New fathers may undergo hormonal, neural and behavioural changes

The hormone oxytocin, which derives its name from ancient Greek and means ‘swift birth’, likely plays a role in fathering. Image credit — Pxhere/JohnsonGoh, licensed under CC0

Fathers’ hormone levels and brain activity may change when they spend time with their children, helping them adapt to parenthood in a way that has been overlooked until now, according to Professor Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg, who studies children and family relations at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and was until recently at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She … Read more

How focusing on emotions helps diffuse political tension

Workshops focusing on intergroup emotions are showing how deeply-rooted beliefs can be changed to support conflict resolution. Group interventions, each lasting just five hours, broadened dozens of Israelis’ views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a study published in January showed. The study explored how in unyielding conflicts, the belief that one group can change their views motivates the … Read more

Theory of predictive brain as important as evolution – Prof. Lars Muckli

State-of-the-art functional brain imaging techniques allowed Prof. Muckli to investigate the human brain at sub-millimetre resolutions.

Our brains make sense of the world by predicting what we will see and then updating these predictions as the situation demands, according to Lars Muckli, professor of neuroscience at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Glasgow, Scotland. He says that this predictive processing framework theory is as important to brain science as evolution is … Read more

Simple blood test could reveal epilepsy risk

It is difficult for doctors to diagnose epilepsy as they usually do not observe the symptoms in a patient, but a blood test could overcome this challenge.

A finger-prick blood test to diagnose epilepsy could be available within five years, according to scientists who are using tell-tale molecules called biomarkers to overcome current diagnostic problems and guide treatment. More than 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide. However, diagnosing the disease remains challenging and treatments are often unsuccessful: only 70% of patients taking … Read more

Map of brain cell activity may help us control when we sleep

Scientists still have much to learn about the underlying circuitry that triggers the onset of sleep.

For many people who struggle to get a good night’s rest, being able to switch on and off the brain circuits that control sleep would be a life-changer. The good news is that’s exactly what scientists hope to do, but first they need to get a better understanding of what’s going on. It’s easy to … Read more

Insomnia may stem from hyperalert brains shaped by genes and childhood – Prof. Eus Van Someren

While the overall causes are unclear, early childhood adversities can have an impact on the prevalence of insomnia in later life.

Genes and adverse childhood experiences could result in a hyperalert brain that is good at being ready for action but gives rise to insomnia in later life, according to Professor Eus Van Someren, a sleep expert at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. He is investigating the link between insomnia and depression and has discovered a … Read more