Alberto Carrara. On January 2nd, 2018, NeuroscienceNews.Com offered us - as readers - a recap of some of the most popular stories of the year: ‘Another year has passed. 2017 has bought about some major discoveries in the field of neuroscience’. The selection was made according to ‘the most article views criteria’. 20 NeuroscienceNews.Com articles were selected. Analyzing the main topics we found interesting convergences, first of all, on an anti-reductionist vision of our brain. Second, we perceive the emergent understanding both of the embodiment, and the embeddedness (or situatedness) of our mind. Third, we point out the dual-causality-dynamic interaction bottom-up/top-down between our brain organ, our body, our environment and culture. Here is a brief presentation of them according to NeuroscienceNews.Com.
In February, USC researchers released a report that explains why some people experience more intense emotions while listening to music.
The study revealed people who report experiencing a physical response, such as getting the chills, after listening to specific peices of music may have structural differences in the brain. The researchers discovered higher volume of connective fibers between the auditory cortex and areas associated with emotional processing in those who reported physical response to music.
This story received a great deal of attention on Reddit and was subsequently picked up by numerous major news outlets. Currently, the story is number 1 on the Independent’s Indie 100 list.
Early in December, we reported UMSOM researchers identified a link between TBI and intestinal changes.
Using mouse models of TBI, researchers discovered head injuries can trigger long-term changes in the colon, increasing the risk of bacterial infections which may result in post traumatic brain inflammation. The infection and inflammation, researchers note, may worsen brain damage in those with TBI.
In July, a Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience study reported brain inflammation that occurs as a result of bacterial infections may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Post mortem brain examinations revealed those who suffered from Alzheimer’s before death had at least a tenfold higher ratio of Actinobacteria to Proteobacteria compared to those without the disease.
Based on their findings, the researchers suggest future studies should investigate the presence of bacteria in other neurodegenerative diseases linked to brain inflammation.
A groundbreaking study from September revealed researchers used vagus nerve stimulation to help restore consciousness to a 35 year old man who has been in a vegetative state for 15 years.
Researchers reported one month of VNS helped to improve the patient’s movement, attention and brain activity. The treatment allowed the patient to respond to simple orders, such as turning his head on request, which he has been unable to do for almost a decade.
The researchers noted the dramatic outcome challenges the conventional belief that disorders of consciousness that last for longer than 12 months are irreversible.
In October, we released one of our most controversial and most debated articles of the year.
The study, conducted by researchers at Pitzer College, reported those with a higher IQ compared to the national average, are at an increased risk of suffering from psychological and physiological disorders.
Surveying almost 4,000 MENSA members, whose IQ scored were 130 or higher, researchers discovered they were 20% more likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, compared to 10% of the general public.
2017 has brought about some major insight into the role gut bacteria plays in psychological and neurological health. In June, we reported UCLA researchers discovered microbiota appears to have a direct effect on behavior and emotion.
Using MRI technology and fecal sampling, researchers discovered women whose gut bacterial composition contained higher levels of bacteriodes had greater gray matter thickness in the frontal cortex, insula and hippocampus; areas of the brain associated with information processing and memory. Those with higher levels of Prevotella had greater connectivity between brain areas associated with emotion and attention, and lower hippocampal volume.
Women with higher Prevotella levels expressed more negative emotions, such as anxiety and distress, when looking at less positive images than the women with greater bacteriod levels.
In early December, we reported University of Manchester researchers have identified a major cause of dementia.
The researchers discovered a build up of urea in the brain causes brain damage that eventually leads to the development of dementia in Huntington’s disease.
December has been an amazing month for groundbreaking neuroscience research. On the 6th, we were proud to report researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia discovered massive cortical reorganization that occurs as a result of amputation, is reversible.
Following amputation, the brain remaps itself when it no longer receives input from the missing limb.
After losing both hands as an infant, researchers performed a double hand transplant on a child in 2015. Using neuroimaging technology, researchers observed brain mapping reorientation in the patient, indicating the remapping was reverting to patterns more consistent with those of people who have never lost a limb.
In July, University of Copenhagen researcher revealed a major finding into the cause of schizophrenia.
Researchers discovered a genetic defect that damages glial cells may also be responsible for impairing the production of myelin. A lack of myelin is a significant contributor to the development of schizophrenia in some patients, researchers reported.
Future studies, the researchers suggest, may focused around replacing defective glial cells with healthy ones to see if reversal of schizophrenia’s progression is possible.
In October, Max Planck Institute researchers reported living close to nature makes people better able to deal with stressful situations.
The researchers conducted a neuroimaging study of city dwellers who lived closer to forests. They discovered this group were more likely to have a healthier amygdala structure than those who lived in more urban areas. This, the researchers concluded, made people better able to deal with stressful situations.
A study released in the journal Headache in October reported on a surprising link between migraines and oxidative stress.
The study found migraine attacks could be an integrated mechanism by which the brain protects and repairs itself from oxidative stress. Targeting the causes of oxidative stress, researchers note, could help to prevent future migraine attacks in sufferers.
In August, we reported researchers discovered a possible way in which gut bacteria could influence anxiety and depression.
A study released in the journal Microbiome revealed gut microbes may influence microRNA in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, two brain areas associated with depression and anxiety disorders.
In early December, researchers from Houston Methodist released a report that could have major impact for many people diagnoised with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Researchers believe a significant number of people diagnosed with either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may, in fact, be suffering from a treatable immune system disorder. The disorder causes NMDA receptors to stop functioning correctly and can result in symptoms commonly associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.
In November, University of Cambridge researchers released a report on the positive neurodevelopmental implications of making eye contact when interacting with infants.
Using EEG technology, researchers discovered eye contact causes brainwave synchronization between a child and the person communicating with them. The researchers believe the synchronization can help to boost learning and communication skills in infants.
Throughout the year, we reported frequently about the impact diet can have on neurological and psychological health.
In December, we revealed Binghampton researchers found new evidence to suggest the foods we eat can affect our mental wellbeing. Additionally, the researchers reported, our dietary needs change as we age to keep us mentally healthy.
Researchers found younger people are more dependent on foods that increase the availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain, such as meats and other high protein foods. For those of us over 30, we may be more reliant on fruits and other foods that increase the availability of antioxidants.
A groundbreaking ADHD study was released in early November.
We reported researchers have identified three different types of ADHD, each with distinct brain impairments and no common abnormalities between them.
The findings indicated the current ‘one size fits all’ theory of the disorder is incorrect.
Do you often use profanity when you speak? Researchers report you may be more honest than those who don’t.
In January, University of Cambridge researchers reported those who use profanity tend to be more honest and less likely to embark on deceptive acts than those who keep their language clean.
We have reported a often during 2017 on the association between gut bacteria and ASD. In an August report, researchers provided further evidence to back the gut-brain theory of autism.
Researchers revealed there appears to be a predictive relationship between serotonin, cortisol and fecal microbiota. The study backs previous findings that linked alterations in serum serotonin and cortisol, and fecal bacteroides and ruminococcus levels to some cases of ASD.
Early in December, we reported on a new study from Stanford researchers who have identified five new categories of symptoms and brain area activations associated with depression.
The researchers report tension, anxious arousal, general anxiety, anhedonia and melancholia are associated with depression and anxiety disorders.
The findings could help doctors to diagnose the disorders in a more specific and personal manner.
Finally, in June we reported researchers from CAMH have discovered a link between neuroinflammation and OCD.
In a JAMA Psychiatry study, researchers reported brain inflammation is up to 30% higher in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder compared to the general population.
The findings could help design new methods of treatment for those with OCD that include reducing brain inflammation.