This 2016 US human study found: “A link between existing data on the anatomical and physiological characteristics of striatal regions and psychological functions. Because we did not limit our metaanalysis to studies that specifically targeted striatal function, our results extend previous knowledge of the involvement of the striatum in reward-related decision-making tasks, and provide a … Continue reading Empathy, value, pain, control: Psychological functions of the human striatum
I often reread blog posts that you read. Yesterday, a reader clicked Treat your gut microbiota as one of your organs. On rereading, I saw that I didn’t properly reference the parabrachial nucleus as being part of the brainstem. A “parabrachial nucleus” search led me to a discussion of two 2020 rodent studies: “Nociceptive signals … Continue reading The brainstem’s parabrachial nucleus
This 2020 review attempted to consolidate thousands of research papers on oxytocin: “Chemical properties of oxytocin make this molecule difficult to work with and to measure. Effects of oxytocin are context-dependent, sexually dimorphic, and altered by experience. Its relationship to a related hormone, vasopressin, have created challenges for its use as a therapeutic drug. Widely … Continue reading Unraveling oxytocin – is it nature’s medicine?
A pair of 2019 Virginia studies involved human mother/infant subjects: “We show that OXTRm [oxytocin receptor gene DNA methylation] in infancy and its change is predicted by maternal engagement and reflective of behavioral temperament.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795517 “Epigenetic dynamics in infancy and the impact of maternal engagement” “Infants with higher OXTRm show enhanced responses to anger and … Continue reading Using oxytocin receptor gene methylation to pursue an agenda
This 2019 US rodent study concerned transmitting poor maternal care to the next generation: “The quality of parental care received during development profoundly influences an individual’s phenotype, including that of maternal behavior. Infant experiences with a caregiver have lifelong behavioral consequences. Maternal behavior is a complex behavior requiring the recruitment of multiple brain regions including … Continue reading A drug that countered effects of a traumatizing mother
This 2019 New York rodent study investigated multiple avenues to uncover mechanisms of obsessive-compulsive disorder: “Psychophysical models of OCD propose that anxiety (amygdala) and habits (dorsolateral striatum) may be causally linked. Numerous genetic and environmental factors may reduce striatum sensitivity and lead to maladaptive overcompensation, potentially accounting for a significant proportion of cases of pathological … Continue reading OCD and neural plasticity
This 2018 Japan/Detroit review subject was the impact of sleep and epigenetic modifications on adult dentate gyrus neurogenesis: “We discuss the functions of adult‐born DG neurons, describe the epigenetic regulation of adult DG neurogenesis, identify overlaps in how sleep and epigenetic modifications impact adult DG neurogenesis and memory consolidation.. Whereas the rate of DG neurogenesis … Continue reading Sleep and adult brain neurogenesis
A coauthor of the studies referenced in: Advance science by including emotion in research; and Empathy, value, pain, control: Psychological functions of the human striatum offered an opinion piece in A Paper a Day Keeps the Scientist Okay entitled “Do We Need To Study The Brain To Understand The Mind?” “The emerging consensus appears to … Continue reading Do we need to study the brain to understand the mind?
This 2016 UK human study found: “People differ in how they learn to avoid pain, with some individuals refraining from actions that resulted in painful outcomes, whereas others favor actions that helped prevent pain. Learning in our task was best explained as driven by an outcome prediction error that reflects the difference between expected and … Continue reading A human study of pain avoidance
This 2015 US/Canadian rodent study investigated the effects of natural variation in maternal care: “The effects of early life rearing experience via natural variation in maternal licking and grooming during the first week of life on behavior, physiology, gene expression, and epigenetic regulation of Oxtr [oxytocin receptor gene] across blood and brain tissues (mononucleocytes, hippocampus, … Continue reading Early-life epigenetic regulation of the oxytocin receptor gene
This 2015 analysis of emotion studies found: “Emotion categories [fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and happiness] are not contained within any one region or system, but are represented as configurations across multiple brain networks. For example, among other systems, information diagnostic of emotion category was found in both large, multi-functional cortical networks and in the thalamus, … Continue reading Advance science by including emotion in research
This 2015 Virginia Tech human study found: “Dopamine fluctuations encode an integration of RPEs [reward prediction errors, the difference between actual and expected outcomes] with counterfactual prediction errors, the latter defined by how much better or worse the experienced outcome could have been. How dopamine fluctuations combine the actual and counterfactual is unknown.” From the … Continue reading A problematic study of beliefs and dopamine
This 2014 Singapore human study found: “Differences in belief learning – the degree to which players were able to anticipate and respond to the actions of others, or to imagine what their competitor is thinking and respond strategically – was associated with variation in three genes which primarily affect dopamine functioning in the medial prefrontal … Continue reading One way beliefs produce pleasure and reward in the cerebrum
This 2013 Stanford study of 24 eight- and nine-year-old children found that measurements of limbic system areas predicted how well the 11 boys and 13 girls would respond to 8 weeks of one-on-one math tutoring! “Pretutoring hippocampal volume predicted performance improvements. Furthermore, pretutoring intrinsic functional connectivity of the hippocampus with dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices … Continue reading Kids who have a larger and better-connected hippocampus learn math better when tutored
The main purpose of this 2014 Illinois human study was to make findings directed toward high school students that: “Well-being may depend on attending to higher values related to family, culture, and morality, rather than to immediate, selfish pleasure.” The study’s messages to young people and to those who control young people were: You have … Continue reading Who benefits when research promotes a meme of self-sacrifice?