Research reveals how the human brain might reconstruct past events

When remembering something from our past, we often vividly re-experience the whole episode in which it occurred. New UCL research funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust has now revealed how this might happen in the brain.

The study, published in Nature Communications, shows that when someone tries to remember one aspect of an event, such as who they met yesterday, the representation of the entire event can be reactivated in the brain, including incidental information such as where they were and what they did.

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Brain activity predicts promiscuity and problem drinking

Group of happy young people at partyA pair of brain-imaging studies suggest researchers may be able to predict how likely young adults are to develop problem drinking or engage in risky sexual behavior in response to stress.

The new research is part of the ongoing Duke Neurogenetics Study (DNS), which began in 2010 to better understand how interactions between the brain, genome and environment shape risky behaviors that can predict mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and addiction.

“By knowing the biology that predicts risk, we hope to eventually change the biology — or at least meet that biology with other forces to stem the risk,” said the senior author of both studies, Ahmad Hariri, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

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Doing good deeds helps socially anxious people relax

Being busy with acts of kindness can help people who suffer from social anxiety to mingle more easily. This is the opinion of Canadian researchers Jennifer Trew of Simon Fraser University and Lynn Alden of the University of British Columbia, in a study published in Springer’s journal Motivation and Emotion.

Sufferers from social anxiety are more than just a little shy. Dealings with others might make them feel so threatened or anxious that they often actively avoid socializing. Although this protects them from angst and possible embarrassment, they lose out on the support and intimacy gained from having relationships with others. They have fewer friends, feel insecure when interacting with others, and often do not experience emotional intimacy even in close relationships.

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Lifelong learning is made possible by recycling of histones, study says

Neurons are a limited commodity; each of us goes through life with essentially the same set we had at birth. But these cells, whose electrical signals drive our thoughts, perceptions, and actions, are anything but static. They change and adapt in response to experience throughout our lifetimes, a process better known as learning.

Research conducted at The Rockefeller University and collaborating institutions has uncovered a new mechanism that makes this plasticity possible. This discovery centers on a specific type of histone, proteins that support DNA and help control its expression.

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Study finds males may contribute to offspring's mental development before pregnancy

THE OFFSPRING OF MOTHER MICE EXPOSED TO MALE PHEROMONES BEFORE PREGNANCY DISPLAYED GREATER INTELLIGENCE COMPARED TO OTHER MICE. view more  CREDIT: INDIANA UNIVERSITY

THE OFFSPRING OF MOTHER MICE EXPOSED TO MALE PHEROMONES BEFORE PREGNANCY DISPLAYED GREATER INTELLIGENCE COMPARED TO OTHER MICE. view more
CREDIT: INDIANA UNIVERSITY

A new study from Indiana University provides evidence in mice that males may play a positive role in the development of offspring’s brains starting before pregnancy.

The research, reported June 30 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, found that female mice exposed to male pheromones gave birth to infants with greater mental ability.

“This is the first study to show that pheromone exposure exerts an influence across generations in mammals,” said Sachiko Koyama, an associate research scientist at the IU Bloomington Medical Sciences Program and visiting scientist at the IU College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study.

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