Latest Brain Sciences News

Cannabis review from Division of Psychiatry published in Nature

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Nature journal cover story, 'High Stakes: The effect of cannabis use on the brain's reward pathways'

A systematic review on the effects of cannabis on the brain’s reward system which was carried out by Dr Michael Bloomfield and colleagues from the Division of Psychiatry,features on the front cover of Nature this month.

Prize awarded to Faculty Dean for research achievements

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Professor Thompson receives the FEMM prize

The Dean of UCL’s Faculty of Brain Sciences, Professor Alan Thompson, was awarded a prize by the the Fundación Esclerosis Múltiple Madrid (FEMM - Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Madrid) earlier this month.

UCL researchers receive prestigious grant for schizophrenia research

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Dr Thygesen and Dr Bramon receive the Margaret Temple grant from BMA President, Professor Pali Hungin.

Dr Elvira Bramon and Dr Johan Hilge Thygesen, both of the UCL Division of Psychiatry, have won the Margaret Temple grant for schizophrenia research. This was awarded by the British Medical Association (BMA) at a ceremony on Tuesday 22 November. Involving 14,000 participants, their research will investigate rare genetic variants that increase schizophrenia risk and their influence on brain function and structure.

UCL neuroscientists are the 'most influential in the modern era'

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Professors Chris Frith, Ray Dolan and Karl Friston.

Three neuroscientists from the Faculty of Brain Sciences have come out on top in a study to find the world’s most influential neuroscientists.

UCL spin-outs at heart of new £1 billion life sciences investment group

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UCL spin-out companies will be at the heart of a new £1 billion life sciences company which has been created by three major investors in cancer research and other biotech fields. 

Light therapy could save bees from deadly pesticides

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Sick bee exposed to neocontinoid pesticide

Treating bees with light therapy can counteract the harmful effects of neonicotinoid pesticides and improve survival rates of poisoned bees, finds a new UCL study.

Mismatched light and heat levels can disrupt body clock

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Body clock function can break down when light and temperature levels throughout the day are out of sync, finds new UCL research in fruit flies.

Why you should sleep in a cool dark room

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Cell Reports cover

Mismatched light and heat levels can disrupt body clock

Body clock function can break down when light and temperature levels throughout the day are out of sync, finds new UCL research in fruit flies.

Blood vessels control brain growth

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Blood vessel growth and neural stem cells

Blood vessels play a vital role in stem cell reproduction, enabling the brain to grow and develop in the womb, reveals new UCL research in mice.

Older dogs better at learning new tricks

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Example of a simple non-verbal reasoning task

Older adolescents and adults can learn certain thinking skills including non-verbal reasoning more effectively than younger people, finds new UCL research.

Scientists from UCL and Gold Standard Phantoms build the first ever brain imaging phantom to calibrate MRI scanners

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Example Perfusion Phantom

MRI scanners are increasingly being used to look for signs of dementia. This is currently being done by looking for brain volume changes, such as shrinkage, and the images are simply looked at by radiologists, and then are graded as being “normal”, “slightly abnormal” or “very abnormal” depending on the loss of grey matter present in the images.

Top ten universities conduct a third of all UK animal research

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UCL animal research facility

The ten UK universities who do the most world-leading biomedical research have announced their animal research statistics, revealing that they collectively conducted a third of all UK animal research in 2015.

How lying takes our brains down a 'slippery slope’

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Pinocchio puppets

Telling small lies desensitises our brains to the associated negative emotions and may encourage us to tell bigger lies in future, reveals new UCL research funded by Wellcome and the Center for Advanced Hindsight.

Arousal exerts an unconscious influence on what we see

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Dilated pupil

A new study from UCL researchers finds that subtle, unconscious increases in arousal – indicated by a faster heartbeat and dilated pupils – shape our confidence for visual experiences. 

‘Middle England’ faces lowest psychosis risk

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East Anglia

The risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia is highest for young people, men, ethnic minorities and people living in urban areas and poorer neighbourhoods, finds a new study by UCL and the University of Cambridge.

Scientists discover how we sense 'stiffness'

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Dr Marco Devero demonstrating the technique

Every day, people use their hands effortlessly to assess an object's stiffness, like the ripeness of a piece of fruit. For the first time an international team of scientists led by UCL, have discovered the area in the brain where stiffness perception is formed. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, could aid rehabilitation in patients with sensory impairments.

Prof Gill Bates appointed new Vice Dean (Research)

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Professor Gill Bates (IoN) has been appointed as the new Vice Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Brain Sciences, as of 1st October 2016, and we warmly welcome her to the Faculty senior leadership team.

Prof Bates joined UCL in May 2016 as Professor of Molecular Neuroscience and Co-Director of the Huntington's Disease Centre in the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience (Institute of Neurology). The research of the Bates lab is focussed on understanding the molecular basis of Huntington’s disease and developing therapeutic interventions. You can read more about her research by clicking here.

Prof Bates will play a key role in shaping the Faculty’s research strategy and will work with Faculty leadership and the Office of the Vice Provost (Research) to ensure that Faculty and UCL objectives are aligned.  Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a genuine collegiate spirit and she is an inspiring role model to junior researchers. On her appointment, she said: “I am very excited to have been given this opportunity to play an active role in contributing to the Faculty and wider UCL research community.”

Prof Bates takes over this role from Prof Nick Wood, and will continue to build on the superb work that he has done over the past five years. Prof Wood skilfully aligned the Faculty research strategy with the UCLH/UCL BRC neurosciences themes, and contributed enormously to the successful renewal of the BRC funding. He has been a key member of the School Research Board, involved in the triage, peer review and mock interviews for large grant proposals, improving our success rate as a School, of these major grant applications. We are very grateful for all he has achieved.

UCL’s innovative retail coalition celebrates first anniversary

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UCL is today marking one year since the launch of the innovative retail coalition inspired by Malcolm Walker of Iceland Foods to address the dementia challenge. Since the coalition was created nine UK retailers have committed to support UCL in its fight against dementia, initially pledging in the region of £20 million. In the first year alone, the partnership has already raised around £10 million – equivalent to the sale of around 200 million carrier bags.

Low English skills at school start linked to behavioural difficulties

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Children who enter reception with poor English language skills – whether it’s their first language or an additional language – are more likely to have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in later years, finds a new study co-authored by UCL and Royal Holloway and funded by Wellcome.

UCL receives largest share of NHS research funding

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UCL's Cruciform building

UCL’s three biomedical research centres (BRCs) have won more than £167 million in funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to further world-leading biomedical research conducted with partner hospitals. UCL has received more funding than any other UK university, followed by King's College London and Oxford University, which received £133m and £127m respectively.

Cannabis reduces short-term motivation to work for money

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Cannabis Sativa

Smoking the equivalent of a single ‘spliff’ of cannabis makes people less willing to work for money while ‘high’, finds a new UCL study.

Science begins in the new Francis Crick Institute building

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Francis Crick Institute

The first scientists have moved into the new £650 million Francis Crick Institute building in London and are starting work in their purpose-built labs. Next to St Pancras station and the British Library, the Crick will be the biggest biomedical research institute under one roof in Europe.

Refining the genetic causes of schizophrenia

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Pipetting genetic samples

An international study involving UCL has made advances in understanding the ways in which genetic risk factors alter gene function in schizophrenia.

Eye test may detect Parkinson’s before symptoms appear

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Watch the Reuters video of the story: An Eye test for Parkinson's

A new low-cost and non-invasive eye test could detect Parkinson’s disease before symptoms including tremors and muscle stiffness develop, according to new research in rats led by scientists at UCL.
Led by Professor Cordeiro, researchers at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology have discovered a new method of observing changes in the retina which can be seen in Parkinson’s before changes in the brain occur and the first symptoms become evident.

Faculty Newsletter Summer 2016

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The Faculty of Brain Sciences Newsletter for Summer 2016 is out now.

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