Monday February 18, 2019

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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Train Your Brain By Following Good Habits Constantly

The researchers have created a model which shows that forming good (and bad) habits depends more on how often you perform an action than on how much satisfaction you get from it.

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Good habits
Exercising Regularly can keep your brain healthy. VOA

If you want to form good habits — like going to the gym and eating healthy — then you need to train your brain by repeating actions until they stick, a new study suggests.

The researchers have created a model which shows that forming good (and bad) habits depends more on how often you perform an action than on how much satisfaction you get from it.

“Psychologists have been trying to understand what drives our habits for over a century, and one of the recurring questions is how much habits are a product of what we want versus what we do,” said Amitai Shenhav, Assistant Professor at Brown University.

exercise everyday
Exercise is crucial for everyone. Pixabay

“Our model helps to answer that by suggesting that habits themselves are a product of our previous actions, but in certain situations those habits can be supplanted by our desire to get the best outcome,” Shenhav added.

For the study, published in the journal Psychological Review, the researchers developed a computer simulation, in which digital rodents were given a choice of two levers, one of which was associated with the chance of getting a reward.

good habits
The researchers have created a model which shows that forming good (and bad) habits depends more on how often you perform an action than on how much satisfaction you get from it. VOA

The lever with the reward was the ‘correct’ one, and the lever without was the ‘wrong’ one.

The chance of getting a reward was swapped between the two levers, and the simulated rodents were trained to choose the ‘correct’ one.

Also Read:Exercise Can Help Fight Against Deep Abdominal Belly Fat: Study

When the digital rodents were trained for a short time, they managed to choose the new, ‘correct’ lever when the chance of a reward was swapped. However, when they were trained extensively on one lever, the digital rats stuck to the ‘wrong’ lever stubbornly, even when it no longer had the chance for a reward.

The rodents preferred to stick to the repeated action that they were used to, rather than have the chance for a reward. (IANS)