Friday, 25 May 2012

Research reveals the part of your brain responsible for a song getting stuck in your head!

If you've ever had a song stuck in your head, you'll be interested in the latest research investigating the brain region responsible for recognition of familiar tunes revealed as part of a study into Semantic dementia.

Semantic dementia research

Semantic dementia (SD) is a rare type of dementia characterised by a loss of semantic memory, memory for generalised concept based factual information (i.e, general knowledge). The most common symptoms, particularly early on, are an impaired ability to retrieve words from memory and impaired comprehension of word meanings. It also affects patients' ability to recognise objects and sounds.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Parenthood changes your brain!

Anatomy of a parents brain

Parents may not be surprised by the finding that being a parent actually changes your brain (some may be surprised that the changes are good ones!). Research shows that parents have different patterns of brain activity in some areas than non-parents.

One study found that hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy increase the number of dendrites in the brain. Dendrites are the projections from a neuron (or brain cell) that act to facilitate communication between neurons. So, the more dendrites, the more chance of neural connections. The neural connections that are created during pregnancy have been shown in rat studies to enhance memory and learning. This is likely to be because learning and memory are important in raising young.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mental health and the federal budget

The 2012-13 federal budget has been released, and according to some expert commentators, there is good and bad news for mental health arising from the budget.

The good news is:

  • Overall funding for mental health has not been cut.
  • Funding for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, providing incentives for community based general practices to engage mental health nurses, has been maintained.
  • The government will provide $21 million to fund additional allied mental health services for patients under the Better Access initiative, whereby treatment for those with diagnosed mental health problems is partially covered by Medicare.
  • New spending of $115m over five years is directed towards better mental health care for veterans.
  • From 2014-2015 $9.1m will be provided to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct its Survey of Disability every three years, rather than every six years.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Positive thinking changes your brain!

Psychology has for some time now borrowed from the philosophies and practices of Buddhism (e.g., meditation and mindfulness), to help treat conditions like depression and anxiety and to help people increase their general psychological well-being.

New breakthroughs in neuropsychology and neuroscience have allowed us to better understand how these practices work to actually rewire the brain to allow for more calmness and greater happiness.