‘Island of the brain’ explains how physical states affect anxiety

Anxiety disorders might be better explained by understanding the brain's way of regulating emotions.

A fold of tissue hidden deep inside the human brain which collects inputs from both inside and outside the body could explain how our physical states influence our emotions and may be the key to understanding anxiety disorders, according to Dr Nadine Gogolla, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, Germany. … Read more

Mini-brains offer hope in search for new drugs for brain disorders

Cerebral organoids allow scientists to test new drugs on human brain tissue in labs.

Miniature brains grown in laboratory dishes could overcome some of the problems testing drugs on animals and help researchers identify new ways to treat very human, and incurable, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Most new drugs are developed and tested using mice as models. However, with brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, the animals never … 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

Modifying memories during sleep could reduce trauma

Scientists are looking to see if they could add positive thoughts to bad memories. Image credit – CC0

Reducing the trauma associated with bad memories while someone is asleep sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it could become a reality in 10 years thanks to a greater understanding of how the brain encodes memories during sleep. A good snooze is known to be important for forming memories but it is only … Read more