Increased Levels of Gray Matter in the Brain May Lead to Psychopathic Qualities

Joyce Chen ’23 Psychopathy is a genetic mutation in the brain that causes individuals to have egotistical tendencies. Such tendencies can lead to unwarranted actions such as crime or even murder, as psychopaths do not keep the wellbeing of others in mind. However, some psychopaths are capable of keeping their dark thoughts hidden very well, thereby having seemingly socially acceptable behavior. Recently, researchers from the … Continue reading Increased Levels of Gray Matter in the Brain May Lead to Psychopathic Qualities

The Genetic Role of Left-Handedness

Ellie Teng ’21 90% of the population are right- handed, so what is different about individuals who are left- handed? Handedness was previously known to be partially affected by the genome; twin studies showed that genes account for about 25% of the variation in handedness. Researchers at the University of Oxford sought to connect the genetic difference to areas of the brain that control language. … Continue reading The Genetic Role of Left-Handedness

The Use of Focused Ultrasound for Enhanced Delivery of Gene Therapy Across the Blood-Brain-Barrier

Jorge Pincay ‘20 Huntington’s disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease that results in the degradation of nerve cells in the brain over time. This disease is the result of a DNA mutation — a cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG) trinucleotide repeat expansion– that occurs in the gene that encodes for the huntingtin (Htt) protein. This repeat expansion causes a highly toxic form of the Htt protein … Continue reading The Use of Focused Ultrasound for Enhanced Delivery of Gene Therapy Across the Blood-Brain-Barrier

Effects of Dopamine in Value-Based Learning

Allan Mai ‘20 Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with implicated functions involving value-based learning. Researchers have discovered that dopamine signals reward prediction and incentive motivation when the brain is actively utilizing its decision making and value-based learning functions. Additionally, dopamine receptors in the brain can be divided into two groups, D1 and D2, which have opposite functions in terms of reward related and aversion related behaviors. … Continue reading Effects of Dopamine in Value-Based Learning

Effects of GVS Signals on Cognitive Functions

Allan Mai ‘20 The hippocampus and striatal circuits play essential roles in spatial navigation. This task is completed by integrating information from the environment as well as intrinsic input from the vestibular system which is responsible for balance. Scientists are trying to modify the interaction of the hippocampus and striatal circuits by using the galvanic vestibular system (GVS), and researchers from the German Center for … Continue reading Effects of GVS Signals on Cognitive Functions

Social Interactions Possibly Linked to Cerebellum

By Mariam Malik ‘22 The cerebellum, a five-centimeter wide part of the hindbrain, was initially thought of as having one major function: coordinating motor functions and balance. But new research on mice from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City shows that the remarkable cerebellar cortex may play a part in our social interactions as well. Kamran Khodakhah and colleagues were aware … Continue reading Social Interactions Possibly Linked to Cerebellum

The Unlikely Relation Between Gut and Brain

By Allan Mai ‘20 With the high selectivity of the blood-brain barrier, it appears unlikely that microorganisms in the stomach could ever be able to reach the brain. However, past studies that have suggested major correlation between depression and specific gut bacteria and even correlation between social behavior and the activities of certain gut bacteria have sparked intense research regarding the “gut-brain” axis. Among these … Continue reading The Unlikely Relation Between Gut and Brain

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

Weight Loss Linked to Self-Control Brain Regions

By Annamaria Cavaleri ‘22 According to a recent study published in Cell Metabolism, weight loss success is linked to an active self-control region in the human brain. The hormones leptin and ghrelin play a role in signaling hunger cues during weight-loss. When weight is lost, the levels of these hormones in the body changes. Alain Dagher and her team at the Montreal Neurological Institute and … Continue reading Weight Loss Linked to Self-Control Brain Regions

Stress Linked to Memory Impairment and Reduced Brain Size

By Annamaria Cavaleri ‘22 Given the increased amount of stress present in modern life, cognitive aging is an issue that is attracting more attention. Recent studies conducted in the neurology department of UT Health San Antonio suggest that stress is directly related to memory impairment and reduced brain size in your middle age. Cortisol is a hormone linked to stress and this study demonstrated that … Continue reading Stress Linked to Memory Impairment and Reduced Brain Size