A Future for Paralysis Patients: Nerve Transfer

Shrey Thaker ‘22 Many years ago, the thought of paralysis was bleak and often had negative consequences for the patient’s mental state. However, because of the research of Dr. van Zyl and her group, young adult patients may have a hope of regaining their lost motor abilities. Often times, paralysis is caused by a severe infraction on spinal integrity, leading to a loss of nerve … Continue reading A Future for Paralysis Patients: Nerve Transfer

Mapping the Network of Biology: Connectomics

Shrey Thaker ‘22 Since the discovery of DNA and its structure, a common goal of many scientists has to unravel and explore biology through manipulation of its inherent maps. At one point, mapping the human genome was considered  key to understanding human life. However, the driving force behind a human being’s unique existence is their extraordinary neural capabilities. Today, the cartography of science strives further: … Continue reading Mapping the Network of Biology: Connectomics

Molecular Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease Between Male and Female Patients

By Nicole Zhao ‘20  Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes memory, cognitive  and behavioral problems (1). In the United States, approximately 5.5 million people live with Alzheimer’s with two-thirds being women (2). Although  Alzheimer’s treatments are heavily researched, the impact of sex on the molecular level of the disease has not been explored. In this article, sex refers to the physiological and biological … Continue reading Molecular Differences in Alzheimer’s Disease Between Male and Female Patients

Neural Timescales as a Possible Autism Diagnostic Tool

Annamaria Cavaleri ‘22 Takamitsu Watanabe and his research team in the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Tokyo, Japan, found that neural ‘time windows’, the limited time during which development can be accomplished, in certain areas of the brain play a role in the cognitive symptoms of autism. A brain imaging study involving adults was used to observe the severity of autistic symptoms and how … Continue reading Neural Timescales as a Possible Autism Diagnostic Tool

Targeted Neurotechnology Can Restore Walking in Humans With Spinal Cord Injuries

By Allan Mai ‘20 Spinal cord injury continues to be a leading cause of paralysis in humans. Depending on the location of the injury, complete or partial paralysis can occur. Fortunately, we live in an age in which advanced neurotechnology such as epidural stimulation is being developed to reverse this condition. In this study, the University of Lausanne’s Dr. Fabien B. Wagner and his team … Continue reading Targeted Neurotechnology Can Restore Walking in Humans With Spinal Cord Injuries

Neural Communication Patterns Found in the Brains of Children with Autism

By Annamaria Cavaleri ‘22 A team of researchers at San Diego State University studying MRI scans of school-age children’s brains recently discovered a unique communication pattern involving the amygdala in the brains of children with autism. This pattern involved unexpected detours and exits within the travel of information from one region of the brain to the other. It was shown that in children with autism, … Continue reading Neural Communication Patterns Found in the Brains of Children with Autism

Figure 1. Lutein is a naturally occurring pigment found within foods such as kiwifruits. A study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that an intake of lutein can reduce cognitive decline in adults.

The Effects of Carotenoids on Cognitive Ability

By Caleb Sooknanan ’20 Lutein — a carotenoid or pigment from green foods such as spinach and kiwifruit — can be quantified in central nervous system tissue, making it a useful way of evaluating diet’s effect on the brain. However, scientists are still determining whether higher lutein amounts yield cognitive ability improvements. Doctor Naiman A. Khan and researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign … Continue reading The Effects of Carotenoids on Cognitive Ability

Figure 1: The auditory cortex of the brain highlighted with mapping of sound frequencies.

Restoring Auditory Cortex Plasticity in Adults

By Anna Tarasova ’19 Being able to form, maintain, and strengthen neural connections within the auditory cortex is an important part of language acquisition. Neural plasticity, or the ability of the brain to establish new connections, is especially high in childhood, but decreases with age. A discovery made by Dr. Jay Blundon and his colleagues at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has the potential … Continue reading Restoring Auditory Cortex Plasticity in Adults

Figure 1: Music cues can be utilized for motor learning and can alter brain structure

Music Affects Brain Structure

By Rideeta Raquib ’19 Whether it be going out for a jog or driving a car, our day-to-day physical movements are often coordinated with music. Recently, researchers have harnessed music and employed auditory cues in response to musical stimuli to enhance movement learning and rehabilitation. Previous studies have shown that musicians tend to have a higher fractional anisotropy (FA) values than non-musicians. FA is a … Continue reading Music Affects Brain Structure

Figure 1: Studying, even in older individuals, helps improve cognitive reserves.

Sending Your Grandparents to University Increases Cognitive Reserve: The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project

Ericka Berman   One way to decrease the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease is by increasing cognitive reserves (CR). Research supports the idea that education, intelligence, and cognitively stimulating activities modify the risk for dementia. CR is a theoretical construct, so it is measured indirectly. Dr. Megan Lenehan and her team of researchers used data from 459 participants ages 50-79 from the Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project … Continue reading Sending Your Grandparents to University Increases Cognitive Reserve: The Tasmanian Healthy Brain Project