Unraveling the Complexity of Schizophrenia Genetics

by Rebecca Birnbaum, MD, and Daniel R. Weinberger, MD

Our understanding of the biological mechanisms of schizophrenia risk has steadily evolved over the past few decades, attributable largely to advances in human genetics and to genomic technologies. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

The Enduring Mystery of Migraine

by Jim Schnabel

People who get migraines could soon have some new therapeutic options, but a deep understanding of the disorder continues to elude researchers.

Disorders of Consciousness: Brain Death, Coma, and the Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States

by Thomas I. Cochrane, MD, MBA, and Michael A. Williams, MD, FAAN

Using two sample outcomes, the authors walk us through possible stages of consciousness after injury. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

Early Life Experience, Critical Periods, and Brain Development

by Kayt Sukel

Researchers describe links between the presence of a caregiver, the absence of severe prenatal stress, and changes in brain structure and function in childhood and adolescence.

When the Myth is the Message: Neuromyths and Education

by Kayt Sukel

A recent survey suggests that neuromyths are more pervasive in the educational community than we might think, and this may work against academic achievement. We investigate some of the most common myths, explaining their scientific origins and realities. One of our series of briefing papers. 

How to Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Without Taking Drugs

By Jim Schnabel

AlzRisk-VitaminDWhile most cases of dementia may be unavoidable, a great many may be prevented or delayed via simple changes in diet and other habits. In principle, the earlier in life a person starts making these changes, the better the preventive effect would be.

Swiss Neuroscientists Induce Spooky ‘Feeling of a Presence’ in Healthy Volunteers

by Jim Schnabel

The researchers expect that such investigations ultimately could offer insights into related neuroscientific issues such as the neural origins of hallucinated voices in schizophrenia and the delusional sense of being controlled by someone else.

Beyond Insulin: Regulating Blood Sugar

by Tom Valeo

Research on diet, exercise, and using gene-spliced mice lead scientists to suspect that brain mechanisms may contribute up to half the control we have over glucose.

Tracking Neuroinflammation in Development, Neurodegenerative Disease

by Kayt Sukel

Researchers use new techniques and drugs to see if inflammation is a cause or an effect of brain illnesses.

The Brain–Gut Axis and Neuropsychiatric Disease: A Paradigm Shift

by Kayt Sukel

“As our understanding of the microbiome grows, we see a new opportunity for new questions and new understanding of brain disorders ranging from autism and depression,” says one researcher at the recent Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Others agree. 

Environmental Influence on the Developing Brain

by Carl Sherman

A panel at the recent Aspen Brain Forum discussed how certain social and psychological aspects of environment influence biology and behavior.

Nutrition and Brain Development

by Carl Sherman

Speakers on an Aspen Brain Forum panel about nutrition focused on iron deficiency—the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world—and its effects on neurodevelopment.

Seeking the Neural Signature of Consciousness

by Kayt Sukel

Cambridge researchers using EEG find network activity differs among minimally conscious patients, and the possibility of predicting the potential to communicate even in non-responsive people.

This is Your Brain in Space

by Dirk Hanson

Want to travel to Mars? Bring empathy, communication skills; expect trouble with seeing, thinking—and keeping food down.

Probing Synaptic Pruning

by Brenda Patoine

Beth StevensDana grantee Beth Stevens, Ph.D., discusses the unexpected roles immune cells play in normal brain development and disease. One of our series of Scientist Q&As.


What Does it Mean to be ‘Amyloid Positive?’

by Jim Schnabel

Studies suggest amyloid accumulates for 3 decades or more before dementia symptoms show.

Truth, Lies, and False Memories: Neuroscience in the Courtroom

by Craig Stark, PhD

Craig Stark, Ph.D.Our constant exposure to over-inflated claims of what technologies like neuroimaging can do are leading to a form of collective false memory in the form of an unreasonable expectation of what the technology can prove. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

All About A4: An Important Test of Alzheimer’s Prevention

by Jim Schnabel

 Researchers, doctors, and patients await the results of the first clinical trial to prevent Alzheimer’s in ordinary elderly people. 

Sleep Deprivation Increases Susceptibility to False Memories

by Kayt Sukel

Learning false information when sleepy can change a person’s memory of a photograph, researchers find.

Placebo Effects Offer Window to Individual Differences in Treatment Response

By Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD

Rather than discounting placebo responses as irrelevant noise, we should instead investigate them as predictors of treatment response and as novel therapeutic targets in medication, device, or psychotherapeutic approaches to disease recovery. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

Target: Tau

by Jim Schnabel

Scientists have new insights into how the tau protein spreads within and harms the brain, in Alzheimer’s and other diseases--and tau-targeting therapies are now entering clinical trials.

The Brain Inflamed

by Jim Schnabel

Scientists are finding evidence that neuroinflammation can alter mood and cognition, perhaps enough to help cause psychiatric disorders.

Taking Out The Garbage: New Hope for Treating Neurodegeneration

by Kayt Sukel

Dementias, ALS, and Huntington’s show different outward symptoms, but researchers theorize the disease process may be similar—a buildup of proteins that normally are cleared away.

A Neuroscience Giant

by Guy McKhann, MD

Guy_McKhann_thmbA tribute to a legend in the neuroscience field, the recently departed Vernon Mountcastle. From our free print publication, Brain in the News.



More Evidence That Vitamin D Protects Against Alzheimer’s

by Jim Schnabel

Lower vitamin D levels linked to higher dementia risk in two separate studies.

The Link Between Depression, Sleep, and Stress

by Moheb Costandi

Researchers discussed the molecular mechanisms linking sleep to depression and stress at the 9th FENS Forum of Neuroscience in Milan last month.

Closing the Gap Between Cochlear Implants and Natural Hearing

by Carl Sherman

Approaches include stimulating the growth of nerve fibers to improve sound perception and scanning the cortex to improve the device’s programming.

Can Hearing Loss Predict—or Lead to—Cognitive Decline?

by Jeremy Shere

Possible links between impaired hearing and loss of cognitive abilities raise the tantalizing possibility that restoring hearing could slow cognitive decline.

Why Studies of Fighting Fruit Flies Are Relevant to Understanding Human Aggression

By David J. Anderson, Ph.D.

Even though the brain of a fly doesn’t look like our own brain, it appears to follow certain basic principles in how it uses its neurons to control behavior, which may generalize to “higher” organisms, including humans. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

Autism Remains a Mystery, but Help May Be on the Horizon

AAAS Capitol Hill Briefing

As autism prevalence rises, early behavioral intervention is key, experts say, and insights on brain signaling could lead to new treatments. A report from a Capitol Hill briefing in July. See also links to video of the briefing.

Beyond Serotonin: Depression at the microRNA Level

by Kayt Sukel

Researchers focusing on glutamate pathways may have found a potential biomarker for the mood disorder.

Stem Cell Transplants Show Promise for Future Parkinson’s Treatments

by Kayt Sukel

Cells transplanted into brains of people with late-stage Parkinson’s remained functional for more than a decade after implant.

An Antidepressant to Prevent Alzheimer’s?

by Jim Schnabel

Scientists report promising results from a small clinical trial of an SSRI drug to lower amyloid beta levels, but years of further tests lie ahead.

Q&A: Music, Art, and Cognitive Benefit: Separating Fact from Fallacy

by Brenda Patoine

Spelke (headshot)

Dana grantee Elizabeth Spelke discusses the future direction of arts and cognition research, and puts into perspective the media attention given to her recently published study on the effects of music classes on math abilities in children. One of our series of Scientist Q & As.


FENS: How Far Should Brain Researchers Go?

by Moheb Costandi

How much should we enhance our brains, how far should we go to treat risky pre-term pregnancies, and when can we morally do research on people having surgery for something else were among the topics at the William Safire Seminar on Neuroethics.

Obesity Linked to Changes in Brain’s White Matter Structure—and Cognition

by Kayt Sukel

Reducing fat levels in obese mice through exercise or surgery appears to result in better cognitive performance.

Podcast: Alzheimer's Disease: Prospects for a Cure

By The New York Academy of Sciences

The search for a treatment for Alzheimer's Disease becomes increasingly urgent as global populations grow and age. In this podcast, leading experts from different sections of the research and development pipeline discuss cutting-edge approaches to developing treatments.

A Purposeful Life is a Healthier Life

by Moheb Costandi

Results from programs like Experience Corps suggest that having a goal or purpose helps protect against cognitive decline as we age.

‘Smart’ Drugs Alter Developing Brain

by Kayt Sukel

Though many “normal” people—students, lawyers, doctors—are taking drugs that may enhance cognitive function, there is little research into how these drugs affect non-disordered brains. A research review suggests that using cognitive-enhancing drugs may have unintended and quite negative consequences, especially in youngsters.

How Should We Be Thinking About Genetic Studies?

by Kayt Sukel

As the behavioral genetics field grows, we must be cautious not to oversimplify the research, warn experts, particularly in studies linking single genes to certain traits. One of our series of Briefing Papers.

A Fountain of Youth for the Brain?

by Jim Schnabel

Scientists have reported promising rejuvenation experiments on mouse brains-but it isn't clear that such results can be translated usefully into human therapies.

Using Optogenetics and Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs)

By Christie D. Fowler, Ph.D., Brian Lee, Ph.D., and Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D.

Techniques like optogenetics and DREADDs, which control neuronal activity, are revolutionizing our understanding of the central nervous system. Understanding each technique's advantages and disadvantages, and tailoring their use to best address the specific research question under consideration, is key. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

NIH Calls for ‘Sea Change’ Regarding Sex Differences in Research

by Kayt Sukel

New policy for US National Institutes of Health funding will require that researchers propose studies that have balance of male and female cells, tissues, or animals.

Uncovering the Mysteries of Myelin

by Kayt Sukel

Now that researchers have the technology to test the hypothesis that myelin is a simple, regular axonal insulator, they find it isn’t true. Now the fun begins.

The Neuroprotective Effects of Education

by Moheb Costandi

Research published in the past few years suggests that longer years of formal study can strengthen the brain, making it more resistant to the ravages of old age—and perhaps mitigating the damage that occurs after traumatic brain injury.

A Key Defender of the Aging Brain?

by Jim Schnabel

The loss of the REST protein from neurons appears to be an important early event in neurodegenerative disease. Researchers now are looking for ways to restore it in the elderly.

First Language Learned, Hearing Status Affects Brain Structure

by Kayt Sukel

Deaf people who learned American Sign Language first show differences in brain structure compared with deaf people who learned to lip-read English first.

Welcome to the Machine: Cerebrum Book Review

by Jerome Kagan

Cerebrum - May 2014 - book cover imageReviewer Jerome Kagan finds The Future of the Mind is intended not for skeptics but for the curious nonscientist who, like author Michio Kaku, enjoys Star Trek movies and H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds.

Glia: Earning Some Respect

by Carl Sherman

Either as “handmaidens to neurons” or as actors in their own right, glial cells show powerful effects in mouse models of disease.

Can Brain Scans Describe Good Leaders?

By Guy McKhann, MD

Guy_McKhann_thmbAs the political environment heats up, the leadership qualities of potential candidates are under the public microscope. Can advances in our understanding of the brain help assess a candidate’s leadership potential? Our monthly column from Brain in the News