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Scientists uncover how rare gene mutation affects brain development and memory

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, have found that a rare gene mutation alters brain development in mice, impairing memory and disrupting the communication between nerve cells. They also show memory problems could be improved by transplanting a specific type of nerve cell into the brain. The findings were published today in Neuron.   “Mutations in hundreds of genes have been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, many of which have devastating behavioral consequences that cannot be managed with available treatment options,” explained Robert Hunt, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology, who led the study with Young Kim, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow. “Now, a major challenge in the field is to identify the underl...

Does exercise improve memory?

According to a recent study, just a few minutes of light exercise can give your brain an immediate push in the right direction, helping to improve memory. Exercise and the hippocampus In the past, studies have revealed that exercise can enhance some aspects of cognitive ability and improve memory performance. Also, adults who are more physically active tend to have increased hippocampal volume. In order to find out why exercise might benefit the hippocampus and memory performance, some scientists have asked whether physical activity stimulates the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus (known as neurogenesis). The hippocampus, which is a brain structure that sits within the temporal lobe, is of particular interest to researchers trying to understand this problem. Vital for learning a...

UCLA researcher uses virtual reality to understand how animals perceive space Mayank Mehta’s work has implications for diagnosing and treating neurological diseases

Nobody thinks much about how to navigate from the sofa to refrigerator. Memorizing sensory cues along the way, like the sight of the dining room table or a kitchen countertop, requires no conscious effort. You may not realize it, but your brain is processing data faster than any super computer, rapidly constructing a mental map based on sensory inputs as you move through your house. When healthy, we don’t appreciate this gift. However, spatial memory is one of the first functions to deteriorate in several neurological conditions including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. That is why UCLA neurophysicist Mayank Mehta devotes his career to studying how the brain, and especially the cells in the region called the hippocampus, learns to create our perception of space and time. WATCH VIDEO HERE...

Waves move across the human brain to support memory

The coordination of neural activity across widespread brain networks is essential for human cognition. Researchers have long assumed that oscillations in the brain, commonly measured for research purposes, brain-computer interfacing, and clinical tests, were stationary signals that occurred independently at separate brain regions. Biomedical engineers at Columbia Engineering have discovered a new fundamental feature of brain oscillations: they actually move rhythmically across the brain, reflecting patterns of neuronal activity that propagate across the cortex. The study was published today in Neuron. Photo Credit: Illustration showing the average direction of traveling wave propagation across the human brain. Credit: Joshua Jacobs/Columbia Engineering

Memory-boosting brain implants are in the works. Would you get one?

Neural prostheses look promising in new studies, though there’s still a lot of work to do.   How far would you go to keep your mind from failing? Would you go so far as to let a doctor drill a hole in your skull and stick a microchip in your brain?   It’s not an idle question. In recent years neuroscientists have made major advances in cracking the code of memory, figuring out exactly how the human brain stores information and learning to reverse-engineer the process. Now they’ve reached the stage where they’re starting to put all of that theory into practice.   Last month two research teams reported success at using electrical signals, carried into the brain via implanted wires, to boost memory in small groups of test patients. “It’s a major milestone in demonstrating...

Wake Forest Baptist memory study shows signs of improving short-term recall

Research progress in improving short-term memory performance could represent an important step toward two key health goals, according to a joint project involving Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  The study is aimed at helping restore short-term memory loss and assisting individuals with holding onto memories as they age.   The project features the successful implementation of a prosthetic system that uses a person’s own memory patterns to facilitate brain ability to encode and recall memory.

New Study Shows Promising Results In Restoring Memory Function

Memory loss is a devastating symptom of neurodegenerative diseases. Now, there is some hope as a group of scientists have found a way to assist the brain’s ability to encode and recall memories using a new prosthetic memory system.   A promising study released last week from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem is showing results in restoring memory loss. The prosthetic memory system they devised uses a person’s own memory patterns, reinforces them using a mathematical model and then feeds the information back into the brain. Dr. Robert Hampson is a Professor of physiology/pharmacology and neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He’s also the lead author of the study which began in the 1990s.

MIT tackles the science behind long-term memories — and how they affect brain disorders

MIT neuroscientists may have taken a step toward treating brain disorders associated with memory loss — including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers said in a recent paper.   Here’s what the study, published Feb. 8 in the journal Neuron, said:   First, a gene called Npas4 is necessary to create long-term memories. This gene exists in the brain’s CA3 subsection, one of three regions in the brain’s hippocampus, said Feng-Ju (Eddie) Weng, lead author of the study.

A Tiny Pulse Of Electricity Can Help The Brain Form Lasting Memories

A little electrical brain stimulation can go a long way in boosting memory.   The key is to deliver a tiny pulse of electricity to exactly the right place at exactly the right moment, a team reports in Tuesday’s Nature Communications.   “We saw a 15 percent improvement in memory,” says Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the study.   The approach hints at a new way of treating people with memory problems caused by a brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease, Kahana says. But the technology is still far from widespread use.   Kahana has spent years trying to understand why the brain often fails to store information we want it to keep.   “When we’re trying to study a list of items,...

Who’s This? -Can’t Recall A Famous Person’s Name? Blame Your Left Brain

The study – led by University of Manchester psychologists – is the first of its kind to assess the similarities and differences in how the left and right sides of the brain process semantic memory. The research, led by Dr Grace Rice and Professor Matthew Lambon Ralph from The University of Manchester, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council. The team – working with neuropsychologists at Salford Royal and The Walton Centre for neurology in Liverpool – worked with 41 patients who had part of their brains removed to treat their long-standing epilepsy.

Are memory-enhancing brain prosthetics the next step in our evolution?

No matter how much brain training we do, our memory is still subpar. Are memory-enhancing brain prosthetics the way to go?   It appears to be the case that with hard work, intensive research, and $100 million, we can shape the future of human evolution. A society obsessed with constant betterment of ourselves, coupled with our boundless love for advancing technology, has led to the development of a memory prosthesis that has shown up to 30% improvement in memory recall in human participants. While prior research has shown similar methods which have enhanced the memory of some mammals, researchers at the innovative company Kernel say that this is the first time this has been demonstrated in humans. This ground-breaking research opens up the possibility of a market for brain prosthetics...

Researchers reveal how to boost brain power

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that one brain-training method often used in scientific studies can help to improve working memory.  How can we train our brains to improve working memory? An existing cognitive task may be the answer, researchers say.   Our working memory is what we use on a day-to-day basis, especially at school or in a work context. It refers to our ability to pick up new information and adapt our responses accordingly, over brief periods of time.  (READ MORE ABD TRY THE EXERCISE AS WELL)