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Science News About Brain Anatomy and Physiology

A central circle with multiple colored patches inside. The colored patches represent a visualization of the mouse MOp transcriptomic taxonomy. Surrounding the central circle are pictures of various types of neurons in colors that coordinate with the patches used in the central circle (pinks on left and greens and blues on the right). Interspersed with the images of the neurons are spike graphs showing neuron electrophysiological profiles. (Credit: Tolias/Nature)
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.

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.

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.

Image showing pathways from the ipRGCs in the retina to the SCN and the PHb in the brain.
The Pathways Through which Light Affects Learning and Mood

In a new study, researchers have traced the brain pathways responsible for the effects of light on learning and mood. The findings revealed that these effects are brought about by two different and distinct pathways from the retina into the brain.

An overlay image of the PVT showing the terminals from the locus coeruleus (red) and the neurons that project to the nucleus accumbens (green).
Understanding Critical Components of the Brain’s Stress Circuitry

A new study has revealed more about the organization and function of a brain structure—the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus—that may serve a key role in linking stress detection to the development of adaptive behaviors.

An image showing the internal structure of the brain
Delay in HIV Treatment Associated with Brain Atrophy

People infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, known as HIV, display reductions in brain volume compared with people who are not infected with HIV, but now an NIMH-funded study has shed light on the course of this deterioration and shows that antiretroviral treatment started in the first few years of infection may stop these brain changes.

Logo for Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development
NIH Releases First Dataset from Unprecedented Study of Adolescent Brain Development

The National Institutes of Health released to the scientific community an unparalleled dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.

Pasca's Astrocytes
Scientists Give Star Treatment to Lesser-Known Cells Crucial for Brain Development

Star-shaped support brain cells, astrocytes, growing in 3-D “organoids” in a dish develop similarly as those in human brain tissue.

illustration of a brain
The NIH NeuroBioBank: Addressing the Urgent Need for Brain Donation

The directors of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke discuss the importance of post-mortem brain donation in a joint message.

Brain scan showing connectivity related to repetitive behaviors
Neuroimaging Technique May Help Predict Autism among High-Risk Infants

Functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) may predict which high-risk, 6-month old infants will develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by age 2 years.

X-ray image of a blue brain glowing against a black background
NIMH to Host Multimodal Brain Stimulation Speaker Series

Beginning May 31, 2017, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will launch a speaker series intended to bring together leaders in the field conducting research using non-invasive brain stimulation and functional imaging including EEG, fMRI, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).