The process of packaging neurotransmitters may be responsible for the brain’s consumption of energy when its neurons are not active, researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine have found. Pound for pound, the brain consumes vastly more energy than other organs - using ~20% of the body’s fuel intake but making up only ~2 to 2.5% of it’s mass. Their study1 identifies tiny capsules called synaptic vesicles as a major source of energy consumption in inactive neurons.
If your back began hurting after you turned 50, then you may be experiencing spinal stenosis. It’s a condition that occurs when your spinal canal starts to narrow, exerting pressure on the spinal cord and associated nerves. Stenosis most commonly appears in the lower back or neck. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, and tingling. You may also feel weakness in your legs and arms. Stenosis usually develops gradually, and the symptoms come and go.
Seemingly random brain signals may actually help the brain switch between states of inattention or disengagement and states of optimal performance, according to new research from University of Oregon scientists. Neuroscientists have been studying an oscillating background wave called the alpha rhythm in the human brain for decades. This signal appears to reflect whether a person is engaged and attentive or not, but the neurobiological basis for the signal isn’t fully understood.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neuron disease (MND), has 4 distinct patterns of changes in electrical signals that can be identified using resting-state electroencephalography, according to new research1 from Trinity College Dublin. The findings will be valuable in identifying patients for clinical trials and will assist in finding new treatments for this disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a devastating condition which causes progressive paralysis, changes in thinking, increasing physical disability and ultimately death within an average of two to three years.
Nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR) drives the process of early metastasis in melanoma, work from an international team of scientists has found. Additionally, blocking the molcule reduces metastasis in animal models. The reduction was achieved using THX-B. This molecule is being tested for the treatment of other pathologies, which will accelerate its possible use in the treatment of tumors. In order to fight tumors, researchers have typically focused on studying their intrinsic behavior, but not on their surroundings.
You probably don’t realise it when you’re listening to your favourite song, but music has an incredibly powerful effect on the human brain. Singing, playing an instrument or listening to music have all been shown to activate numerous areas of the brain that control speech, movement and cognition, memory and emotion – often all at the same time. Remarkably, research also suggests that music can physically increase brain matter, which could help the brain repair itself.
The brain’s maps of visual space are thought to retain the topology of the retina, but a new study1 has found that visual maps in the secondary visual cortex of tree shrews challenge this assumption. Neuroscientists who specialize in vision are the cartographers of the brain, exploring and mapping out how our brain represents what we see in the world. The visual cortex, responsible for visual processing, contains sophisticated neural circuits that evaluate information arriving from our eyes and respond to distinguishing visual features such as color, edges, motion, and location in visual space.
Blood levels of a substance proven to be highly predictive of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease rose markedly during cardiac surgery and remained elevated for two days post-surgery, which was when levels were last measured, a small study has found. Heart surgery, a lengthy operation typically involving substantial tissue injury, is particularly stressful and causes inflammation throughout the body, including the brain, says Martin Angst, an anesthesiologist at Stanford University with an interest in biochemistry-based predictions of surgical outcomes who helped lead the study1.