Neuroscience

Having a larger hippocampus doesn’t always reliably predict learning and memory abilities in older adults, research suggests. It’s normal for the hippocampus — a curved, seahorse-shaped structure embedded deep in the brain — to shrink as we age, but it’s much more pronounced in people with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists long believed… Read more

Sugar influences brain reward circuitry in ways similar to those observed when addictive drugs are consumed, researchers from Aarhus University have found. “There is no doubt that sugar has several physiological effects, and there are many reasons why it is not healthy. But I have been in doubt of the effects sugar has on our… Read more

To find food and avoid danger in changing environments, animals need to be able to learn to associate specific sensory stimuli, such as odors, with reward or punishment. Such memories must also adapt to reflect new circumstances. How is such memory flexibility achieved? An excellent model system for studying these questions is the fruit fly… Read more

The same systems that facilitate quick learning in early development come into play when a period of heightened learning is triggered during adulthood, suggests research by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). The findings prefigure potential therapeutic approaches for the rare neurodevelopmental disorder called Rett syndrome, in which the adult brain may be unable… Read more

A newly published review describes the rapid progress scientists have been making over the last dozen years in identifying, characterizing and even manipulating engrams, as well as the major outstanding questions of the field. Although German zoologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Semon introduced the concept of the engram 115 years ago to propose a neural… Read more