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Epigenetics research opens potential door to prevent neurodevelopmental disorders

Sai Ma, for­mer Vir­ginia Tech bio­med­ical engi­neer­ing Ph.D. stu­dent, and Chang Lu, the Fred W. Bull pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at Vir­ginia Tech. Cred­it: Vir­ginia Tech

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Epi­ge­net­ic Changes Guide Devel­op­ment of Dif­fer­ent Brain Regions (Dana Foun­da­tion):

It’s one of the great­est stand­ing mys­ter­ies in neu­ro­science: Giv­en that each cell in the human body con­tains the same DNA, how, exact­ly, does the brain devel­op into dis­tinct func­tion­al regions, sup­port­ed by dif­fer­ent cell types? And how might that devel­op­men­tal pro­gram go awry, result­ing in neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­ders like schiz­o­phre­nia or autism? The answers may be the epigenome Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Psychedelics can promote neural plasticity in the prefrontal cortex and expand pathways for mental health

– Cred­it: Cell Reports 2018 23, 3170–3182DOI: (10.1016/j.celrep.2018.05.022). Copy­right © 2018 The Authors

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Psy­che­delics in Neu­rol­o­gy: Poten­tial for Improv­ing Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty (Neu­rol­o­gy­Times):

Back in the 1950s, research was prov­ing that psy­che­del­ic agents could be effec­tive in the treat­ment of var­i­ous neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, just as sci­ence was explor­ing their ben­e­fi­cial effects, the coun­ter­cul­ture was explor­ing and embrac­ing their effects. Slow­ly but sure­ly, psy­che­delics were asso­ci­at­ed with rebel­lious youth and the tumul­tuous anti-war move­ment. As a result, the gov­ern­ment shut down most of the research.

The 1990s saw renewed inter­est in psy­che­del­ic com­pounds as a means to address neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders. Research explored the ben­e­fits of MDMA and ket­a­mine to treat mood dis­or­ders and post­trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der. Now, a new study sheds even more light on the promise these agents might pro­vide. Read the rest of this entry »

A conversation with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg on Creativity, Neuroscience, and Technological Innovation

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Dear Elkhonon, a plea­sure to have you with us. Let’s get out the gate by dis­cussing how are new ideas born — for exam­ple, how exact­ly did you first think about writ­ing your new book, Cre­ativ­i­ty: The Human Brain in the Age of Inno­va­tion?

Orig­i­nal­ly, I set out to write a book about how the brain deals with nov­el­ty — a long-stand­ing focus of my own research. But the more I thought about it, the more the sub­ject of cre­ativ­i­ty was com­ing up, so I decid­ed to tack­le nov­el­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty at the same time.

Do we need yet anoth­er book on Cre­ativ­i­ty?

We absolute­ly do. Cre­ativ­i­ty is not just an indi­vid­ual feat; it is embed­ded into a cul­ture which either fos­ter, sti­fles, or shapes it in a vari­ety of ways. And it is nev­er a strict­ly soli­tary process, since even the most cre­ative mind draws on the pre­vi­ous­ly accu­mu­lat­ed knowl­edge. So, in order to tru­ly under­stand cre­ativ­i­ty, we must inte­grate neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic and cul­tur­al per­spec­tives into a coher­ent nar­ra­tive. To my knowl­edge, this has not been done before, and this is what my book aims to accom­plish.

I am par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by the dynam­ic rela­tion­ship between over- and under­ac­ti­va­tion of pre­frontal cor­tex areas in the cre­ative process and dis­cuss it exten­sive­ly in the book. This is one of the most intrigu­ing and pos­si­bly most con­se­quen­tial aspects of the brain machin­ery of cre­ativ­i­ty.

What have we learned about the brain mech­a­nisms of cre­ativ­i­ty over the last five to ten years?

We have learned a lot: that cre­ativ­i­ty is not a mono­lith­ic trait; that is con­sists of many mov­ing parts and may take many paths even with­in the same are­na of human endeav­or; that it is not linked to any sin­gle brain struc­ture or to a sin­gle gene or even a small group of genes.

How do you define Cre­ativ­i­ty, and what can Neu­ro­science con­tribute to its under­stand­ing?

Cre­ativ­i­ty is often defined as the abil­i­ty to come up with con­tent which is both nov­el and salient. Read the rest of this entry »

With pharma exiting Alzheimer’s research, new hope (and urgency) seen in the combination of brain training and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

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What does the future hold for the war on Alzheimer’s? (The Globe and Mail):

After spend­ing huge sums on clin­i­cal trails in recent years, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try has failed to find a drug that can halt the mind-rob­bing dis­ease. And this month, Pfiz­er announced it is end­ing its Alzheimer’s research, although oth­er com­pa­nies haven’t thrown in the tow­el yet. But oth­er pre­ven­tion mea­sures are being explored.

Sev­er­al Toron­to hos­pi­tals are involved in an ambi­tious $10-mil­lion, five-year study to deter­mine whether a com­bi­na­tion of cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion – men­tal exer­cis­es – plus elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion of the brain can delay Read the rest of this entry »

Studies suggest we better train the mind as we train the body: with cross-training and in good company

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Dif­fer­ent med­i­ta­tion types train dis­tinct parts of your brain (New Sci­en­tist):

We are used to hear­ing that med­i­ta­tion is good for the brain, but now it seems that not just any kind of med­i­ta­tion will do. Just like phys­i­cal exer­cise, the kind of improve­ments you get depends on exact­ly how you train – and most of us are doing it all wrong Read the rest of this entry »

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