Brain and Learning: 2005 archives - The Brain in the Headlines

 

News items:

  • A report from Alzheimer's Disease International says that the number of people with Alzheimer's is likely to double every 20 years, with a new case of dementia every seven seconds.

See BBC News: 16 December 2005
Original Research Source: The Lancet

  • In an animal study, cells genetically engineered to bypass the blood-brain barrier have been used to protect and regenerate the part of the brain damaged in Parkinson's disease. It is hoped this treatment could one day be used to treat humans.

See NewScientist.com: 15 December 2005
Original Research Source: Gene Therapy

  • Scientists have been able to create mice with a percentage of human brain cells, by injecting human stem cells into mouse embryos. This has been done in an effort to make realistic models of neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease. The percentage of human brain cells is so small that it doesn't remotely come close to "humanising" the mice, although it does add to ethical concerns about this type of research.

See NYTimes.com: 13 December 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • Elderly men with Alzeimer's could be helped by testosterone replacement therapy.

See BBC News: 13 December 2005
Original Research Source: Archives of Neurology

  • Research by a Stanford University team has found that it may be possible to reduce pain by using mental exercises.

See BBC News: 13 December 2005
See also Guardian Unlimited: 13 December 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

  • A University of Alabama research team are a step closer to developing a brain implant therapy for Parkinson's symptoms.

See BBC News: 13 December 2005
Original Research Source: Archives of Neurology

  • Neurobiologists have gained greater insight into growth of dendrites. The research will help understanding of brain development in children and the restoration of lost neuronal connections.

See Innovations Report: 12 December 2005
Original Research Source: Neuron

  • A chemical that is normally beneficial to the brain may, if "switched on" for too long, play a role in killing brain cells in conditions such as dementia.

See BBC News: 10 December 2005
Original Research Source: Neuron

  • A French Institute of Neurobiology team, experimenting on baby rats, has found that blocking a chemical that triggers seizures in the developing brain may stop the seizures and prevent the development of chronic epilepsy.

See BBC News: 10 December 2005
Original Research Source: Neuron

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists believe they have cracked the "code" in the brain that allows us to recognise objects in the visual world.

See CNN.com: 8 December 2005
Original Research Source: Science

  • Children with the protein beta-catenin in their bodies have a 93% chance of surviving brain cancer without chemotherapy, according to research by the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.

See BBC News: 8 December 2005
Original Research Source: Northern Institute for Cancer Research

  • Dopamine may not be necessary for the brain to register pleasure.

See United Press International: 7 December 2005
Original Research Source: Nature

  • A new study has shown that brainier male bats have smaller testes.

See NewScientist.com: 7 December 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

  • A large head at birth may mean an increased risk of childhood brain cancer.

See BBC News: 7 December 2005
Original Research Source: Lancet Oncology

  • The identification of a molecule assoiated with reduced intellectual ability could help the treatment of mental impairment in those with Down's syndrome.

See BBC News: 6 December 2005
See also King's College London News Highlights: 6 December 2005
Original Research Source: Archives of General Psychiatry

  • A child's brain can be shaped by child care and the parent-child connection, according to recent studies.

See ABC News: 5 December 2005
Original Research Source: Center for Culture, Brain and Development

  • A study on kittens showing that damage to the brain's hearing network can be reversed by using cochlear implants may show why such implants are 80% successful in young children, but rarely successful in adults who are congenitally deaf.

See NYNewsday.com: 5 December 2005
Original Research Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore

  • Alzheimer's disease has been linked to a drop in insulin in the brain.

See boston.com News: 5 December 2005
Original Research Source: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

  • A study of prairie voles suggests that it is the chemical dopamine that helps keep the males monogamous.

See BBC News: 5 December 2005
Original Research Source: Nature Neuroscience

  • Abnormal activity in the brain's mirror neurons may be the reason behind social deficits in autism.

See BBC News: 5 December 2005
See also UCLA News: 5 December 2005
Original Research Source: Nature Neuroscience

  • The risk of hydrocephalus could be cut by a dietary pill for pregnant women. This research, by Manchester and Lancaster Universities, may also provide hope to those already suffering from hydrocephalus.

See BBC News: 5 December 2005

  • Using brain scans a research team has found that coffee improves short-term memory and speeds up reaction times. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

See NewScientist.com: 1 December 2005

  • A study by a team from the Aarhus Psychiatric Hospital has shown that nearly 50% of patients treated for a cannabis related mental disorder will develop a schizophrenic illness, as well as showing signs of the condition earlier than others who have it.

See BBC News: 1 December 2005
Original Research Source: British Journal of Psychiatry

  • MIT have opened a Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex - the largest collection of brain scientists under one roof in the world.

See Boston.com News: 30 November 2005

  • Drugs used to lower cholesterol may slow the progress of Alzheimer's.

See NYTimes.com: 29 November 2005
Original Research Source: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • There is growing evidence that the placebo effect is physical and not just pyschological.

See TBO.com (Associated Press home): 29 November 2005

  • Many parents of children with ADHD have their sleep disrupted.

See BBC News: 29 November 2005

  • An area of the brain called the posterier parietal cortex may determine whether or not a person perceives themselves as fat or thin, according to a study by the University College London Institute of Neurology.

See BBC News: 29 November 2005
Original Research Source: PLoS Biology

  • Orphanage children deprived of anything but basic contact with adults may suffer relatively permanent changes to their brain chemistry that can affect their ability bond and interact socially.

See latimes.com: 28 November 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Note that the Los Angeles Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute are trying to develop a treatment for people with dementia and acquired brain injury.

See UQ News Online: 24 November 2005
Original Research Source: Journal of Neuroscience

  • According to an article in New Scientist, the families of those with autism may display autistic brain differences, even though they are not autistic themselves.

See BBC News: 24 November 2005
Original Research Source: New Scientist

  • Damage to the brain can lead to eye movement disorders and so a standard test for studying eye movement is being developed in order to diagnose such damage.

See BBC News: 20 November 2005
Original research source: University of Plymouth

  • Singing appears to help people with dementia, according to the "Singing for the Brain" group.

See BBC News: 20 November 2005

  • A drug has been trialled that has proven to keep the effects of Niemann Pick Disease Type C at bay, although it cannot cure it.

See BBC News: 18 November 2005

  • Experts from Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities have found evidence of genes that can determine the risk of mental illness.

See BBC News: 18 November 2005
Original Research Source: Science

  • Research published in Nature Neuroscience has shown that older rats store their memories in a different way to younger rats. If this also applies to humans, it could mean a change in treatments for memory loss.

See BBC News: 14 November 2005
Original Research Source: Nature Neuroscience

  • A trigger for cell death that can be controlled in mice could lead to the prevention of stroke-induced disability and death.

See BBC News: 14 November 2005
Original Research Source: Nature Medicine

  • Loneliness may in the genes, according to a study published in Behavior Genetics.

See BBC News: 11 November 2005
Original Research Source: Behavior Genetics

  • A Stanford University Team that have found evidence of a gender divide in the appreciation of humour, with certain areas of the brain more likely to be activated in women.

See BBC News: 8 November 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

  • Research from the Cambridge Autism Research Centre suggests that the structure of the autistic brain is an "exaggeration" of the normal male brain.

See BBC News: 4 November 2005
Original Research Source: Science

  • Researchers in the UK are developing a treatment that uses mirrors to trick the brain into healing pain.

See BBC News: 31 October 2005
Original research source: Clinical Medicine

  • The size of one's ventromedial prefontal cortex may determine how well a person can cope with stressful experiences, according to a study by the Massachusetts General Hospital and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

See BBC News: 31 October 2005
Original research source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

  • Findings published in Neuroreport show that blood pressure can be altered by using electrodes to stimulate the brain.

See BBC News: 29 October 2005
Original research source: Neuroreport

  • In studies published in Science magazine, scientists from Boston and Seattle have examined the brain cells, and their signals, that appear to drive weight loss and suppress hunger.

See BBC News: 28 October 2005
Original Research Source: Science

  • Groundbreaking surgery has been performed on an English toddler with Batten's disease, which can leave the sufferer unable to walk or to see. Replacement genes were injected into her brain.

See BBC News: 26 October 2005

  • Brain scans have revealed that a woman's mental processes can change across the menstrual cycle.

See BBC News: 25 October 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

  • Schizophrenics may be better able to spot visual illusions than others, according to a study from the University College London and published in Current Biology.

See BBC News: 25 October 2005
Original Research Source: Current Biology

  • Whether your brain's sex is male or female can make you prone to different diseases.

See BBC News: 23 October 2005

  • Scientists have protested at the Dalai Lama's plans to lecture about research, in which he collaborated, to see whether the intense meditation practiced by Buddhist monks can train the brain to generate compassion and positive thoughts.

See NYTimes.com: 19 October 2005
Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • The Institute of Child Health will study 60 children from the ages of 10 to 16 years who were born prematurely to see how their brains have adapted after damage.

See BBC News: 15 October 2005
Original Research Source: Institute of Child Health

  • A University of Saskatchewan study in which rats were given a cannabinoid has shown that it can act as an antidepressant. Others warn, however, that raw cannabis is still a risky substance for those with severe mental illness.

See BBC News: 13 October 2005
See also NewScientist.com: 13 October 2005
Original Research Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation

  • A study from the University of Sydney in Australia suggests that changes in the small blood vessels in the eyes could reveal a future stroke risk.

See WebMDHealth: 11 October 2005

  • A University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study has found that astrocytes are directly involved in regulating communication between neurons and, in particular, modulate the level of a signaling molecule called adenosine, thought to be important in controlling wake-to-sleep transitions and epileptic seizures.

See UPHS News: 11 October 2005

  • Eating fish may be good for the brain, according to a Rush University Medical Center study. Those who ate it once a week had a 10% slower annual decline in thinking and those who ate it twice a week had a 13% slower annual decline. However, certain people should avoid certain types of fish.

See Associated Press: 11 October 2005
Original Research Source: Archives of Neurology

  • A University of California study on rats suggests that psychological stress in infancy could cause memory loss and mental decline in middle age.

See BBC News: 11 October 2005
Original Research Source: Journal of Neuroscience

  • MRI scans have shown that HIV damages the brain.

See BBC News: 11 October 2005
Original Research Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

  • Increasing evidence shows that the cerebellum - previously thought to control only balance and movement - may also control higher functions, such as vision.

See BCC News: 9 October 2005
Original Research Source: Pediatrics

  • The use of rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) can increase fingertip sensitivity. The technology is an intriguing method of exploring brain function and could be used as a means of therapy.

See  PLoS Biology: 8 October 2005

  • A neck implant that sends regular electrical impulses to the brain helps prevent epileptic seizures.

See BBC News: 7 October 2005

  • A Lancet Neurology study says the risk of dementia can be cut significantly by exercising for at least half and hour, twice a week, in midlife.

See BBC News: 4 October 2005
Original research source: Lancet Neurology

  • The lack of consciousness in deep sleep is due to different regions of the cerebral cortex becoming disconnected.

See University of Wisconsin-Madison News: 29 September 2005

  • In a study conducted by a team from the University of Southern California, the brains of liars have been found to contain a higher percentage of white matter.

See BBC News: 29 September 2005
Original research source: University of Southern California

  • HIV-related dementia may be caused by the body's own defenses, according to a collaborative study published in the Journal of Virology.

See NSF News: 27 September 2005
Original research source: Journal of Virology

  • According to an Oxford University study published in the journal Neuron, labelling a smell differently can lead to a different perception of how unpleasant the odour is. It is the orbito-frontal cortex, which is involved in emotions, that modulates the odour.

See BBC News: 26 September 2005
Original research source: University of Oxford

  • Researchers in the US claim to have developed a 99% accurate technique, using fMRI, for detecting lies. However other lie detecting experts disagree with the results of the University of Pennsylvania study, saying that laboratory experiments do not match real-life.

See BBC News: 21 September 2005
Original research source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

  • A new MRC Centre for Neurogenerative Diseases has as one of its aims the development of a blood test that could track the progress of Alzheimer's disease.

See BBC News: 21 September 2005

  • Research will be stymied and patients harmed by European laws tightening the emission limits medical staff can be exposed to from scanners.

See BBC News: 20 September 2005

  • A component found in green tea (EGCG) has been found to prevent Alzheimer's-like damage in mice, according to a study by a team at the University of South Florida.

See BBC News: 20 September 2005
Original research source: The Journal of Neuroscience

  • University of Toronto researchers have charted how and where a painful event becomes permanently etched in the brain and say that this could have implications for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and the like.

See Science Daily: 15 September 2005
Original Research Source: Neuron

  • Hiding your emotions during an emotional event could mean you are less likely to be able to recall the event. However, the influence of emotions on memory can differ and the lack of recall may be a price worth paying in some instances. The study, by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Texas, Austin, is published in the Journal of Research and Personality and described in New Scientist.

See BBC News: 14 September 2005
Original Research Source: Journal of Research and Personality

  • A £20 million project is being launched by the U.K. Department of Health to look for new treatments for brain diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's, motor neurone disease and others. Teams have been appointed from the University College London and Newcastle University.

See BBC News: 13 September 2005

  • Memory problems in older people may result from an inability to ignore distractions, according to University of California, Berkeley researchers. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, shows that it is not enough to efficiently focus on relevant information - the ability to filter out distractions is also necessary.

See BBC News: 11 September 2005
Original Research sources: Nature Neuroscience and University of California, Berkeley

  • A University of Pittsburgh study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has shown that heightened levels of serotonin could be linked to one form of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Serotonin is a chemical linked to mood and anxiety.

See BBC News: 9 September 2005
Original research sources: Archives of General Psychiatry and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

  • University of Chicago researchers have compared the brains of humans from 37,000 years ago with those of contemporary humans and have found evidence that human brains have evolved. Specifically, changes have been found in two genes linked to brain size. However, it is stressed that these evolving genes don't necessarily make one smarter.

See BBC News: 9 September 2005
See also New York Times: 9 September 2005
Original Research Sources: Science and University of Chicago

  • An ageing brain can be kept young through aerobic exercise, mental stimulation and a healthy diet, according to researchers from the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Dublin.

See BBC News: 7 September 2005
Original Research Source: Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience

  • Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reveals that positive thinking can relieve pain. The team at the Wake Forest University studied 10 normal, healthy volunteers and scanned their brains using fMRI while a heat simulator was applied to their legs.

See BBC News: 5 September 2005
Original Research Sources: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

  • A University of Oxford Study published in the Lancet describes a platinum coil that, used in the treatment of burst aneurysms, could offer patients better long-term survival than major brain surgery.

See BBC News: 2 September 2005
Original Research Sources: International Subarachnoid Aneurysm Trial (ISAT) and The Lancet

  • Findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provide hard evidence of certain emotions causing asthma flare-ups. During experiments, a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison noticed activity in both the part of the brain that processes emotions and the part that has a role in obtaining information about disease symptoms.

See BBC News: 30 August 2005
Original Research Sources: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and the University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Scientists tracking the brain patterns of people with tone deafness say they are close to pinpointing its cause. The study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that other parts of the brain - not the auditory cortex, as previously thought - are at fault.

See BBC News: 29 August 2005
Original Research Source: Annals of Neurology

  • A glowing dye, which binds to areas of the brain damaged by Alzheimer's and which is visible via a brain scan, is being invented by scientists at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology in order to help spot the signs of early dementia.

See BBC News: 29 August 2005
Original Research Sources: Angewandte Chemie and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • A team of researchers have identified a chemical for the treatment of tumours that can bypass the barrier that exists in the brain to prevent toxic substances getting into it. The University of Saint Louis study also suggests that this chemical might be used in the treatment of other cancers.

See BBC News: 27 August 2005
Original Research Sources: Saint University School of Medicine and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

  • A leading psychiatrist has proposed that schizophrenia is the price humans pay for speech. Professor Crow of the mental health charity Sane's Prince of Wales International Centre in Oxford, says that the reason psychotic illnesses occur is linked to the difference in the development of the human brain - the ability to process speech and thought - from the primate brain and that a variation in a possible "asymmetry gene" may determine whether a person develops schizophrenia.

See BBC News: 27 August 2005
Original Research Sources: Sane - Prince of Wales International Centre and Rethink

  • US research has found that the so-called "placebo effect" works because the brain's natural painkillers are triggered. Scientists at the University of Michigan Health System used brain scans on 14 volunteers to study the effects of dummy drugs.

See BBC News: 24 August 2005
Original Research Sources: Journal of Neuroscience and University of Michigan Health System

  • A curious phenomena called "change blindness" - when we to look at something, but fail to see the obvious - appears to be linked to the parietal cortex, according to University College London researchers.

See BBC News: 24 August 2005
Original research sources: Cerebral Cortex and University College London

  • A study which formed part of a project to reduce or eliminate the effects of sleep deprivation on soldiers reveals that a drug tested on mokeys could reverse the effects of sleep deprivation in the brain. The drug has also been tested on humans, with positive results.

See BBC News: 22 August 2005
Original research source: Wake Forest University School of Medicine

  • University of Rochester researchers have found that, in Alzheimer's patients, expression is low for a gene that plays a major role in the way the brain's nerve and blood supply systems work. This discovery may lead to a method of slowing or stopping the disease.

See BBC News: 21 August 2005
Original research source: Nature Medicine

  • A study by a team from the University of California, San Diego, has shown that use of methamphetamine can impair those areas of the brain associated with cognitive skills such as learning and recall, verbal fluency, information processing and motor functioning. For those users who are HIV-positive, impairment is even worse.

See BBC News: 20 August 2005
Original research source: The American Journal of Psychiatry

  • Researchers from various institutes and universities are trying to find which of the "use-it-or-lose-it" methods available actually help protect the brain in the long term and reduce the risk of dementia.

See washingtonpost.com: 14 August 2005

  • Researchers from Living Cell Technologies, in Auckland, New Zealand, have had good results in the treatment of Huntington's disease in monkeys by using transplanted pig brain cells wrapped in a derivative of seaweed (to prevent implant rejection). Approval is now being sought from the Food and Drugs Administration for trials on humans in the U.S.

See BBC News: 11 August 2005
Original research sources: Living Cell Technologies and New Scientist

  • Strokes affecting the right-hand side of the brain may be going undetected and therefore untreated, according to German research in the Lancet.

    See BBC News: 29 July 2005
    Original research source: The Lancet
    Note that registration is required to access the abstracts for The Lancet's online articles.
  • A study by a team at the University College London to assess the effects of blinking on the brain has found that parts of the brain's visual system are shut down when we blink.

    See BBC News: 29 July 2005
    Original research source: Current Biology
  • Read about how magicians trick the mind.  Scientists have devised a myriad of weird and wonderful ways to test this - to show how much people miss right in front of their eyes. Every moment, the mind is bombarded with a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensations. Your consciousness has to continually meld all this data together and make sense of it. So it takes a few shortcuts and unless a major change occurs to grab your attention, your brain will not refresh the scene. In short, you see what you expect to see - and that is very helpful to an illusionist. .

See BBC News: 29 July 2005
Original research source: Dana Center

  • Read about how one of the few surgeons in the UK who is able to perform delicate, but potentially life changing operations for young people with epilepsy. He and his team at King's College Hospital in London use cutting-edge technology to pinpoint the precise area of the brain that is misfiring and remove it surgically.

See BBC News: 27 July 2005
Original research source: Your Life in their hands

  • Scientists who have discovered a gene linked to autism believe they can use the new knowledge to work out an individual's risk of the condition. The French team from IntegraGen SA hope to have a working risk assessment test on the market by the end of 2006.

See BBC News: 19 July 2005
Original research source: Molecular Psychiatry

  • Researchers at Dundee University have found a link between he hormone leptin that controls the body's hunger pangs and the brain's memory and learning process.

See BBC News: 18 July 2005
Original research source: Bioscience 2005

  • Scientists by looking at differences in the brains of people with an abnormality which makes them highly sociable, have uncovered clues about what happens in the brain to make some people "over-friendly",  they say this could give clues for understanding social disorders in others.

See BBC News: 10 July 2005
Original research source: Nature

  • A study by UK scientists have identified a chemical is released by the brain to tell the body to breathe more quickly and deeply, which might help  the athletes competing in the Olympic Games in London in 2012 and may be able to boost their breathing ability.

See BBC News: 06 July 2005
Original research source: Nature

  • US researchers fear that parents who sit their toddlers in front of the TV could be damaging their child's future learning abilities. TV viewing before the age of three was linked to poorer reading and maths skills at the ages of six and seven among the 1,797 children they studied. It is believed that intense visual and auditory output from TV damages the child's rapidly-developing brain.

See: BBC News: 05 July 2005
Original research source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

  • Women are bigger wimps than men when it comes to pain, research suggests, contrary to the popular notion that the reverse is true. Not only do they feel pain more easily, women are less able to cope with it, believe scientists at Bath University.
    Women focus on the emotional aspects of their pain, which makes it worse, while men tend to focus on the physicality.

See BBC News: 04 July 2005
Original research source: Bath University Pain Management Unit

  • "7 Ways to Save a Brain": Current Alzheimer's treatments don't slow the underlying disease process. Researchers are now testing an array of new therapies intended to do just that.

See Newsweek: Summer 2005

  • An expert warns that girls with autism may not be identified because they do not show traditional signs of the disease. Children with autistic spectrum disorders have poor social and communication skills. Hyperactivity, and interests in technical hobbies have been seen as characteristics of the disorder. But Christopher Gillberg, of the National Centre of Autism Studies, said girls were often passive and collected information on people, not things.

See BBC News: 28 June 2005
Original research source: National Centre of Autism Studies

  • UK experts believe that fitting patients with a brain pacemaker could switch off hard-to-treat depression.

See BBC News: 27 June 2005 
Original research source: Bristol University

  • A cannabis-like chemical produced naturally in the brain aids pain relief, researchers have found. The US scientists said the finding may lead to new drugs which can stimulate this natural response.

See BBC News: 22 June 2005
Original research source: Nature

  • Researchers claim that playing a video game triggers the same violent responses in the brain as actual aggression.

See BBC News: 22 June 2005
Original research source: New Scientist

  • A simple brain scan can spot whether a woman is faking an orgasm or not, researchers found that when a woman is faking, a part of the brain under conscious control lights up, while real orgasms occur subconsciously.

See BBC News: 20 June 2005
Original research source: University of Groningen

  • "Fight Alzheimer's with an active brain": Exercise your brain. Nourish it well. And the earlier you start, the better. That’s the best advice doctors can yet offer to ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

See Newsweek: 20 June 2005

  • Scientists say they have found that the "placebo effect" of dummy drugs can relieve anxiety as well as pain.  The effect is when a person is successfully treated by a dummy drug, just because they believe it works. The brain scans revealed that the placebo reduced activity in the brain's emotion centres and this reduction correlated with the unpleasantness rating, meaning subjects who reported the largest placebo response also showed the largest decrease in activity in the emotional centres.

See BBC News: 18 June 2005
Original research source: Neuron

  • Scientists trying to find a way to beat Parkinson's disease are reporting promising tests of a vaccine in mice. The vaccine targets the abnormal proteins that clump together in the nerve cells of people with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

See BBC News: 16 June 2005
Original research source: Neuron

  • An easy-to-use touch screen multimedia system has helped people with dementia be more interactive with carers. Reminiscence therapy is important for people with dementia but they are often led and controlled by the carer.

See BBC News: 15 June 2005
Original research source: Circa project

  • US scientists say they have duplicated the generation of new adult brain cells in the lab in a controlled way.  It is hoped the technique, tested so far on animal cells, will eventually allow scientists to produce a limitless supply of a person's own brain cells.

See BBC News: 14 June 2005
Original research source: PNAS

  • Researchers say that meditating monks are giving clues about how the brain's basic responses can be overridden.  Buddhist monks were given vision tests, where each eye was concurrently shown a different image. Most people's attention would automatically fluctuate - but the monks were able to focus on just one image, the scientists say their ability to override this basic mental response indicates how the brain can be trained.

See BBC News: 13 June 2005 
Original research source: Current Biology

  • Neuroscientists are to build the most detailed model of the human brain with the help of an IBM supercomputer. Swiss experts will spend the next two years creating a 3D simulation of the neocortex. This is the part of the brain thought to be responsible for language, learning, memory and complex thought. The researchers believe the project will give them fresh insights into the most remarkable organ in the body.

See BBC News: 07 June 2005
Original research source: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

  • A key hormone helps determine whether we will trust lovers, friends or business contacts, scientists claim.  Researchers found that exposure to an oxytocin "potion" led people to be more trusting.

 See BBC News: 02 June 2004
Original research source: Nature Neuroscience

  • Tests on Cancer survivors show they may be at risk of problems with mental abilities such as memory and learning, research suggests. It found those who had undergone cancer treatment were twice as likely to develop cognitive problems than people who had never been treated for cancer.

See BBC News: 31 May 2005
Original research source: Cancer Research UK

  • Researchers say that how a mother reads her baby's emotions may be more important for the child's development than the family's social status.

See BBC News: 26 May 2005
Original research source: British Psychological Society

  • "In search of answers from the great brains of Cornell", an article about the history of the Cornell human brain collection which dates back to 1871.

See NY Times.com: 24 May 2005
Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • Minor brain damage need not be all bad, two Swiss neurologists report. It can bring about an artistic transformation, which is what happened in two cases of painters who suffered mild strokes.

See NY Times.com: 24 May 2005
Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • UK research on twins suggests children with early psychopathic tendencies, such as lack of remorse, are likely to have inherited it from their parents, and that these young children are also likely to display inherited antisocial behaviour, the Institute of Psychiatry team found. But environmental factors are also important and, if favourable, could act as a buffer, they stressed.

See BBC News: 24 May 2005
Original research source: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

  • Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that comprehend sarcasm - honestly. By comparing healthy people and those with damage to different parts of the brain, they found the front of the brain was a key to understanding irony.

See BBC News: 23 May 2005
Original research source: Neuropsychology

  • The Mozart Effect (playing classical music to babies to make them smarter), a theory which is credited with boosting IQ, improving health, strengthening family ties and even producing the occasional child prodigy. Opinion is divided on whether it makes a difference, but many experts think that it may stimulate the brain in a way that helps educational and emotional development. This week sees the launch of a programme of concerts for babies - including those in utero.

See BBC News: 19 May 2005

  • US researchers have found that a difficult birth and a family history of mental illness may increase the risk of autism.

See BBC News: 17 May 2005 
Original research source: American Journal of Epidemiology

  • National Epilepsy Week (15 to 21 May 2005) is an annual national health campaign aimed at raising awareness of the condition. In 2005 the campaign will focus on epilepsy in later life.  This article has useful information on epilespy, what it is, facts and figures, etc.

See BBC News

  • Bird song sheds light on learning.

See BBC News: 15 May 2005
Original research source: Science Magazine

  • US scientists have invented a new drug known as CX717 that can boost memory, which works by boosting the brain chemical glutamate that makes learning and recall easy.

See BBC News: 12 May 2005
Original research source: New Scientist

  • A study which is the first randomised control trial which has been used to show that cognitive behaviour therapy can be effective in helping children with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome shows promising results.

See BBC News: 10 May 2005
Original research source: Expert Centre Chronic Fatigue

  • Scientists have shown that natural body scent plays a key role in determining whether we find somebody attractive. Using brain scans, researchers looked at how the brain responded to two compounds suggested as potential pheromones - the testosterone derivative and, and the oestrogen-like steroid EST.

See BBC News: 10 May 2005

Original research source: Psychological Science

  • Research shows that the brain reacts differently to the faces of people from different races.

See BBC News: 09 May 2005
Original research source: Nature Neuroscience

  • A couple of weeks ago, two scientists revealed that they had found a way to peer directly into your brain and tell what you are looking at, even when you yourself are not yet aware of what you have seen. An article which reveals the latest on mind reading.

See New York Times: 08 May 2005
Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • Growing research shows that babies as young as four months show a preference for certain colours. An article on colour vision and cultural differences in babies.

See BBC News: 08 May 2005
Original research source: Surrey Baby lab

  • Drinking alcohol boosts the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, research suggests.
    But while this might sound good in theory, the Swedish team believe these new cells could contribute to the development of alcohol dependence.

See BBC News: 29 April 2005 

Original research source: International Journal of Neuropsychology

  • A US National Institutes of Health team found that obese people in their 40s are 74% more likely to develop dementia compared to those of normal weight.

See BBC News: 29 April 2005 

Original research source: British Medical Journal

  • A University College London research team has found with fMRI that they could tell what a person was thinking deep down even when the individual was unaware themselves.

See BBC News: 25 April 2005
Original research source: Nature Neuroscience

  • Doctors say that the first Alzheimer's patients to test pioneering gene therapy are proof of the treatment's promise.

See BBC News: 25 April 2005
Original research source: Nature Medicine

  • New research has claimed that orkers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.

See BBC News: 22 April 2005
Original research source: Kings College London Institute of Psychiatry

  • Watching TV makes you smarter, an article which looks at how and why television programmes are becoming more cognitively challenging.

See The New York Times

Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • "The Child Who Would Not Speak a Word", an article which highlights a case of selective mutism (when children at home, behave like typical children, but in social situations, especially at school, they are silent and withdrawn), deals with treatments etc.

See The New York Times: 12 April 2005

Note that  the New York Times website requests that users register first to access their online articles.

  • New research suggests that using a mobile phone does not increase the risk of developing a brain tumour.

See BBC News: 11 April 2005
Original research source: Neurology

  • A research study at Washington University on 1,266 four-year-old children suggests that those who watch more television than average are more likely to become bulliesand that mental stimulation, such as outings, being read to and eating with parents reduced the risk of bullying.

See BBC News: 04 April 2005
Original research source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

  • A mass experiment which aims to test the emotional intelligence and intuition of people living in the UK has been launched in Edinburgh.

See BBC News: 01 April 2005
Original research resource: Edinburgh Science Festival

  • US scientists by using a brain scan say they can tell whether one person trusts another,. The results suggest that a brain region called the caudate nucleus lights up when it receives or computes data to make decisions based on trust.

See BBC News: 01 April 2005
Original research source: Science Magazine

  • Pioneering surgery on a paralysed man at New England Sinai Hospital, Massachusetts, allows him to control everyday objects by thought alone. The man, who is paralysed from the neck down, is able to do this thanks to a brain chip that reads his mind.

See BBC News: 31 March 2005
Original Research Source: Cyberkinetics and Brown University

  • How long do the fatigue and 'brain fog' last after surgery with general anesthesia?

See Boston Globe: 29 March 2005

  • Scientists are still trying to determine what causes Alzheimers disease in old age. Their quest takes on increasing urgency, with predictions that unless a cure is found, the number of Americans with the disease will rise from about 4.5 million now to 13 million in 2050.

See Boston Globe: 29 March 2005

  • Scientists in Cambridge have been awarded more than £500,000 to study fruit flies in a bid to find a new treatment for Alzheimer's.

See BBC News: 21 March 2005

  • A recent report from The Mental Health Foundation said there was mounting evidence that a supervised exercise programme could be as effective as drugs in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.  

See BBC News: 28 March 2005
Original Research Source: The Mental Health Foundation

  • The Medical Research Council is funding a four-year University of Manchester project to explore new ways for parents and autistic children to communicate. The study aims to reach children before they go to school by testing a therapy to improve the communication skills of children with autism.

See BBC News: 19 March 2005

  • Age, emotion, attention factor into memory

See CNN.com: 25 March 2005

  • Academics at a London, UK, meeting stated that farm animals have feelings which should be respected and catered for, they believe animals should not be dismissed as simple automatons - cows take pleasure in solving problems and sheep can form deep friendships.

See BBC News: 18 March 2005

  • The fifth edition of the Rat Atlas has recently been published, it offers course around the brain, so much so that researchers the world over use intricate maps of the rat brain in their attempts to understand the workings of the human mind. 

See The Australian: 15 March 2005

  • The hallmark of Alzheimer's disease - amyloid plaques in the brain - can be detected in living mice using a new technique based on magnetic resonance imaging. The finding raises the possibility that people without overt symptoms could one day be diagnosed and treated early. Currently, the standard way to confirm the presence of the plaques, and thus the disease, is by autopsy.

See New Scientist: 13 March 2005

Original research source: RIKEN Brain Science Institute

  • A Harvard Medical School team of researchers found MRI scanners, which take internal images of the body, can have the same effect as standard anti-depressants.

See BBC News: 11 March 2005

Original research source: McLean Hospital

  • New evidence shows the key to human behaviors such as addiction and aggression may lie in your genes.

See Health Day News: 10 March 2005

Original research source: University of Colorado

  • Scientists may have found what makes a tune catchy, after locating the brain area where a song's "hook" gets caught.

See BBC News: 09 March 2005

Original research source: Nature

  • Researchers at Cardiff University have discovered a gene which they believe is likely to be one of the causes of dyslexia in children. It is believed to be the first time a single gene linked to the condition has been identified, and it is hoped the discovery will lead to better understand of the brain disorder which disrupts reading and writing.

See BBC News: 03 March 2005
Original research source: University of Wales College of Medicine

  • One of the main outcomes of a detailed examination of the famous skeleton from Indonesia nicknamed the "Hobbit" braincase, reveals that the small brain does not reflect that it belonged to a modern human pygmy with a brain disease.

See BBV News: 03 March 2005
Original research source: Science Magazine

  • Three key drugs to treat memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease to be withdrawn after assessing the clinical and cost effectiveness of the drugs assessment by the UK NHS treatment advisory body. 

See BBC News: 01 March 2005

Original research source: National Institute for Clinical Excellence

  • A New Zealand longitudinal study has revealed that smoking cannabis virtually doubles the risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

See BBC News: 01 March 2005

Original research source: Adiction Journal

  • A new study suggests that gay men employ the same strategies for navigating as women, using landmarks to find their way around.The results may provide insight into on the organisation of cognitive abilities in general.

See New Scientist: 25 February 2005

Original research source: Behavioural Neuroscience

 

  • Scientists showed a synthetic version of the compound active ingredient in marijuana may reduce inflammation associated with Alzheimer's and thus help to prevent mental decline, and hope the cannabinoid may be used to developed new drug therapies.

See BBC News: 22 February 2005

Original research souce: Journal of Neuroscience

  • Research suggests.Physical activity may decrease the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

See BBC News: 22 February 2005

Original research souce: Neurology

  •   The drug Quetiapine (Seroquel) commonly used in nursing homes to combat agitation, a common symptom of Alzheimer's could actually make their condition worse, a study says.

See BBC News: 18 February 2005

Original research source: British Medical Journal

  • Scientists in the US have created a robotic arm that can be controlled by thought alone which has a fully mobile shoulder and elbow and a gripper that works like a hand.

See BBC News: 18 February 2005

Original research sources: University of Pittsburgh and Association for the Advancement of Science

  • Thought might not be dependent on language, according to a UK team patients who have lost the ability to understand grammar can still complete hard sums, suggesting that mathematical reasoning can exist without language.

See BBC News: 15 February 2005

Original research source: PNAS

  • A Stanford University researcher has gotten a preliminary go-ahead to create a mouse with a significant number of human brain cells -- as long as the creature behaves like a mouse, not a human.

See Mercurynews.com: 14 February 2005

  • Researchers compared the effectiveness of St John's wort to anti-depressant drug paroxetine in treating moderate and severe depression, finding that half of those with the condition improved when given the herb, compared with a third using the drug.

See BBC News: 11 February 2005

  • According to a new study, abundant but poorly understood brain cells called glia turn out to be essential in the development of synapses -- critical connections that form between neurons in the brain during its development.

See Yahoo News health Day: 10 February 2005

Original research source: Stanford University School of Medicine

  • Rat experiments using a well-established animal model of depressionscientists have found that omega-3 fatty acids and uridine -- a natural substance found in foods -- work as well as antidepressants in preventing signs of depression.

See Forbes.com: 10 February 2005

Original research source: Harvard McLean Hospital

  • Scientists have shown that left-handed and right-handed people view the world differently, psychologists found they use opposite sides of their brains when looking at, and making sense of, an image.

See BBC News: 07 February 2005
Original research source: Nature

  • Methamphetamines, prescription diet pills and the attention deficit disorder drugs Ritalin and Dexedrine are the most abused stimulants, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said, based on data from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

See Associated Press: 04 February 2005

  • A Norwegian report claims that dyslexia slows a driver's reaction time as much as moderate drinking, they found dyslexic drivers took 30% longer to react than other drivers.

See BBC News: 03 February 2005 

Original research source: Norwegian University of Science and Technology

  • People volunteering for studies that require a brain scan are well advised to be prepared for the unexpected. Scientists are finding that the normal brain isn't necessarily normal.

See Newsday.com: 01 February 2005

Original research source: Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

  • A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25, a finding with implications for a host of policies, including the nation's driving laws.

See Washington Post: 01 February 2005

  • Scientists say they have found the brain regions that help us to decide whether to look someone in the eye or look away, which may help doctors better understand certain brain diseases.

See BBC News: 26 January 2005

Original research source: Current Biology

  • "Gray Matter and Sexes: A Gray Area Scientifically", an article which relooks at the age-old debate on gender differences related to skill performance providing an update on the recent research on biological and neurological sex differences.

See NYTimes.com: 24 January 2005

  • Oxford University scientists will carry out experiments on hundreds of people in a bid to understand how the brain works during states of consciousness. Volunteers are to undergo torture to see if faith eases pain.  Researchers believe the study may improve understanding of faith, how robust it is and how easily it can be dislodged.

See BBC News: 12 January 2005

Original research source: University of Oxford

  • A study published by the UK National Radiological Protection Board warns that parents should ensure their children use mobile phones only when absolutely necessary because of the potential health risks.

See BBC News: 11 January 2004

Original research source: National Radiological Protection Board

  • A new study has suggested that serious gamblers demonstrate a similar pattern of brain activity to people who are addicted to drugs.

See BBC News: 10 January 2005

Original research source: Nature

  • Experts who used technology developed in Glasgow say they have discovered that the eyes can be a giveaway when it comes to identifying fear, after having looked at the case of a woman who had rare damage to part of her brain. 

See BBC News: 06 January 2005 

Original research source: Nature

  • Research has discovered that a family of antibiotics including penicillin may help prevent nerve damage in a variety of neurological diseases.

See BBC News: 06 January 2005

Original research source: Nature

  • A study has revealed that nearly half of extremely premature babies who survive develop a disability or learning difficulty.

See BBC News: 05 January 2005

Original research source: The New England Journal of Medecine

  • Scientists found the female brain responds differently to a man's when exposed to certain words concerned with body image, which means that women may be more at risk of eating disorders than men because of the way their brain processes information.

See BBC News: 5 January 2005

Original research source: The British Journal of Psychiatry

  • Children exposed to passive smoking are likely to do worse at school than their peers, research in the US shows that exposure to even low levels of tobacco smoke in the home was linked to lower test results for reading and maths.

See BBC News: 04 January 2005

Original research source: Environmental Health Perspectives

  • Japanese researchers have shown that monkey stem cells can repair the brain damage caused by Parkinson's disease offering renewed hope of a similar treatment for humans.

See BBC News: 3 January 2005

Original research source: Journal of Clinical Investigation

  • A recent investigation,  revealed cancer sufferers who remained optimistic during treatment had no more chance of surviving the ordeal than those who felt burdened by their illness.

See BBC News: 2 January 2005

Original research source: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

2004 Archives: The Brain in the Headlines

2003 Archives: The Brain in the Headlines