Social isolation experienced during childhood has an impact on adult brain function and behavior. Following two weeks of social isolation immediately following weaning in male mice, researchers noticed a failure in activation of medial prefrontal cortex neurons projecting to the posterior paraventricular thalamus during social exposure in adulthood. Findings suggest medial prefrontal cortex neurons required for sociability are profoundly affected by social isolation at a young age.
Researchers explore how the brain is able to switch from an ongoing strategy to a new, more efficient one.
Mice bred to be germ-free, and those treated with antibiotics showed a significant reduction in the ability to learn that a threatening danger was no longer present. Sequencing the RNA of microglia in the brains of the animals reveals altered gene expression in the immune cells, which play a role in remodeling how neurons connect during the learning process. Restoring the gut microbiota reverse the learning problems.
Neuroscientists have believed that three brain regions are critical for self-awareness: the insular cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the medial prefrontal cortex. Patient R is helping a research team show that self-awareness is more a product of a diffuse patchwork of pathways in the brain—including other regions—rather than confined to specific areas.
Deep sleep restores the medial prefrontal cortex mechanisms that restore emotion. This lowers emotional and physiological reactivity, preventing the escalation of stress and anxiety.
Neuroscience researchers suggest that utilizing fMRI studies could help to provide biomarkers for the diagnosis of depression. A recent fMRI study of patients with depression showed marked abnormal activations in the medial prefronal cortex. Researchers believe that by identifying the neurobiological markers for depression, psychiatrists can tailor medications and therapies to suit the needs of individual patients.
By manipulating the activity of a group of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, researchers were able to enhance attention in mice.
Study reveals how two neural circuits dictate the choice between social approach and avoidance. The network connecting the infralimbic cortex to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) impairs social behavior if there is a decrease in neural activity. Another network connecting the prelimbic cortex to the BLA similarly impairs social behavior if the neural activity is increased.