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Pupil dilation and heart rate, analyzed by AI, may help spot...

Child's eye (stock image). Credit: © Anton / Adobe Stock Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders often aren't diagnosed until a child is a few years of age, when behavioral interventions and speech/occupational therapy become less effective. But new research this week in PNAS suggests that two simple, quantifiable measures -- spontaneous fluctuations in pupil dilation…

Scientists stimulate neurons to induce particular perceptions in mice’s minds

Neurons illustration (stock image). Credit: © Giovanni Cancemi / Adobe Stock Hallucinations are spooky and, fortunately, fairly rare. But, a new study suggests, the real question isn't so much why some people occasionally experience them. It's why all of us aren't hallucinating all the time. In the study, Stanford University School of Medicine neuroscientists stimulated…

Brain protein mutation from child with autism causes autism-like behavioral change...

Lab mouse (stock image). Credit: © mgkuijpers / Adobe Stock A de novo gene mutation that encodes a brain protein in a child with autism has been placed into the brains of mice. These mice then showed severe alterations of specific behaviors that closely resemble those seen in human autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. This…

Fear of predators causes PTSD-like changes in brains of wild animals

Black-capped chickadee (stock image). Credit: © Michael Mill / Adobe Stock Fear can be measured in the brain and fearful life-threatening events can leave quantifiable long-lasting traces in the neural circuitry of the brain with enduring effects on behaviour, as shown most clearly in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A new study by Western University demonstrates…

How deep space travel could affect the brain

Astronaut, background of stars illustration (stock image). Credit: © James Thew / Adobe Stock Exposure to chronic, low dose radiation -- the conditions present in deep space -- causes neural and behavioral impairments in mice, researchers report in eNeuro. These results highlight the pressing need to develop safety measures to protect the brain from radiation…

Scientists find clue to ‘maternal instinct’

Lab mouse and pups (stock image). Credit: © tilialucida / Adobe Stock Oxytocin is widely referred to as the love hormone and plays an important role in the regulation of social and maternal behavior. In recent years, the oxytocin system in the brain has received tremendous attention as key to new treatments for many mental…

Small cluster of neurons is off-on switch for mouse songs

Lab mouse (stock image). Credit: © efmukel / Adobe Stock Researchers at Duke University have isolated a cluster of neurons in a mouse's brain that are crucial to making the squeaky, ultrasonic 'songs' a male mouse produces when courting a potential mate. In fact, they now understand these neurons well enough to be able to…

Reaching and grasping: Learning fine motor coordination changes the brain

Hands grasping (stock image). Credit: © beeboys / Adobe Stock When we train the reaching for and grasping of objects, we also train our brain. In other words, this action brings about changes in the connections of a certain neuronal population in the red nucleus, a region of the midbrain. Researchers at the University of…

Mouse study finds BPA exposure has transgenerational effects on gene linked...

BPA chemical structure (stock image). Credit: © Zerbor / Adobe Stock Transgenerational bisphenol A (BPA) exposure may contribute to autism, according to a mouse study published in the Endocrine Society's journal Endocrinology. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that interfere with the way the body's hormones work. BPA is a common…

How language developed: Comprehension learning precedes vocal production

Mother green monkey feeds offspring (stock image). Credit: © Roman Tiraspolsky / Adobe Stock Human language and communication skills are unique in the animal kingdom. How they developed in the course of evolution is being researched, among other things, using the alarm call system of vervet monkeys. East African vervet monkeys warn their conspecifics against…

Early life exposure to nicotine alters neurons, predisposes brain to addiction...

Purkinje neuron illustration. Credit: © Kateryna_Kon / Adobe Stock Neonatal exposure to nicotine alters the reward circuity in the brains of newborn mice, increasing their preference for the drug in later adulthood, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine in a study published "in press" April 24, 2019 in Biological Psychiatry.…

Flamingoes, elephants and sharks: How do blind adults learn about animal...

Animal silhouettes. Credit: © Adrian Hillman / Adobe Stock They've never seen animals like hippos and sharks but adults born blind have rich insight into what they look like, a new Johns Hopkins University study found. "First-person experience isn't the only way to develop a rich understanding of the world around us," says Judy Kim,…

How we make complex decisions

Complex decision concept. Credit: © anyaberkut / Adobe Stock When making a complex decision, we often break the problem down into a series of smaller decisions. For example, when deciding how to treat a patient, a doctor may go through a hierarchy of steps -- choosing a diagnostic test, interpreting the results, and then prescribing…

Brain’s insular cortex processes pain and drives learning from pain

Pain concept (touching cactus). Credit: © DragonImages / Adobe Stock Acute pain, e.g. hitting your leg against a sharp object, causes an abrupt, unpleasant feeling. In this way, we learn from painful experiences to avoid future harmful situations. This is called "threat learning" and helps animals and humans to survive. But which part of the…

Research on repetitive worm behavior may have implications for understanding human...

Caenorhabditis elegans. Credit: © heitipaves / Adobe Stock Repetition can be useful if you're trying to memorize a poem, master a guitar riff, or just cultivate good habits. When this kind of behavior becomes compulsive, however, it can get in the way of normal life -- an impediment sometimes observed in psychiatric illnesses like Tourette's…

Trained musicians perform better — at paying attention

Musician concentrating (stock image). Credit: © Stefan Körber / Adobe Stock Musical training produces lasting improvements to a cognitive mechanism that helps individuals be more attentive and less likely to be distracted by irrelevant stimuli while performing demanding tasks. According to a new study appearing in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier, trained musicians demonstrate…

Trained musicians perform better — at paying attention

Musician concentrating (stock image). Credit: © Stefan Körber / Adobe Stock Musical training produces lasting improvements to a cognitive mechanism that helps individuals be more attentive and less likely to be distracted by irrelevant stimuli while performing demanding tasks. According to a new study appearing in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier, trained musicians demonstrate…

Keeping fit is more than physical: It’s a state of mind

Responses about motivation across exercise modes placed on the Self-determination continuum that was developed by Ryan and Deci (2000). Credit: Elsevier According to a new study differences in what motivates individuals and how they self-regulate behavior influence how they keep fit. The study appearing in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier, associates personal characteristics with…

Magnets can help AI get closer to the efficiency of the...

Purdue University researchers have developed a process to use magnetics with brain-like networks to program and teach devices to better generalize about different objects. Credit: Kaushik Roy/Purdue University Computers and artificial intelligence continue to usher in major changes in the way people shop. It is relatively easy to train a robot's brain to create a…

Treating addiction: Cryo-EM technology enables the ‘impossible’

Using cryo-electron microscopy, OHSU researchers reveal the three major shapes of the serotonin transporter--a protein in the brain linked to anxiety and depression. In this image, a serotonin transporter bound with ibogaine (lime spheres), is found to have outward-open, closed and inward-open shapes. Credit: OHSU Scientists used a compound found in a shrub native to…

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