June 1, 2013 |
As the brain fitness craze grows, so do the number of software programs that promise to boost mental skills. Here, we take a look at three of the largest companies in the digital brain health industry. Each offers trial games that users can play free: -- Lumosity With more than 35,000 registered users -- and more than 600 million game plays -- Lumosity has a strong presence in the brain-training circuit. Users' cognitive abilities are rated on a Brain Performance Index, or BPI, based on scores from tasks designed to test memory, attention, speed, flexibility and problem-solving skills.
August 2, 2011 |
It's all shrinking-brain stuff this week in the health news world, it seems. Yesterday, we reported that obesity (as well as smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure) in midlife causes brains to shrink at an accelerated clip. Today, we learn that dieting causes certain brain cells to start eating bits of themselves -- triggering a hunger response. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. This act of self-cannibalism was reported by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the journal Cell Metabolism . It occurs in mice. But there's a very good chance it would also happen in our heads as well, since many metabolic processes are very similar between our two species -- especially ancient important ones such as "eat more when you're burning more calories than you're taking in. " The neurons in question are specific ones in the hypothalamus that are involved in appetite regulation. What happens is this: The neurons in starved mice start chomping on themselves in a process known technically as autophagy ("self-eat")
November 20, 2013 |
The eyes may be the mirror of the soul, but for those with autism, the mouth will have to do. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center isolated neurons in the brain's amygdala that respond to facial expressions, and tested patients with autism against those without. Both groups could correctly identify a "happy" or "fearful" face, a function long associated with the amygdala. But when the researchers examined which neurons fired in relation to areas of the face, they found that those with autism "read" the information from the mouth area more than from the eyes and seemed to be lacking a population of nerve cells that respond only to images of eyes.
October 23, 2012 |
Here's something for raw-food aficionados to chew on: Cooked food might be a big reason humans were able to grow such large brains compared to their body size, scientists say. If modern human ancestors had eaten only raw food, they'd have to regularly feed more than nine hours a day, according to a study published online Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A pair of researchers from the Instituto Nacional de Neurociéncia Translacional in São Paulo, Brazil, decided to try and help explain why modern humans' brains were able to grow so large compared to their body size and why other primates' brains did not. They looked at the relative brain-to-neuron-counts of a host of primates, from owl monkeys to baboons.
June 3, 2013 |
Hyperactive brain cells firing together could be an early indicator of autism and developmental disabilities, a team of UCLA researchers has found. Networks of neurons were found to be firing in a highly synchronized and seemingly unrelenting fashion, even through sleep, in the brains of juvenile mice that have a genetic abnormality similar to one that causes mental retardation and autism symptoms in humans, according to the research published online Monday in Nature Neuroscience.
February 6, 2014 |
A generic blood pressure drug could prevent hyperactive brain cell firing associated with early stages of autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study. Injecting pregnant mice with Bumetanide, a diuretic, appears to correct a developmental switch flipped during childbirth that reverses the firing characteristics of neurons in newborns, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Science. Bumetanide mimics the effects of oxytocin, a hormone released during labor that helps protect newborns from the stresses and complications of birth, the study found.