All posts filed under: neuroscience

Artificial Synapse Developed for Neural Networks

For all the improvements in computer technology over the years, we still struggle to recreate the low-energy, elegant processing of the human brain. Now, researchers at Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories have made an advance that could help computers mimic one piece of the brain’s efficient design — an artificial version of the space over which neurons communicate, called a synapse. “It works like a real synapse but it’s an organic electronic device that can be engineered,” said Alberto Salleo, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and senior author of the paper. “It’s an entirely new family of devices because this type of architecture has not been shown before. For many key metrics, it also performs better than anything that’s been done before with inorganics.” The new artificial synapse, reported in the Feb. 20 issue of Nature Materials, mimics the way synapses in the brain learn through the signals that cross them. This is a significant energy savings over traditional computing, which involves separately processing information and then storing it into …

Brain Plasticity: How Adult Born Neurons Get Wired

The study opens the door to look at how this redistribution of synapses between the old and new neurons helps the dentate gyrus function. [NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.] Summary: Researchers report adult neurogenesis not only helps increase the number of cells in a neural network, it also promotes plasticity in the existing network. Additionally, they have identified the role the Bax gene plays in synaptic pruning. Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham. One goal in neurobiology is to understand how the flow of electrical signals through brain circuits gives rise to perception, action, thought, learning and memories. Linda Overstreet-Wadiche, Ph.D., and Jacques Wadiche, Ph.D., both associate professors in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Neurobiology, have published their latest contribution in this effort, focused on a part of the brain that helps form memories — the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. The dentate gyrus is one of just two areas in the brain where new neurons are continuously formed in adults. When a new granule cell neuron is made in the …

A Brain-Wide Chemical Signal that Enhances Memory

Summary: Study sheds light on how nicotine affects the brains of those with schizophrenia, and why those with the disease tend to be heavy smokers. Source: University of Bristol. NEUROSCIENCE NEWS JANUARY 24, 2017 How does heightened attention improve our mental capacity? This is the question tackled by new research published today in the journal Cell Reports, which reveals a chemical signal released across the brain in response to attention demanding or arousing situations. Researchers studied how the release of the chemical acetylcholine fluctuates during the day but found that the release is at its highest when the brain is engaged with more challenging mental tasks. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only and is credited to BruceBlaus. The new discoveries indicate how current drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, designed to boost this chemical signal, counter the symptoms of dementia. The results could also lead to new ways of enhancing cognitive function to counteract the effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia, as well as enhancing memory in healthy people. The team of …