When The Purpose Of Sleep Changes From Neural Reorganization to Repair

A significant change in the purpose of sleep happens at the age of about 2 and a half, a UCLA-led team of scientists has discovered. Prior to that age, the brain grows very rapidly. During REM sleep, when vivid dreams occur, the young brain is busy building and strengthening synapses — the structures that connect neurons to one another and allow them to communicate. “Don’t wake babies up during REM sleep—important work is being done in their brains as they sleep,”

Immune System Affects Mind As Well As Body

Immune cells surrounding the brain produce a molecule that is then absorbed by neurons in the brain, where it appears to be necessary for normal behavior, new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates. The findings indicate that elements of the immune system affect both mind and body, and that the immune molecule IL-17 may be a key link between the two. “The brain and the body are not as separate as people think.

Sleep Impairment Alters Reactions To Both Negative And Positive Events

Following a night of shorter sleep, people react more emotionally to stressful events the next day, and they don’t find as much joy in the good things, according to new research from University of British Columbia. “When people experience something positive, such as getting a hug or spending time in nature, they typically feel happier that day. But we found that when a person sleeps less than their usual amount, they don’t have as much of a boost in positive emotions from their positive events,”

Unconscious Learning May Prime Belief In God

People who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, report neuroscientists at Georgetown University. The study spanned two very different cultural and religious groups, one in the U.S. and one in Afghanistan. “Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions.

The New Neuroscience Of Stuttering

Gerald Maguire has stuttered since childhood, but you might not guess it from talking to him. For the past 25 years, Maguire — a psychiatrist at the University of California, Riverside — has been treating his disorder with antipsychotic medications not officially approved for the condition. Only with careful attention might you discern his occasional stumble on multisyllabic words like “statistically” and “pharmaceutical.” Maguire has plenty of company: More than 70 million people worldwide, including about 3 million Americans, stutter — that is, they have difficulty with the starting and timing of speech, resulting in halting and repetition.

Astrocytes Show Metabolic Changes In Parkinson's Disease

Astrocyte dysfunction is associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathology in new research using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology. The study, from the University of Eastern Finland, highlights the role of brain astrocyte cells in PD pathology and the potential of iPSC-derived cells in disease modeling and drug discovery. PD’s exact cause is still unknown, but several molecular mechanisms have been identified in PD pathology. These include neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, dysfunctional protein degradation and alpha-synuclein pathology.

Brains May Indicate Who’ll Benefit From Workouts For Depression

It could be possible to predict which young adults would benefit most from behavioral therapy and exercise as a treatment for major depression, a new study has found. Similar to previous studies, the new research also showed that aerobic exercise helps young adults with major depression. “Our study needs to be replicated, but the precision medicine approach of predicting who may or may not benefit from exercise as an antidepressant is provocative.

Kids Who Learn Clause-chain Languages Are Quicker To Develop Complex Sentences

Languages like Japanese, Korean, Turkish and the indigenous languages of the Amazon, East Africa, and New Guinea build sentences in a way that lets them grow to enormous length. Our research shows learning one of these languages may help children create complex sentences that express multiple ideas at a younger age. Two Ways to Tell a Story Try recounting what you did this morning, or telling a story, and chances are you’ll use a series of several sentences: