are definitely not conscious. When aware, more widespread integration appears. This post describes efforts to answer the question—where is subjective experience in the brain.
Most current approaches to finding places in the brain related to consciousness or awareness do not corroborate old theories of networks in the frontal parietal regions. Recent research is focused on activity in a much more narrow region near the overlap of the temporal-parietal-occipital regions. Some of these appear to be triggered by content of awareness—such as faces. The older larger circuits appear related to attention focused on particular areas, not simple awareness.

In fact, most regions of the brain have something to do with awareness and consciousness, but this doesn’t qualify them as a location of consciousness.

There is still no understanding of how subjective experience binds together all that is part of our daily experience of awareness. Most events in the brain involve large brain wide circuits traversed in milliseconds. Just this week, a study implied meaning of words is not in a language center, but distributed throughout the entire brain. The same is true for memory, which appears to be very distributed.

Some pre frontal regions are related to experiences of various types. Default mode circuits appear to be related to day dreaming and identity, not simple awareness. Other similar frontal regions have nothing directly to do with consciousness. With so much top-down effects in perception, it is not clear how much sensory regions contribute to simple awareness. Brainstem reticular formation and parts of the thalamus help create the necessary activation of circuits for awareness but are not awareness per se.

No brain region simply reflects consciousness. Some regions are correlated with content of awareness. For now, this search will continue with no definition of consciousness or subjective experience. We are left with our every day experience.
 
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