Posts tagged ‘Neuroscience’
Fresh off of yesterday’s neuroscience related post I thought you’d enjoy this thought provoking musical rendition. Did you have any doubt that neuroscience is a complicated discipline. Watch this video and I guarantee that you will be convinced!
One of the smallest parts of the brain is getting a second look after new research suggests it plays a crucial role in decision making.
A University of British Columbia study published in Nature Neuroscience says the lateral habenula, a region of the brain linked to depression and avoidance behaviours, has been largely misunderstood and may be integral in cost-benefit decisions.
“These findings clarify the brain processes involved in the important decisions that we make on a daily basis, from choosing between job offers to deciding which house or car to buy,” says Prof. Stan Floresco of UBC’s Dept. of Psychology and Brain Research Centre (BRC). “It also suggests that the scientific community has misunderstood the true functioning of this mysterious, but important, region of the brain.”
In the study, scientists trained lab rats to choose between a consistent small reward (one food pellet) or a potentially larger reward (four food pellets) that appeared sporadically. Like humans, the rats tended to choose larger rewards when costs—in this case, the amount of time they had to wait before receiving food–were low and preferred smaller rewards when such risks were higher.
Previous studies suggest that turning off the lateral habenula would cause rats to choose the larger, riskier reward more often, but that was not the case. Instead, the rats selected either option at random, no longer showing the ability to choose the best option for them.
The findings have important implications for depression treatment. “Deep brain stimulation – which is thought to inactivate the lateral habenula — has been reported to improve depressive symptoms in humans,” Floresco says. “But our findings suggest these improvements may not be because patients feel happier. They may simply no longer care as much about what is making them feel depressed.”
Thank you to UBC for this story.
By using a model, researchers at the University of Montreal have identified and “switched off” a chemical chain that causes neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dementia. The findings could one day be of particular therapeutic benefit to Huntington’s disease patients.
Despite being produced in the UK, this documentary had a very distinct Canadian flavour. The program featured Western neuroscientist Adrian Owen and captured the first time Owen’s team of Western researchers had a patient in a vegetative state successfully respond to a specific question about their personal situation.
Way to go Canada!
Good news for snoozing students: Scientists find we really can learn while we sleepBy Mark Prigg
A study found that the body is able to take in new information while it sleeps and unconsciously modify the waking behaviour. Sleep learning experiments are notoriously difficult to conduct, not least because the researchers need to be sure that the subjects are actually asleep throughout. Working hard: Scientists have found that we can learn while we are sleeping. They found the body is able to take in new information while it sleeps and unconsciously modify the waking behaviour. Several studies have shown the importance of sleep for learning – but none had demonstrated actual learning during the sleeping period, reports Nature Neuroscience. Now scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science say they have shown sleep learning is possible.
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