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Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences

Anthony J Porcelli, Mauricio R Delgado
A wide range of stressful experiences can influence human decision making in complex ways beyond the simple predictions of a fight-or-flight model. Recent advances may provide insight into this complicated interaction, potentially in directions that could result in translational applications. Early research suggests that stress exposure influences basic neural circuits involved in reward processing and learning, while also biasing decisions towards habit and modulating our propensity to engage in risk-taking...
April 2017: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Sriparna Ghosal, Brendan Hare, Ronald S Duman
Psychiatric diseases, notably major depression, are associated with imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission within the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and related limbic brain circuitry. In many cases these illnesses are precipitated or exacerbated by chronic stress, which also alters excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter systems. Notably, exposure to repeated uncontrollable stress causes persistent changes in the synaptic integrity and function of the principal glutamatergic excitatory neurons in the PFC, characterized by neuronal atrophy and loss of synaptic connections...
April 2017: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Keren Bachi, Salvador Sierra, Nora D Volkow, Rita Z Goldstein, Nelly Alia-Klein
Drug-addiction may trigger early onset of age-related disease, due to drug-induced multi-system toxicity and perilous lifestyle, which remains mostly undetected and untreated. We present the literature on pathophysiological processes that may hasten aging and its relevance to addiction, including: oxidative stress and cellular aging, inflammation in periphery and brain, decline in brain volume and function, and early onset of cardiac, cerebrovascular, kidney, and liver disease. Timely detection of accelerated aging in addiction is crucial for the prevention of premature morbidity and mortality...
February 2017: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Shikha Prashad, Francesca M Filbey
Cannabis use affects cortico-striatal networks that are essential for producing movement. In this review, we summarize the literature on motor system dysfunction in cannabis users and provide a rationale for why motor learning should be considered an important area in cannabis research. A majority of studies have addressed cognitive impairments in cannabis users and some have focused on driving performance, motor impulsivity, and motor inhibition. Our review of the literature has found that cannabis use is associated with motor performance impairments; however, there is a gap in the literature regarding impairments in motor learning...
February 2017: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Adrianna Jenkins, Lusha Zhu, Ming Hsu
Understanding the neural basis of human honesty and deception has enormous potential scientific and practical value. However, past approaches, largely developed out of studies with forensic applications in mind, are increasingly recognized as having serious methodological and conceptual shortcomings. Here we propose to address these challenges by drawing on so-called signaling games widely used in game theory and ethology to study behavioral and evolutionary consequences of information transmission and distortion...
October 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Matthew R Nassar, Michael J Frank
Generalizing knowledge from experimental data requires constructing theories capable of explaining observations and extending beyond them. Computational modeling offers formal quantitative methods for generating and testing theories of cognition and neural processing. These techniques can be used to extract general principles from specific experimental measurements, but introduce dangers inherent to theory: model-based analyses are conditioned on a set of fixed assumptions that impact the interpretations of experimental data...
October 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Yael Niv, Angela Langdon
To many, the poster child for David Marr's famous three levels of scientific inquiry is reinforcement learning-a computational theory of reward optimization, which readily prescribes algorithmic solutions that evidence striking resemblance to signals found in the brain, suggesting a straightforward neural implementation. Here we review questions that remain open at each level of analysis, concluding that the path forward to their resolution calls for inspiration across levels, rather than a focus on mutual constraints...
October 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
A K Churchland, R Kiani
Recent years have seen a growing interest in understanding the neural mechanisms that support decision-making. The advent of new tools for measuring and manipulating neurons, alongside the inclusion of multiple new animal models and sensory systems has led to the generation of many novel datasets. The potential for these new approaches to constrain decision-making models is unprecedented. Here, we argue that to fully leverage these new approaches, three challenges must be met. First, experimenters must design well-controlled behavioral experiments that make it possible to distinguish competing behavioral strategies...
October 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Woo-Young Ahn, Jerome R Busemeyer
Computational modeling and associated methods have greatly advanced our understanding of cognition and neurobiology underlying complex behaviors and psychiatric conditions. Yet, no computational methods have been successfully translated into clinical settings. This review discusses three major methodological and practical challenges (A. precise characterization of latent neurocognitive processes, B. developing optimal assays, C. developing large-scale longitudinal studies and generating predictions from multi-modal data) and potential promises and tools that have been developed in various fields including mathematical psychology, computational neuroscience, computer science, and statistics...
October 1, 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Rebecca E Martin, Kevin N Ochsner
Emotion regulation is a critical life skill that can facilitate learning and improve educational outcomes. Developmental studies find that the ability to regulate emotion improves with age. In neuroimaging studies, emotion regulation abilities are associated with recruitment of a set of prefrontal brain regions involved in cognitive control and executive functioning that mature late in development. In this review we discuss the regulation of both negative and positive emotions, the role of other people in guiding our emotional responses, and the potential applications of this work to education...
August 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Ola Ozernov-Palchik, Xi Yu, Yingying Wang, Nadine Gaab
Dyslexia is a heritable reading disorder with an estimated prevalence of 5-17%. A multiple deficit model has been proposed that illustrates dyslexia as an outcome of multiple risks and protective factors interacting at the genetic, neural, cognitive, and environmental levels. Here we review the evidence on each of these levels and discuss possible underlying mechanisms and their reciprocal interactions along a developmental timeline. Current and potential implications of neuroscientific findings for contemporary challenges in the field of dyslexia, as well as for reading development and education in general, are then discussed...
August 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Stephanie L Haft, Chelsea A Myers, Fumiko Hoeft
In recent times, research on resilience in children facing adversities has proliferated. In this review, the authors characterize resilience in children with reading disorders (RD). To organize our discussion and categorize the specific outcomes such children demonstrate, we adopt the terms cognitive resilience and socio-emotional resilience. By paralleling other resilience research, we seek to uncover protective factors in the hopes that they can be targeted in education and interventions to improve cognitive functioning, socio-emotional wellbeing, and academic success of children with RD...
August 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Maaike Vandermosten, Fumiko Hoeft, Elizabeth S Norton
The neurobiological substrates that cause people with dyslexia to experience difficulty in acquiring accurate and fluent reading skills are still largely unknown. Although structural and functional brain anomalies associated with dyslexia have been reported in adults and school-age children, these anomalies may represent differences in reading experience rather than the etiology of dyslexia. Conducting MRI studies of pre-readers at risk for dyslexia is one approach that enables us to identify brain alterations that exist before differences in reading experience emerge...
August 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Emily A Cooper, Allyson P Mackey
Research in neuroscience has great potential for transforming education. However, the brain systems that support academic and cognitive skills are poorly understood in comparison to the systems that support sensory processing. Decades of basic research have examined the role that brain plasticity plays in the genesis and treatment of developmental visual disorders, which may help to inform how cognitive training approaches can be tailored for students who experience environmental disadvantage. In this review, we draw parallels between visual and cognitive intervention approaches, and suggest research avenues that could inform educational practice in the future...
August 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Sheila Shanmugan, Theodore D Satterthwaite
Executive functions are involved in the development of academic skills and are critical for functioning in school settings. The relevance of executive functions to education begins early and continues throughout development, with clear impact on achievement. Diverse efforts increasingly suggest ways in which facilitating development of executive function may be used to improve academic performance. Such interventions seek to alter the trajectory of executive development, which exhibits a protracted course of maturation that stretches into young adulthood...
August 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Susan E Swithers
Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with diet soft drinks containing sugar substitutes that provide few or no calories has been suggested as one strategy for promoting improved public health outcomes. However, current scientific evidence indicates that routine consumption of beverages with non-nutritive sweeteners not only fails to prevent disease, but is associated with increases in risks for the same health outcomes associated with sugar-sweetened beverages, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke...
June 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Matthew R Hayes, Heath D Schmidt
Natural rewards, including food, water, sleep and social interactions, are required to sustain life. The neural substrates that regulate the reinforcing effects of these behaviors are also the same neurobiological mechanisms mediating mood, motivation and the rewarding effects of pharmacological stimuli. That the neuropeptide glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is under investigation for both the homeostatic and hedonic controls of feeding is not surprising or novel. However, if the neural substrates that underline food reward are shared with other reward-related behaviors generally, then future research should investigate and embrace the likelihood that endogenous and exogenous GLP-1 receptor activation may influence multiple reward-related behaviors...
June 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Sara L Hargrave, Sabrina Jones, Terry L Davidson
Chronic failure to suppress intake during states of positive energy balance leads to weight gain and obesity. The ability to use context - including interoceptive satiety states - to inhibit responding to previously rewarded cues appears to depend on the functional integrity of the hippocampus. Recent evidence implicates energy dense Western diets in several types of hippocampal dysfunction, including reduced expression of neurotrophins and nutrient transporters, increased inflammation, microglial activation, and blood brain barrier permeability...
June 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Yvonne M Ulrich-Lai
For many individuals, stress promotes the consumption of sweet, high-sugar foods relative to healthier alternatives. Daily life stressors stimulate the overeating of highly-palatable foods through multiple mechanisms, including altered glucocorticoid, relaxin-3, ghrelin and serotonin signaling in brain. In turn, a history of consuming high-sugar foods attenuates the psychological (anxiety and depressed mood) and physiological (HPA axis) effects of stress. Together the metabolic and hedonic properties of sucrose contribute to its stress relief, possibly via actions in both the periphery (e...
June 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Jim R Fadel, Lawrence P Reagan
In peripheral tissues insulin activates signaling cascades to facilitate glucose uptake from the blood into tissues like liver, muscle and fat. While insulin appears to play a minor role in the regulation of glucose uptake in the central nervous system (CNS), insulin is known to play a major role in regulating synaptic plasticity in brain regions like the hippocampus. The concept that insulin regulates hippocampal neuroplasticity is further supported from animal models of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and Alzheimer's disease (AD)...
June 1, 2016: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
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