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.
Reversing the modification of molecular messages at synapses in the human brain may contribute to reversible mental health conditions such as anxiety, and memory diseases such as dementia, University of Nottingham researchers have revealed. The findings1 are a major step in our understanding how brain cells communicate, and could help to identify new treatments for neurological and psychiatric conditions. The research was led by Dr. Helen Miranda Knight in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, along with researchers across the Schools of Medicine, Life Science, and Bioscience.
CD4+ T cells respond to buildups of alpha-synuclein, a Northwestern Medicine study has found. Alpha-synuclein are a feature of neurodegenerative diseases including dementia with Lewy bodies (LWD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). This autoimmune response proves harmful, and inhibiting signaling pathways that trigger the response may represent a future therapeutic target, according to David Gate, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology and lead author of the study1. These findings have established a detrimental role of the immune system in Lewy body dementias,
Microglia help regulate blood flow and maintain the brain’s critical blood vessels, University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have found. It is an important but previously unknown role for these immune cells that protect the brain from disease and injury. The findings1 may prove important in cognitive decline, dementia and stroke, among other conditions linked to diseases of the brain’s small vessels. Precise blood vessel function is critical to accommodate the extreme energy demands of the brain for normal brain function.
Bumblebees forage widely for pollen and nectar from flowers, sometimes travelling kilometers away from their nest, but they can somehow always find their way home in a nearly straight line. These insects have been known to return to their nest from new locations almost 10 kilometers away. This homing ability is a complex neurological feat and requires the brain to combine several processes, including observing the external world, controlling bodily movements and drawing on memory.
Macrophages can be altered to support and speed the regeneration of peripheral nerves in mice following injury, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have found. The nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, known as peripheral nerves, have the capacity for regeneration, but the rate of natural renewal is so slow that many nerve injuries lead to incomplete recovery and permanent disability for patients. Brett Morrison M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Mithilesh Kumar Jha, Ph.
A new approach to mapping and visualizing the brain’s white matter fiber has been developed by neuroscientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They took advantage of a technique that has existed for almost 140 years, but was never utilized to study the fiber architecture of the brain’s white matter. Uncovering these wire-like highways connecting neurons has been a longstanding challenge for neuroscience. Existing methods for mapping this neural circuitry at the cellular level are either limited to animal studies or require highly specialized equipment for data acquisition and processing.