How your brain does all the things it does is still mysterious, and scientists are learning more all the time about everything from crime to memory to language. Here's what's new this week:
Brain injury 'more likely' in young offenders
Childhood wounds may have worse effects than you think. British researchers find that traumatic brain injury in children could play a role in subsequent crime, especially in people already susceptible to crime. A study found that this could raise the likelihood that they will repeat offenses. This may be because injury to the brain can result in behavior, memory, and attention problems. The BBC reports on this study in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.
New tool for rapid screening of dementia
It's called the "Sweet Sixteen," but it's a lot shorter than a party. Researchers are developing a test that may be able to catch problems in just a few minutes. The downside: There are still a lot of false positives, meaning people who don't really have dementia-related difficulties but the test says they do. CNN reports on this study in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Tarantula helps scientists map how brains process fear
If the photo above sends shivers down your spine, just think about how this study went down: Volunteers were in an MRI machine and watched videos of a tarantula that appeared to move closer to them. Researchers found that as the spider seemed to approach participants' feet, their brains turned from "anxiety" to "panic" mode. The Los Angeles Times covers this study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Are You Bilingual? Two Languages May Delay Alzheimer's
Maybe those French classes in high school weren't as useless as you thought. New research suggests that speaking two languages may delay Alzheimer's symptoms by up to five years. EMaxHealth reports on this study in Neurology. Intimidated by the idea of speaking a different language? Here's some tips on learning a language online. And here's more on how language works in the brain.
Traumatized? Playing Tetris may reduce flashbacks
Ah, Tetris – such a simple but addicting puzzle game. But not without benefits, apparently. A new study suggests that people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can get protection against unwanted flashbacks. The game distracts the brain and short-circuits the storage of painful memories, the authors say. Health.com via CNN reports on this study in PLoS ONE.