Old Habit-Controlling Neurons May Also Help the Brain Learn New Tricks

In a study of rodents, scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai discovered that a part of the brain traditionally thought to control typing the old habits may also play a critical role in learning the new actions. The results, published on August 25th in Nature Communications, suggest that this process involves a delicate balance in the activity of two neighboring neural circuits: one dedicated to new actions and the other to old habits

Understanding Alzheimer’s Progression with Improvements to Imaging, Image Processing, Machine Learning

Because there is no ethical way to extract brain tissue from patients to look for clues about how amyloid plaques and protein aggregates proliferate, supplementary techniques are needed to better understand the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. During ACA’s 71st annual meeting, Abdullah Al Bashit, from Northeastern University, will discuss using computational techniques to help address these challenges. His work demonstrates how using small and wide-angle scattering along with state-of-the-art detection techniques will help probe the molecular structure and proliferation.

The Brain’s Wiring Technicians

Research in mice reveals how a subset of highly specialized immune cells modulate brain wiring by precision-targeting inhibitory synapses.
The work deepens understanding of the versatile repertoire of microglia, the brain’s immune cells and resident garbage collectors.
The results set the stage for the development of therapies for neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions marked by defects in synaptic function.

Mouse brain imaged from the microscopic to the macroscopic level

Researchers at the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have leveraged existing advanced X-ray microscopy techniques to bridge the gap between MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and electron microscopy imaging, providing a viable pipeline for multiscale whole brain imaging within the same brain

Nurturing an early interest in neuroscience

Last year’s lockdowns confined most people to their homes. For teenagers on summer break, a season usually dedicated to recreation and outdoor exploration, this meant long days of boredom. But for Nikhita Kaushik, who just finished her sophomore year at Irvine’s Arnold O. Beckman High School, the free time was a blessing. It enabled her to dive into her passion for neuroscience and establish the Southern California Youth Neuroscience Association.

UCI-led meta-analysis identifies hypertension medications that help ward off memory loss

Irvine, Calif., June  21, 2021 — A large-scale meta-analysis led by University of California, Irvine researchers provides the strongest evidence yet of which blood pressure medications help slow memory loss in older adults: those that can travel out of blood vessels and directly into the brain. The findings, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, will be of interest to the 91 million Americans whose blood pressure is high enough to warrant medication, as well as the doctors who treat them.

Brain Cell Membranes’ Lipids May Play Big Role in Alzheimer’s Progression

Links between lipid imbalance and disease have been established, in which lipid changes increase the formation of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. This imbalance inspired researchers to explore the role of lipids comprising the cellular membranes of brain cells. In Biointerphases, the researchers report on the significant role lipids may play in regulating C99, a protein within the amyloid pathway, and disease progression.

New Finding Suggests Cognitive Problems Caused by Repeat Mild Head Hits Could Be Treated

A neurologic pathway by which non-damaging but high frequency brain impact blunts normal brain function and causes long-term problems with learning and memory has been identified. The finding suggests that tailored drug therapy can be designed and developed to reactivate and normalize cognitive function, say neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Distinct Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms Tied to Different Brain Pathways

Neurobiologists have found that identifiable brain pathways are linked with specific debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The findings could help form the basis for improving therapeutic strategies for precise symptoms of Parkinson’s at various levels of disease progression.

Exercise Boosts Blood Flow to The Brain, Study Finds

DALLAS – March 23, 2021 – It’s not just your legs and heart that get a workout when you walk briskly; exercise affects your brain as well. A new study by researchers at UT Southwestern shows that when older adults with mild memory loss followed an exercise program for a year, the blood flow to their brains increased. The results were published online today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Hunger hormone” ghrelin affects monetary decision making

Higher levels of the stomach-derived hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, predict a greater preference for smaller immediate monetary rewards over larger delayed financial rewards, a new study finds. The study results will be presented at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

Researchers find a better way to measure consciousness

Millions of people are administered general anesthesia each year in the United States alone, but it’s not always easy to tell whether they are actually unconscious. A small proportion of those patients regain some awareness during medical procedures, but a new study of the brain activity that represents consciousness could prevent that potential trauma.

Distinguishing Between Two Very Similar Pediatric Brain Conditions

Slight differences in clinical features can help physicians distinguish between two rare but similar forms of autoimmune brain inflammation in children, a new study by UT Southwestern scientists suggests. The findings, published online in Pediatric Neurology, could provide patients and their families with a better prognosis and the potential to target treatments specific to each condition in the future.

Nobody finds the Alzheimer’s Germ in $1 Million Challenge, but eight researchers split $200K, says Dr. Leslie Norins of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest

There is now keen interest in deeper investigation of infectious agents as the trigger of Alzheimer’s disease

Expert Alert: Encephalitis prevention another reason to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Patients with COVID-19 are at risk for neurologic complications, including encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

“Encephalitis cases have been reported in patients with COVID-19, although on the whole it appears to be a relatively rare complication,” says Michel Toledano, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

In the case of encephalitis caused by communicable diseases for which there is a vaccine available, getting vaccinated is the best way of preventing the disease.

Henry Ford Cancer Institute is First in the World to Activate Two New Treatments in GBM AGILE Trial for Glioblastoma

Henry Ford Cancer Institute is the first site in the world to activate two new treatments for glioblastoma (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer, as part of a patient-centered adaptive platform trial known as GBM AGILE (Glioblastoma Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment).

Research News Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins Medicine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine Media Relations is focused on disseminating current, accurate and useful information to the public via the media. As part of that effort, we are distributing our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins” every other Tuesday.

Nutrition, companionship reduce pain in mice with sickle cell disease, UCI-led study finds

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 1, 2021 — Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the University of Minnesota have found that an enriched diet and companionship can reduce pain in mice with sickle cell disease by increasing serotonin. They also discovered that duloxetine, an antidepressant that boosts serotonin levels, could be an alternative to opioids in treating chronic pain.

Eggs Reveal What May Happen to Brain on Impact

Our brains consist of soft matter bathed in watery cerebrospinal fluid inside a hard skull, and in Physics of Fluids, researchers describe studying another system with the same features, an egg, to search for answers about concussions. Considering that in most concussive brain injuries, the skull does not break, they wanted to find out if it was possible to break or deform the egg yolk without breaking the eggshell and did a simple experiment using an egg scrambler, measuring the soft matter deformation.

Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins Medicine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine Media Relations is focused on disseminating current, accurate and useful information to the public via the media. As part of that effort, we are distributing our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins” every other Tuesday.