New Brain Connections Form Rapidly During Motor Learning

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New connections begin to form between brain cells almost immediately as animals learn a new task, according to a new study.

New connections begin to form between brain cells almost immediately as animals learn a new task, according to a study published recently in Nature. Led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study involved detailed observations of the rewiring processes that take place in the brain during motor learning.

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Blindness Causes Structural Brain Changes, Implying Brain Can Re-Organize Itself to Adapt

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Scientists from the UCLA Department of Neurology have confirmed that blindness causes structural changes in the brain, indicating that the brain may reorganize itself functionally in order to adapt to a loss in sensory input.

Visually impaired people appear to be fearless, navigating busy sidewalks and crosswalks, safely finding their way using nothing more than a cane as a guide. The reason they can do this, researchers suggest, is that in at least some circumstances, blindness can heighten other senses, helping individuals adapt.

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Cognitive Dysfunction Reversed in Mouse Model of Down Syndrome

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Laboratory mouse.

At birth, children with Down syndrome aren’t developmentally delayed. But as they age, these kids fall behind. Memory deficits inherent in Down syndrome hinder learning, making it hard for the brain to collect experiences needed for normal cognitive development.

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Right-Handed Chimpanzees Provide Clues to the Origin of Human Language

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An adult male extends his right arm toward an adult female in order to greet her.

Most of the linguistic functions in humans are controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere. A study of captive chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Atlanta, Georgia), reported in the January 2010 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex, suggests that this “hemispheric lateralization” for language may have its evolutionary roots in the gestural communication of our common ancestors. A large majority of the chimpanzees in the study showed a significant bias towards right-handed gestures when communicating, which may reflect a similar dominance of the left hemisphere for communication in chimpanzees as that seen for language functions in humans.

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Genetic Variation Linked to Individual Empathy, Stress Levels

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A genetic variation may contribute to how empathetic a human is, and how that person reacts to stress.

Researchers have discovered a genetic variation that may contribute to how empathetic a human is, and how that person reacts to stress. In the first study of its kind, a variation in the hormone/neurotransmitter oxytocin’s receptor was linked to a person’s ability to infer the mental state of others.

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Nanomedicine Promising For Treating Spinal Cord Injuries, Findings Show

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This image represents “copolymer micelles,” tiny drug-delivery spheres that could be used in a new approach for repairing damaged nerve fibers in spinal cord injuries. The bottom graphs show data indicating damaged spinal cord tissue recovered its “action potential,” or ability to transmit signals, after treatment with the micelles.

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a new approach for repairing damaged nerve fibers in spinal cord injuries using nano-spheres that could be injected into the blood shortly after an accident.

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Vast Right Arm Conspiracy? Study Suggests Handedness May Affect Body Perception

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Body maps in our brain may influence how we perceive our physical bodies — for example, if there is a lot of brain area associated with our right arm, we will view it being as longer compared to our left arm.

There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as “body maps” and there are some significant differences in these maps between left- and right-handed people. For example, in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area associated with right arm than the left.

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Regeneration Can Be Achieved After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

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Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that regeneration of central nervous system axons can be achieved in rats even when treatment delayed is more than a year after the original spinal cord injury.

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How We Know A Dog Is A Dog: Concept Acquisition In The Human Brain

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Although two dogs can look very different, the human brain recognizes them as particular instances of the concept of a dog.

A new study explores how our brains synthesize concepts that allow us to organize and comprehend the world. The research, published by Cell Press in the September 24th issue of the journal Neuron, uses behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to track how conceptual knowledge emerges in the human brain and guides decision making.

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Direct Evidence Of Role Of Sleep In Memory Formation Is Uncovered

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For the first time, researchers have pinpointed the mechanism that takes place during sleep that causes learning and memory formation to occur.

A Rutgers University, Newark and Collége de France, Paris research team has pinpointed for the first time the mechanism that takes place during sleep that causes learning and memory formation to occur.

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Injectable Biomaterial Regenerates Brain Tissue in Traumatic Injuries

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This is a mosaic image reconstruction of the lesion. A well-structured vasculature network was rebuilt at the lesion filled with the hydrogel.

An injectable biomaterial gel may help brain tissue grow at the site of a traumatic brain injury, according to findings by a Clemson University bioengineer.

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