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44 news posts in Frontiers in Neuroscience

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11 Jul 2023

Simple oxygen intervention could help patients ‘dramatically improve’ after brain injuries

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/Shutterstock.com Normobaric oxygen, delivered at the same pressure as the atmosphere, is often used to maximize brain cell survival in patients with neurological trauma. Scientists found that giving experimental participants normobaric oxygen through a nasal cannula helped them learn a new visuomotor task more quickly and effectively, raising hopes that this oxygen intervention could also be used for rehabilitation. Motor learning skills let us move through the world: we use them to teach ourselves how to walk, how to pick up a drink, how to run. But age or sickness can weaken our ability to learn motor tasks. Scientists studying the impact of oxygen supplementation on motor learning have found a promising treatment that could help patients who have experienced neurological trauma recover old skills. “A simple and easy to administer treatment with 100% oxygen can drastically improve human motor learning processes,” said Dr Marc Dalecki, now at the German University of Health and Sports in Berlin, senior author of the study in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Repurposing a frontline treatment Our brains need a lot of oxygen. In low-oxygen contexts cognitive function decreases, while in high-oxygen contexts it recovers, and the delivery of […]

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19 May 2023

Our brain prefers positive vocal sounds that come from our left

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Researchers have shown that the brain’s primary auditory cortex is more responsive to human vocalizations associated with positive emotions and coming from our left side than to any other kind of sounds. This bias can be explained by the way our brain is organized, but its evolutionary significance is not yet known Sounds that we hear around us are defined physically by their frequency and amplitude. But for us, sounds have a meaning beyond those parameters: we may perceive them as pleasant or unpleasant, ominous or reassuring, and interesting and rich in information, or just noise. Read original paper Download original paper (pdf) One aspect that affects the emotional ‘valence’ of sounds – that is, whether we perceive them as positive, neutral, or negative – is where they come from. Most people rate looming sounds, which move towards us, as more unpleasant, potent, arousing, and intense than receding sounds, and especially if they come from behind rather than from the front. This bias might give a plausible evolutionary advantage: to our ancestors on the African savannah, a sound approaching from behind their vulnerable back might have signaled a predator stalking them. Now, neuroscientists from […]

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17 Feb 2023

Humans don’t hibernate, but we still need more winter sleep

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/Shutterstock.com Society and technology impose sleep and wake schedules on people, especially in urban environments with lots of light pollution. Although seasonality in animal sleep is well known, for the past 25 years we’ve assumed humans are different. But a study of patients being monitored for sleep-related difficulties shows underestimated variation in sleep architecture over the course of a year. Whether we’re night owls or morning larks, our body clocks are set by the sun. Theoretically, changing day length and light exposure over the course of the year could affect the duration and quality of our sleep. But figuring out how this applies in practice is difficult. Although studies where people assess their own sleep have suggested an increase in sleep duration during winter, objective measures are needed to determine how exactly the seasons affect sleep. Scientists studying sleep difficulties have now published data in Frontiers in Neuroscience that shows that, even in an urban population experiencing disrupted sleep, humans experience longer REM sleep in winter than summer and less deep sleep in autumn. “Possibly one of the most precious achievements in human evolution is an almost invisibility of seasonality on the behavioral […]

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14 Mar 2022

Possible treatment for tinnitus? 4 fascinating Frontiers articles you may have missed

By Colm Gorey, Science Communications Manager Image: Shutterstock.com At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, many often fly under the radar. Now, as part of new series each month, Frontiers will highlight just some of those amazing papers you may have missed. 1: New treatment for tinnitus shows promise for further study More than 10% of the world’s population is estimated to live with a condition called tinnitus, where a range of sounds ranging from ringing to buzzing are heard in the ears that never goes away. While ranging in severity, between 0.5% and 3% of people diagnosed with it say their quality of life is impacted, with no known cure. However, researchers in South Korea have published a paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience putting forward hopeful findings that suggest a new treatment method could be possible for subacute and chronic tinnitus. The small study saw 55 patients undergo repeated nerve blocks after stimulation of the trigeminal and facial nerves to modulate the auditory and non-auditory nervous systems via the vestibulocochlear cranial nerve pathways. In more than 87.5% of patients, tinnitus disappeared or […]

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22 Jun 2021

Twin study is first to reveal common genetic risk factors for PTSD and migraine

By Conn Hastings, science writer Image credit: LanaG/Shutterstock.com While scientists have known that PTSD and migraine often co-occur, no one had studied this link before now. A new study by the open access publisher Frontiers on identical twins investigates the genetic basis for both migraine and PTSD. It reveals epigenetic changes that are shared by PTSD and migraine, suggesting that similar environmental risk factors are at play in both conditions. The findings could help researchers to develop new treatments. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and migraine often co-occur, but researchers knew relatively little about how or why this happens. A new study in Frontiers in Neuroscience is the first to investigate if the conditions have a common genetic basis. By studying identical twins, where one twin in each pair lives with PTSD or migraines and the other twin does not, the researchers found common genes that may play a role in both conditions. These genes may help to explain why the conditions co-occur, and could reveal new treatment targets for both. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that typically occurs after a traumatic experience, such as a life-threatening event. Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, […]