20 Stories

Keep Thinking Unwanted Thoughts? Here's Why

Study finds it has to do with a neurotransmitter in the brain

(Newser) - Can't stop thinking about that time you cried in front of a girl during a Tim Burton movie on your first and only date? It might be because your brain is lacking a specific chemical, according to a study published Friday in Nature Communications . And while being unable to... More »

Even Moderate Drinking Could Hurt Your Brain

Eight to 12 drinks a week tied to increased risk of hippocampal atrophy

(Newser) - A variety of studies have linked heavy drinking to brain damage and dementia, but a new one suggests moderate drinking might also hurt the brain and perhaps lead to memory loss. Contrary to studies suggesting drinking in moderation might actually be good for you, the latest in the British Medical ... More »

Our Brains May Be Suffering Thanks to GPS

Without exercise, hippocampus could begin to change

(Newser) - Maybe this helps explain why people drive into lakes because of their GPS. A study in Nature suggests that parts of our brain switch off when navigating with it. Indeed, as more and more people rely on GPS, the human ability to navigate as a whole could suffer, researchers at... More »

Cluster of Amnesia Cases in Opioid Users Puzzles Doctors

They can't explain the phenomenon in Massachusetts

(Newser) - As if opioid addiction isn't bad enough on its own, something else is going on in eastern Massachusetts (and possibly beyond) that is worrying public health officials. Doctors have identified 14 opioid users who have suffered amnesia, and they can't explain why. While memory loss in and of... More »

Alzheimer's Gene Found to Have Effect on Kids' Brains

Could Alzheimer's be a developmental disorder?

(Newser) - You have one of six possible variations of the APOE gene , having inherited one variant—e2, e3, or e4—from each parent. Reporting in the journal Neuron , University of Hawaii researchers found that the brain development of children as young as preschool age with two copies of e4 or one... More »

Cinnamon Might Make Us Better Learners

Mice who ate cinnamon showed improved memory, learning

(Newser) - Scientists say they've discovered "one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners." And all you have to do is eat cinnamon. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center say that feeding cinnamon to mice with a poor learning ability turned them... More »

When It Comes to Mood Disorders, Girls May Be Like Mom

Mothers and daughters have similar brain circuitry

(Newser) - A woman with depression might have her mother's brain circuitry at least partly to blame, suggests a new study out of the University of California San Francisco . In the small but potentially groundbreaking study led by psychiatry professor Fumiko Hoeft, researchers discovered that the structure of the part of... More »

New Theory: Memories Change When Remembered

Study reconciles competing theories

(Newser) - Think back to your fondest memory. If a group of Johns Hopkins University researchers are right, you just changed that memory forever. They've developed a new theory about the nature of memory that could resolve a longstanding debate about the issue, Scientific American explains. They believe that memories are... More »

How Belly Fat Is Wrecking Your Memory

Liver, brain crave same protein, study reveals

(Newser) - Excess belly fat makes you more susceptible to memory loss and even dementia—and now scientists think they know why. The link between abdominal fat and brain shrinkage was discovered back in 2010, but a new study has pointed to a possible cause: As Scientific American puts it, "Your... More »

'Brain Dead' Might Not Mean Brain Dead After All

Study detects activity even after a flat EEG line

(Newser) - An intriguing new study out of Montreal might redefine our concept of being "brain dead." Researchers for the first time think that the brain remains active even in patients whose EEG lines have gone flat, reports the Los Angeles Times . The study sprang from an unusual case in... More »

Blood Sugar Might Be Shrinking Your Brain

Even high end of normal appears harmful, researcher say

(Newser) - We've all been told sugar rots the teeth—but the brain as well? A new study has linked blood sugar levels even at the high end of normal to shrinkage of parts of the brain involved in memory and emotions, reports ABC . The "robust" link between blood sugar... More »

Nurturing Moms Help Kids' Brains Grow

Children of caring mothers have larger hippocampi: study

(Newser) - A mother's care may affect the physical development of a child's brain, a study suggests. Researchers found that preschool kids with more nurturing mothers had larger hippocampi than their peers by the time they were school age, reports HealthDay News, via the Philadelphia Inquirer . The hippocampus is a... More »

Scientists Show How We Remember Dreams

But they're still not sure about the 'why' part

(Newser) - From the scariest nightmares to the most bizarre fantasies, some dreams are remembered forever, and a team of Italian scientists knows how. Researchers at L'Aquila and Bologna universities have determined that it's all about the theta waves. If those slow electrical oscillations are present in the cerebral cortex... More »

How Naps Can Help You Learn

New study shows a post-snooze memory boost

(Newser) - If you’re a fan of the afternoon nap, there’s no need to be ashamed—in fact, new research gives you the perfect excuse to stop reading this right now and go grab some midday shuteye. In the study, volunteers who napped for 100 minutes prior to completing a... More »

'Puberty Pill' Could Make Kids Smarter

Drug would act on brain, blocking receptor that slows learning

(Newser) - Studying, schmudying: A pill that boosts teenagers’ ability to learn may be in the pipeline soon. A receptor in the hippocampus area of the brain appears to slow down learning when kids hit puberty, researchers at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn report. Give kids a steroid to suppress that receptor, and... More »

To Get Smarter, Take a Nap

Sleeping for 90 minutes at midday boosts the brain's ability to learn

(Newser) - Taking a nap after lunch helps the brain "reset" and prepare to assimilate new information, researchers say. "It's as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you're not going to receive any more mail," says... More »

New Brain Cells Bump Old Memories

Study finds new neurons clear out short-term memory

(Newser) - The birth of new brain cells bumps old memories into long-term storage, according to new research which upends earlier theories. Researchers working with rodents found that the creation of new neurons destabilized existing connections in the hippocampus instead of strengthening them as they had expected, effectively "clearing the inbox"... More »

Alcoholics Are Less Able to Read Your Face

Sensitivity is lower even when drinkers are sober for years: study

(Newser) - Long-term alcoholics have a diminished ability to sense others’ emotions, even if they have been sober for years, the Chicago Tribune reports. A new study used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to look at the brain activity of abstinent alcoholics and non-alcoholics while they looked at pictures of faces that... More »

Scientists Read Subjects' Location From Brain Scans

(Newser) - Decoding part of the complex system used by the brain to store memories has allowed scientists to determine a person’s location by looking at brain scans, Wired reports. A study took images of the hippocampus—the part responsible for spatial relationship and short-term memories—as individuals navigated a virtual-reality... More »

Big Differences Found in Male, Female Brains

They're apparently based on different genetic blueprints, studies find

(Newser) - The brains of men and women are so physically different they amount to different organs and may have developed from distinct genetic blueprints, new research shows. Distinct anatomical differences between male and female brains likely explain many well-established differences of perception and behavior between the sexes, from problem-solving strategies to... More »

20 Stories