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Science News About Brain Anatomy and Physiology

Illustration of communication between neurons.
Newly Discovered Brain Connection Affects Reward Behavior in Mice

NIMH-funded research sheds light on how negative early life experiences may impact how we act in response to rewards, which is often disrupted in people with mental illnesses.

Concept of neurons communicating with an explosion of activity between two neurons.
Researchers Find Order in the Language of the Brain

New research supported by NIMH used mathematical approaches to explain how neurons in the brain communicate over time to support information processing.

Illustration of white blood cells and red blood cells
HIV Can Persist for Years in Myeloid Cells of People on Antiretroviral Therapy

A subset of white blood cells, known as myeloid cells, can harbor HIV in people who have been virally suppressed for years on antiretroviral therapy, according to findings from a small study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Diverse group of adolescents standing together while wearing face masks.
COVID-19 Pandemic Associated With Worse Mental Health and Accelerated Brain Development in Adolescents

An NIMH-supported study suggests that adolescents living through the COVID-19 pandemic may be experiencing more anxiety and depression symptoms and accelerated brain aging.

Illustration of multiethnic group of people
NIMH Creates Publicly Accessible Resource With Data From Healthy Volunteers

The NIMH Healthy Research Volunteer Study aims to build a comprehensive, publicly accessible resource with a range of brain and behavioral data from healthy volunteers.

Example of a transplanted human cortical organoid (t-hCO) in the rat cortex. Credit: Revah, O. et al. Nature (2022); Pasca Lab, Stanford
Researchers Develop Method to Study Brain Connectivity, Functionality

Scientists have developed a research method that allows for a much more detailed examination of the brain processes involved in some neurological and mental disorders.

Illustration of neuronal connections.
NIH BRAIN Initiative Launches Projects to Develop Cell Atlases and Molecular Tools for Cell Access

The National Institutes of Health has launched two transformative projects supported by the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative: The BRAIN Initiative® Cell Atlas Network and the Armamentarium for Precision Brain Cell Access.

Enhanced photo of researchers standing and wearing virtual reality headsets to plan DBS implantation.
Personalizing Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression

A recent NIMH-supported study investigated whether deep brain stimulation could be personalized for individuals with treatment-resistant depression.

Illustration of neuronal connections.
NIH BRAIN Initiative Unveils Detailed Atlas of the Mammalian Primary Motor Cortex

The NIH Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) has unveiled an atlas of cell types and an anatomical neuronal wiring diagram for the mammalian primary motor cortex, derived from detailed studies of mice, monkeys, and humans.

a teen girl sits with her elbows propped, resting her chin on her folded hands.
Eating Disorder Behaviors Alter Reward Response in the Brain

A new NIMH-supported study found that eating disorder behaviors alter the brain’s reward response process and food intake control circuitry, which can reinforce the behaviors.

line drawing illustration of human brain
Mapping ‘Imbalance’ in Brain Anatomy Across the Lifespan

Researchers in the NIMH Intramural Research Program have developed a new way to measure the degree to which the proportions of an individual person’s brain differ from the proportions typically seen in the broader population. This technique yields new insights into brain development and offers tools for further study.

illustration of connected neurons
New Experiences Enhance Learning by Resetting Key Brain Circuit

A study of spatial learning in mice shows that exposure to new experiences dampens established representations in the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, allowing the mice to learn new navigation strategies.

Image of brain neurons
NIH-funded Study Sheds Light on Abnormal Neural Function in Rare Genetic Disorder

A genetic study has identified neuronal abnormalities in the electrical activity of cortical cells derived from people with a rare genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

blueprint style line drawing of human brain
Study Shows Highly Reproducible Sex Differences in Aspects of Human Brain Anatomy

A scientific analysis of more than 2,000 brain scans found evidence for highly reproducible sex differences in the volume of certain regions in the human brain.

Image showing HIV infection of CD4+ T cells in the mouse brain. Human T cells (magenta), human astrocytes (red), HIV (green), nuclei (Blue). Arrows identify uptake of HIV from astrocytes into T cells. Credit: Al-Harthi et al. (2020)
Brain Cells Can Harbor and Spread HIV Virus to the Body

Researchers funded by NIMH have found that astrocytes, a type of brain cell, can harbor HIV and then spread the virus to immune cells that traffic out of the brain and into other organs.

Image showing immunofluorescence of fear-acquisition tagged neurons in the dentate gyrus during spontaneous recovery. Credit: Springer Nature; Lacagnina et al. 2019
Brain Processes Underlying the Extinction and Reactivation of Fear Memories

In a study published in 2019 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health investigated the neurobiological changes that occur in the brain circuits of mice when contextual fear memories — fear of a place where an aversive event occurred — are formed and extinguished.

This is an image of neuronal receptors.
Fast-Fail Trial Shows New Approach to Identifying Brain Targets for Clinical Treatments

An innovative NIMH-funded trial shows that a receptor involved in the brain’s reward system may be a viable target for treating anhedonia (or lack of pleasure), a key symptom of several mood and anxiety disorders.

illustration of a human head with braiwaves superimposed at the top
Neural Signature Identifies People Likely to Respond to Antidepressant Medication

NIH-funded research uses machine learning algorithm to predict individual response to a commonly-prescribed antidepressant.

cell-by-cell list of hippocampal activity in rat brain
Reading the Brain’s Map: Coordinated Brain Activation Supports Spatial Learning and Decision-Making

NIH-supported study finds that spatial “replay” in neurons may help rats learn how to navigate toward goals.

illustration of a human brain with magnifying glass held up to show detailed view of forebrain
New BRAIN Initiative Awards Accelerate Neuroscience Discoveries

The NIH has announced its continued support for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative by funding more than 180 new BRAIN Initiative awards, bringing the total 2019 budget for the program to more than $424 million.

Image showing a sagittal view of a human brain with the hippocampus and amygdala marked
Study Reveals Sex-Based Differences in the Development of Brain Hubs Involved in Memory and Emotion

Researchers have uncovered sex-based differences in the development of the hippocampus and amygdala—brain areas that have been implicated in the biology of several mental disorders that impact males and females differently.

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN)® Initiative Investigators Meeting
Fifth Annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting

On April 11-13, 2019, approximately 1,500 scientists from many disciplines will attend the fifth annual Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN)® Initiative Investigators Meeting in Washington, DC. This open meeting provides a forum for discussing scientific developments and potential new directions, and to identify areas for collaboration and research coordination.

Image showing differences in fMRI activation between children with and without anhedonia during reward anticipation.
NIH Study Reveals Differences in Brain Activity in Children with Anhedonia

Researchers have identified changes in brain connectivity and brain activity during rest and reward anticipation in children with anhedonia, a condition where people lose interest and pleasure in activities they used to enjoy.

MRI image displays a map of substantia nigra voxels where NM-MRI signal was positively correlated with severity of psychotic symptoms.
Neuromelanin-Sensitive MRI Identified as a Potential Biomarker for Psychosis

Researchers have shown that a type of magnetic resonance imaging — called neuromelanin-sensitive MRI (NM-MRI) — is a potential biomarker for psychosis. NM-MRI signal was found to be a marker of dopamine function in people with schizophrenia and an indicator of the severity of psychotic symptoms in people with this mental illness.

A heatmap shows the amount of time a mouse spent in locations of an open field chamber during optogenetic stimulation of the cerebellar input to the VTA.
New Findings Reveal Surprising Role of the Cerebellum in Reward and Social Behaviors

A new study in rodents has demonstrated, for the first time, that the brain’s cerebellum plays a role in controlling reward and social preference behavior—findings that shed light on the brain circuits critical to the affective and social dysfunction seen across multiple psychiatric disorders.