Men , women and memory

The study, published in JAMA Neurology, measured memory performance, brain structure according to lower hippocampal volume and the presence of amyloid – brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our objectives were to compare age, sex and APOE ε4 effects on memory performance, hippocampal volume and amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) across the adult lifespan,” write the authors.

APOE ε4 is a gene that is consistently identified as a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and has been found to significantly lower the age of onset for this condition. It is also recognized as a risk factor for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease as well.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

It’s on the Tip of My Tongue

It just happened to me the other day: I was watchingMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and there was a new guest star; I turned to my husband and said – “Oh I remember her – she was in ‘Angel’ and the new ‘Much Ado About Nothing’…Amy something or other….” And then I drove myself crazy trying to remember her name before giving up and searching it on IMDB (It’s Amy Acker).

We’ve all experienced moments like that before – what scientists call the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon, or TOT – where we remember all sorts of things about something or someone but can’t seem to get the name out. Understanding how and why this happens is more than just a matter of helping us access random celebrity names: TOT opens a window into aphasia, a language disorder caused by stroke and other brain injuries in which people have a hard time remembering words and generating speech.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

What Alzheimer’s Patients Feel After Their Memories Have Vanished

While patients with Alzheimer’s might not remember when their loved ones visit, it has a profound effect on how they feel, a new study finds.

The study showed both happy and sad video clips lasting around 20 minutes to people with Alzheimer’s disease and observed their emotional states (Guzmán-Vélez et al., 2014).

They did the same for a group of healthy adults.

Five minutes afterwards, all the participants were given a memory test to see if they could remember the video they had just seen.

As you’d expect, Alzheimer’s patients remembered significantly less about the clips they’d just seen than the healthy group

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Neuroscience & Psychology

How Curiosity Changes the Brain to Enhance Learning

The more curious we are about a topic, the easier it is to learn information about that topic. New research publishing online October 2 in the Cell Press journal Neuron provides insights into what happens in our brains when curiosity is piqued. The findings could help scientists find ways to enhance overall learning and memory in both healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions.

“Our findings potentially have far-reaching implications for the public because they reveal insights into how a form of intrinsic motivation—curiosity—affects memory. These findings suggest ways to enhance learning in the classroom and other settings,” says lead author Dr. Matthias Gruber, of University of California at Davis.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Neuroscience and Big Data: How to Find Simplicity in the Brain

Scientists can now monitor and record the activity of hundreds of neurons concurrently in the brain, and ongoing technology developments promise to increase this number manyfold. However, simply recording the neural activity does not automatically lead to a clearer understanding of how the brain works.

In a new review paper published in Nature Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University’s Byron M. Yu and Columbia University’s John P. Cunningham describe the scientific motivations for studying the activity of many neurons together, along with a class of machine learning algorithms — dimensionality reduction — for interpreting the activity

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Mothers transfer fear to their babies through odors

A phenomenon that has long baffled researchers is how the traumatic experience of a mother can affect her child – even when the event occurs before the baby is born. Inching closer to an explanation, a team of investigators studied mother rats and discovered how they transferred their fears to their pups during their early days of life – through odors released during distress.

The team, from the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School and New York University, published their results in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They say their findings helped them identify the specific brain area where fear transmission settles during the early days of life, which could lead to a better insight as to why not all children of distressed mothers experience the same effects.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Speaking a second language could prevent later-life cognitive decline

Can you speak two or more languages? If so, your brain may thank you for it later in life. New research published in the Annals of Neurology suggests that bilingualism may slow down age-related cognitive decline – even if a second language is learned in adulthood.

The research team, led by Dr. Thomas Bak of the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, notes that recent studies have already indicated a link between bilingualism and delayed onset of cognitive decline and dementia.

But according to Dr. Bak: "Our study is the first to examine whether learning a second language impacts cognitive performance later in life while controlling for childhood intelligence."

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Neuroscience & Psychology