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  • December 6, 2011
  • 11:00 AM

Which brain areas are involved in listening?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Its a persistent myth to think that music is processed in the right hemisphere. This week yet another study shows that, even when the processes are restricted to listening alone, virtually the whole brain is involved.... Read more »

Stewart L, von Kriegstein K, Warren JD, & Griffiths TD. (2006) Music and the brain: disorders of musical listening. Brain : a journal of neurology, 129(Pt 10), 2533-53. PMID: 16845129  

  • December 6, 2011
  • 08:42 AM

Ecstasy has lasting toxic effect on the brain

by United Academics in United Academics

Ecstacy users may be causing permanent harm to their brains, new research suggests. Investigators of the Vanderbilt University found out that ecstacy – the illegal “rave” drug that produces feelings of euphoria and emotional warmth – is associated with chronic loss of serotonin in the human brain. Serotonin is a vital signalling chemical that helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, learning and memory. Low levels of the neurotransmitter are associated with depression, sleep........ Read more »

Christina R. Di Iorio, EdM; Tristan J. Watkins, BA; Mary S. Dietrich, PhD; Aize Cao, PhD; Jennifer U. Blackford, PhD; Baxter Rogers, PhD; Mohammed S. Ansari, PhD, Ronald M. Baldwin, PhD, Rui Li, MSc, Robert M. Kessler, MD, Ronald M. Salomon, MD, Margaret Benningfield, MD, & Ronald L. Cowan, MD, PhD. (2011) Evidence for Chronically Altered Serotonin Function in the Cerebral Cortex of Female 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine Polydrug Users. Arch Gen Psychiatry. info:/10.1001

  • December 6, 2011
  • 04:20 AM

The stressed brain: quickly ready to fight or flight

by United Academics in United Academics

New research shows that not cortisol but norepinephrine is the driving force behind the reorganization of the brain during acute stress.

A threatening situation makes you ready to fight or flight within seconds. Acute stress reorganizes the brain for an adequate response by temporarily inhibiting some areas of the brain, while others are activated.... Read more »

Hermans EJ, van Marle HJ, Ossewaarde L, Henckens MJ, Qin S, van Kesteren MT, Schoots VC, Cousijn H, Rijpkema M, Oostenveld R.... (2011) Stress-related noradrenergic activity prompts large-scale neural network reconfiguration. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334(6059), 1151-3. PMID: 22116887  

  • December 5, 2011
  • 11:18 PM

Why yawning is contagious

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

We've all heard that "yawning is contagious"—but why? In this busy world, we don't sleep as much as we should. Gallup Polls in recent years have found that 56% of Americans report drowsiness as a daytime problem, and 34% of us are "dangerously sleepy." Does seeing someone yawn remind us that we, too, are exhausted are must follow suit? That may be part of it, but the true reason may go much deeper. As it turns out, yawning may have ancient roots in social bond........ Read more »

Helt MS, Eigsti IM, Snyder PJ, & Fein DA. (2010) Contagious yawning in autistic and typical development. Child development, 81(5), 1620-31. PMID: 20840244  

  • December 5, 2011
  • 02:05 PM

Obesity Linked to Brain White Matter Pathology

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Brain Corpus Callosum Highlighted in BrownObesity influences a variety of body organ systems including the cardiovascular, endocrine and hepatic function. There is a growing body of evidence that the brain may also be a target for adverse effects in obesity. White matter hyperintensities occur at a higher rate in obesity compared to normal weight controls.  I have previous highlighted some of the effects of white matter intensities in posts here and here.Obesity appears linked to an increas........ Read more »

  • December 4, 2011
  • 04:34 PM

Forget a ‘broken society’ – did Boredom cause the London Riots?

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

Can being fed-up make you go mad? Is a dreary life as harmful as a physical illness? Were last summer’s riots perpetuated by world-weary Brits in need of some excitement? They sound outrageous propositions, but they are the ones posed in a forthcoming documentary by Canadian film producers, Elevator Films (for release May 2012).  Exploring … Continue reading »... Read more »

Goldberg, Y., Eastwood, J., LaGuardia, J., & Danckert, J. (2011) Boredom: An Emotional Experience Distinct from Apathy, Anhedonia, or Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 30(6), 647-666. DOI: 10.1521/jscp.2011.30.6.647  

Lupien, S., de Leon, M., de Santi, S., Convit, A., Tarshish, C., Nair, N., Thakur, M., McEwen, B., Hauger, R., & Meaney, M. (1998) Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory deficits. Nature Neuroscience, 1(1), 69-73. DOI: 10.1038/271  

Britton, A., & Shipley, M. (2010) Bored to death?. International Journal of Epidemiology, 39(2), 370-371. DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyp404  

  • December 4, 2011
  • 07:37 AM

Why we deny

by United Academics in United Academics

From evolution to climate change to the holocaust, there are always those who deny claims despite overwhelming evidence. What drives these people? Psychologist and professional skeptic Michael Shermer's new book The Believing Brain describes the mental mechanisms that are at work here and paints a picture of our alarmingly primitive reasoning capacity.... Read more »

  • December 3, 2011
  • 08:34 AM

A Psychedelic Tale of Two Neurotransmitters

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

An unexpected interaction between neurotransmitter systems may explain psychosis and hallucinations, according to a fascinating new paper.Serotonin (5HT) and glutamate are two neurotransmitters. Up until now, it was thought that they acted independently. A given neuron might have receptors for both serotonin and glutamate, but they didn't interact: serotonin would never affect the glutamate receptors, and vice versa.The new research overturns that view. Authors Miguel Fribourg and colleagues of........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2011
  • 03:10 PM

Blacks with Bullets Embedded in Bone

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

This essay disproves Steven Pinker’s extraordinary claim that “the racial disparity in American homicide has not always been with us” from The Better Angels of Our Nature.... Read more »

  • December 2, 2011
  • 12:31 AM

Meth Really Isn't That Bad for You? (Part 2)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Methamphetamine Use and Risk for HIV/AIDS... Methamphetamine is very addictive, it can be injected, and it can increase sexual arousal while reducing inhibitions. Because of these attributes, public health officials are concerned that users may be putting themselves at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV infection―a valid concern, considering that methamphetamine use has been linked with increased numbers of HIV infections in some populations [1]. 1 Meth addiction can cause alterat........ Read more »

Salo, R., Nordahl, T., Galloway, G., Moore, C., Waters, C., & Leamon, M. (2009) Drug abstinence and cognitive control in methamphetamine-dependent individuals. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 37(3), 292-297. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsat.2009.03.004  

  • December 1, 2011
  • 01:28 PM

Effects of appetitive and nonappetitive odors on feeding behavior and on level of biogenic amines

by Journal club presenter in neuro JC

A short communication was published in November 2011 (Neurobiologie) based on a study from 2005 (Journal of Neuroscience).
In the blowfly Phormia regina, the authors investigated the effect on PER when flies are (pre-) exposed to odors. They found that feeding threshold to sugar increased in the presence of the repellent D-limonene and decreased in the [...]... Read more »

  • December 1, 2011
  • 10:06 AM

Genetic epistasis

by EE Giorgi in CHIMERAS

A while ago, in a post titled the Missing Heritability, I discussed the fact that some risk alleles (gene copies that have been found to increase the risk for a certain disease) may turn out to be counter-effected by other genes and thus explain why some people with these alleles never develop the particular disease. At the time I did a quick search on PubMed but couldn't come up with anything in the literature. Well, I was missing the keyword: epistasis. The word comes from the Greek "epi", whi........ Read more »

Pezawas, L., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Goldman, A., Verchinski, B., Chen, G., Kolachana, B., Egan, M., Mattay, V., Hariri, A., & Weinberger, D. (2008) Evidence of biologic epistasis between BDNF and SLC6A4 and implications for depression. Molecular Psychiatry, 13(7), 709-716. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2008.32  

  • November 30, 2011
  • 04:18 PM

So… who likes sports?

by Maria P. in noustuff

There’s no doubt that watching sports is a very popular pastime. In 2010 alone, there were over 40,500 h of live sporting events on broadcast and cable TV (Neilsen Company, 2011) However, little is know about the personality  traits and the identity of people who like watching sports*. Appelbaum and colleagues gathered  broad demographic, physiological, clinical, psychological, and pastime-preference information [...]... Read more »

Gregory Appelbaum, L., Cain, M., Darling, E., Stanton, S., Nguyen, M., & Mitroff, S. (2011) What is the identity of a sports spectator?. Personality and Individual Differences. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.048  

  • November 30, 2011
  • 09:42 AM

Perinatal Risk Factors for Autism

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Matt Holliday Batting in 2011 Spring TrainingLiterature review studies provide summaries of the current knowledge in an area of clinical research.  A recent literature review of prenatal, perinatal and neonatal risk factors in autism has been published online at Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.  For simplicity, I have grouped these studies under a broader definition of perinatal risk factors.The authors of this study collected and reviewed 85 case-control studies of autis........ Read more »

Guinchat V, Thorsen P, Laurent C, Cans C, Bodeau N, & Cohen D. (2011) Pre-, peri-, and neonatal risk factors for autism. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica. PMID: 22085436  

  • November 30, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Aerobics grows your brain, but does it make you smarter?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Here’s what looks to be a straightforward claim:

Increased hippocampal volume translates to improved memory function(.)
But a simple line in the Discussion section may not convey the trickiness of the analysis in the Results section.

This paper, by Erickson and company, is looking for ways to prevent or reverse cognitive decline as people age. The hippocampus is part of the brain critical to the formation of memory, something we’ve known from many unfortunate people like Henry Molaison (kn........ Read more »

Erickson K, Voss M, Prakash R, Basak C, Szabo A, Chaddock L, Kim J, Heo S, Alves H, White S.... (2011) Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 3017-3022. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015950108  

  • November 30, 2011
  • 07:21 AM

Is beat induction species-specific? [Part 2]

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

It is a slowly but steadily unfolding story, with more and more evidence in support of it: The story revealing with what other species we share beat induction, a skill that is argued to be fundamental to music.

The ability to synchronize to the beat of the music has been demonstrated in several parrot species and, apparently, one elephant species, supporting the vocal learning and rhythmic synchronization hypothesis, which posits that vocal learning provides a neurobiological foundation for a........ Read more »

  • November 29, 2011
  • 09:40 PM

Why protein keeps you more alert (and thinner) than sugar does

by NerdyOne in Try Nerdy

It’s 3PM and you’re at your desk fighting determinedly to keep your eyes open. You think maybe some candy or soda could give you the sugar rush you need to get through the last few hours of the work day, so you head to the vending to get some — STOP! Wait a minute. You might want to read this post first before you snag those M&M’s; new research shows that protein might do a better job of keeping you awake, and burning your calories, too.

As someone who’s happiest........ Read more »

Karnani MM, Apergis-Schoute J, Adamantidis A, Jensen LT, de Lecea L, Fugger L, & Burdakov D. (2011) Activation of central orexin/hypocretin neurons by dietary amino acids. Neuron, 72(4), 616-29. PMID: 22099463  

  • November 29, 2011
  • 10:55 AM

Circadian Rhythm Alterations in Adult ADHD

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Sleep problems are encountered frequently in the clinical management of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Children with ADHD sleep fewer hours than children without ADHD.  ADHD symptoms often decrease in severity with development but may persist in to adulthood.The sleep patterns of adults with ADHD are less well studied than those in children.  However, research evidence exists for disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms in adult ADHD including: evening preferen........ Read more »

  • November 29, 2011
  • 06:28 AM

Meth Really Isn't That Bad for You... Or is it?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Image from All Around The House™We all know that meth is a highly addictive, harmful stimulant drug that rots your teeth and makes you paranoid, stupid, unemployed, and homeless -- thereby ruining your life. So just say NO! to meth. Right, kids?Methamphetamine (meth) and other stimulants are best known for their effects on the dopamine system, and hence for their propensity to be reinforcing and addictive. But meth actually increases the release and blocks the reuptake of all three monoamine ........ Read more »

Hart, C., Gunderson, E., Perez, A., Kirkpatrick, M., Thurmond, A., Comer, S., & Foltin, R. (2007) Acute Physiological and Behavioral Effects of Intranasal Methamphetamine in Humans. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(8), 1847-1855. DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301578  

  • November 28, 2011
  • 09:22 PM

The neuroscience of "Christmas Shoes"

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Sir, I wanna buy these shoes for my mama, please. It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size. Could you hurry, sir? Daddy says there's not much time... This little gem by New Song permeates the airwaves each year around this time, igniting tears and snickers alike in its listeners. We all know why the man agrees to buy the shoes for the boy—I mean, "his clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe." But how much would he be willing to part with for........ Read more »

Cryder CE, Lerner JS, Gross JJ, & Dahl RE. (2008) Misery is not miserly: sad and self-focused individuals spend more. Psychological science, 19(6), 525-30. PMID: 18578840  

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