Covid-19 Affects Human Neurons, Mini-Brains Show

The virus that causes COVID-19 can infect organoids made from human brain cells, known as mini-brains, researchers say. Early reports have suggested that more than a third of COVID-19 patients show neurological symptoms, but until now it was not clear whether the virus infects human brain cells. Through their use of tiny tissue cultures that simulate whole organs, the researchers have now demonstrated that certain human neurons express a receptor, ACE2, that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses for entering the lungs — and possibly the brain.

Auditory Hallucinations Rooted In Abnormal Brain Connectivity

Auditory hallucinations, a phenomenon in which people hear voices or other sounds in the absence of external stimuli, are a feature of schizophrenia and some other neuropsychiatric disorders. How they arise in the brain has been unclear, but new research indicates that altered brain connectivity between sensory and cognitive processing areas may be responsible. “Our results demonstrate aberrant development of the thalamic nuclei involved in sensory processing and [an] immature pattern of thalamo-cortical connectivity to the brain’s auditory regions," said lead author Valentina Mancini, MD.

Does Teenage Anxiety Have Its Roots In Infancy?

The fact that teenagers worry isn’t necessarily a concern – it’s when the adolescent brain amplifies and distorts a simple worry that mental health problems can arise. As scientists aim to unlock why teenagers get anxious, and how infancy and upbringing are implicated, early intervention strategies are being refined to redirect harmful thoughts and teach adolescents to read the emotions of others – a crucial way to keep their own distressing feelings in check.

Paranoia Hinders Learning And Problem Solving

Everyone has had fleeting concerns that others might be against them at some point in their lives. Sometimes these concerns can escalate into paranoia and become debilitating. Paranoia is a common symptom in serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. It can cause extreme distress and is linked with an increased risk of violence towards oneself or others. Understanding what happens in the brains of people experiencing paranoia might lead to better ways to treat or manage it.

Older Adults Share Fewer Memories As They Age

The older we are, the less likely we are to share memories of our past experiences, suggests a new study. Additionally, when we do share memories, we don’t describe them in as much detail as younger people do. The results of the study[1], conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona, echo previous findings from lab-based research suggesting that memory sharing declines with age. The UA study came to the conclusion in a new way: by “eavesdropping” on older adults' conversations “in the wild.

Gender Differences In Memory

Although there are many physiological and psychological gender differences in humans, memory, in general, is fairly stable across the sexes. By studying the specific instances in which males and females demonstrate differences in memory, we are able to further understand the brain structures and functions associated with memory. It is within specific experimental trials that differences appear, such as methods of recalling past events, explicit facial emotion recognition tasks, and neuroimaging studies regarding size and activation of different brain regions.

Why Some Words May Be More Memorable Than Others

Thousands of words, big and small, are crammed inside our memory banks just waiting to be swiftly withdrawn and strung into sentences. In a recent study of epilepsy patients and healthy volunteers, National Institutes of Health researchers found that our brains may withdraw some common words, like “pig,” “tank,” and “door,” much more often than others, including “cat,” “street,” and “stair.” By combining memory tests, brain wave recordings, and surveys of billions of words published in books, news articles and internet encyclopedia pages, the researchers not only showed how our brains may recall words but also memories of our past experiences.

Lab-grown Cells Offer New Opportunities To Study Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the most common loss of sensation. Most cases of hearing loss are due to the death of specialized hair cells found deep inside the ear. These hair cells convert sounds into nerve impulses which can be understood by the brain. Hair cells naturally degrade as part of aging and can be damaged by other factors including loud noises, and otherwise therapeutic drugs, such as those used in chemotherapy for cancer.