Saturday October 21, 2017

Can our brain regulate its loss of control?

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New York, Our brain could actually be regulating the progression of glaucoma and other neuro-degenerative diseases, researchers say.

The result has implications in the pursuit of neuroprotective therapies. Glaucoma is a neuro-degenerative disease where patients lose seemingly random patches of vision in each eye.

brain
medicalxpress.com

Scientists have long thought that glaucoma’s progression is independent of – or uncontrolled by – the brain.

However, the study found that the progression of glaucoma is not random and that the brain may be involved after all.
The study said patients with moderate to severe glaucoma maintained vision in one eye where it was lost in the other – like two puzzle pieces fitting together (a ‘jigsaw Effect’).

This pattern of vision loss is in stark contrast to lose from a brain tumor or stroke, which causes both eyes to develop blind spots in the same location.

“This suggests some communication between the eyes must be going on and that can only happen in the brain,” said study’s lead author William Eric Sponsel from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Sponsel found that the jigsaw effect begins at the earliest stages of glaucoma and discovered clues as to which part of the brain is responsible for optimising vision in the face of glaucoma’s slow destruction of sight.

“Our work has illustrated that the brain will not let us lose control of the same function on both sides of the brain if that can be avoided,” Sponsel said.

The progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, which have neuro-degenerative biology similar to glaucoma, may also be actively mediated by the brain.

It seems likely that the same kind of protective mechanism will be at work with other neuro-degenerative disorders.”

The researchers say if the brain regulates neuro-degeneration – that is, if the brain controls how it loses control – then scientists now should be able to look for opportunities to slow or stop the progression of these diseases.

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Contagious yawning: Why we yawn when someone else does? Read to find out

The findings of Research on why is yawning so so contagious?

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Why we yawn when someone else does?
Why we yawn when someone else does? Pixabay
  • Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn, it is a common form of Echophenomena
  • The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning
  • Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too

New York, USA, September 3, 2017:  Ever wondered why even if we are not tired, we yawn if someone else does? Why is yawning so contagious?

It is because the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in a brain area responsible for motor function, a research suggests.

Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn – it is a common form of Echophenomena -the automatic imitation of another’s words (echolalia) or actions (echopraxia).

The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning. And no matter how hard we try to stifle a yawn, it might change how we yawn but it won’t alter our propensity to yawn.

Also Read: Ever wondered why you Itch when another person scratches in front of you?

“This research has shown that the ‘urge’  is increased by trying to stop yourself. Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning,” said Georgina Jackson, a Professor at the University of Nottingham.

“The findings may be important in understanding the association between motor excitability and the occurrence of Echophenomena in a wide range of conditions linked to increased cortical excitability and/or decreased physiological inhibition such as epilepsy, dementia, autism, and Tourette syndrome,” added Stephen Jackson, a Professor at the University.

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to analyze volunteers who viewed video clips showing someone else yawning and were instructed to either resist yawning or to allow themselves to yawn.

“If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders we can potentially reverse them. We are looking for potential non-drug, personalized treatments, using TMS that might be effective in modulating imbalances in the brain networks,” Jackson said.

Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too. (IANS)

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This is How Your Brain Works When You are on Meditation!

Researchers have found out how the brain operates on different levels of meditation

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Meditaiton
There is more room for thoughts and memories in non directive meditation. Wikimedia
  • There are two types of meditation techniques- Concentrative and Nondirective
  • A team of Norwegian researchers studied fourteen people’s meditation by MRI scan
  • They have found out how the brain operates in different techniques

July 17, 2017: The Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi mentioned about the latest research in Oslo. MRI scans of 14 people were studied in three different states- Resting, Nondirective meditation and Concentrative meditation. The research sought to find out how meditation affects the brain activity.

Nondirective and Concentrative are the two main groups of meditation techniques. The concentrative meditation, as the name suggests, is when you suppress all other thoughts by focusing intensely on one specific thought. For many, that one specific thought is breathing. In Nondirective meditation, your mind is allowed to wander to all sorts of places beyond reality while the body still balances and focuses on breathing, mentioned ANI report.

Researchers from the University of Oslo, University of Sydney, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology studied to brain scans to determine how the brain was functioning under different states.

ALSO READ: Engaging in Meditation for 10 minutes a day can reduce Anxiety Disorders in Anxious Individuals: Study

The part of the brain responsible for self-thoughts and feelings was more active in the nondirective method as compared to the state of resting. However, in concentrative meditation, the brain activity was the same as resting. Jian Xu, one of the researchers, observed how “the activity of the brain was greatest when the person’s thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused.”

The research concludes that there is more room for thoughts and emotions to process in nondirective meditation.

Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Grey Matter Volume generally Decrease with Age, its density actually Increases during Adolescence: Study

Grey matter density, a measure often assumed to be highly related to volume, has not been systematically investigated in development

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Representative Image, Wikimedia

New York, May 26, 2017: While grey matter volume generally decrease with age, its density actually increases during adolescence, new research has found.

Grey matter is found in regions of the brain responsible for muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making, and self-control.

For years, the common narrative in human developmental neuro-imaging has been that grey matter in the brain declines in adolescence, a finding derived mainly from studies of grey matter volume and cortical thickness –the thickness of the outer layers of brain that contain grey matter.

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Grey matter density, a measure often assumed to be highly related to volume, has not been systematically investigated in development.

Th new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that while volume indeed decreases from childhood to young adulthood, grey matter density actually increases.

“We now have a richer, fuller concept of what happens during brain development,” said Ruben Gur, Professor at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, US.

Since it has been well-established that larger brain volume is associated with better cognitive performance, it was puzzling that cognitive performance shows a dramatic improvement from childhood to young adulthood at the same time that brain volume and cortical thickness decline.

The new findings can help solve this puzzle. The study also showed that while females have lower brain volume, proportionate to their smaller size, they have higher grey matter density than males, which could explain why their cognitive performance is comparable despite having lower brain volume.

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Thus, while adolescents lose brain volume, and females have lower brain volume than males, this is compensated for by increased density of grey matter.

In the study, the researchers evaluated 1,189 youth between the ages of 8 and 23 who completed magnetic resonance imaging as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a community-based study of brain development.

The study includes rich neuroimaging and cognitive data, to look at age-related effects on multiple measures of regional grey matter, including gray matter volume, gray matter density, and cortical thickness.

Neuroimaging allowed the researchers to derive several measures of human brain structure in a noninvasive way.

Observing such measures during development allowed the researchers to study the brain at different ages to characterise how a child’s brain differs from an adult’s.

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The study may better explain the extent and intensity of changes in mental life and behavior that occur during the transition from childhood to young adulthood.

“If we are puzzled by the behavior of adolescents, it may help to know that they need to adjust to a brain that is changing in its size and composition at the same time that demands on performance and acceptable behavior keep scaling up,” Gur added. (IANS)