Psychology Research News -- ScienceDaily

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students
Major beer companies have rolled out marketing campaigns and products -- such as 'fan cans,' store displays, and billboard ads -- that pair beer with university colors, mascots, and logos. Research shows that such campaigns may enhance the motivational significance of marketed beer brands, especially for students who identify strongly with their university. The researchers conclude that this effect could potentially increase underage students' alcohol consumption.

Postmortem schizophrenia study identifies shifts in patterns of glutamate and GABA in visuospatial working memory network
Disruptions in certain regions of the visuospatial working memory network may lead to its impairment in schizophrenia, according to a new study.

Novel candidate for antidepressant treatment
A recent article explores how a protein named CK2 could play a key role in the formulation of new antidepressants that work more efficiently and faster for more people.

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run
Strolling around or running to catch the train similarly requires us to move. However, the neuronal mechanisms in the brain that allow us to initiate and control these movements are different, a new study reveals. 'Start neurons' in the midbrain are essential to take the first step to initiate locomotion and control the speed, mice models show.

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain
Recording brain activity via electrodes placed directly on the cortical surface (ECoG) provides much clearer views of thinking activity and how the prefrontal cortex coordinates the brain's response to a perception. With the help of 16 epilepsy patients, neuroscientists tracked the brain's activity as it detects, interprets, settles on a response and activates motor areas to respond. The brain prepares to respond very early, even before we know how we will respond.

Female rugby players shows a regular season of play results in changes in brain
Researchers have shown that a regular season of play can cause changes in the brain that are similar to changes caused by concussion, though less severe. Using sophisticated Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy the researchers looked at metabolite levels in the brains of female varsity rugby players at the beginning of their season, after suffering a concussion, and again at the end of the season.

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss actually very limited
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A new study now challenges this view.

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning
A new study provides one of the first looks inside the infant's brain to show where the sense of touch is processed -- not just when a baby feels a touch to the hand or foot, but when the baby sees an adult's hand or foot being touched, as well. Researchers say these connections help lay the groundwork for the developmental and cognitive skills of imitation and empathy.

A high-salt diet produces dementia in mice
A high-salt diet reduces resting blood flow to the brain and causes dementia in mice.

Improving stroke treatment through machine learning
Methods from optogenetics and machine learning should help improve treatment options for stroke patients. Researchers have now developed a computer vision technique to analyze the changes in motor skills that result from targeted stimulation of healthy areas of the brain.

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently
A musician's brain is different to that of a non-musician. Making music requires an interplay of abilities which are also reflected in more developed brain structures. Scientists have discovered that these capabilities are embedded in a much more finely tuned way than assumed: The brain activity of jazz pianists differs from those of classical pianists, even when playing the same piece of music.

Mapping the social landscape
Scientists have, in recent decades, pinpointed neurons called 'place cells' in our brains that encode our own location in the environment, but how our brains represent the positions of others has been a mystery. New research in bats, reveals a sub-population of neurons that encode the specific location of other bats that are flying nearby.

Preterm babies may suffer setbacks in auditory brain development, speech
Preterm babies born early in the third trimester of pregnancy are likely to experience delays in the development of the auditory cortex, a brain region essential to hearing and understanding sound, a new study reveals. Such delays are associated with speech and language impairments at age 2, the researchers found.

Potential brain-machine interface for hand paralysis
A brain-machine interface that combines brain stimulation with a robotic device controlling hand movement increases the output of pathways connecting the brain and spinal cord, according to a study of healthy adults. This work could have implications for restoring function in stroke patients with hand paralysis.

Brain imaging predicts language learning in deaf children
MRI brain scans can predict language improvement after a cochlear implant, laying the foundation for creation of brain specific therapy, according to new research.

Power stations in cells may protect brain against Parkinson´s
A new study shows that impairment in mitochondria may actually protect the brain in Parkinson’s disease.

Commonalities in brains of people with Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease
A new study strongly suggests that the brains of people who have died of Huntington's disease (HD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) show a similar response to a lifetime of neurodegeneration, despite being two very distinct diseases.

Does an exploding brain network cause chronic pain?
New research reports that hyperreactive brain networks could play a part in the hypersensitivity of fibromyalgia.

New method to map miniature brain circuits
In a feat of nanoengineering, scientists have developed a new technique to map electrical circuits in the brain far more comprehensively than ever before. Scientists worldwide could use the technique to uncover the architecture of different parts of the brain.

Genetic analysis can improve depression therapy
The failure of SSRI antidepressants can be a result of genetic variations in patients. Variations within the gene that encodes the CYP2C19 enzyme results in extreme differences in the levels of escitalopram achieved in patients, according to a new study. Prescribing the dose of escitalopram based on a patient's specific genetic constitution would greatly improve therapeutic outcomes.

New technology will create brain wiring diagrams
Scientists have developed new technology that allows them to see which neurons are talking to which other neurons in live fruit flies.

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of Alzheimer's disease in older adults.

What happens when your brain's support cells aren't so supportive?
Salk scientists use gene expression to understand how astrocytes change with age.

The brain's GPS has a buddy system
Brain cells that reflect self position relative to others have been identified in the rat hippocampus. Sometimes these representations are processed jointly by the same cells, depending on a rat's goals and actions. This discovery deepens our understanding of the hippocampus and its role as the brain's positioning system.

Autism: Brain circuit controls social behavior identified
A new study has identified a key brain region of the neural circuit that controls social behavior. Increasing the activity of this region, called the habenula, led to social problems in rodents, whereas decreasing activity of the region prevented social problems.

Genetic 'switches' behind human brain evolution
Researchers have developed the first map of gene regulation in human neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells turn into brain cells and the cerebral cortex expands in size. The scientists identified factors that govern the growth of our brains and, in some cases, set the stage for several brain disorders that appear later in life.

Objectification of women results in lack of empathy
Sexualized representations, especially the emphasis of secondary sexual characteristics, can change the way we perceive an individual. Researchers have shown that empathic feelings and brain responses are reduced when we observe the emotions of sexualized women.

Are there signs of CTE in the brain tissue of younger people with epilepsy?
Younger adults with difficult-to-treat epilepsy may have early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in their brain tissue, but it appears to be uncommon, according to a small, preliminary study.

Personal growth often coexists with post-traumatic stress following natural disasters
The 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, was one of the most destructive in US history -- killing 161 people, injuring 1,150 and destroying approximately one-third of the city's homes. Researchers have found that survivors of natural disasters have the potential to experience positive changes or growth in addition to the stress they experience. Researchers say this finding can help those working in communities after a disaster.

Epileptic seizures and depression may share a common genetic cause, study suggests
From the time of Hippocrates, physicians have suspected a link between epilepsy and depression. Now, for the first time, scientists have found evidence that seizures and mood disorders such as depression may share the same genetic cause in some people with epilepsy, which may lead to better screening and treatment to improve patients' quality of life.

Altered voice processing in young children with autism and delayed language development
Three- to five-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and delayed language development appear to process voices differently than typically developing children, according to a new study.

Oversimplifying beliefs about causes of mental illness may hinder social acceptance
Belief that mental illness is biological has increased among both health experts and the public in recent years. But campaigns to treat it as a disease and remove stigma may be lacking because other factors, such as bad character and upbringing, still are viewed as playing a role, a new study has found.

General anesthetics do more than put you to sleep
A new understanding of the complex ways in which general anesthetics act on the brain could eventually lead to improved drugs for surgery. It remains unclear how general anesthesia works, even though it is one of the most common medical procedures worldwide. University of Queensland researcher, Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen, said his team had overturned previous understanding of what general anaesthetics do to the brain, finding the drugs did much more than induce sleep.

Proteomics analyses could present new opportunities to diagnose and treat dementias
One of the most intriguing properties of the brain is its means to undergo synaptic plasticity which represents the basis for learning and memory, abilities that severely decline in the case of a dementia. New research suggests that particular proteins important in the communication between neurons could be targets for early interventions in patients with different types of dementias.

Uneasiness in observers of unnatural android movements explained
When the human-likeness of androids exceeds a certain threshold, the human's affinity for them decreases and an uncanny feeling about them increases. This effect, however, has been relatively unexplored. Osaka University-centered researchers recently found the visual observation of the android, compared with that of the human model, caused greater activation in the subthalamic nucleus, a brain region also involved in the pathology of Parkinson's disease. The findings further contribute to the knowledge needed to design androids with more natural movements.

Scientists find heightened attention to surprise in veterans with PTSD
Scientists have found that people with PTSD have an increased learning response to surprising events. While most everyone reacts to surprise, people with PTSD tend to pay even more attention to the unexpected.

Brain-cell 'antenna' may be key to understanding obesity
Researchers have discovered that the brain's ability to regulate body weight depends on a novel form of signaling in the brain's 'hunger circuit' via antenna-like structures on neurons called primary cilia.

Monthly brain cycles predict seizures in patients with epilepsy
Neurologists have discovered monthly cycles of brain activity linked to seizures in patients with epilepsy. The finding suggests it may soon be possible for clinicians to identify when patients are at highest risk for seizures, allowing patients to plan around these brief but potentially dangerous events.

Higher stress among minority and low-income populations can lead to health disparities, says report
People with low incomes and racial/ethnic minority populations experience greater levels of stress than their more affluent, white counterparts, which can lead to significant disparities in both mental and physical health that ultimately affect life expectancy, according to a new report.

Depression in black adolescents requires different treatment
Black adolescents express depressive symptoms differently than people from other age and racial groups, requiring that clinicians take this into account when developing treatment plans.

Mirror neuron activity predicts people's decision-making in moral dilemmas
New research suggests that scientists could make a good guess based on how the brain responds when people watch someone else experience pain. The study found that those responses predict whether people will be inclined to avoid causing harm to others when facing moral dilemmas.

Advances in brain imaging settle debate over spread of key protein in Alzheimer's
Recent advances in brain imaging have enabled scientists to show for the first time that a key protein which causes nerve cell death spreads throughout the brain in Alzheimer's disease -- and hence that blocking its spread may prevent the disease from taking hold.

Why drivers may fail to see motorcycles in plain sight
Drivers' limited capacity to process the myriad details they absorb could explain why they sometimes fail to avoid crashes with motorcycles.

People who sleep less than 8 hours a night more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety
Sleeping less than the recommended eight hours a night is associated with intrusive, repetitive thoughts like those seen in anxiety or depression, according to new research.

New brainstem changes identified in Parkinson's disease
A pioneering study has found that patients with Parkinson's disease have more errors in the mitochondrial DNA within the brainstem, leading to increased cell death in that area.

Rare forms of 'thunder' protein may be linked to schizophrenia
Researchers report they have identified rare genetic variations in a protein called Thorase, which is responsible for breaking down receptors at the connections between neurons in the brain.

Danger changes how rat brain stores information
The male rat brain changes how it stores information depending on whether the environment in which it learns is safe or dangerous, according to new research.

Zebrafish brain repair following concussion
A simple and inexpensive zebrafish model of concussion reveals the genetic pathways underlying the animal's remarkable ability to regenerate injured brain tissue. Understanding the mechanisms of regeneration in the zebrafish brain could ultimately help identify new ways to promote recovery from head injury in humans.

Scheduled feeding improves neurodegenerative symptoms in mice
Restricting meals to the same time each day improves motor activity and sleep quality in a mouse model of Huntington's disease, according to new research. These findings suggest that eating on a strict schedule could improve quality of life for patients with neurodegenerative diseases for which there are no known cures.

New brain mapping technique highlights relationship between connectivity and IQ
A new and relatively simple technique for mapping the wiring of the brain has shown a correlation between how well connected an individual's brain regions are and their intelligence, say researchers.