Teenagers are often portrayed as thrill-seekers, but research suggests their brains are wired to learn from their experiences, which makes them better prepared for adulthood. In a small study, they performed better than adults at a picture-based game and brain scans showed a higher level of brain activity. Researchers said the role of the hippocampus in the brain was key. And they said the findings could point to new ways of teaching teenagers. The research team, from Harvard, Columbia and California universities, set out to test whether adolescents' typical reward-seeking behaviour could also make them better at learning from good or bad outcomes.
Four genes have been identified that are linked to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The genes all play a role in the same brain circuit, and may help explain why people are more likely to have OCD if they have a relative with the condition. People with OCD have intrusive thoughts and feel driven to repeat rituals, such as handwashing, to relieve their anxiety. To investigate if OCD has a genetic basis, Hyun Ji Noh at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and her colleagues compared more than 600 genes across 592 people with OCD, and 560 people who don't have it. They chose these candidate genes from several lines of evidence.
Summary: Researchers explore why revenge may feel good in the moment, but often results in mixed emotions later. The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, is fighting to stay in power after it emerged that he attended several parties during the country's strict lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. His former adviser Dominic Cummings, who was sacked by Johnson in 2020, has been accused of being the mastermind behind a number of carefully orchestrated leaks about the gatherings – amounting to a pretty spectacular case of revenge. Most of us have dreamt about revenge at some point in our lives, and perhaps even achieved it. But is it ultimately a good idea – will it make us wiser and happier in the long term?
We can't go through the day without hankering for cupcakes or sugary treats. And, even when we're watching our waistlines, we often feel powerless to the allure of sweets. Thus, in moments of desperation, we find ourselves giving into our sugar cravings. But now, scientists have revealed that we aren't actually craving sweet foods. Instead, our brain is merely craving calories – not reacting to an addiction to sweetness, experts found.
Smoking cannabis does have a detrimental affect on the brain, new research has shown. The drug compromises the release of dopamine, a chemical that is integral to the brain's reward system, in areas of the brain linked to learning and memory. Past studies have shown that addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, have similar effects on dopamine release, but such evidence for cannabis was missing until now. Lead author of the new research, Professor Anissa Abi-Dargham, from Columbia University Medical Center, said: 'The bottom line is that long-term, heavy cannabis use may impair the dopaminergic system, which could have a variety of negative effects on learning and behavior.' Researchers noted lower levels of dopamine release in the striatum, a region of the brain that is involved in working memory, impulsive behaviour and attention.