Scientists are learning how music affects the brain, how to treat seasonal affective disorder better and how the brain develops in infancy. Here's what's new in brain and psychology research this week:
High on music
You probably have certain music that you love listening to, but you probably didn't realize that the same brain processes that happen when you're rocking out with your MP3 player are the same as those associated with food, psychoactive drugs, sex and money. WebMD reports on a study in Nature Neuroscience showing that the brain chemical dopamine gets released when listening to music - or even anticipating listening to music - and that contributes to your subsequent feelings of pleasure.
An illuminating gadget
Here are earbuds that don't emit sound, but instead shine light that's supposed to combat seasonal affective disorder, a condition that often carries depression symptoms during winter months, when there is less light. Wired reports that these earbuds are supposed to shine light directly into your brain, according to scientists working on it. It's available now, but still going through "proper" clinical trials.
Baby's first brain cells
British researchers have scanned the brains of infants to get a clearer picture of how the brain's "wiring" develops in early childhood, Reuters reports. This research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, looked at myelination, the process by which insulating layers form around nerve cells. Results could help scientists understand many brain and psychiatric disorders better.
Do you know psychologists from psychiatrists? Here are some facts about psychology and mental illness from Carolyn Kaufman, who blogs for Psychology Today.