In some children with autism, ‘social’ and ‘visual’ neural circuits don’t quite connect

Among the first and most-documented symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a child’s aversion to interaction with others. Specifically, they appear uninterested in social activities and stimuli that would normally attract a young child’s attention, such as watching other children play, sing or dance. In a new study, published online December 17, 2019 in the journal eLife, researchers at […]

Read more

Deep neural networks uncover what the brain likes to see

Opening the eyes immediately provides a visual perception of the world—and it seems so easy. But the process that starts with photons hitting the retina and ends with ‘seeing’ is far from simple. The brain’s fundamental task in ‘seeing’ is to reconstruct relevant information about the world from the light that hits the eyes. Because this process is rather complex, […]

Read more

Antidepressants can lead to reductions in behavioral and neural responses to pain empathy

Depression is a disorder that often comes along with strong impairments of social functioning. Until recently, researchers assumed that acute episodes of depression also impair empathy, an essential skill for successful social interactions and understanding others. However, previous research had been mostly carried out in groups of patients who were on antidepressant medication. Novel insights of an interdisciplinary collaboration involving […]

Read more

Scientists identify a novel neural circuit mediating visually evoked innate defensive responses

Fear overgeneralization, a condition that limits the ability to discriminate between safety and threat, is an important pathological characteristic of anxiety-related syndromes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. However, unlike traditional conditioned fear, the mechanism of processing innate fear is largely unknown. Prof. Wang Liping and his colleagues Zhou Zheng and Liu Xuemei […]

Read more

Study shows that artificial neural networks can be used to drive brain activity

MIT neuroscientists have performed the most rigorous testing yet of computational models that mimic the brain’s visual cortex. Using their current best model of the brain’s visual neural network, the researchers designed a new way to precisely control individual neurons and populations of neurons in the middle of that network. In an animal study, the team then showed that the […]

Read more

How live recordings of neural electricity could revolutionize how we see the brain

Red and blue lights flash. A machine whirs like a distant swarm of bees. In a cubicle-sized room, Yoav Adam, a microscope, and a video projector capture something no one has ever seen before: neurons flashing in real time, in a walking, living creature. For decades scientists have been searching for a way to watch a live broadcast of the […]

Read more

Open-source software tracks neural activity in real time

Tracking the firings of individual neurons is like trying to discern who is saying what in a football stadium full of screaming fans. Until recently, neuroscientists have had to tediously track each neuron by hand. “People spent more time analyzing their data to extract activity traces than actually collecting it,” says Dmitri Chklovskii, who leads the neuroscience group at the […]

Read more