News Release

New research from SfN journals featured at Neuroscience 2021

Language-switching, brain variability in older adults, and facial recognition were discussed

Reports and Proceedings

Society for Neuroscience

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A press conference featuring unpublished research from SfN journals eNeuro and the Journal of Neuroscience will take place Monday, November 1, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST. All three papers are under embargo until Wednesday, November 3, noon EST.

Making Old Brain Dynamics Young Again

Thad Polk and Poortata Lalwani, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Older adults have less variability in their brain signals than young adults, which suggests that age lowers neural flexibility. Researchers found that a small dose of benzodiazepine, known to boost gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, increases brain signal variability in older adults to a level comparable to young adults. The effect was greatest in those with poorest behavioral performance. This suggests that GABA may be a useful target in research that aims to mitigate age-related decline.

Paper title: Dynamic Recovery: GABA Agonism Restores Neural Variability in Older, Poorer Performing Adults (JNeurosci)

The Brain Mechanism of Language-Switching Mid-Sentence

Sarah F. Phillips and Liina Pylkkänen, New York University

People who are bilingual can switch languages in the middle of a sentence. Researchers discovered that the left anterior temporal lobe, normally implicated in the composition of words, was not sensitive to language-switching. Even when bilingual people spoke Korean and switched to English in the middle of a sentence, and vice versa, the left anterior temporal lobe activated as if it were crafting from a single language. This presents a starting point for understanding the neurobiology of bilinguals’ ability to switch languages quickly.

Paper title: Composition Within and Between Languages in the Bilingual Mind: MEG Evidence From Korean/English Bilinguals (eNeuro)

Face Processing at the Single-Neuron Level

Peter Janssen and Thomas Decramer, KU Leuven

The neural basis of human face processing is not fully understood. For the first time, researchers used single-unit recordings guided by fMRI to study individual neurons in the human visual cortex. The researchers discovered that individual neurons in this region of the visual cortex do not only respond to human faces, but instead play a unique role in signaling the presence of face features. The findings corroborate prior animal studies and non-invasive imaging studies in humans. 

Paper title: Single Unit Recordings Reveal the Selectivity of a Human Face Area (JNeurosci)



About the Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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