Thousands of words, big and small, are crammed inside our memory banks just waiting to be swiftly withdrawn and strung into sentences.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.
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.
A diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants may prevent or even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, research from The University of Western Australia indicates. The study found that taking a combination of antioxidants at increasing doses was more beneficial at preventing the debilitating disease than any other treatment currently available. Chronic degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s are attributed to more than 70 percent of deaths globally and oxidative stress, chronic metabolic acidosis and free radicals in the body play a key role in the aging process.
Neurons that regularly remodel are more prone to Alzheimer’s disease and die when that remodeling goes awry, a new study suggests. The work is the first to track the progression of Alzheimer’s at the genetic and molecular levels within neurons vulnerable to the disease. “Identifying the molecular characteristics of neurons that are especially vulnerable to neurodegeneration is important both for the basic understanding of Alzheimer’s and for future development of better diagnostic and treatment options," says study co-author Olga Troyanskaya, deputy director for genomics at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Biology in New York City and a professor at Princeton University.
Problems in how the brain recognizes and processes novel information lie at the root of psychosis, researchers from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London have found. The discovery that defective brain signals in patients with psychosis could be altered with medication paves the way for new treatments for the disease. The results describe how a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine ‘tunes’ the brain to the level of novelty in a situation, and helps us to respond appropriately — by either updating our model of reality or discarding the information as unimportant.
The world around us is constantly changing. As seasons shift, or as night turns to day, and food becomes more or less available, every organism must adapt their behavior and physiology to cope with its changing environment. The neuroendocrine systems play a central role in converting signals from the environment into biomolecules that can generate a response. Cells in these systems communicate by releasing various signals, including small proteins called neuropeptides.
How old are you? What about your body, and your brain? People are used to answering this question by counting the years since birth. However, biological age could also be measured by looking at the integrity of the DNA in cells or by measuring the levels of proteins in the blood. Whether one goes by chronological age or biological age, each is simply an indicator of general health – but people with the same chronological age may have different biological ages, and vice versa.
A genetic dysfunction in specific brain cells strongly influences head pain occurrence, neuroscientists of the University of Zurich report. This familial hemiplegic migraine type 2 (FHM2) causes a malfunction of astrocytes in the cingulate cortex, a brain region that is involved in the feeling of pain. Migraine is one of the most disabling neurological disorders, affecting one in seven people and causing a tremendous social and economic burden. Several findings suggest that migraine is a disease affecting a large part of the central nervous system and characterized by a global dysfunction in sensory information processing and integration, which also occurs between migraine episodes (interictal period).