Brain

Our brain consists of billions of nerve cells enabling to learn, remember and reason. Every time we think and experience, touch, smell or fear, millions of neurons in our brain becomes active.

These nerve cells communicate with each other by chemical and electrical impulses to compute incoming sensory information and integrate it via distinct brain regions. With 20,000 - 25,000 genes in our genome, most also expressed in neurons, there is now little doubt that neurons respond to challenging environments by adjusting the expression of genes for appropriate brain functions.

Why does putting our feelings into words — talking with a therapist or friend, writing in a journal — help us to feel better? A new brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists reveals why verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger and pain less intense.

From the viewpoint of biology, learning and education can be defined as the processes of forming neuronal connections in response to external environmental stimuli, and of controlling or adding appropriate stimuli, respectively.

Computers can't do that but researchers in Japan have shown how they can control electronic devices simply by reading brain activity.

The "brain-machine" developed by Hitachi Inc. recently analyzed changes in the Akiko Obata's blood flow and translated those into electric signals which linked to a mapping device that controlled a toy train.

Nanobiotechnology holds a lot of promise and people have often speculated how it will impact the world of medicine. Unfortunately promising nanostructured systems so far have turned out to be extremely toxic to humans.

Scientists have provided new details about how proteins used to destroy bacteria and viruses may help treat Alzheimer’s disease. Gunnar K. Gouras, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, and colleagues provide new insights into how these proteins, called antibodies, reduce the main hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease and raise hopes for a vaccine against the disease.

Compared to people with normal vision, those who were blind at birth tend to have excellent memories. A new study shows that blind individuals are particular whizzes when it comes to remembering things in the right order.

The findings are a good example of the familiar adage that “practice makes perfect” and reveal that mental capabilities may be refined or adjusted in order to compensate for the lack of a sensory input, according to researchers Noa Raz and Ehud Zohary of Hebrew University.

By making careful observations of the growth of a layer of molecules as they gradually cover the surface of a small silicon rectangle, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) have gained basic insights into how self-propagating self-assembly wave fronts develop and have produced the first experimental verification of recently improved theoretical models of such systems.

Omega-3 supplements can, in certain cases, help combat the depression and agitation symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a clinical study conducted at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet.

A number of epidemiological studies have shown that eating fatty fish provides a certain degree of protection against Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases—an effect often thought attributable to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Some studies also suggest that omega-3 can have a therapeutic effect on some psychiatric conditions.

Biomedical engineers at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering have adapted a three-dimensional ultrasound scanner that might guide minimally invasive brain surgeries and provide better detection of a brain tumor’s location.

The “brain scope,” which is inserted into a dime-sized hole in the skull, may be particularly useful for the bedside evaluation of critically ill patients when computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment is unavailable, the researchers said.

A particular resonance pattern in the brain’s auditory processing region appears to be key to its ability to discriminate speech, researchers have found. They found that the inherent rhythm of neural activity called “theta band” specifically reacts to spoken sentences by changing its phase.

The researchers also noted that the natural oscillation of this frequency provides further evidence that the brain samples speech segments about the length of a syllable.

Researchers have discovered a sophisticated neural computer, buried deep in the cerebellum, that performs inertial navigation calculations to figure out a person’s movement through space.

Pheromones are a key reason many creatures, including humans, meet. In addition, while mating recognition systems in each species might be unique, pheromones are considered the important common denominator there also.

The mating 'language' is a key reason unacceptable mutants that use slightly different signals die off without any offspring. Even among moth species with different types of males and females, two different kinds of pheromones are in action, which was assumed to be the key factor in mate selection.

More good news for coffee is making the "it" drink for 2007.

People who drink coffee are less likely to develop an involuntary eye spasm called primary late onset blepharospasm, which makes them blink uncontrollably and can leave them effectively ‘blind’, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Materials that change temperature in magnetic fields could lead to new refrigeration technologies that reduce the use of greenhouse gases, thanks to new research at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and Ames National Laboratory.

Scientists carrying out X-ray experimentation at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne — the nation's most powerful source of X-rays for research — are learning new information about magnetocaloric materials that have potential for environmentally friendly magnetic refrigeration systems.

A probe of the upper echelons of the human brain's chain-of-command has found strong evidence that there are not one but two complementary commanders in charge of the brain, according to neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

It's as if Captains James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard were both on the bridge and in command of the same starship Enterprise.