2014 was a big year for brain research. The next territory of science to be explored is inside the human brain. Some of the researches and pieces of knowledge were particularly worth mentioning about.
The Importance of Gut – Brain Connection
The idea about the possibility of gut bacteria creating an adverse effect on brain functions has taken over the neuroscientific arena in the past year. Millions of dollars have been spent on the investigation the link between the gut microbiome and the brain, which could be regarded as a shift of knowledge pattern in neuroscience.
The link between brain disorder such as autism and depression and the microbiome in the intestines was examined already in the past, but in 2014, a deeper understanding of the mechanism that allow the microbiome to apply its influence on the brain’s function and activity. No matter “how” this mechanism works, it is certain that the immune system and the vagus nerve are the main player in this linking activity.
The Possibility of the Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication
The study that commenced in 2013 leaded to the success of signal transmission from a person’s brain to control another motion of another person within a matter of seconds.
The test was conducted by having 3 pairs of participants (one of each pair is the sender and another one is the receiver) placed within a distance apart with no way to communicate with one another except using the link between their brain. The sender is connected to an electroencephalography machine (the brain reader machine), the machine, then read what is in the sender’s brain and send electrical signals via the web to the receiver who has a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil placed near his brain area that control the movements. The sender can command the receiver to do a certain movement by plainly thinking about that movement. This technology has a potential to be developed further to help patients with brain damages.
Brain Cells Replication for Alzheimer’s Drugs Testing
In 2014, the brain cells were successfully replicated by researchers from The Massachusetts General Hospital in order to study Alzheimer’s. The human brain cells with the structure and course of events just like those with a development of Alzheimer’s were put to study in a petri dish to test over 1,000 Alzheimer’s drugs available on the market, and as well as a number of the experimental ones. This is a big step for the study of Alzheimer’s, which could become a great help for the testing process of new drugs.
Bad Memories Can Be Altered
The optogenetics technique which is the manipulation of the of neurons’ activity was used to create an influence the specific memories in the brains of mice.
The emotions that related to the memories were switched by linking one memory with another memory of a different environment and emotion. A research led by a group of
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers successfully planted false memories to replace existing ones in the hippocampus area of the brain.
This means the negative memory can be altered into a positive one and it can be beneficial for those who suffer from severe stressful memories.
The More We Learn, The More We Need to Learn More
With all the new discoveries we had in 2014, it revealed many crucial things about the human brain, but it also revealed that there are even more we need to learn to get a full understanding of how the brain works. To understand the function of the brain is the greatest challenge as it is highly complex with many levels, from a synapse to a larger brain region, to be understood. The closer we get to look at the brain functions, making us realise that getting a complete understanding of the brain is a long way to go.