neuron activity

Scientists discover new mechanism of how brain networks form

Scientists have discovered that networks of inhibitory brain cells or neurons develop through a mechanism opposite to the one followed by excitatory networks. Excitatory neurons sculpt and refine maps of the external world throughout development and experience, while inhibitory neurons form maps that become broader with maturation. This discovery adds a new piece to the puzzle of how the brain organizes and processes information. Knowing how the normal brain works is an important step toward understanding the nature of neurological conditions and opens the possibility of finding treatments in the future. The results appear in Nature Neuroscience.

“The brain represents the external world as specific maps of activity created by networks of neurons,” said senior author Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel, associate professor of molecular and human genetics and of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, who studies neural maps in the olfactory system of the laboratory mouse. “Most of these maps have been studied in the excitatory circuits of the brain because excitatory neurons in the cortex outnumber inhibitory neurons.”

The studies of excitatory maps have revealed that they begin as a diffuse and overlapping network of cells. “With time,” said Arenkiel, “experience sculpts this diffuse pattern of activity into better defined areas, such that individual mouse whiskers, for instance, are represented by discrete segments of the brain cortex. This progression from a diffuse to a refined pattern occurs in many areas of the brain.”

In addition to excitatory networks, the brain has inhibitory networks that also respond to external stimuli and regulate the activity of neural networks. How the inhibitory networks develop, however, has remained a mystery.

In this study, Arenkiel and colleagues studied the development of maps of inhibitory neurons in the olfactory system of the mouse.

Studying inhibitory brain networks of the mouse sense of smell

“Unlike sight, hearing or other senses, the sense of smell in the mouse detects discrete scents from a large array of molecules,” said Arenkiel, who is also a McNair Scholar at Baylor.

Mice can detect a vast number of scents thanks in part to a complex network of inhibitory neurons. Inhibitory neurons are the most abundant type of cells in the mouse brain area dedicated to process scent. To support this network, newly born inhibitory neurons are continually added and integrated into the circuits.

Arenkiel and colleagues followed the paths of these newly added neurons in time to determine how inhibitory circuits develop. First, they genetically labeled the cells so they would glow when the neurons were active. Then, they offered individual scents to the mice and visually recorded through a microscope the areas or networks of the brain that glowed for each scent the live, anesthetized animal smelled. The scientists repeated the experiment several times to determine how the networks changed as the animal learned to identify each scent.

Surprising result

The scientists expected that inhibitory networks would mature in a way similar to that of excitatory networks. That is, the more the animal experienced a scent, the better defined the networks of activity would become. Surprisingly, the scientists discovered that the inhibitory brain circuits of the mouse sense of smell develop in a manner opposite to the excitatory circuits. Instead of becoming narrowly defined areas, the inhibitory circuits become broader. Thanks to this new finding scientists now better understand how the brain organizes and processes information.

Arenkiel and colleagues think that the inhibitory networks work hand-in-hand with the excitatory networks. They propose that the interaction between excitatory and inhibitory networks could be compared to a network of roads (excitatory networks) whose traffic is regulated by a network of traffic lights (inhibitory networks). The scientists suggest that the formation of useful neural maps depends on inhibitory networks driving the refinement of excitatory networks, and that this new information will be essential towards developing new approaches for repairing brain tissue.

Molecule of the Day: Diazepam/Valium

Diazepam (C16H13ClN2O), also known as Valium, is a white solid that is of significant pharmaceutical importance. It is a member of the benzodiazepine family, which shares the similar bicyclic system comprising of a conjoined benzene and diazepine ring.

Diazepam is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, and this is achieved by its binding to GABA receptors on neurons. This causes the active site of the receptors to become a better fit for GABA molecules, resulting in a higher binding of GABA to it. This triggers a greater influx of chloride ions into the neuron. 

Since the intracellular portion of the neuron is more negative than normal, the membrane is hyperpolarised to a greater extent. Consequently, a stronger stimulus is needed to trigger an action potential, which is created when a stimulus causes the membrane to reach the threshold potential.

Since the resting potential is now more negative, the action potential and thus firing of the neuron is less likely. This then produces the anxiolytic, sedative, amnesia-inducing, and anticonvulsant effects of diazepam. 

Diazepam can be produced by various synthetic pathways; one such route is shown below.

Requested by anonymous

Balancing Time and Space in the Brain: A New Model Holds Promise for Predicting Brain Dynamics

For as long as scientists have been listening in on the activity of the brain, they have been trying to understand the source of its noisy, apparently random, activity. In the past 20 years, “balanced network theory” has emerged to explain this apparent randomness through a balance of excitation and inhibition in recurrently coupled networks of neurons. A team of scientists has extended the balanced model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity.

Lead investigators at the University of Pittsburgh say the new model accurately explains experimental findings about the highly variable responses of neurons in the brains of living animals. On Oct. 31, their paper, “The spatial structure of correlated neuronal variability,” was published online by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The new model provides a much richer understanding of how activity is coordinated between neurons in neural circuits. The model could be used in the future to discover neural “signatures” that predict brain activity associated with learning or disease, say the investigators.

“Normally, brain activity appears highly random and variable most of the time, which looks like a weird way to compute,” said Brent Doiron, associate professor of mathematics at Pitt, senior author on the paper, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute (UPBI). “To understand the mechanics of neural computation, you need to know how the dynamics of a neuronal network depends on the network’s architecture, and this latest research brings us significantly closer to achieving this goal.”

Earlier versions of the balanced network theory captured how the timing and frequency of inputs—excitatory and inhibitory—shaped the emergence of variability in neural behavior, but these models used shortcuts that were biologically unrealistic, according to Doiron.

“The original balanced model ignored the spatial dependence of wiring in the brain, but it has long been known that neuron pairs that are near one another have a higher likelihood of connecting than pairs that are separated by larger distances. Earlier models produced unrealistic behavior—either completely random activity that was unlike the brain or completely synchronized neural behavior, such as you would see in a deep seizure. You could produce nothing in between.”

In the context of this balance, neurons are in a constant state of tension. According to co-author Matthew Smith, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Pitt and a member of UPBI, “It’s like balancing on one foot on your toes. If there are small overcorrections, the result is big fluctuations in neural firing, or communication.”

The new model accounts for temporal and spatial characteristics of neural networks and the correlations in the activity between neurons—whether firing in one neuron is correlated with firing in another. The model is such a substantial improvement that the scientists could use it to predict the behavior of living neurons examined in the area of the brain that processes the visual world.

After developing the model, the scientists examined data from the living visual cortex and found that their model accurately predicted the behavior of neurons based on how far apart they were. The activity of nearby neuron pairs was strongly correlated. At an intermediate distance, pairs of neurons were anticorrelated (When one responded more, the other responded less.), and at greater distances still they were independent.

“This model will help us to better understand how the brain computes information because it’s a big step forward in describing how network structure determines network variability,” said Doiron. “Any serious theory of brain computation must take into account the noise in the code. A shift in neuronal variability accompanies important cognitive functions, such as attention and learning, as well as being a signature of devastating pathologies like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.”

While the scientists examined the visual cortex, they believe their model could be used to predict activity in other parts of the brain, such as areas that process auditory or olfactory cues, for example. And they believe that the model generalizes to the brains of all mammals. In fact, the team found that a neural signature predicted by their model appeared in the visual cortex of living mice studied by another team of investigators.

“A hallmark of the computational approach that Doiron and Smith are taking is that its goal is to infer general principles of brain function that can be broadly applied to many scenarios. Remarkably, we still don’t have things like the laws of gravity for understanding the brain, but this is an important step for providing good theories in neuroscience that will allow us to make sense of the explosion of new experimental data that can now be collected,” said Nathan Urban, associate director of UPBI.

j-u-u-z-o  asked:

Have you ever watched the first official fan meeting/letter to army by bangtan? If so, did you cry? 🤧🤧😭 i really like watching it a lot because they've come such a long way. y'know? Sorry. I just rewatched it and just had to ask you that question. Ps: when people cry I cry as well... (mirror neurons activated) 😔😭🤧

How can anyone not cry to THIS. I was bathing in my tears. Seing BTS crying is like a switch button that makes me sob even harder I hope every ARMY who haven’t seen it does, just to know that these boys feelings towards their fans were so sincere since day one. . :

Sorry for taking an eternity to answer @j-u-u-z-o <3

Setting that intimate night in Karachi aside, and leaving any sentiment unaddressed, Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (as they were formerly known) began their collaboration during The Fall.

Their encounter with the first strand of Moriarty’s network, however, did not go quite as smoothly as planned. Shortly after they arrived in Montenegro as Mr and Mrs Wolfe, a gunfire-loaded incident had them both injured.

It also cost the late consulting detective his memory – he awoke in confusion, without the faintest knowledge of who he was.

Fortunately for him, his location was incredibly easy to deduce, as was his relationship with the only other occupant of the house.

No need to inform her of the slightly inconvenient detail just yet. He was confident everything could continue on as usual, without his wife suspecting a thing about his (hopefully temporary) condition. It was their honeymoon after all.

One of the first things he learnt about himself was that he hated being bored, hated being immobilised in bed by a leg wound.

He almost wished it was more of a challenge, who this woman was to him. But no, it was so painfully obvious even without their shiny wedding rings (only 3-4 weeks old, he estimated) immediately giving everything away, further corroborated by the state of this place (clearly not in their home country; they moved into the house a mere couple of weeks ago and were not planning to stay for much longer) indicating that they were on a holiday trip abroad.

He could’ve arrived at the same conclusion with significantly less information. From how she’d looked at him the moment he opened his eyes, for example. (It was as if he were the first rays of sunshine, heralding arrival of the precious British summer, after 11 long months of grey skies and rain.) She had since withdrawn any initial concern from her expression, maintaining a cool and collected demeanour instead. A smirk or witty remark here and there, not a single word of caring, though what was unspoken in the way she tended to his wounds was more unequivocal than any words would’ve had power to convey.

It was just as well that they weren’t a very outwardly affectionate couple. Eased his reacclimatisation to the relationship. He didn’t particularly feel an affinity for the saccharine, and if he was honest, he was even rather surprised that they were apparently the marrying type.

Whomever it was that he used to be, however, he did approve of this man’s choice of spouse. He..liked her, from what little he observed about her since he’d regained awareness of his surroundings (approx. an hour ago). The nature of their relationship might have been the simplest of deductions, but the woman herself was most decidedly not. She was highly complex and incredibly fascinating. Intelligent, competent, self-assured, gorgeous.. (Wait, where did that last one come from? That wasn’t a deduction! Beauty was just a social construct.) Although he was certain that the intense (and very distracting) attraction he was experiencing had a more profound basis.

He couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was about her that conferred this singular sense of connection, familiarity layered with mystery. Merely that it was there as a result of something, something he frustratingly had no tangible recollection of – his current data was far from sufficient in providing him with any glimpse into their history.

She was standing to leave his bedside, and he instinctively reached out and caught her wrist. To gesture to her that she, too, needed to rest – it was likely already late in the evening when he awoke. He had to have been unconscious for days, judging from her lack of sleep (obvious, despite her efforts to conceal her mental and physical exhaustion).

Her reaction was one he hadn’t expected. Her eyes widened, and her breath hitched, as he was pulling her onto the bed. Shocked? But they were husband and wife, presumably sharing the same bed, it was only logical that she–

Oh. Oh. It hadn’t occurred to him that the specific physical contact he initiated could be interpreted as prelude to intimacy and..intercourse. A sudden adrenaline spike sent his own heart pounding frantically as he felt the mattress dip beside him when she did begin to lie down, her proximity increasingly alarming, and he turned on his side to face away from her, to escape her deep blue gaze (it wasn’t to hide his blush, and it wasn’t panic, he shouldn’t panic, that would be absurd).

“Sherlock, what–” And he stumbled over his interrupting response, “Not that. Not today. I don’t think I’m feeling up to it.”

The silence that stretched between them, taut as a violin string, told him that she was studying his demeanour, undoubtedly finding it unusual (right, so sex wasn’t something he’d normally deny her of; still, he was in recovery from what must’ve been a traumatic event, a reasonable excuse). Whatever comment she was most likely biting back (he couldn’t risk turning around to confirm this hypothesis), she didn’t say it.

Instead, he sensed her movement as she finally reached for the light switch after a long moment, and within an instant darkness was upon them. For which he was extremely thankful, because he then felt soft lips pressed to his cheek, immediately causing it to heat up.

“Good night, Mr Holmes.” Her warm body was inches away, her breathing a pleasant sound in the quiet of the night.

He tried to ignore the involuntary neuronal activity protesting for a change of mind regarding his earlier decision, his statement to her that he wasn’t keen to perform (you liarrrr), and forced his thoughts to focus on the newly acquired knowledge of his full name.

Sherlock Holmes awoke in the late-morning light, with an arm comfortably wrapped around his wife. Time to piece together the remainder of this puzzle that was his life. He hoped it wasn’t a dull one.


An addition to my song Book Collection fiction. My first RATED M, btw so just a heads up. BIG THANKS to @missshc for the inspiration. *wink, wink*

PENCIL SQUAD (and to anybody else who enjoyed Shamy’s collaboration) this one’s for you!

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So there’s loads of different neuroimaging methods out there that are used depending on what it is you’re looking for! I’ve had the privilege of actually studying it and there’s so so many different types more than just functional MRI that people don’t really know about so here are a few and what they’re used for an how they work.

MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The most commonly used form of neuroimaging and for good reason. MRI uses the body’s tissue density and magnetic properties of water to visualise structures within the body. It has really incredible spatial and temporal quality and is predominantly used in neuroscience/neurology for looking for any structural abnormalities such as tumours, tissue degeneration etc. It’s fantastic a fantastic form of imaging and is used in numerous amounts of research.

Functional MRI (fMRI)

These images are captured the same way as MRI but the quality is a little bit lower because the aim is to capture function (those blobs you can see) as quickly and accurately as possible so the quality is compromised a little bit. Nonetheless, fMRI usually uses the BOLD response to measure function. It measures the amount of activity in different areas of the brain when doing certain things, so during a memory test for example, and it does that by measuring the amount oxygen that a certain area requires. The increased oxygen is believed to be sent to an area where there is more neuronal activity, so it’s not a direct measurement but rather we’re looking at a byproduct. There are numerous studies trying to find the direct link between the haemodynamic response and neuronal activity, particularly at TUoS (where I’m doing my masters!) but for the moment this is all we have. This sort of imaging is used a lot for research and checking the general function of the brain, so if you were to have had surgery on your brain, they may run one of these just to see which areas might be affected from it and how, or in research we’ve used this a lot to research cognition - which areas are affected during certain cognitive tasks (ie my MSc thesis - Cognition in schizophrenia and consanguinity). 

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

This is my current favourite type of NI right now! DTI is beautiful, unique and revolutionary in this day and age, it’s almost like sci-fi stuff! DTI measures the rate of water diffusion along white matter tracts and with that calculates the directions and structural integrity of them to create these gorgeous white matter brain maps. They are FANTASTIC for finding structural damage in white matter - something that is making breakthroughs in research lately ie. schizophrenia, genetics and epilepsy. It measures the rate of diffusion which tells you about possible myelin/axonal damage and anisotropy, so the directions and if they are “tightly wound” or loosely put together - think of it like rope, good FA is a good strong rope, poor FA is when it starts to fray and go off in different directions - like your white matter tracts. My current research used DTI and it was honestly surreal to work with, the images are also acquired through an MRI scanner so you can actually get these images the same time you’re getting MRI’s done, functional or otherwise! 

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

One of the “controversies” (if you could call it that) is the use of radioactive substances in PET scanning. It requires the injection of a nuclear medicine to have the metabolic processes in your brain light up like Christmas! It uses a similar functional hypothesis to BOLD fMRI, in that it is based on the assumption that higher functional areas would have higher radioactivity and that’s why it lights up in a certain way. It depends on glucose or oxygen metabolism, so high amounts of glucose/oxygen metabolism would show up red and less active areas would show up blue, perfect for showing any functional abnormalities in the overall brain. However it has incredibly poor temporal resolution and due to it’s invasive nature, MRI is chosen more often. (The pictures are gorgeous though!) 

Electroencephalography/Magnetoencephalography (EEG & MEG)

These are not “imaging” types in the stereotypical sense. They create a series of waves that you can physically see (think of the lines you get on a lie detector!). Electrodes/Tiny magnets are placed on the scalp/head in specific areas corresponding to certain brain structures. EEG picks up on electrical activity which is the basis of neuronal function, whereas MEG picks up on magnetic fields - the same property that is utilised by MRI. One of the biggest issues with EEG is that deeper structures passing through tissues get distorted, whereas MEG doesn’t because it only measures the magnetic properties. I’ve not had a lot of experience with either of these but I do know EEG is used in a lot of medical procedures to measure brain activity, from measuring seizures and sleep disorders to measuring brain activity in a coma. It’s fantastic and if you can actually figure out how to conduct and interpret results it’s an invaluable tool into looking at electrical activity. 

Finished making breakfast, Dani grabs a book to read.

Sim Goddess:  “What are you reading?”

Dani:  “I don’t know, some book.”

Sim Goddess:  “Didn’t you even look at the title?”

Dani:  “No, because it doesn’t matter.  I’m only reading to activate my neurons to prepare them for absorbing knowledge.”

Sim Goddess:  “Oh.  Ok.”

If you’d like to read the Runaways (Sophie/Caleb) Legacy from the beginning and check out my other stories, please click here.

Runaways Legacy History - a synopsis in one post

Here is a list of apps that help me in my daily life, from productivity to fun, I hope you will find this useful!

P.S: they’re all free!

♡ Study, concentration, productivity:

> Brain Focus: Like the pomodoro method? This app is for you! Beautiful and simple, you can edit the timer settings (for longer/shorter study or break). See statistics and graphic and check on your studying routine 

> Forest: You can set a timer and it will plant a tree and block almost every other function on your phone. When the timer ends the tree is grown and you can cultivate your forest, but if you give up before the timer ends, the tree will die :(

> Sleep Better: Sets healthy sleep patterns based on your day (calm, stressful, phys. activities…)

> NeuroNation: Exercise your memory concentration, and logic thinking with these activities!

♡ Games that help while distract:

> 1010!: A new view on Tetris. Try to fit the block and create vertical/horizontal lines without filling all the screen

> Kami: Fold out coloured paper to fill the screen in as few moves as possible (first levels are free, then you have to buy)

> Flow: Connect the dots to fill the whole screen (many levels, you will not get bored!)

> Two Dots: By far my favourite, connect the dots to meet the goals. Pretty simple, adorable and addictive!

♡ Stress relief and health:

> Calm: Helps you meditate to achieve a better life. Has soothing sounds and landscapes. Great for exams week!

> Stop, Breathe and Think: Mental health is important too! This app does wonders for you well-being. Has many types of meditations like to improve gratitude, dealing with anxiety, kindness and much more!

> Hydro Coach: Input your daily habits and it will calculate how much water you need. It reminds you hourly and you can see graphics and achievements

> Clue: For the ladies! A simple menstrual calendar that tells you when your next menstruation, PMS and fertile period is. You can input your mood and symptoms for a more accurate forecast. ALSO! Has looots of information about symptoms, sex, STD’s and much more

That was all! Hope you guys enjoy it!

How Do Biological Theorists Explain Abnormal Behavior?

Biological theorists view abnormal behavior as an illness brought about by malfunctioning parts of the organism. They typically point to problems in brain anatomy or brain chemistry as the cause of the problem.

- Brain Anatomy and Abnormal Behavior - 
The brain is made up of approximately 100 billion nerve cells, called neurons, and thousands of billions of support cells, called glia. Within the brain, large groups of neurons form distinct brain areas, one of which is known as the cerebrum. The cerebrum includes the cortex, corpus callosum, basal ganglia, hippocampus, and amygdala. Each of these brain regions control important functions:
• The cortex is the outer layer of the brain.
• The corpus callosum connects the brain’s two cerebral hemispheres.
• The basal ganglia plays a crucial role in planning and producing movement.
• The hippocampus helps regulate emotions and memory.
• The amygdala plays a key role in emotional memory. 
Researchers have found links between certain psychological disorders and problems in specific areas of the brain. One disorder is Huntington’s disease, which is a disorder marked by violent emotional outbursts, memory loss, suicidal thinking, involuntary body movements, and absurd beliefs. It has been traced to a loss of cells in the basal ganglia and cortex. 

- Brain Chemistry and Abnormal Behavior - 
Psychological disorders can also be related to problems in the transmission of messages from neuron to neuron. Information is communicated throughout the brain in the form of electrical impulses that travel from one neuron to one or more others. An impulse is received by a neuron’s dendrites, which then travels down the neuron’s axon, until it is finally transmitted through the nerve ending at the end of the axon to the dendrites of other neurons. 
Dendrites are antenna-like extensions located at one end of the neuron.
• The axon is a long fiber extending from the neuron’s body. 

Since the neuron’s don’t actually touch each other, you may wonder how the messages get from the nerve ending of one neuron to the dendrites of another. A tiny space called the synapse is what separates one neuron from the next. When an electrical impulse reaches a neuron’s ending, the nerve ending is stimulated to release a chemical known as a neurotransmitter, which travels across the synaptic space to receptors on the dendrites of the neighboring neurons. After binding to the receiving neuron’s receptors, the neurotransmitters can either have an excitatory or inhibitory response. Some neurotransmitters give a message to the neurons to “fire” or trigger their own electrical impulse, while others tell receiving neurons to stop all firing. 

Studies have shown that abnormal activity by some neurotransmitters can lead to certain mental disorders. For example, depression is linked to low activity of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.

Abnormal chemical activity in the endocrine system has also been shown to be related to mental disorders. Endocrine glands, located throughout the body, work with neurons to control vital activities such as growth, reproduction, sexual activity, heart rate, body temperature, energy, and stress response. The glands release chemicals known as hormones into the bloodstream that propel body organs into action. During times of stress, for example, the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, secrete the hormone cortisol to help the body deal with the stress. Abnormal secretion of this chemical has been linked to anxiety and mood disorders. 

(Comer, R. J. (2004). Abnormal psychology (8th ed.). New York: Worth.)

anonymous asked:

Hi, Koryos! I was wondering if you have any insight on why animals enjoy petting so much? As a person, I personally don't like the feeling of being petted. Is it just that I'm soothing little itches for them, or something else?

Good question! The answer is quite complex, actually, starting with the fact that animals don’t always like to be petted, either. Of course, everyone probably knows this, and has experienced times when their pets have acted uncomfortable with physical contact. 

Petting, as a matter of fact, is a very specific type of touch. It’s different from poking, patting, or pinching. And I do mean literally different: gentle stroking on the skin actually activates different neurons than other forms of contact do. So petting isn’t just an arbitrary category- it’s a form of contact most mammals are primed to perceive differently.

Activating the “petting neurons” (called MRGPRB4+ fibers in the scientific literature, but let’s stick with “petting neurons”) feels good. In one study, researchers let mice choose between two chambers- one they preferred, and one they didn’t- and then activated the petting neurons in the non-preferred chamber. The mice went to that chamber as soon as they learned it would activate those neurons, and showed fewer stress responses to boot, entering a state of soothing mouse bliss.

Petting neurons occur on hair-covered areas of the skin, so the general consensus is that these neurons evolved to help give positive feedback to grooming behaviors. In other words, the act of cleaning our fur or hair feels good, which motivates us to keep cleaner and healthier fur or hair.

However, there’s another, additional reason animals enjoy being petted: social grooming, or allogrooming. Allogrooming occurs when one animal grooms another. Not only does this activate “petting neurons,” it also generates the release of the hormone oxytocin in both the groomer and the groomee. Oxytocin, among other things, can foster a feeling of connectedness and closeness between two individuals and is critically important for animals that form close pair-bonds. Social grooming also results in the release of pleasure-inducing endorphins, and inhibits the release of corticosteriods  (i.e., stress hormones). 

In fact, social grooming is so important for young mammals that those that are deprived of tactile contact when very young end up with abnormal concentrations of serotonin and TSH, both of which help manage the release of corticosteroids (those stress hormones again!). These animals- and humans- go on to be unusually anxious and asocial adults.

So, to sum up: petting activates specific neurons associated with pleasure, relaxation, and bonding, which is why so many animals appear to enjoy it. However, as I mentioned before, even if you’re doing the right kind of petting (not patting or tickling), animals don’t always enjoy the experience. Context matters very much, and if an animal isn’t in the mood to be petted, or doesn’t like to be touched in a particular area, it won’t matter how well you light up those neurons: they’re still going to hate it. Pay attention to what their body language is telling you.


Crockford C., Wittig R.M., Langergraber K., Ziegler T.E., Zuberbuhler K. & Deschner T. (2013). Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1755) 20122765-20122765. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2765

Liu, Q., Vrontou, S., Rice, F. L., Zylka, M. J., Dong, X., & Anderson, D. J. (2007). Molecular genetic visualization of a rare subset of unmyelinated sensory neurons that may detect gentle touch. Nature neuroscience, 10(8), 946-948.

Liu, D., Diorio, J., Tannenbaum, B., Caldji, C., Francis, D., Freedman, A., … & Meaney, M. J. (1997). Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Science, 277(5332), 1659-1662.

Spruijt, B.M.; Van Hooff, J.A.; Gispen, W.H. (1992). Ethology and neurobiology of grooming behavior. Physiological Reviews 72 (3): 825–852, PMID 1320764

Vrontou S., Wong A.M., Rau K.K., Koerber H.R. & Anderson D.J. (2013). Genetic identification of C fibres that detect massage-like stroking of hairy skin in vivo, Nature, 493 (7434) 669-673. DOI:10.1038/nature11810

Brain Function ‘Boosted For Days’ After Reading A Novel

From The Independent:

Reading a gripping novel causes biological changes in the brain which last for days as the mind is transported into the body of the protagonist.

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Laser used to control mouse’s brain — and speed up milkshake consumption

Lasers shone into the brains of mice can now activate individual neurons — and change the animals’ behaviour. Scientists have used the technique to increase how fast mice drink a milkshake, but it could also help researchers to map brain functions at a much finer scale than is currently possible.

Neuroscientists at Stanford University in California conducted their experiments on mice that were genetically engineered to have light-sensitive neurons in a brain region called the orbitofrontal cortex. That area is involved in perceiving, and reacting to, rewards. By shining a laser at specific neurons, the researchers increased the pace at which the mice consumed a high-calorie milkshake. The results, reported on 12 November at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California, illustrate for the first time that the technique, known as optogenetics, can control behaviour by activating a sequence of individual cells.

Genetic Engineering, Nanotechnology & Magnets Combine For Potential Neurological Disorder Treatment

This gif shows two sets of living neurons, the cells that make up the brain, spinal cord and nervous system. They were recorded using a method that makes them glow when they are working and doing their neuron thing. 

The ones on the left are your regular, old-fashioned neurons occasionally receiving, processing and sending information through electrical and chemical signals. The ones on the right were first augmented to produce heat-sensitive proteins by inserting genes into their DNA. Then researchers injected the re-engineered neurons with nanoscopically small magnetic particles of iron oxide. Finally, someone turned on a magnet.

MIT scientists who did the work found that they could remotely stimulate brain tissue by exciting the nanoparticles through magnetic fields. The energy causes the iron oxide to rapidly heat, which activates the neuron by triggering the engineered heat-sensitive proteins within the cell, the team says. 

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2-Minute Neuroscience: Neuromuscular Junction

In this video I discuss the neuromuscular junction. The term neuromuscular junction refers to a synapse between a motor neuron and muscle fiber; activity here is essential for muscle contraction and thus movement. At the neuromuscular junction, the synaptic boutons of a motor neuron are situated over a specialized region of muscle called the end plate. The synaptic boutons release acetycholine, which travels across the synaptic cleft and activates acetylcholine receptors on the muscle fiber. This causes excitation of the muscle cell, and muscle contraction. Excess acetylcoholine is removed from the synaptic cleft by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.

By: Neuroscientifically Challenged.

Repetition Physically Changes Your Brain

Have you ever wondered what a memory is exactly and how it gets   formed? You have hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of memories in   your brain. Songs you remember how to sing. Scenes from movies. Memories  of last year’s holiday. Facts such as the names of all the planets, and  on and on. Do you know what a memory is and how it gets created?

Neurons firing – There are 10 billion neurons in   your brain that store information. Electrical impulses flow through a   neuron and are moved by neuron-transmitting chemicals across the   synaptic gap between neurons. Neurons in your brain fire every time you repeat a word, phrase, song, or phone number you are trying to memorize.  Memories are stored as patterns of connections between neurons.

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anonymous asked:

i just wanted to point out that there's no such thing as a "genetic neurotransmitter deficiency" and in fact the idea of "chemical balance" itself is unscientific

Hi Anon,

How so? ADHD is primarily a deficiency of dopamine and noradrenaline (they believe), along with an under-development of certain areas of the brain (pre-frontal cortex etc).

(Some) ADHD medication actually works by blocking the re-uptake and metabolism of neurotransmitters, leading to them being stuck floating around the intercellular space between neurons. The excess of neurotransmitters means they are more likely to bond with the next neuron and cause an action potential. This basically means more frequent neuronal firing and quicker “message transmission”.

Contrary to popular belief the ADHD brain is actually under-active, not overactive. By increasing neuronal activity we increase the ability of, say, the prefrontal cortex to process future implications of current actions and tune out excess information, basically it’s ability to reduce impulsivity and filter distraction.

Please message back and explain because I am genuinely interested in what you mean. I’ll even look it up if I get a chance. I try to avoid long-winded, scientifically dense posts but I was actually a psych major with a key interest in neuro less than a year ago and I miss it often so I would be happy to look into whatever you throw at me if you genuinely want that.

“I’m studying cognitive psychology. A lot of it is about memory and perception, and where in the brain these processes live.”
“What’s one thing you’ve learned?”
“The way the brain treats vision seems to be very similar to how it treats memory. Whichever neurons are active now as I’m seeing this park, are probably going to be the same set of neurons that are active when I remember this event later. For me, it’s very interesting that the brain has a hard time telling the difference between what is now and what was then.”