Brain Research and Articles in the News ...

That music playing in your head is a real conundrum for scientists   Medical Express - November 10, 2017

Researchers at EPFL can now see what happens in our brains when we hear music in our heads. The researchers hope that in time their findings will be used to help people who have lost the ability to speak. When we listen to music, different parts of our brain process different information - such as high and low frequencies - so that our auditory perception of the sounds matches what we hear. It's easy to study the brain activity of someone who is listening to a song, for instance, as we have the technology to record and analyze the neural responses that each sound produces as it is heard. It's much more complicated, however, to try and understand what happens in our brain when we hear music in our heads without any auditory stimulation. As with analyzing real music, the brain's responses have to be linked to a given sound. But when the music is in our heads, that sound doesn't actually exist - or at least our ears don't hear it. Using a novel approach, researchers with EPFL's Defitech Foundation Chair in Human-Machine Interface (CNBI) were able to analyze what happens in our brains when we hum in our heads.

How Your Brain Blocks Out Unwanted Thoughts and Memories   Live Science - November 7, 2017
A new, small study study suggests that GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid, plays a key role in suppressing unwanted thoughts and memories in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. GABA is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that's found throughout mammals' central nervous systems. The new finding offers insight into how humans pull off the daily mental task of squashing down thoughts they don't want to think about, according to the study. The study also provides clues as to what goes wrong in the brains of people with illnesses such as schizophrenia, in which people have trouble suppressing intrusive thoughts, the researchers said.

Brain waves reflect different types of learning   Science Daily - October 13, 2017

Researchers have, for the first time, identified neural signatures of explicit and implicit learning. Figuring out how to pedal a bike and memorizing the rules of chess require two different types of learning, and now for the first time, researchers have been able to distinguish each type of learning by the brain-wave patterns it produces.

Human brain recalls visual features in reverse order than it detects them   Science Daily - October 10, 2017
Study challenges traditional hierarchy of brain decoding; offers insight into how the brain makes perceptual judgements. New research has contributed to solving a paradox of perception, literally upending models of how the brain constructs interpretations of the outside world. When observing a scene, the brain first processes details -- spots, lines and simple shapes -- and uses that information to build internal representations of more complex objects, like cars and people. But during recall, the brain remembers those larger concepts first. This could shed light on concepts such as eyewitness testimony to autism.

First evidence of the body's waste system in the human brain discovered   Science Daily - October 3, 2017

By scanning the brains of healthy volunteers, researchers saw the first, long-sought evidence that our brains may drain some waste out through lymphatic vessels, the body's sewer system. The results further suggest the vessels could act as a pipeline between the brain and the immune system.

The Human Brain Can Create Structures in Up to 11 Dimensions   Science Alert - September 20, 2017

Neuroscientists have used a classic branch of maths in a totally new way to peer into the structure of our brains. What they've discovered is that the brain is full of multi-dimensional geometrical structures operating in as many as 11 dimensions.

Scientists find evidence of a multidimensional universe inside our brain   Educate - September 20, 2017
With the help of mathematical methods of algebraic topology, scientists have found structures and multidimensional geometric spaces in human brain networks. Experts have previously stated how human brains are estimated to contain a staggering 86 billion neurons, including several connections from each cell expanding and connecting in every possible direction producing a super-vast cellular network that somehow makes us capable of thought and consciousness.

Brain cells found to control aging   Science Daily - July 27, 2017

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. The hypothalamus was known to regulate important processes including growth, development, reproduction and metabolism. In a 2013 Nature paper, Einstein researchers made the surprising finding that the hypothalamus also regulates aging throughout the body. Now, the scientists have pinpointed the cells in the hypothalamus that control aging: a tiny population of adult neural stem cells, which were known to be responsible for forming new brain neurons.

The Strange Similarity of Neuron and Galaxy Networks - July 25, 2017

An astrophysicist and a neuroscientist joined forces to quantitatively compare the complexity of galaxy networks and neuronal networks. The first results from our comparison are truly surprising: Not only are the complexities of the brain and cosmic web actually similar, but so are their structures. The universe may be self-similar across scales that differ in size by a factor of a billion billion billion. The total number of neurons in the human brain falls in the same ballpark of the number of galaxies in the observable universe.

Scientists Surprised to Find No Two Neurons Are Genetically Alike   Scientific American - May 3, 2017
The genetic makeup of any given brain cell differs from all others. That realization may provide clues to a range of psychiatric diseases. The past few decades have seen intensive efforts to find the genetic roots of neurological disorders, from schizophrenia to autism. But the genes singled out so far have provided only sketchy clues. Even the most important genetic risk factors identified for autism, for example, may only account for a few percent of all cases.

Scientists identify how the brain predicts speech   Science Daily - April 25, 2017

Researchers have discovered a mechanisms in the brain's auditory cortex involved in processing speech and predicting upcoming words, which is essentially unchanged throughout evolution. Their research reveals how individual neurons coordinate with neural populations to anticipate events, a process that is impaired in many neurological and psychiatric disorders such as dyslexia, schizophrenia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Is consciousness just an illusion?   BBC - April 4, 2017

Daniel Dennett has always believed our minds are machines. For him the question is not can computers be human? But are humans really that clever? Intuition is simply knowing something without knowing how you got there. Our minds are made of molecular machines, otherwise known as brain cells.. Our minds are made of molecular machines, otherwise known as brain cells.

How the brain sees the world in 3-D   Science Daily - March 21, 2017

We live in a three-dimensional world, but everything we see is first recorded on our retinas in only two dimensions. So how does the brain represent 3-D information? In a new study, researchers for the first time have shown how different parts of the brain represent an object's location in depth compared to its 2-D location. In a new study, researchers for the first time have shown how different parts of the brain represent an object's location in depth compared to its 2-D location. The results showed that as an image first enters our visual cortex, the brain mostly codes the two dimensional location. But as the processing continues, the emphasis shifts to decoding the depth information as well.

Your brain is unique - here's how it could be used as the ultimate security password   PhysOrg - March 10, 2017
Biometrics - technology that can recognize individuals based on physical and behavioral traits such as their faces, voices or fingerprints – are becoming increasingly important to combat financial fraud and security threats. This is because traditional approaches, such as those based on PIN numbers or passwords, are proving too easily compromised. For example, Barclays has introduced TouchID, whereby customers can log onto internet banking using fingerprint scanners on mobile phones.

Brain is 10 times more active than previously measured, researchers find   Medical Express - March 9, 2017
Research showed that dendrites are electrically active in animals that are moving around freely, generating nearly 10 times more spikes than somas. The finding challenges the long-held belief that spikes in the soma are the primary way in which perception, learning and memory formation occur. Dendrites make up more than 90 percent of neural tissue. Knowing they are much more active than the soma fundamentally changes the nature of our understanding of how the brain computes information. It may pave the way for understanding and treating neurological disorders, and for developing brain-like computers.

Prize for cracking the brain's reward system   BBC - March 6, 2017

Three UK-based scientists have won a prestigious prize worth 1m euros for studying the brain's reward centre. Their work helps understand our drive to shop, eat or even land on the moon. Reward is necessary for keeping us alive, but it can also spiral out of control leading to gambling and drug addiction. The trio's work over three decades has unravelled the critical role of the brain chemical dopamine.

Brain imaging headband measures how our minds align when we communicate   Science Daily - February 27, 2017

Past research has revealed that our brains synchronize when listening to the same idea or story. Now, biomedical engineers have developed a tool to better understand this phenomenon. Drexel University biomedical engineers, in collaboration with Princeton University psychologists, are using a wearable brain-imaging device to see just how brains sync up when humans interact. It is one of many applications for this functional near-infrared spectroscopy (or fNIRS) system, which uses light to measure neural activity during real-life situations and can be worn like a headband.

When your eyes override your ears: New insights into the McGurk Effect   Science Daily - February 16, 2017

New model shows how the brain combines information from multiple senses. Seeing is not always believing -- visual speech (mouth movements) mismatched with auditory speech (sounds) can result in the perception of an entirely different message. This mysterious illusion is known as the McGurk Effect. Neuroscience researchers have created an algorithm to reveal key insight into why the brain can sometimes muddle up one of the most fundamental aspects of the human experience.

How does the brain make perceptual predictions over time?   Medical Express - February 6, 2017

Prediction is crucial for brain function - without forecasting, our actions would always be too late because of the delay in neural processing. However, there has been limited theoretical work explaining how our brains perform perceptual predictions over time. Prediction may be a general principle of cortical function along with the already-established role of inference. Largely missing from our understanding of brain function had been models akin to those routinely employed by meteorologists. In making their predictions, forecasters rely on past weather information to project climate conditions over the next several days. Similarly, the neural networks in our brains embody a type of model of our surroundings. However, we don't have a clear understanding of how they operate to make predictions. Existing theories of brain function and neural networks used in artificial intelligence use a hierarchical structure: sensory input comes in at one end and progressively more abstract representations are computed along the hierarchy.

Researchers find link between concussions and Alzheimer's disease   Medical Express - January 12, 2017

New research has found concussions accelerate Alzheimer's disease-related brain atrophy and cognitive decline in people who are at genetic risk for the condition. Moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury is one of the strongest environmental risk factors for developing neurodegenerative diseases such as late-onset Alzheimer's disease, although it is unclear whether mild traumatic brain injury or concussion also increases this risk.

Brain's party noise filter revealed by recordings   BBC - December 21, 2016
Direct recordings have revealed what is happening in our brains as we make sense of speech in a noisy room. Focusing on one conversation in a loud, distracting environment is called "the cocktail party effect". It is a common festive phenomenon and of interest to researchers seeking to improve speech recognition technology. Neuroscientists recorded from people's brains during a test that recreated the moment when unintelligible speech suddenly makes sense. A team measured people's brain activity as the words of a previously unintelligible sentence suddenly became clear when a subject was told the meaning of the "garbled speech".

  This is your brain when thinking about God   Medical Express - November 29, 2016

Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits. Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music. We're just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine or transcendent.

Scientists Can Make People Hallucinate Using Flickering Image   Live Science - October 16, 2016
How can we measure the mind? When you ask someone what they're thinking about, what they tell you is not necessarily the truth. This doesn't mean they're lying. It means many environmental, social and personal influences can change what someone tells us. If I put on a white lab coat, suit or t-shirt and ask you a bunch of questions, what I wear will change what you say. This was demonstrated in the famous Milgrim experiments in the 1960s, which showed the power of perceived authority to control others' behavior. People want to be liked, or give a certain impression. This is commonly referred to as impression management and is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in scientific research. Neuroscientists have made notable advances in measuring the anatomy of the brain and its regions at different scales. But they've made few big advances in measuring the mind, which is what people think, feel and experience. The mind is notoriously difficult to measure; but it needs to be done as it will aid development of new treatments for mental and neurological disorders.

Does brain size really matter?   Medical Express - October 6, 2016
Brain size may matter. In the world's largest MRI study on brain size to date, USC researchers and their international colleagues identified seven genetic hotspots that regulate brain growth, memory and reasoning as well as influence the onset of Parkinson's disease.

How brain separates relevant and irrelevant information   Medical Express - September 20, 2016
Imagine yourself sitting in a noisy cafe trying to read. To focus on the book at hand, you need to ignore the surrounding chatter and clattering of cups, with your brain filtering out the irrelevant stimuli coming through your ears and "gating" in the relevant ones in your vision - words on a page. The study's authors used computational models to show that even with the seemingly random connections, dendrite-targeting neurons can gate individual pathways by aligning with excitatory inputs through different pathways. They showed that this alignment can be realized through synaptic plasticity - a brain mechanism for learning through experience.

Map provides detailed picture of how the brain is organized   Science Daily - July 20, 2016

A detailed new map lays out the landscape of the cerebral cortex -- the outermost layer of the brain and the dominant structure involved in distinctly human functions such as language, tool use and abstract thinking. The map will accelerate progress in the study of brain diseases, as well as help to elucidate what makes us unique as a species.

A New Map of the Brain Redraws the Boundaries of Neuroscience   Wired - July 20, 2016
Your brain is a strange three-pound lump in your head that also happens to determine your personality, control your movements, and hold all of your hopes and dreams. Neuroscientists have been mapping the brain for centuries to try to tease apart its inner workings. But people are complicated, and so are brains - intricate bits of biology packed with neurons and axons and all the synapses that tie them together.

Here's What 'Free Will' Looks Like in Your Brain   Epoch Times - July 18, 2016

Scientists have for the first time watched the human brain making a purely voluntary decision to act. Unlike in brain imaging studies where researchers watch as people respond to cues or commands, Johns Hopkins researchers found a way to observe people's brain activity as they made choices entirely on their own.

Human intelligence measured in the brain   Science Daily - July 18, 2016
Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. It turns out that the more variable a brain is, and the more its different parts frequently connect with each other, the higher a person's IQ and creativity are. This study may also have implications for a deeper understanding of another largely misunderstood field: mental health. Altered patterns of variability were observed in the brain's default network with schizophrenia, autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) patients. Knowing the root cause of mental health defects brings scientists exponentially closer to treating and preventing them in the future.

Researchers using MRI to quantify human intelligence   Medical Express - July 18, 2016
Research to quantify the brain's dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times - namely, to discover how intellect works.

Mental, physical exercises produce distinct brain benefits   Medical Express - July 18, 2016
Cognitive brain training improves executive function whereas aerobic activity improves memory. Researchers found that healthy adults who participated in cognitive training demonstrated positive changes in executive brain function as well as a 7.9 percent increase in global brain flow compared to study counterparts who participated in an aerobic exercise program. The aerobic exercise group showed increases in immediate and delayed memory performance that were not seen in the cognitive training group. The randomized trial is the first to compare cerebral blood flow and cerebrovascular reactivity data obtained via MRI.

How Well Can We Remember Someone's Life after They Die?   Scientific American - July 18, 2016
Our memories of our own lives are often unreliable, so it should be no surprise that the same is true for our departed loved ones

Dreaming brain rhythms lock in memories   BBC - May 12, 2016
Disrupting brain activity in sleeping mice, specifically during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, can stop the animals remembering things they learned that day, a study suggests. It is the clearest evidence to date that REM sleep is critical for memory. By switching off certain brain cells, the researchers silenced a particular, rhythmic type of brain function - without waking the mice. If they did this during REM sleep, the mice failed subsequent memory tests.

New Brain Atlas Reveals Where Words Are Stored   Live Science - April 29, 2016
A new brain atlas shows where our noggins store many ideas and words. Words and concepts are clustered in very specific regions of the cortex, the outer layer of the brain responsible for most higher-order thinking. For instance, some parts of this brain region light up when people are thinking about violence versus social relationships versus conceptions of time.

  Derailed train of thought? Brain's stopping system may be at fault   Medical Express - April 18, 2016
Have you had the experience of being just on the verge of saying something when the phone rang? Did you then forget what it is you were going to say? A study of the brain's electrical activity offers a new explanation of how that happens. Researchers suggest that the same brain system that is involved in interrupting, or stopping, movement in our bodies also interrupts cognition - which, in the example of the phone ringing, derails your train of thought

Your Brain May Work Differently in Winter Than Summer   Live Science - February 9, 2016

The way your brain works may vary from season to season, a new study suggests. Researchers found that when people in the study did certain cognitive tasks, the ways that the brain utilizes its resources to complete those tasks changed with the seasons. Although people's actual performance on the cognitive tasks did not change with the seasons, "the brain activity for the ongoing process varied. Read the study ...

How the brain wakes you up   Science Daily - December 23, 2015
A mechanism that is responsible for the rapid arousal from sleep and anesthesia in the brain has been discovered by researchers. The results of their study suggest new strategies for the medical treatment of sleep disorders and recovery of consciousness in vegetative states.

Mazes and brains: When preconception trumps logic   Science Daily - December 22, 2015
Rhe regions of the brain responsible for preconception have been found by researchers who have decoded what scenes people picture in their minds. The discovery helps researchers to reconstruct what we see in our minds when we navigate -- and explain how we get directions wrong.

The search for happiness: Using MRI to find where happiness happens   Science Daily - November 20, 2015

Researchers have mapped out using MRI where happiness emerges in the brain. The study paves the way for measuring happiness objectively - and also provides insights on a neurologically based way of being happy. Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books... we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is?

Surprise: Your visual cortex is making decisions   Science Daily - October 5, 2015

The part of the brain responsible for seeing is more powerful than previously believed. In fact, the visual cortex can essentially make decisions just like the brain's traditional 'higher level' areas, finds a new study. The combination of differing patterns seen by the two eyes creates an optical illusion and perception switches between the two patterns as the brain tries to make sense of the contradictory information the eyes are providing. Previous research using MRI readings indicated the decision to switch perceptions is controlled by the association cortex, which is known for higher-level functions such as making choices, while the visual cortex handles the simpler task of processing visual information. But in those past studies, participants knew the moment their perception changed because the illusion was obvious (such as the famous duck-rabbit image, meaning they were surprised. And the areas of the brain known to be involved with surprise and those involved with making decisions are very similar.

Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories   Science Daily - September 29, 2015
Researchers are testing a prosthesis that translates short-term memories into longer-term ones, with the potential to bypass damaged portions of the brain. The prosthesis, which includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients.

Particular brain connections linked to positive human traits   Science Daily - September 28, 2015

There is a strong correspondence between a particular set of connections in the brain and positive lifestyle and behavior traits, according to a new study. The researchers point out that their results resemble what psychologists refer to as the 'general intelligence g-factor': a variable first proposed in 1904 that's sometimes used to summarize a person's abilities at different cognitive tasks. While the new results include many real-life measures not included in the g-factor -- such as income and life satisfaction, for instance -- those such as memory, pattern recognition and reading ability are strongly mirrored.

Waiting for pleasure   Science Daily - August 4, 2015

Brain structures involved in delayed gratification identified; implications for range of psychiatric disorders. Researchers have clearly identified, for the first time, the specific parts of the brain involved in decisions that call for delayed gratification. They demonstrated that the hippocampus (associated with memory) and the nucleus accumbens (associated with pleasure) work together in making critical decisions of this type, where time plays a role.

Anxious Brains Are Inherited, Study Finds   Live Science - July 8, 2015
The brain function that underlies anxiety and depression is inherited, a new study finds - but there is still plenty of space for experience and environment to reduce the risk of a full-blown mental disorder. The research focused on rhesus monkeys. Like humans, some young rhesus monkeys have what's called an "anxious temperament." Expose them to a mildly stressful situation, like being in a room with a stranger, and the monkeys will stop moving and stop vocalizing while their stress hormones skyrocket. Extremely shy children do the same, said Dr. Ned Kalin, a psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Kalin and his colleagues scanned the brains of young monkeys, anxious and not, and found three brain regions associated with anxiety that also showed evidence of heritability. About 30 percent of the variation in early anxiety is explained by family history

Why Do I See Patterns When I Close My Eyes?   Huffington Post - June 26, 2015

Many people who have seen this visual phenomenon think it is an light-induced afterimage of what they had seen before they closed their eyes but an afterimage may only be part of what they are seeing. The real reason we are treated to this fuzzy fireworks display behind closed lids has to do with phosphenes! Phosphenes are the moving visual sensations of stars and patterns we see when we close our eyes. They are thought to be caused by the inherent electrical charges the retina produces even when it is in its "resting state" and not taking in a ton of information and light like it does when our eyes are open.

Emotional brains 'physically different' from rational ones   Science Daily - June 19, 2015

Researchers have found physical differences in the brains of people who respond emotionally to others' feelings, compared to those who respond more rationally. People who are high on affective empathy are often those who get quite fearful when watching a scary movie, or start crying during a sad scene. Those who have high cognitive empathy are those who are more rational.

Study unites neuroscience and psychology to paint more complete picture of sleep and memory   PhysOrg - June 11, 2015
A new study from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) integrates neuroscience and psychological research to reveal how sleep is more complex than the Bard might have imagined. The new research shows in animal models that sleep suppresses the activity of certain nerve cells that promote forgetting, insuring that at least some memories will last. We have revealed that one of the ways sleep protects a new memory is by quieting dopamine neuron activity that causes forgetting. Since laboratory animals and humans share a need for sleep, as well as many genetic and circuit mechanisms underlying learning and memory, our findings may shed light on the mechanisms underlying the interaction between sleep and memory in humans.

Your Brain Is Shrinking - Here's How to Reverse It   PhysOrg - May 18, 2015

Concentration of gray matter changed in brain regions associated with learning and memory, emotion, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. Everyone experiences brain shrinkage as they age, sometimes starting as early as the age of 30 but usually after the age of 40. By the end of your life, the volume of your brain tissue will probably be close to that of a 7-year-old child. A higher rate of shrinkage can contribute to dementia, premature death, depression, risk of stroke, and more. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson tested the Dalai Lama's most advanced monks, each with 15 to 40 years of meditation practice. In his 2004 study, he found meditation could prevent the loss of gray matter in the brain. The loss of gray matter has an impact on many mental functions, such as the control of emotions, impulses, thoughts, and movements.

Researchers observe the moment when a mind is changed   Science Daily - May 5, 2015
Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. This basic neuroscience discovery will help create neural prostheses that can withhold moving a prosthetic arm until the user is certain of their decision, thereby averting premature or inopportune movements. The team's findings also bear on a longstanding philosophical debate about human consciousness.

Why You Get the Joke: Brain's Sarcasm Center Found   Live Science - April 8, 2015
Sarcasm might feel like a natural way to communicate to many people, but it's sometimes lost on stroke survivors. Now, a new study finds that damage to a key structure in the brain may explain why these patients can't perceive sarcasm. Researchers looked at 24 people who had experienced a stroke in the right hemispheres of their brains. Those with damage to the right sagittal stratum tended to have trouble recognizing sarcasm. This bundle of neural fibers connects a number of brain regions, including those that process auditory and visual information. The finding may help families caring for stroke survivors understand why their loved ones don't understand the reason for an eye roll or a certain tone of voice.

'Lightning bolts' in brain show learning in action   Science Daily - March 30, 2015

Researchers have captured images of the underlying biological activity within brain cells and their tree-like extensions, or dendrites, in mice that show how their brains sort, store and make sense out of information during learning. Among the study's key findings was that learning motor tasks such as running forward and backward induced completely separate patterns of lightning bolt-like activity in the dendrites of brain cells. These lightning bolts triggered a chain-like reaction, which changed the strength of connections between neurons. The study also identified a unique cell type in the brain that controlled where the lightning bolts were generated. When these cells were turned off, lightning bolt patterns in the brain were disrupted, and as a result, the animal lost the information it had just learned.

After learning new words, brain sees them as pictures   PhysOrg - March 24, 2015
When we look at a known word, our brain sees it like a picture, not a group of letters needing to be processed. The brain learns words quickly by tuning neurons to respond to a complete word, not parts of it. Neurons respond differently to real words, such as turf, than to nonsense words, such as turt, showing that a small area of the brain is "holistically tuned" to recognize complete words. This small area in the brain, called the visual word form area, is found in the left side of the visual cortex, opposite from the fusiform face area on the right side, which remembers how faces look. One area is selective for a whole face, allowing us to quickly recognize people, and the other is selective for a whole word, which helps us read quickly.

Teaching science to the brain: How the brain learns the way things work   PhysOrg - March 17, 2015
When you learn a new technical concept, something happens in your brain, but exactly what has been a mystery until now.For the first time, Carnegie Mellon University scientists have traced the brain processes that occur during the learning of technical concepts. The findings reveal how new technical knowledge is built up in the brain during the course of different learning stages.

New findings on how the brain ignores distractions   PhysOrg - February 3, 2015

When we concentrate on something, we also engage in the unsung, parallel act of purposefully ignoring other things. A new study describes how the brain may achieve such "optimal inattention." With this knowledge, scientists at Brown University hope they can harness our power to ignore for instance, to reduce pain. This is about the mechanisms the brain is using to block out distracting things in the environment.

Genomic differences between developing male and female brains in the womb   PhysOrg - February 3, 2015

Researchers examined changes in the way that genes are regulated during human brain development. One observation was that a number of differences in a process called DNA methylation were found between male and female brains, potentially contributing to sex differences in behavior, brain function and disease. The study focussed on the molecular "switches" that regulate the way that genes are activated without changing the underlying DNA blueprint. These processes, known as epigenetics, direct the way in which different cells and tissue types develop, and help differentiate brain cells from those in other parts of the body.

Making sense through order   PhysOrg - December 16, 2014

Cognitive scientists at the University of Rochester say they have an alternative to the standard explanation for why order matters when the human mind processes information. Instead of ignoring the order in which people receive information, they embrace it.

Dazzling Images of the Brain Created by Neuroscientist-Artist   PhysOrg - December 10, 2014

The brain has been called the most complex structure in the universe, but it may also be the most beautiful. One artist's work captures both the aesthetics and sophistication of this most enigmatic organ. Greg Dunn earned a PhD in neuroscience before deciding to become a professional artist. The patterns of branching neurons he saw through the microscope reminded him of the aesthetic principles in Asian art, which he had always admired. Dunn realized that neurons could be painted in the sumi-e (ink wash painting) style, which involves making as few brush strokes as possible to capture the soul of the subject.

The Brains Of Bipolar Disorder Patients Look Different   Huffington Post - December 10, 2014
As brain imaging technologies have advanced and matured over the past few decades, there's been considerable interest in understanding whether and how there are differences between the brains of people with mental illness and those without. In particular, neuroscientists studying depression have been interested in structural variation, such as differences in total brain volume. Still, the various forms of bipolar disorder have received somewhat less attention than others, such as major depression, schizophrenia, or autism.

Study pinpoints part of brain that triggers addiction   PhysOrg - December 10, 2014

Activating the brain's amygdala, an almond-shaped mass that processes emotions, can create an addictive, intense desire for sugary foods. Rewards such as sweet tasty food or even addictive drugs like alcohol or cocaine can be extremely attractive when this brain structure is triggered.

Scientists detect brain network that gives humans superior reasoning skills   PhysOrg - December 4, 2014
UC Berkeley scientists have found mounting brain evidence that helps explain how humans have excelled at "relational reasoning," a cognitive skill in which we discern patterns and relationships to make sense of seemingly unrelated information, such as solving problems in unfamiliar circumstances.

Researchers identify brain regions that encode words, grammar, story   PhysOrg - November 26, 2014

Researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of eight people as they read a chapter of a Potter book. They then analyzed the scans, cubic millimeter by cubic millimeter, for every four-word segment of that chapter. The result was the first integrated computational model of reading, identifying which parts of the brain are responsible for such subprocesses as parsing sentences, determining the meaning of words and understanding relationships between characters. Exactly how the brain creates these neural encodings is still a mystery but it is the beginning of understanding what the brain is doing when a person reads.

Imagination, reality flow in opposite directions in the brain   Science Daily - November 20, 2014
As real as that daydream may seem, its path through your brain runs opposite reality. Aiming to discern discrete neural circuits, researchers have tracked electrical activity in the brains of people who alternately imagined scenes or watched videos.

Brain's taste secrets uncovered   BBC - November 10, 2014

The brain has specialist neurons for each of the five taste categories - salty, bitter, sour, sweet and umami - US scientists have discovered. The separate taste sensors on the tongue had a matching partner in the brain. The scientists hope the findings could be used to help reverse the loss of taste sensation in the elderly. It is a myth that you taste sweet only on the tip of the tongue. Each of the roughly 8,000 taste buds scattered over the tongue is capable of sensing the full suite of tastes. But specialized cells within the taste bud are tuned to either salty, bitter, sour, sweet or umami tastes. When they detect the signal, a message is sent to the brain. Although how the brain deals with the information has been up for discussion.

This is what brain cell conversations look like

Scientists identify signature of aging in the brain   PhysOrg - September 29, 2014
How the brain ages is still largely an open question - in part because this organ is mostly insulated from direct contact with other systems in the body, including the blood and immune systems. In researchers found evidence of a unique "signature" that may be the "missing link" between cognitive decline and aging. The scientists believe that this discovery may lead, in the future, to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in older people.

Brain encodes time and place of taste memory   PhysOrg - September 23, 2014
Have you ever eaten something totally new and it made you sick? Don't give up; if you try the same food in a different place, your brain will be more "forgiving" of the new attempt. In a new study researchers found for the first time that there is a link between the areas of the brain responsible for taste memory in a negative context and those areas in the brain responsible for processing the memory of the time and location of the sensory experience. When we experience a new taste without a negative context, this link doesn't exist.

Brain wave may be used to detect what people have seen, recognize   PhysOrg - September 23, 2014
Brain activity can be used to tell whether someone recognizes details they encountered in normal, daily life, which may have implications for criminal investigations and use in courtrooms, new research shows. The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that a particular brain wave, known as P300, could serve as a marker that identifies places, objects, or other details that a person has seen and recognizes from everyday life.

Presence or absence of early language delay alters anatomy of the brain in autism   PhysOrg - September 23, 2014
A new study led by researchers from the University of Cambridge has found that a common characteristic of autism - language delay in early childhood - leaves a 'signature' in the brain.The researchers studied 80 adult men with autism: 38 who had delayed language onset and 42 who did not. They found that language delay was associated with differences in brain volume in a number of key regions, including the temporal lobe, insula, ventral basal ganglia, which were all smaller in those with language delay; and in brainstem structures, which were larger in those with delayed language onset.

Flexing the brain: Scientists discover why learning tasks can be difficult   PhysOrg - August 28, 2014
Learning a new skill is easier when it is related to an ability we already have. For example, a trained pianist can learn a new melody easier than learning how to hit a tennis serve. Scientists from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition have discovered a fundamental constraint in the brain that may explain why this happens. They found for the first time that there are limitations on how adaptable the brain is during learning and that these restrictions are a key determinant for whether a new skill will be easy or difficult to learn. Understanding the ways in which the brain's activity can be "flexed" during learning could eventually be used to develop better treatments for stroke and other brain injuries.

Neuroscientists watch imagination happening in the brain   PhysOrg - August 28, 2014
Stefania Ashby and her faculty mentor devised experiments using MRI technology that would help them distinguish pure imagination from related processes like remembering. There's a bit of scientific debate over whether memory and imagination truly are distinct processes. Ashby and her faculty mentor devised MRI experiments to put it to the test. They were able to see the distinctions even in those small regions of the hippocampus.

Our genes determine the traces that stress leaves behind on our brains   PhysOrg - August 18, 2014

Not every individual reacts in the same way to life events that produce the same degree of stress. Some grow as a result of the crisis, whereas others break down and fall ill, for example with depression. The outcome is determined by a complex interaction between depression gene versions and environmental factors. There are interactions between stressful life events and certain risk gene variants that subsequently change the volume of the hippocampus forever. The hippocampus is a switching station in the processing of emotions and acts like a central interface when dealing with stress.

New research explains how we use the GPS inside our brain to navigate   PhysOrg - June 5, 2014
The way we navigate from A to B is controlled by two brain regions which track the distance to our destination. The study found that at the beginning of a journey, one region of the brain calculates the straight-line to the destination ('the distance as a crow flies'), but during travel a different area of the brain computes the precise distance along the path to get there.

Uploading the Mind: Could a Digital Brain Feel Pain?   BBC - June 2, 2014

Scientists may one day be able to use electronic copies of human brains to explore the nature of the mind. But is it ethical to make that e-mind suffer and die if one can resurrect it at will and delete any memory of the suffering? Successfully emulating human or animal brains could pose many ethical challenges regarding the suffering these copies may undergo, a researcher says. Scientists are pursuing several strategies to create intelligent software. In one, called "whole brain emulation" or "mind uploading," scientists would scan a brain in detail and use that data to construct a software model. When run on appropriate hardware, this model would essentially replicate the original brain.

Learning second language 'slows brain aging'   BBC - June 2, 2014
Learning a second language can have a positive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adulthood, a University of Edinburgh study suggests.

Your brain is fine-tuning its wiring throughout your life   Science Daily - February 3, 2014

The white matter microstructure, the communication pathways of the brain, continues to develop/mature as one ages. Studies link age-related differences in white matter microstructure to specific cognitive abilities in childhood and adulthood.

Researchers discover how brain regions work together, or alone   Science Daily - February 3, 2014
Various regions of the brain often work independently. But what happens when two regions must cooperate to accomplish a task? What mechanism allows them to communicate in order to cooperate, yet avoid interfering with one another when they work alone? Scientists reveal a previously unknown process that helps two brain regions cooperate when joint action is required.

The brain's function in perseverance   PhysOrg - December 6, 2013
Perseverance is a quality that plays a large role in the success or failure of many pursuits. It has never been entirely clear why this trait seems more apparent in some people than others, but a new piece of research may at least help explain where it comes from. The research team found stimulating part of the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain commonly associated with emotion and decision making, produced a feeling of anxiety in each of the subjects - combined with a strong willingness to overcome it.

Researchers gain new insights into brain neuronal networks   PhysOrg - November 4, 2013

A paper published in a special edition of the journal Science proposes a novel understanding of brain architecture using a network representation of connections within the primate cortex. Using brain-wide and consistent tracer data, the researchers describe the cortex as a network of connections with a "bow tie" structure characterized by a high-efficiency, dense core connecting with "wings" of feed-forward and feedback pathways to the rest of the cortex (periphery). The local circuits, reaching to within 2.5 millimeters and taking up more than 70 percent of all the connections in the macaque cortex, are integrated across areas with different functional modalities (somatosensory, motor, cognitive) with medium- to long-range projections.

Surprising Variation Among Genomes of Individual Neurons from Same Brain   Science Daily - November 4, 2013
It was once thought that each cell in a person's body possesses the same DNA code and that the particular way the genome is read imparts cell function and defines the individual. For many cell types in our bodies, however, that is an oversimplification. Studies of neuronal genomes published in the past decade have turned up extra or missing chromosomes, or pieces of DNA that can copy and paste themselves throughout the genomes.

The Unlikely Network at the Core of Your Brain's Internet   Wired - October 30, 2013
To successfully send a text message, your brain has to compose the wording and coordinate the deft tapping of your thumbs while checking for typos. Solving a simple algebra problem involves the visual cortex - to process the symbols - and the parts of the brain used for computation and short-term memory. And driving, best performed without texting, requires a combination of visual, tactile and spatial data. How do different areas of the brain communicate and coordinate their efforts to complete these tasks? Neuroscientists have long struggled to understand the brain's ability to synthesize a dog's breakfast of sensory inputs and cognitive processes. But a growing body of evidence suggests that a network of highly interlinked brain regions exists that could prove essential in facilitating higher-order tasks. This collection of highly connected hubs has been dubbed the "rich club" network because it resembles groups of well-connected individuals, such as Ivy League alumni organizations, that help others meet and exchange information.'

'Minicomputers' Live Inside the Human Brain   Live Science - October 29, 2013

The brain may be an even more powerful computer than before thought - microscopic branches of brain cells that were once thought to basically serve as mere wiring may actually behave as minicomputers, researchers say. The most powerful computer known is the brain. The human brain possesses about 100 billion neurons with roughly 1 quadrillion - 1 million billion - connections known as synapses wiring these cells together. Neurons each act like a relay station for electrical signals. The heart of each neuron is called the soma - a single thin cable-like fiber known as the axon that sticks out of the soma carries nerve signals away from the neuron, while many shorter branches called dendrites that project from the other end of the soma carry nerve signals to the neuron.

New high-res images show brain activity like never before   PhysOrg - October 4, 2013

In the middle of the human brain there is a tiny structure shaped like an elongated donut that plays a crucial role in managing how the body functions. Measuring just 10 millimeters in length and six millimeters in diameter, the hollow structure is involved in a complex array of behavioral, cognitive, and affective phenomena, such as the fight or flight response, pain regulation, and even sexual activity.

Some Brains May Be Hard-Wired for Chronic Pain   Live Science - September 18, 2013

Structural differences in the brain may be one reason why one person recovers from pain while another develops chronic agony, a new study suggests. The researchers scanned the brains of 46 people who had lower back pain for about three months, and then evaluated their pain four times over the following year. About half of the patients recovered during the year; the other half continued to have persistent pain throughout the study.

Left Brain vs. Right: It's a Myth, Research Finds   Live Science - September 3, 2013

It's the foundation of myriad personality assessment tests, self-motivation books and team-building exercises - and it's all bunk. Popular culture would have you believe that logical, methodical and analytical people are left-brain dominant, while the creative and artistic types are right-brain dominant. Trouble is, science never really supported this notion. Now, scientists at the University of Utah have debunked the myth with an analysis of more than 1,000 brains. They found no evidence that people preferentially use their left or right brain. All of the study participants - and no doubt the scientists - were using their entire brain equally, throughout the course of the experiment.

Researcher Controls Colleague's Motions in First Human Brain-To-Brain Interface   Science Daily - August 28, 2013

University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.

Brain picks out salient sounds from background noise by tracking frequency and time   PhysOrg - July 23, 2013
New research reveals how our brains are able to pick out important sounds from the noisy world around us. Our ears can effortlessly pick out the sounds we need to hear from a noisy environment - hearing our mobile phone ringtone in the middle of the Notting Hill Carnival, for example - but how our brains process this information (the so-called 'cocktail party problem') has been a longstanding research question in hearing science. Researchers have previously investigated this using simple sounds such as two tones of different pitches, but now have used complicated sounds that are more representative of those we hear in real life. The team used 'machine-like beeps' that overlap in both frequency and time to recreate a busy sound environment and obtain new insights into how the brain solves this problem.

  Scientists create first 3D digital brain   BBC - June 20, 2013
Researchers have created the first high-resolution 3D digital model of the human brain, which they have called "Big Brain". The reconstruction shows the brain's anatomy in microscopic detail, enabling researchers to see features smaller than a strand of hair.

Researchers identify emotions based on brain activity   PhysOrg - June 19, 2013
For the first time, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have identified which emotion a person is experiencing based on brain activity. Led by researchers in CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the findings illustrate how the brain categorizes feelings, giving researchers the first reliable process to analyze emotions. Until now, research on emotions has been long stymied by the lack of reliable methods to evaluate them, mostly because people are often reluctant to honestly report their feelings. Further complicating matters is that many emotional responses may not be consciously experienced.

Brain Can Plan Actions Toward Things the Eye Doesn't See   Science Daily - June 19, 2013
People can plan strategic movements to several different targets at the same time, even when they see far fewer targets than are actually present. A team of researchers at the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario took advantage of a pictorial illusion -- known as the "connectedness illusion" -- that causes people to underestimate the number of targets they see. When people act on these targets, however, they can rapidly plan accurate and strategic reaches that reflect the actual number of targets. Using sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze participants' responses to multiple potential targets, the researchers found that participants' reaches to the targets were unaffected by the presence of the connecting lines. Thus, the "connectedness illusion" seemed to influence the number of targets they perceived but did not impact their ability to plan actions related to the targets.

Brain System for Emotional Self-Control Discovered   Science Daily - May 9, 2013
Different brain areas are activated when we choose to suppress an emotion, compared to when we are instructed to inhibit an emotion. In this study, published in Brain Structure and Function, the researchers scanned the brains of healthy participants and found that key brain systems were activated when choosing for oneself to suppress an emotion. They had previously linked this brain area to deciding to inhibit movement. This result shows that emotional self-control involves a quite different brain system from simply being told how to respond emotionally

Individual Brain Cells Track Where We Are and How We Move   Science Daily - May 5, 2013

Leaving the house in the morning may seem simple, but with every move we make, our brains are working feverishly to create maps of the outside world that allow us to navigate and to remember where we are. Take one step out the front door, and an individual brain cell fires. Pass by your rose bush on the way to the car, another specific neuron fires. And so it goes. Ultimately, the brain constructs its own pinpoint geographical chart that is far more precise than anything you'd find on Google Maps.

Taste of beer, without effect from alcohol, triggers dopamine release in the brain   PhysOrg - April 16, 2013
The taste of beer, without any effect from alcohol itself, can trigger dopamine release in the brain, which is associated with drinking and other drugs of abuse.

Stimulating the brain blunts cigarette craving   PhysOrg - April 16, 2013
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths globally. Unfortunately smoking cessation is difficult, with more than 90% of attempts to quit resulting in relapse.

Bad Decisions Arise from Faulty Information, Not Faulty Brain Circuits   Science Daily - April 16, 2013

Making decisions involves a gradual accumulation of facts that support one choice or another. A person choosing a college might weigh factors such as course selection, institutional reputation and the quality of future job prospects. But if the wrong choice is made, Princeton University researchers have found that it might be the information rather than the brain's decision-making process that is to blame. The researchers report in the journal Science that erroneous decisions tend to arise from errors, or "noise," in the information coming into the brain rather than errors in how the brain accumulates information.

Brain Development Is Guided by Junk DNA That Isn't Really Junk   Science Daily - April 16, 2013

Specific DNA once dismissed as junk plays an important role in brain development and might be involved in several devastating neurological diseases, UC San Francisco scientists have found. While researchers have been busy exploring the roles of proteins encoded by the genes identified in various genome projects, most DNA is not in genes. This so-called junk DNA has largely been pushed aside and neglected in the wake of genomic gene discoveries, the UCSF scientists said.

Mental Picture of Others Can Be Seen Using fMRI, Finds New Study   Science Daily - March 5, 2013
It is possible to tell who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of his or her brain. Our mental models of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques according to a study by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng. When we looked at our data, we were shocked that we could successfully decode who our participants were thinking about based on their brain activity," Understanding and predicting the behavior of others is a key to successfully navigating the social world, yet little is known about how the brain actually models the enduring personality traits that may drive others' behavior, the authors say. Such ability allows us to anticipate how someone will act in a situation that may not have happened before.

Secret to Self-Control: A More Efficient Brain?   Live Science - January 22, 2013
People with greater self-control may have brains that function more efficiently, a new study suggests. The findings are only correlational, and so they can't tease out whether efficient brains cause the greater self-control. However, the results hint that those with self-control may have extra willpower because it takes them less effort to exert it, said study author Marc Berman, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Toronto's Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest.

Researchers find clues to how the brain decides when to rest   PhysOrg - January 22, 2013
Scientists studying how people make decisions regarding work have over time devised theories of cost versus benefit scenarios to describe what causes people to engage in work activities, or to not. Not so well studied is how people come to decide when it's time to take a break. Some have suggested that some part of the brain is constantly engaged in weighing the costs of the work involved with potential rewards, and based on both creates a signal of sorts alerting the rest of the brain to when it's time to pause. This new research supports that theory.

Older Brain Is Willing, but Too Full   New York Times - January 22, 2013
Learning becomes more difficult as we age not because we have trouble absorbing new information, but because we fail to forget the old stuff, researchers say.

Brain structure of infants predicts language skills at one year   PhysOrg - January 22, 2013
Using a brain-imaging technique that examines the entire infant brain, researchers have found that the anatomy of certain brain areas - the hippocampus and cerebellum - can predict children's language abilities at 1 year of age.

Uncovering the secrets of 3D vision: How glossy objects can fool the human brain   PhysOrg - January 22, 2013
It's a familiar sight at the fairground: rows of people gaping at curvy mirrors as they watch their faces and bodies distort. But while mirrored surfaces may be fun to look at, new findings by researchers from the Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge and Giessen, suggest they pose a particular challenge for the human brain in processing images for 3D vision.

Where does it hurt? Pain map discovered in the human brain   PhysOrg - November 29, 2012
Scientists have revealed the minutely detailed pain map of the hand that is contained within our brains, shedding light on how the brain makes us feel discomfort and potentially increasing our understanding of the processes involved in chronic pain.

Universe Grows Like a Giant Brain   Live Science - November 27, 2012

The universe may grow like a giant brain, according to a new computer simulation. The results suggest that some undiscovered, fundamental laws may govern the growth of systems large and small, from the electrical firing between brain cells and growth of social networks to the expansion of galaxies. "Natural growth dynamics are the same for different real networks, like the Internet or the brain or social networks. Past studies showed brain circuits and the Internet look a lot alike. But despite finding this functional similarity, nobody had developed equations to perfectly predict how computer networks, brain circuits or social networks grow over time.

What Happens to the Brain in a Coma   Live Science - November 27, 2012
What is going on inside the heads of individuals in a coma has been steeped in mystery. Now, a new study finds coma patients have dramatically reorganized brain networks, a finding that could shed light on the mystery of consciousness. Compared with healthy patients in the study, high-traffic hubs of brain activity are dark in coma patients while more quiet regions spring to life. Consciousness may depend on the anatomical location of these hubs in the human brain network.

How connections in the brain must change to form memories could help to develop artificial cognitive computers   PhysOrg - November 7, 2012
Exactly how memories are stored and accessed in the brain is unclear. Neuroscientists, however, do know that a primitive structure buried in the center of the brain, called the hippocampus, is a pivotal region of memory formation. Here, changes in the strengths of connections between neurons, which are called synapses, are the basis for memory formation. Networks of neurons linking up in the hippocampus are likely to encode specific memories.

Science Explains Instant Attraction   Live Science - November 7, 2012
How do you know when you're attracted to a new face? Thank your medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region now discovered to play a major role in romantic decision-making. Different parts of this region, which sits near the front of the brain, make a snap judgment about physical attraction and about whether the person is Mr. or Ms. Right - all within milliseconds of seeing a new face, a new study from Ireland finds. The research is the first to use real-world dating to examine how the brain makes fast romantic judgments.

When You're At Rest, Your Brain's Right Side Hums   Live Science - October 18, 2012
There's plenty of brain activity even when people are thinking nothing at all. But it's the brain's right side - for most people the less-dominant half - that stays busiest while you're at rest, according to surprising new findings. Researchers found that during periods of wakeful rest, the right hemisphere of the brain chatters more to itself than the left hemisphere does. It also sends more messages to the left hemisphere than vice versa. Surprisingly, this remains true whether the owner of the brain is left- or right-handed. That seems odd, because in right-handed people the left hemisphere is the dominant one, and in left-handed people the right is usually more dominant.

Feel-Good Brain Chemical's Role in Sleep   Live Science - June 20, 2012
A feel-good brain chemical called dopamine has been linked to everything from laziness and creativity to impulsivity and a tendency to partake in one-night stands. Now, we can add sleep regulation to that list. When dopamine latches onto its receptor in a special part of the brain, it seems to signal the body to "wake up" by turning down levels of the sleepiness hormone melatonin, the researchers found. The first clue to this new discovery came when researchers noticed that dopamine receptor 4, a protein on the outside of certain cells that binds to dopamine, was active in the part of the brain called pineal gland. This gland regulates our internal clock, known as our circadian rhythm, by releasing melatonin in response to light.

Remembrance of things future: Long-term memory sets the stage for visual perception   PhysOrg - December 28, 2011
Rather than being a passive state, perception is an active process fueled by predictions and expectations about our environment. In the latter case, memory must be a fundamental component in the way our brain generates these precursors to the perceptual experience - but how the brain integrates long-term memory with perception has not been determined.

Scientists discover a brain cell malfunction in schizophrenia   PhysOrg - December 28, 2011
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered that DNA stays too tightly wound in certain brain cells of schizophrenic subjects. The findings suggest that drugs already in development for other diseases might eventually offer hope as a treatment for schizophrenia and related conditions in the elderly.

Pregnancy May Change Mom's Brain For Good   Live Science - December 28, 2011
Time in the womb is obviously important for the development of the fetal brain. But pregnancy is also a time for changes in Mom's brain - changes that may prepare women to become better mothers. These changes still are little-understood, concludes a review published in the December issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. Pregnant women often complain about "pregnancy brain" or "mommy brain," a memory fog that seems to produce lost car keys and misplaced cell phones. One 2010 study suggested that high levels of sex hormones could be to blame for the frustrating lapses in concentration. But in many ways, the changes that happen in a mom-to-be's brain during pregnancy remain mysterious.

Aging Brains Match Youth in Some Mental Tasks   Live Science - December 28, 2011
Since physical abilities decline as people age, many people think the elderly are also less able to perform mental jumping jacks as they age. New research indicates this might not be true with all brain-powered tasks: In some ways the elderly are fit to compete with their younger counterparts. Both young and old brains take longer to reach decisions in some settings, the researchers say, because they make the conscious choice to choose accuracy over speed.

How the Brain Strings Words Into Sentences   Science Daily - November 29, 2011
Distinct neural pathways are important for different aspects of language processing, researchers have discovered, studying patients with language impairments caused by neurodegenerative diseases. While it has long been recognized that certain areas in the brain's left hemisphere enable us to understand and produce language, scientists are still figuring out exactly how those areas divvy up the highly complex processes necessary to comprehend and produce language.

Psychopaths' brains show differences in structure and function   PhysOrg - November 25, 2011
Images of prisoners' brains show important differences between those who are diagnosed as psychopaths and those who aren't.

Sudden stress shifts human brain into survival mode   PhysOrg - November 25, 2011
In threatening situations, the brain adapts within seconds to prepare for an appropriate response. Some regions are temporarily suppressed. Others become more active and form temporarily alliances for fight or flight. Noradrenaline is driving force behind this reorganization.

DNA gene find 'transforms' theories on how brain works   BBC - October 31, 2011
The genetic make-up of our brain cells changes thousands of times over the course of our lifetimes, according to new research. Scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh have identified genes, called retrotransposons, responsible for tiny changes in the DNA of brain tissue. They say their discovery completely overturns previous theories about how the brain works.

Development of the brain's visual cortex depends on experience with light   PhysOrg - September 8, 2011
Tiny molecular signals that govern how the connections between brain cells mature when the eyes first see light have now been identified by a research team in MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Have we met before? Direct connections between brain areas responsible for voice, face recognition   PhysOrg - September 8, 2011
Face and voice are the two main features by which we recognise other people. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now discovered that there is a direct structural connection consisting of fibre pathways between voice- and face-recognition areas in the human brain. The exchange of information, which is assumed to take place between these areas via this connection, could help us to quickly identify familiar people in everyday situations and also under adverse conditions.

Children of depressed mothers have a different brain   PhysOrg - August 16, 2011
Scientists worked with ten year old children whose mothers exhibited symptoms of depression throughout their lives, and discovered that the children's amygdala, a part of the brain linked to emotional responses, was enlarged. Similar changes, but of greater magnitude, have been found in the brains of adoptees initially raised in orphanages. Personalized attention to children's needs may be the key factor.

Addiction Now Defined As Brain Disorder, Not Behavior Problem   Live Science - August 15, 2011
Addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavior problem involving alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex, experts contend in a new definition of addiction, one that is not solely related to problematic substance abuse. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) just released this new definition of addiction after a four-year process involving more than 80 experts.

Nipples 'Light Up' Brain the Way Genitals Do   Live Science - August 4, 2011

For many women, nipples are erogenous zones. A new study may explain why: The sensation from the nipples travels to the same part of the brain as sensations from the vagina, clitoris and cervix.

Big brains evolved due to capacity for exercise   PhysOrg - August 4, 2011
The relatively large size of the mammalian brain evolved due to a capacity for endurance exercise, researchers conclude in a recent study.

Age-related brain shrinking is unique to humans   BBC - July 26, 2011
The brains of our closest relatives, unlike our own, do not shrink with age. The findings suggest that humans are more vulnerable than chimpanzees to age-related diseases because we live relatively longer. Our longer lifespan is probably an adaptation to having bigger brains, the team suggests in their Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper. Old age, the results indicate, has evolved to help meet the demands of raising smarter babies. As we age, our brains get lighter. By 80, the average human brain has lost 15% of its original weight.

Time and numbers mix together in the brain   PhysOrg - July 19, 2011
Clocks tell time in numbers -- and so do our minds, according to a new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. In two experiments, scientists found that people associate small numbers with short time intervals and large numbers with longer intervals -- suggesting that these two systems are linked in the brain.

Illusion Reveals How Brain Adapts to Motion   Live Science - July 1, 2011
Watch something in motion, say, a waterfall or scrolling text on a video game, then look away at a rock, a wall, or anything stationary. Briefly, the stationary object will appear to move in the opposite direction. This visual illusion has been recognized for a very long time; Aristotle first noted it. Now, a new study has found that even a very brief glimpse of motion - for as little as 1/40 of a second - can trigger the brain mechanism responsible for the illusion.

Speed of Brain Signals Clocked: New Studies   Science Daily - June 24, 2011
Two studies featuring research from Weill Cornell Medical College have uncovered surprising details about the complex process that leads to the flow of neurotransmitters between brain neurons -- a dance of chemical messages so delicate that missteps often lead to neurological dysfunction.

Scientists discover brain structures associated with learning   PhysOrg - May 2, 2011
Scientists at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI, part of the Novartis Research Foundation) have discovered neuronal connections which are formed in the brain when learning occurs, and which ensure the precision of memory. This work represents an important step on the path towards an improved understanding of how learning and memories are stored in the brain.

Study finds brain regions go offline at different intervals   PhysOrg - April 14, 2011
A new study shows that, rather than being an "all or nothing" phenomenon, regions of the human brain go silent at different times through the night, losing their ability to communicate during certain phases of sleep.

  Illusion can halve the pain of osteoarthritis, scientists say   PhysOrg - April 14, 2011
A serendipitous discovery by academics at The University of Nottingham has shown that a simple illusion can significantly reduce -- and in some cases even temporarily eradicate -- arthritic pain in the hand.

Filters that reduce 'brain clutter' identified   PhysOrg - April 14, 2011
McGill researchers suggest malfunctions in neurons that filter visual information may be responsible for diseases such as ADHD and schizophrenia.Until now, it has been assumed that people with diseases like ADHD, Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia - all of whom characteristically report symptoms of 'brain clutter' - may suffer from anomalies in the brain's prefrontal cortex.

Clearing the Mind: How the Brain Cuts the Clutter   Live Science - April 14, 2011
Newly discovered neurons in the front of the brain act as the bouncers at the doors of the senses, letting in only the most important of the trillions of signals our bodies receive. Problems with these neurons could be the source of some symptoms of diseases like attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia.

Older age memory loss tied to stress hormone receptor in brain   PhysOrg - April 6, 2011
Scientists have shed new light on how older people may lose their memory with a development that could aid research into treatments for age-related memory disorders.

What our eyes can't see, the brain fills in   PhysOrg - April 4, 2011
The team from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology conducted a series of experiments that showed how our brains predict what cannot be seen by drawing on our previous experiences to build up an accurate picture.

2,500-Year-Old Preserved Human Brain Discovered   Live Science - March 26, 2011
A 2,500-year-old human skull uncovered in England was less of a surprise than what was in it: the brain. The discovery of the yellowish, crinkly, shrunken brain prompted questions about how such a fragile organ could have survived so long and how frequently this strange type of preservation occurs. Except for the brain, all of the skull's soft tissue was gone when the skull was pulled from a muddy Iron Age pit where the University of York was planning to expand its Heslington East campus.

The Brain in 3-D: New Research Illuminates Cell Circuits   PhysOrg - March 17, 2011
For the first time, scientists have reconstructed a three-dimensional circuit of connected cells in the brain's seat of consciousness. Their new approach, which involves the use of high-tech microscopes and a supercomputer, offers the unprecedented opportunity to unravel the complex wiring of the brain by navigating through the tangled and dense jungle of cells - similar to the way Google crawls the Web.

Scientists discover anti-anxiety circuit in brain region considered the seat of fear   PhysOrg - March 10, 2011
Stimulation of a distinct brain circuit that lies within a brain structure typically associated with fearfulness produces the opposite effect: Its activity, instead of triggering or increasing anxiety, counters it.

Parts of brain can switch functions: study   PhysOrg - March 1, 2011
When your brain encounters sensory stimuli, such as the scent of your morning coffee or the sound of a honking car, that input gets shuttled to the appropriate brain region for analysis. The coffee aroma goes to the olfactory cortex, while sounds are processed in the auditory cortex.

How your brain picks the best move   MSNBC - January 20, 2011
If you have a knack for knowing just the right move to make - in a board game or in other walks of life - it might be because your brain has built up a special kind of connection.

Brain's clock influenced by senses   PhysOrg - January 20, 2011
Humans use their senses to help keep track of short intervals of time according to new research, which suggests that our perception of time is not maintained by an internal body clock alone.

Tracking the tell-tale signs of pure genius - January 18, 2011

The brain is an organ of staggering complexity: a 3lb lump of jelly that can contemplate the meaning of infinity, the idea of God, and even its own existence

Brain regions sleep more deeply when used more -- also in birds   PhysOrg - January 12, 2011
During deep sleep the brain is highly electrically active - but only in those regions, which were heavily used previously while awake.

Study: Love music? Thank a substance in your brain   PhysOrg - January 9, 2011
Whether it's the Beatles or Beethoven, people like music for the same reason they like eating or having sex: It makes the brain release a chemical that gives pleasure, a new study says. The brain substance is involved both in anticipating a particularly thrilling musical moment and in feeling the rush from it, researchers found.

Scientists find evidence for 'chronesthesia,' or mental time travel   PhysOrg - December 22, 2010
Researchers have found evidence for chronesthesia, which is the brain's ability to be aware of the past and future, and to mentally travel in subjective time. They found that activity in different brain regions is related to chronesthetic states when a person thinks about the same content during the past, present, or future.

  What makes a face look alive? Study says it's in the eyes   PhysOrg - December 21, 2010
The face of a doll is clearly not human; the face of a human clearly is. Telling the difference allows us to pay attention to faces that belong to living things, which are capable of interacting with us. But where is the line at which a face appears to be alive? A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a face has to be quite similar to a human face in order to appear alive, and that the cues are mainly in the eyes.

The genetic basis of 130 brain diseases   PhysOrg - December 19, 2010
In research published today, scientists have studied human brain samples to isolate a set of proteins that accounts for over 130 brain diseases. The paper also shows an intriguing link between diseases and the evolution of the human brain.

Can't learn a foreign language? Not true, say scientists - December 16, 2010
The brain can learn a new word in less than 15 minutes, according to scientists, whose finding will rob many of the excuse that they can't learn a foreign language.

Where unconscious memories form   PhysOrg - December 16, 2010
A small area deep in the brain called the perirhinal cortex is critical for forming unconscious conceptual memories.

Unlocking the secrets of our compulsions   PhysOrg - December 8, 2010
Researchers have shed new light on dopamine's role in the brain's reward system, which could provide insight into impulse control problems associated with addiction and a number of psychiatric disorders. "We were able to answer the longstanding question, 'What role does dopamine play in reward learning?'"

Scientists find molecular glue needed to wire the brain   PhysOrg - December 8, 2010
Yale University researchers have found that a single molecule not only connects brain cells but also changes how we learn. The findings, reported in the December 9 issue of the journal Neuron, may help researchers discover ways to improve memory and could lead to new therapies to correct neurological disorders.

Our brains are wired so we can better hear ourselves speak, study shows   PhysOrg - December 8, 2010
Activity in the auditory cortex when we speak and listen is amplified in some regions of the brain and muted in others.

Scientists discover brain's inherent ability to focus learning   PhysOrg - December 8, 2010
Medical researchers have found a missing link that explains the interaction between brain state and the neural triggers responsible for learning, potentially opening up new ways of boosting cognitive function in the face of diseases such as Alzheimer's as well as enhancing memory in healthy people.

How the brain's architecture makes our view of the world unique   PhysOrg - December 6, 2010

The Ebbinghaus Illusion. Most people will see the first circle as smaller than the second one Researchers found a strong link between the surface area of the primary visual cortex and the extent to which volunteers perceived the size illusion -- the smaller the area, the more pronounced the visual illusion.

Now You See It: Neuroscientists Reveal Magicians' Secrets   Live Science - December 6, 2010
Magicians create illusions by taking advantage of how we perceive stimuli and process information. For example, a dove fluttering from a hat can be used to draw an audience's attention away from the actual trick. There is a place for magic in science. Five years ago, on a trip to Las Vegas, neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde realized that a partnership was in order with a profession that has an older and more intuitive understanding of how the human brain works. Magicians, it seems, have an advantage over neuroscientists.

Study reveals how taking an active role in learning enhances memory   PhysOrg - December 6, 2010
A new study from psychology professor Neal Cohen (in blue shirt) and postdoctoral researcher Joel Voss found that those who have some control over their learning environment do better at remembering what they learned than those who don't. The study offers a first look at the brain mechanisms that contribute to this phenomenon.

  Sleep helps brain sift memories, study shows   PhysOrg - December 1, 2010
Most adults say they can't remember things as well as they used to. But what they really mean is that they can't remember anything for very long - and poor sleep may be the cause.

Subconscious saves the day when hungry brain fails   PhysOrg - November 26, 2010
Complex decisions should be made subconsciously rather than consciously. This is the conclusion of Dutch researcher Maarten Bos. Hungry brains have difficulty making complicated decisions, but our subconscious functions fine even when hungry. The more intricate a decision seems, the more we should rely on our subconscious.

Differences in human and Neanderthal brains set in just after birth   PhysOrg - November 8, 2010
The brains of newborn humans and Neanderthals are about the same size and appear rather similar overall. It's mainly after birth, and specifically in the first year of life, that the differences between our brains and those of our extinct relatives really take shape, according to a report published in the Nov. 9 issue of Current Biology.

Researchers discover how brain is wired for attention   PhysOrg - November 2, 2010
University of Utah medical researchers have uncovered a wiring diagram that shows how the brain pays attention to visual, cognitive, sensory, and motor cues. The research provides a critical foundation for the study of abnormalities in attention that can be seen in many brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder.

  Breakthrough: Scientists harness the power of electricity in the brain   PhysOrg - November 2, 2010
A paralyzed patient may someday be able to "think" a foot into flexing or a leg into moving, using technology that harnesses the power of electricity in the brain, and scientists at University of Michigan School of Kinesiology are now one big step closer.

MRI brain imaging pinpoints deception   BBC - November 2, 2010
Our ability to project a picture of ourselves in other people's minds may be down to a distinct form of brain activity, according to a report. A US team used functional magnetic resonance imaging to observe the brains of people playing a strategic game.

Fingers detect typos even when conscious brain doesn't   PhysOrg - October 28, 2010
Expert typists are able to zoom across the keyboard without ever thinking about which fingers are pressing the keys. New research from Vanderbilt University reveals that this skill is managed by an autopilot, one that is able to catch errors that can fool our conscious brain.

See no shape, touch no shape, hear a shape?   PhysOrg - October 18, 2010
Scientists at The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital " The Neuro, McGill University have discovered that our brains have the ability to determine the shape of an object simply by processing specially-coded sounds, without any visual or tactile input. Not only does this new research tell us about the plasticity of the brain and how it perceives the world around us, it also provides important new possibilities for aiding those who are blind or with impaired vision.

Scientists closer to grasping how the brain's 'hearing center' spurs responses to sound   PhysOrg - October 18, 2010
Just as we visually map a room by spatially identifying the objects in it, we map our aural world based on the frequencies of sounds. The neurons within the brain's "hearing center" -- the auditory cortex -- are organized into modules that each respond to sounds within a specific frequency band. But how responses actually emanate from this complex network of neurons is still a mystery.

Researchers discover 'inner compass' in the human brain   PhysOrg - October 4, 2010
They have discovered that a person's ability to find their way is learned gradually and that the brain eventually becomes tuned to key landmarks in the new environment.

Gene scan finds link across array of childhood brain disorders   PhysOrg - August 22, 2010
Mutations in a single gene can cause several types of developmental brain abnormalities that experts have traditionally considered different disorders. With support from the National Institutes of Health, researchers found those mutations through whole exome sequencing - a new gene scanning technology that cuts the cost and time of searching for rare mutations.

False memories are common   PhysOrg - August 10, 2010
Memories can't be trusted and become contaminated when people discuss their memories of an event with others, according to a University of Sydney study.

Brain's wiring: More network than pyramid?   PhysOrg - August 10, 2010
The brain has been mapped to the smallest fold for at least a century, but still no one knows how all the parts talk to each other.

Brain Has Backup Circuit for Fear   Live Science - August 9, 2010
The brain's "fear center" doesn't need to be working for an animal to learn to be afraid, according to a new study of rats. If the region is damaged, another area can take the reins and allow the brain to continue to form fear-driven, emotional memories. This brain region, known as the bed nuclei, will step in only when the region linked with fear, the amygdala.

Brain's Link Between Sounds, Smells and Memory Revealed   Live Science - August 6, 2010
Sights, sounds and smells can all evoke emotionally charged memories. A new study in rats suggests why: The same part of the brain that's in charge of processing our senses is also responsible, at least in part, for storing emotional memories. For instance, the smell of turkey could conjure up a smile as it reminds you of a joyful Thanksgiving, while the sound of a drill could make you start in fear, since it may be linked to your last dental appointment.

When memory-related region of brain is damaged, other areas compensate, study finds   PhysOrg - August 2, 2010
Many neuroscientists believe the loss of the brain region known as the amygdala would result in the brain's inability to form new memories with emotional content. New UCLA research indicates this is not so and suggests that when one brain region is damaged, other regions can compensate.

Every action has a beginning and an end (and it's all in you brain)   PhysOrg - July 21, 2010
Animal behaviour, including our own, is very complex and is many times seen as a sequence of particular actions or movements, each with a precise start and stop step. This is evident in a wide range of abilities, from escaping a predator to playing the piano. In all of them there is a first initial step and one that signals the end. In this latest work, the researchers explored the role of certain brain circuits located in the basal ganglia in this process. They looked at the striatum, its dopaminergic input (dopamine-producing neurons that project into the striatum) and its output to the substantia nigra, another area in the basal ganglia, and found that both play an essential role in the initiation and termination of newly learnt behavioral sequences.

Music 'Tones the Brain,' Improves Learning   Live Science - July 20, 2010
Learning to play a musical instrument changes the brain, leading to a slew of potential benefits, including improved learning and understanding of language, according to a recent review article. Studies highlighted in the review suggest connections made between brain cells during musical training can aid in other forms of communication, such as speech, reading and understanding a foreign language.

Remembering so as not to forget   PhysOrg - July 20, 2010
Verbal distractions are a primary cause of poor memory, according to scientific tests, which prove that the key to preventing ourselves from forgetting is to rehearse and ‘refresh' our thoughts.

Brain training reverses age-related cognitive decline   PhysOrg - July 20, 2010
Specialized brain training targeted at the regions of a rat's brain that process sound reversed many aspects of normal, age-related cognitive decline and improved the health of the brain cells. The results indicate that people who experience age-related cognitive decline, including slower mental processing and decreased response to new stimuli, might also benefit from specially designed mental exercises.

'Winner effect' linked to changes in brain circuitry, study finds   PhysOrg - July 19, 2010
The next time the Brewers go on a road-trip skid, it might not be their fault. The "winner effect," in which animals that win a competition win subsequent ones, occurs because of changes in their brain's circuitry. Those changes are even stronger if the animal had a home-field advantage. Using a highly territorial species of mouse, Fuxjager and his colleagues first let the male mice accrue three wins in either their home cage or an unfamiliar cage. Then they gave the mice a test dispute in either a home or unfamiliar cage and measured the number of androgen receptors in the mice's brains after winning this fourth dispute. Androgen receptors respond to testosterone levels; the more receptors present, the greater the effects of testosterone on the mous

Laughter can convey a range of emotions, each processed by a different part of the brain   PhysOrg - July 19, 2010
Everybody enjoys a laugh but new research from an international team shows it's not as simple as you might think. Most people consider laughter as a sign of happiness, but now scientists from Newcastle and Germany have shown it can convey a range of emotions, each processed by a different part of the brain. And the information could be used to revolutionise the way patients with neuro-degenerative diseases are able to communicate. This could have an increasing benefit as the effects of an ageing population continue to be felt.

Brain Cells That Help Us Breathe Revealed   Live Science - July 16, 2010
Star-shape brain cells previously thought to take a back seat in terms of the brain's activity might play a key role in controlling breathing, a new study in rats suggests. When we breathe, we take in vital oxygen and expel waste carbon dioxide. The study results show brain cells known as astrocytes can sense changes in blood carbon dioxide levels and then signal other brain networks to adjust breathing.

Baby brain growth mirrors changes from apes to humans   PhysOrg - July 13, 2010
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that the human brain regions that grow the most during infancy and childhood are nearly identical to the brain regions with the most changes when human brains are compared to those of apes and monkeys. Researchers report the finding in a detailed comparison of the brains of normal-term infants and healthy young adults.

Gene Regulating Human Brain Development Identified   Science Daily - July 4, 2010
With more than 100 billion neurons and billions of other specialized cells, the human brain is a marvel of nature. It is the organ that makes people unique.

A butterfly effect in the brain   PhysOrg - June 30, 2010
Given that the brain is the most powerful computing device known, how can it perform so well even though the behavior of its circuits is variable?

Brain Chemical Makes Us More Impulsive   Live Science - June 30, 2010
A boost in the brain's "feel good" chemical dopamine makes humans more impulsive, a new study suggests. The results show increased levels of dopamine - a neurotransmitter involved in processing rewards in the brain - make people more likely to opt for instant gratification (that cookie staring at you), rather than waiting for a more beneficial reward later on (tighter abs, for instance).

Key mechanism in the brain's computation of sound location identified   PhysOrg - June 29, 2010
Animals can locate the source of a sound by detecting microsecond (one millionth of a second) differences in arrival time at their two ears. The neurons encoding these differences called interaural time differences (ITDs) - receive a message from each ear. After receiving these messages, or synaptic inputs, they perform a microsecond computation to determine the location of the sound source. The NYU scientists found that one reason these neurons are able to perform such a rapid and sensitive computation is because they are extremely responsive to the input's "rise time" - the time it takes to reach the peak of the synaptic input.

Memories are made of this: New study uncovers key to how we learn and remember   PhysOrg - June 28, 2010
New research led by the University of Leicester and published in a prestigious international scientific journal has revealed for the first time the mechanism by which memories are formed. The study in the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology found one of the key proteins involved in the process of memory and learning. The breakthrough study has potential to impact drug design to treat Alzheimer's disease.

Brain's Courage Center Located   Live Science - June 23, 2010
The ability to conquer fears may come down to activity in a certain region of the brain, a new study suggests. The study's researchers say it is the first to investigate brain changes that occur when humans act courageously - that is, when we feel fear, yet act in a manner that opposes this fear. The results show activity in a brain region called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) was associated with participants overcoming their fears, suggesting this brain region could be a target for therapies for phobias and fear-related disorders.

Personality shows up in brain structure   CNN - June 22, 2010
Some people are more outgoing than shy, or worrisome than carefree. Such personality differences are now being explored biologically in the brain. A new study in the journal Psychological Science finds that several personality traits are associated with definite brain regions. Scientists from the University of Minnesota, University of Toronto, Yale University, and The Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, New Mexico, collaborated on the study.

Brain Signs of Schizophrenia Found in Babies   Science Daily - June 22, 2010
Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder affecting one in 100 people worldwide. Most cases aren't detected until a person starts experiencing symptoms like delusions and hallucinations as a teenager or adult. By that time, the disease has often progressed so far that it can be difficult to treat.

Did Michelangelo Include a Brain Stem in the Sistine Chapel?   PhysOrg - June 22, 2010

For years physicians and others have been looking for evidence that Michelangelo, well known for his interest in the human form and his forays into corpse dissection, included clues to his scientific interest in his art. Some claim that different frescoes in the Sistine Chapel feature a kidney and the outline of the human brain. Skeptics think that doctors and others may be looking too hard to find something that may not be there.

Computer Intelligence Predicts Human Visual Attention for First Time   Science Daily - June 17, 2010

Scientists have just come several steps closer to understanding change blindness - the well studied failure of humans to detect seemingly obvious changes to scenes around them - with new research that used a computer-based model to predict what types of changes people are more likely to notice.

Brain study shows that the opinions of others matters   PhysOrg - June 17, 2010
The 'reward' area of the brain is activated when people agree with our opinions.

Our brains 'light up' with pleasure when people agree with us - June 17, 2010
Some people may like a good argument but actually our brains prefer it when we all agree.

Experience shapes the brain's circuitry throughout adulthood   PhysOrg - June 15, 2010
The adult brain, long considered to be fixed in its wiring, is in fact remarkably dynamic. Neuroscientists once thought that the brain's wiring was fixed early in life, during a critical period beyond which changes were impossible.

How Your Brain Works on Autopilot   Live Science - June 9, 2010
Anyone who's learned to ride a bike or touch type might have wondered how a task that is so arduous at first could be so seamlessly easy later. A new study reveals more about exactly what goes on in the brain as we form these habits, transitioning from intense concentration to autopilot. The results, found in rats but thought to be analogous to humans, show that habitual learning, as it's called, involves two brain circuits - one used for movement and the other for higher, cognitive thinking. As a task is learned, these circuits trade off in terms of their engagement. The movement circuit, which involves a part of the brain called the dorsolateral striatum, becomes more active, while the cognitive circuit, which involves a region called the dorsomedial striatum, takes a dip.

How the brain recognizes objects   PhysOrg - June 7, 2010

A new computational model of how the primate brain recognizes objects creates a map interesting features (right) for a given image. The model's predictions of which parts of the image will attract a viewer's attention (green clouds, left) accord well with experimental data (yellow and red dots).

Human Mind 'Time Travels' When Pondering Movement   Live Science - June 2, 2010
Just thinking about moving through space can make your mind wander in time as well, scientists now find. The ability to mentally meander through time by remembering the past or imagining the future sets humans apart from many other species, helping us to learn from what came before and plan for what lies ahead. However, remarkably little is known about how such mental time travel works.

Differences in language circuits in the brain linked to dyslexia   PhysOrg - May 10, 2010
Children with dyslexia often struggle with reading, writing, and spelling, despite getting an appropriate education and demonstrating intellectual ability in other areas. New neurological research has found that these children's difficulties with written language may be linked to structural differences within an important information highway in the brain known to play a role in oral language. The findings are published in the June 2010 issue of Elsevier's Cortex.

New analysis reveals clearer picture of brain's language areas   PhysOrg - May 5, 2010
Language is a defining aspect of what makes us human. Although some brain regions are known to be associated with language, neuroscientists have had a surprisingly difficult time using brain imaging technology to understand exactly what these ‘language areas' are doing. In a new study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, MIT neuroscientists report on a new method to analyze brain imaging data - one that may paint a clearer picture of how our brain produces and understands language.

Human brain recognizes and reacts to race   PhysOrg - April 26, 2010
The human brain fires differently when dealing with people outside of one's own race. This research, conducted by social neuroscientists at UofT Scarborough, explored the sensitivity of the "mirror-neuron-system" to race and ethnicity. The researchers had study participants view a series of videos while hooked up to electroencephalogram (EEG) machines. The participants - all white - watched simple videos in which men of different races picked up a glass and took a sip of water. They watched white, black, South Asian and East Asian men perform the task.

Brain 'splits to multi-task'   BBC - April 16, 2010
An inability to deal with more than two things at a time may be "hard-wired" into our brain, research suggests. When we try to do two things at once, each half of the brain focuses on a separate task, French scientists say. This division of labor could explain why we find it so difficult to multi-task. It might also explain why people are prone to make irrational decisions when choosing from a long list of items.

Why We Can't Do 3 Things at Once   Live Science - April 16, 2010
For those who find it tough to juggle more than a couple things at once, don't despair. The brain is set up to manage two tasks, but not more, a new study suggests. That's because, when faced with two tasks, a part of the brain known as the medial prefrontal cortex (MFC) divides so that half of the region focuses on one task and the other half on the other task. This division of labor allows a person to keep track of two tasks pretty readily, but if you throw in a third, things get a bit muddled.

Patients with amnesia still feel emotions, despite memory loss   PhysOrg - April 12, 2010
A new University of Iowa study offers some good news for caregivers and loved ones of individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Patients might forget a joke or a meaningful conversation -- but even so, the warm feelings associated with the experience can stick around and boost their mood.

Unconscious learning uses old parts of the brain   PhysOrg - April 7, 2010
A new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet provides evidence that basic human learning systems use areas of the brain that also exist in the most primitive vertebrates, such as certain fish, reptiles and amphibians. The study involved an investigation into the limbic striatum, one of the evolutionarily oldest parts of the brain, and the ability to learn movements, consciously and unconsciously, through repetition.

Study Sheds Light on What Makes People Shy   Live Science - April 6, 2010
The brains of shy or introverted individuals might actually process the world differently than their more extroverted counterparts, a new study suggests. About 20 percent of people are born with a personality trait called sensory perception sensitivity (SPS) that can manifest itself as the tendency to be inhibited, or even neuroticism. The trait can be seen in some children who are "slow to warm up" in a situation but eventually join in, need little punishment, cry easily, ask unusual questions or have especially deep thoughts, the study researchers say. The new results show that these highly sensitive individuals also pay more attention to detail, and have more activity in certain regions of their brains when trying to process visual information than those who are not classified as highly sensitive.

Brain Remembers One Fear vs. Another, Study Suggests   Live Science - April 5, 2010
The brain can store and retrieve memories of specific fears, as if a mental filing cabinet, a new study on rats finds. Because rats are thought to be good models for human brain study, the research suggests the brain distinguishes between fears of, say, a dog and fear of heights, which is a more sophisticated storage and recall capacity than previously thought. The study could have implications for treating post-traumatic stress syndrome. As scientists begin to understand how different fears are stored in the brain, they can move toward addressing specific fear memories.

Morality Altered by Brain Stimulation   Live Science - March 29, 2010
By stimulating a certain region of the brain, scientists can alter a person's ability to make moral judgments. When people hear news of a crime like a shooting, they likely need more information before they can judge the offender's actions as right or wrong was the crime accidental or intentional? If it was an accident or if the shooter was defending him or herself, people are likely to see the act as much more morally acceptable than if it was deliberate and unwarranted. The study results show that stimulating a specific brain region interfered with the participants' ability to consider this mental state information when assessing hypothetical situations dealing with morality.

Seat of Temptation Found in the Brain   Live Science - March 29, 2010
Whenever you save money instead of splurging at the mall, or opt for the gym over a relaxing evening on the couch, you might want to thank a region of your brain just above the left ear. This brain area could be responsible for the human ability to resist temptation and wait around to reap rewards, a new study finds.

Compulsive Eating Shares Addictive Biochemical Mechanism With Cocaine, Heroin Abuse, Study Shows   Science Daily - March 29, 2010
In a newly published study, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have shown for the first time that the same molecular mechanisms that drive people into drug addiction are behind the compulsion to overeat, pushing people into obesity.

Remembering the future: Our brain saves energy by predicting what it will see   PhysOrg - March 24, 2010
Researchers have discovered that the brain saves energy by predicting what it is likely to see. The visual cortex does not simply react to visual stimuli but proactively predicts what it is likely to see in any given context - for example, within familiar environments such as your house or office.

Human brain becomes tuned to voices and emotional tone of voice during infancy   PhysOrg - March 24, 2010
New research finds that the brains of infants as young as 7 months old demonstrate a sensitivity to the human voice and to emotions communicated through the voice that is remarkably similar to what is observed in the brains of adults. Another important question addressed in this study was whether activity in infants' voice-sensitive brain regions is modulated by emotional prosody. Prosody, essentially the "music" of speech, can reflect the feelings of the speaker, thereby helping to convey the context of language. In humans, sensitivity to emotional prosody is crucial for social communication. T

Cro Magnon skull shows that our brains have shrunk   PhysOrg - March 20, 2010
A new replica of an early modern human brain has provided further evidence for the theory that the human brain has been shrinking. The skull belonged to an elderly Cro Magnon man, whose skeleton is called Cro Magnon 1. The entire skeleton was discovered in 1868 in the Cro Magnon cave in Dordogne, France, and has since become one of the most famous Upper Palaeolithic skeletons. Using new technology, researchers have produced a replica of the 28,000-year-old brain and found that it is about 15-20% larger than our brains.

Learning Keeps Brain Healthy: Mental Activity Could Stave Off Age-Related Cognitive and Memory Decline   Science Daily - March 3, 2010
UC Irvine neurobiologists are providing the first visual evidence that learning promotes brain health -- and, therefore, that mental stimulation could limit the debilitating effects of aging on memory and the mind.

Tip-of-the-Tongue Moments Explained   Live Science - February 25, 2010
The findings could help scientists understand more about how the brain organizes and remembers language.

Nouns and verbs are learned in different parts of the brain   PhysOrg - February 25, 2010
Two Spanish psychologists and a German neurologist have recently shown that the brain that activates when a person learns a new noun is different from the part used when a verb is learnt. The scientists observed this using brain images taken using functional magnetic resonance.

Thicker brains fend off pain   PhysOrg - February 24, 2010
People can reduce their sensitivity to pain by thickening their brain. Researchers from the Université de Montréal made their discovery by comparing the grey matter thickness of Zen meditators and non-meditators. They found evidence that practicing the centuries-old discipline of Zen can reinforce a central brain region (anterior cingulate) that regulates pain.

Scientists find first physiological evidence of brain's response to inequality   PhysOrg - February 24, 2010
A team found that the reward centers in the human brain respond more strongly when a poor person receives a financial reward than when a rich person does. The surprising thing? This activity pattern holds true even if the brain being looked at is in the rich person's head, rather than the poor person's.

Brain's 'Fairness' Spot Found   Live Science - February 24, 2010

Humans tend not to like unequal situations, and now scientists have found the first evidence that this behavior is reflected in the human brain. Here, an fMRI scan of a human brain showing activity in the striatum and prefrontal cortex, regions of the brain thought to be involved in how people evaluate rewards.

Music therapy rewires the brains of people unable to speak   PhysOrg - February 23, 2010
Scientists are for the first time studying a speech therapy technique called Melodic Intonation Therapy to find out what happens in patients' brains. The therapy is used to teach people who have aphasia (inability to speak) after suffering a stroke to speak, and makes use of the fact that many people who cannot talk can still sing.

Singing 'rewires' damaged brain   BBC - February 21, 2010
Teaching stroke patients to sing "rewires" their brains, helping them recover their speech, say scientists. By singing, patients use a different area of the brain from the area involved in speech. If a person's "speech centre" is damaged by a stroke, they can learn to use their "singing centre" instead. Most of the connections between brain areas that control movement and those that control hearing are on the left side of the brain.

Blind people use both visual and auditory cortices to hear   PhysOrg - February 16, 2010
Blind people have brains that are rewired to allow their visual cortex to improve hearing abilities. Yet they continue to access specialized areas to recognize human voices. The superior temporal sulcus (STS) is a part of the brain specialized in recognizing the human voice. With just one spoken word the STS can infer the sex, age, emotional state and social standing of the speaker. Gougoux wanted to know if the blind use their STS as much as the sighted or if they outsourced this function to part of their visual cortex.

How Brain Hears the Sound of Silence: Separate Brain Pathways Process the Start and End of What We Hear   Science Daily - February 12, 2010
A team of University of Oregon researchers have isolated an independent processing channel of synapses inside the brain's auditory cortex that deals specifically with shutting off sound processing at appropriate times. Such regulation is vital for hearing and for understanding speech.

Selective Brain Damage Modulates Human Spirituality, Research Reveals   Science Daily - February 11, 2010

New research provides fascinating insight into brain changes that might underlie alterations in spiritual and religious attitudes. The study, published by Cell Press in the February 11 issue of the journal Neuron, explores the neural basis of spirituality by studying patients before and after surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Seeing the Brain Hear Reveals Surprises About How Sound Is Processed   Science Daily - February 10, 2010
New research shows our brains are a lot more chaotic than previously thought, and that this might be a good thing. Neurobiologists at the University of Maryland have discovered information about how the brain processes sound that challenges previous understandings of the auditory cortex that suggested an organization based on precise neuronal maps. In the first study of the auditory cortex conducted using advanced imaging techniques

Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder see their own faces differently   PhysOrg - February 2, 2010
Everyone checks themselves in the mirror now and then, but that experience can be horrifying for individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, a psychiatric condition that causes them to believe, wrongly, that they appear disfigured and ugly. These people tend to fixate on minute details - every tiny blemish looms huge - rather than viewing their face as a whole.

Can a Brain Scan Predict a Broken Promise?   Scientific American - February 2, 2010
The researchers ran a brain-scanning experiment in which pairs of participants played a well-established economic game involving trust. Player A, who was outside the MRI scanner, had to decide whether to keep or give away a certain amount of money -- say, $1 -- to Player B, who lay in the scanner.

Seeing the brain hear reveals surprises about how sound is processed   PhysOrg - February 1, 2010
New research shows our brains are a lot more chaotic than previously thought, and that this might be a good thing. Neurobiologists at the University of Maryland have discovered information about how the brain processes sound that challenges previous understandings of the auditory cortex, which had suggested an organization based on precise neuronal maps. In the first study of the auditory cortex conducted using advanced imaging techniques.

Brain scientists extend map of fear memory formation   PhysOrg - January 27, 2010
Draw a map of the brain when fear and anxiety are involved, and the amygdala -- the brain's almond-shaped center for panic and fight-or-flight responses -- looms large. But the amygdala doesn't do its job alone. Scientists at Emory University have recently built upon work from others, extending the fear map to part of the brain known as the prelimbic cortex.

Functional connection between hippocampus and cortex modulates anxiety   PhysOrg - January 27, 2010
Recent research has linked a specific region of the hippocampus, called the ventral hippocampus (vHPC), with anxiety-related behaviors. We have known for some time that the vHPC plays a key role in anxiety-like behaviors in rodents, how it does so was unclear.

Human Brain Uses a Grid to Represent Space   Science Daily - January 26, 2010
'Grid cells' that act like a spatial map in the brain have been identified for the first time in humans, according to new research by UCL scientists which may help to explain how we create internal maps of new environments. Grid cells represent where an animal is located within its environment, which the researchers liken to having a satnav in the brain. They fire in patterns that show up as geometrically regular, triangular grids when plotted on a map of a navigated surface. They were discovered by a Norwegian lab in 2005 whose research suggested that rats create virtual grids to help them orient themselves in their surroundings, and remember new locations in unfamiliar territory.

To see or not to see   PhysOrg - January 14, 2010
How do the visual images we experience, which have no tangible existence, arise out of physical processes in the brain? New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science provided evidence, for the first time, that an 'ignition' of intense neural activity underlies the experience of seeing. The subjects looked at a computer screen, which briefly presented a 'target' image - a face, house, or man-made object. This image was followed by a 'mask' - a meaningless picture for distraction - at different time intervals after the target image had been presented. This allowed the experimenter to control the visibility of the images - the patients sometimes recognized the targets and sometimes failed to do so. By comparing the electrode recordings to the patients' reports of whether they had correctly recognized the image or not, the scientists were able to pinpoint when, where and what was happening in the brain as transitions in perceptual awareness took place.

Identifying Thoughts Through Brain Codes Leads to Deciphering the Brain's Dictionary   Science Daily - January 13, 2010
Two hundred years ago, archaeologists used the Rosetta Stone to understand the ancient Egyptian scrolls. Now, a team of Carnegie Mellon University scientists has discovered the beginnings of a neural Rosetta Stone. By combining brain imaging and machine learning techniques, neuroscientists Marcel Just and Vladimir Cherkassky and computer scientists Tom Mitchell and Sandesh Aryal determined how the brain arranges noun representations. Understanding how the brain codes nouns is important for treating psychiatric and neurological illnesses.

Scientists crack brain's codes for noun meanings   PhysOrg - January 13, 2010
Two hundred years ago, archaeologists used the Rosetta Stone to understand the ancient Egyptian scrolls. Now, a team of Carnegie Mellon University scientists has discovered the beginnings of a neural Rosetta Stone. By combining brain imaging and machine learning techniques, neuroscientists Marcel Just and Vladimir Cherkassky and computer scientists Tom Mitchell and Sandesh Aryal determined how the brain arranges noun representations. Understanding how the brain codes nouns is important for treating psychiatric and neurological illnesses.

3D View of the Brain   PhysOrg - January 12, 2010
A completely new view of the brains of mice has been achieved by a team headed by R. Graham Cooks at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana, USA). By using mass-spectrometric techniques and imaging processes, they were able to produce three-dimensional images that reflect the spatial distribution of certain biomolecules within substructures of mouse brains

Our brains are confused about time   PhysOrg - January 8, 2010
A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science has found our concept of time is distorted, and we consistently underestimate how much time has passed since events in the past, condensing the time. The research also suggests the sensation of passing time depends on what you think about and how, and this means that we actually have more control of our perception of time than previously thought, and focusing on our achievements rather than our lack of action on our goals makes time seem to have passed more slowly.

Silencing Brain Cells With Yellow and Blue Light   Science Daily - January 7, 2010
Neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a powerful new class of tools to reversibly shut down brain activity using different colors of light. When targeted to specific neurons, they could potentially lead to new treatments for abnormal brain activity associated with disorders including chronic pain, epilepsy, brain injury and Parkinson's disease.

Scans Show Learning 'Sculpts' The Brain's Connections   Science Daily - January 5, 2010
Spontaneous brain activity formerly thought to be "white noise" measurably changes after a person learns a new task. Scientists also report that the degree of change reflects how well subjects have learned to perform the task. In addition to helping "grease" anatomical connections between different brain regions, Corbetta speculates that the changes in spontaneous brain activity may maintain a record of prior experience that constrains the way the same circuitries are recruited at the time of a task.Scientists have developed biological cells that can give insight into the chemistry of the brain. The cells, which change color when exposed to specific chemicals, have been used to show how a class of schizophrenia drug works. The researchers hope they will also help shed light on how many other drugs work on the brain.

Mood affects perception of time passing - December 21, 2009
Ever noticed how the more you look forward to something, like Christmas, the longer it takes to arrive but the exams you dreaded came only too quickly? That is because our perception of time passing depends on our state of mind, claims a new study by psychologists studying the science behind clock watching.

How the Brain Encodes Memories at a Cellular Level   Science Daily - December 25, 2009

The team of scientists is the first to uncover a central process in encoding memories that occurs at the level of the synapse, where neurons connect with each other. One of the most important processes is that the synapses -- which cement those memories into place -- have to be strengthened. In strengthening a synapse you build a connection, and certain synapses are encoding a memory. Those synapses have to be strengthened so that memory is in place and stays there. Strengthening synapses is a very important part of learning. What we have found appears to be one part of how that happens.

Scientists Shed New Light On Right Brain Activity   PhysOrg - December 17, 2009
Until now we didn't know how multiple areas in the right brain interact with each other for spatial processing. This information is vital to understanding the key functions of the right brain, including why people with traumatic brain injury have difficulties with spatial navigation and how pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants affect the brain. Read more at:

Scientists Decode Memory-Forming Brain Cell Conversations   Science Daily - December 16, 2009
The conversations neurons have as they form and recall memories have been decoded. The breakthrough in recognizing in real time the formation and recollection of a memory opens the door to objective, thorough memory studies and eventually better therapies.

The Queen and I: How autistic brain distinguishes oneself from others   PhysOrg - December 14, 2009
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that the brains of individuals with autism are less active when engaged in self-reflective thought. They were particularly interested in part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC), known to be active when people think about themselves. "This area is like a self-relevance detector, since it typically responds most to information that is self-relevant," Lombardo says. Lombardo found this area of the brain was indeed more active when typical volunteers were asked questions about themselves compared to when they were thinking about the Queen. However, in autism this brain region responded equally, irrespective of whether they were thinking about themselves or the Queen.

Brain activity exposes those who break promises   PhysOrg - December 10, 2009
Patterns of brain activity even enable predicting whether someone will break a promise. The promise is one of the oldest human-specific behaviors promoting cooperation, trust, and partnership. Although promises are generally not legally binding, they form the basis for a great many everyday social and economic exchange situations. Promises, however, are not only kept, but also broken. Material incentives to deceive are in fact ubiquitous in human society, and promises can thus also be misused in any social or economic exchange scenario in order to cheat one's interaction partner. Business people, politicians, diplomats, attorneys, and private persons do not always behave honestly, as recent financial scandals have dramatically demonstrated.

The thalamus, middleman of the brain, becomes a sensory conductor   PhysOrg - December 8, 2009
Ever noticed how the more you look forward to something, like Christmas, the longer it takes to arrive but the exams you dreaded came only too quickly? That is because our perception of time passing depends on our state of mind, claims a new study by psychologists studying the science behind clock watching.

Mind-Machine Breakthrough: People Type With Just Thoughts   Live Science - December 7, 2009

By focusing on images of letters, people with electrodes in their brains can type with just their minds, scientists now reveal. These findings make up one more step on the road to mind-machine interfaces that may one day help people communicate with just their thoughts. Researchers have recently employed brain scans to see numbers and maybe even pull videos from inside people's heads. The neuroscientists were monitoring two patients with epilepsy for seizure activity with electrodes placed directly on the surface of their brains to record electrical activity generated by the firing of nerve cells. This kind of procedure requires a craniotomy, a surgical incision into the skull.

Brain Waves Can 'Write' on a Computer in Early Tests, Researchers Show   Science Daily - December 7, 2009
Neuroscientists at the Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville, Fla., have demonstrated how brain waves can be used to type alphanumerical characters on a computer screen. By merely focusing on the "q" in a matrix of letters, for example, that "q" appears on the monitor. These findings represent concrete progress toward a mind-machine interface that may, one day, help people with a variety of disorders control devices, such as prosthetic arms and legs.

How to read brain activity   PhysOrg - December 4, 2009
The electroencephalogram (EEG) is widely used by physicians and scientists to study brain function and to diagnose neurological disorders. However, it has remained largely unknown whether the electrodes on the head give an exact view of what is happening inside the brain.

Video Scenes Pulled from Peoples' Thoughts   Live Science - November 30, 2009

Pulling an image out of a person's brain is a feat that is hard to believe, but Dr. Jack Gallant of the UCB psychology department seems to have gone this accomplishment one better. In a recent experiment, Dr. Gallant claims to have made it possible to reproduce video images from human brain activity. Would you post your thoughts on Youtube? Although this research has not yet been peer reviewed, Dr. Gallant and his colleague Shinji Nishimoto have used fMRI to scan the brains of two patients as they watched videos. A computer program was used to search for links between the configuration of shapes, colors and movements in the videos, and patterns of activity in the patients' visual cortex.

In the Brain, Seven Is A Magic Number   PhysOrg - November 23, 2009

Countless psychological experiments have shown that, on average, the longest sequence a normal person can recall on the fly contains about seven items. This limit, which psychologists dubbed the "magical number seven" when they discovered it in the 1950s, is the typical capacity of what's called the brain's working memory. Now physicists have come up with a model of brain activity that seems to explain the reason behind the magical memory number. If long-term memory is like a vast library of printed tomes, working memory is a chalkboard on which we rapidly scrawl and erase information. The chalkboard, which provides continuity from one thought to the next, is also a place for quick-and-dirty calculations. It turns the spoken words that make up a telephone number into digits that can be written down or used to reply logically to a question. Working memory is essential to carrying on conversations, navigating an unfamiliar city and copying the moves in a new workout video.

Waking up memories while you sleep   PhysOrg - November 19, 2009
They were in a deep sleep, yet sounds, such as a teakettle whistle and a cat's meow, somehow penetrated their slumber. The 25 sounds presented during the nap were reminders of earlier spatial learning, though the Northwestern University research participants were unaware of the sounds as they slept. Yet, upon waking, memory tests showed that spatial memories had changed. The participants were more accurate in dragging an object to the correct location on a computer screen for the 25 images whose corresponding sounds were presented during sleep (such as a muffled explosion for a photo of dynamite) than for another 25 matched objects.

Study uses brain scans to discover how children 'read' faces   PhysOrg - November 20, 2009
Oxford University scientists are using brain-scanning technology to understand how we learn to recognize and 'read' faces as children. The research will also investigate whether there are any differences in the way people with autism spectrum disorders respond to seeing faces. ‘Faces are really very similar in their basic features, but we are very good at recognizing different faces instantly. The brain has to be very specialized to be able to do this quickly and accurately. We need to be able to recognize people's facial features, and also understand their emotions, respond to where they are looking, and many other signs and indications.

Bigger Not Necessarily Better, When It Comes to Brains   Science Daily - November 19, 2009
Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent. Research repeatedly shows how insects are capable of some intelligent behaviours scientists previously thought was unique to larger animals. Honeybees, for example, can count, categorise similar objects like dogs or human faces, understand 'same' and 'different', and differentiate between shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Blindness Causes Structural Brain Changes, Implying Brain Can Re-Organize Itself to Adapt   Science Daily - November 19, 2009

Visually impaired people appear to be fearless, navigating busy sidewalks and crosswalks, safely finding their way using nothing more than a cane as a guide. The reason they can do this, researchers suggest, is that in at least some circumstances, blindness can heighten other senses, helping individuals adapt. Now scientists from the UCLA Department of Neurology have confirmed that blindness causes structural changes in the brain, indicating that the brain may reorganize itself functionally in order to adapt to a loss in sensory input.

New study shows brain's ability to reorganize   PhysOrg - November 18, 2009
Visually impaired people appear to be fearless, navigating busy sidewalks and crosswalks, safely finding their way using nothing more than a cane as a guide. The reason they can do this, researchers suggest, is that in at least some circumstances, blindness can heighten other senses, helping individuals adapt.

Shape Perception in Brain Develops by Itself, Study of African Tribe Suggests   Science Daily - November 16, 2009
Despite minimal exposure to the regular geometric objects found in developed countries, African tribal people perceive shapes as well as westerners. The findings suggested that the brain's ability to understand shapes develops without the influence of immersion in simple, manufactured objects. In terms of perceiving the world - either genetics or the natural world will give you the right type of experiences.

Humans Still Evolving as Our Brains Shrink   Live Science - November 13, 2009
Comprehensive scans of the human genome reveal that hundreds of our genes show evidence of changes during the past 10,000 years of human evolution. Surprisingly, based on skull measurements, the human brain appears to have been shrinking over the last 5,000 or so years.

The Science Behind 'Stop Me If I've Told You This'   Live Science - November 12, 2009
We've all said the equivalent of, "Stop me if I've told you this before," but now scientists have figured out why we can be so unsure what tales we've told to whom. Turns out, our brains are better at recalling the source of information than whom we give information to, and the more self-focused a person is, the worse he is at so-called destination memory. Scientists have classified memory as short-term and long-term, but this is arguably one of the first times anyone has looked at incoming and outgoing information and how it's stored in our noggins. While remembering both types is likely important in everyday lives, this new research suggests we're not as good at some aspects of the outgoing garble.

Overeaters and Drug Abusers Share Addictive Brain Chemistry   Live Science - November 9, 2009
Failed dieters may be pushed to over-eat not by their stomachs, but by their brains. The brain chemistry that makes it hard for alcoholics, drug users and smokers to quit their addictions also punishes us for trading sugar for salad, according to a new study of food consumption in rats. The research supports those who believe that overeating can, in extreme cases, be considered an addiction comparable to drug abuse or gambling. Some eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, are already included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, which psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients. Overeating is a controversial candidate for inclusion in the next version of the manual.

Words, gestures are translated by same brain regions, says new research   PhysOrg - November 9, 2009
Your ability to make sense of Groucho's words and Harpo's pantomimes in an old Marx Brothers movie takes place in the same regions of your brain, says new research funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health.

Learning To Talk Changes How Speech Is Heard: 'Sound Of Learning' Unlocked By Linking Sensory And Motor Systems   Science Daily - November 5, 2009
Learning to talk also changes the way speech sounds are heard. We've found that learning is a two-way street; motor function affects sensory processing and vice-versa.

Handedness May Affect Body Perception   Science Daily - November 5, 2009
There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as "body maps" and there are some significant differences in these maps between left- and right-handed people. For example, in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area associated with right arm than the left.

How the Brain Reveals Why We Buy   Scientific American - November 2, 2009
Say the word: neuromarketing. Doesn't exactly sound good, does it? It's an outlandish word that scrapes across the tongue, leaving an aftertaste of thought control, science fiction, and downright creepiness. The press surrounding neuromarketing reflects this as well. The headlines are ominous: soon, the bright boys of the advertising world will get their sticky hands on our inner "buy button." Soon, marketing experts, with the help of cutting-edge brain research, will get direct access to the inner depths of our brains where, with the right stimulation, they can unleash our buying impulses and get their cash registers ringing.

What Does a Smart Brain Look Like?: Inner Views Show How We Think   Scientific American - October 29, 2009

We all know someone who is not as smart as we are - and someone who is smarter. At the same time, we all know people who are better or worse than we are in a particular area or task, say, remembering facts or performing rapid mental math calculations. These variations in abilities and talents presumably arise from differences among our brains, and many studies have linked certain very specific tasks with cerebral activity in localized areas. Answers about how the brain as a whole integrates activity among areas, however, have proved elusive. Just what does a "smart" brain look like?

Study examines how much is too much visual information when it comes to learning   PhysOrg - October 27, 2009
With advances in computer graphics capabilities, more recent cognitive theory related to multimedia learning suggests that very visually complex images could actually hinder learning.

Playing a musical instrument makes you brainier - October 27, 2009
New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills. It can even increase IQ by seven points in both children and adults, according to researchers. Experts said there is growing evidence that musicians have structurally and functionally different brains compared with non-musicians - in particular, the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. These parts of the brain that control motor skills, hearing, storing audio information and memory become larger and more active when a person learns how to play an instrument and can apparently improve day to day actions such as being alert, planning and emotional perception.

Time-keeping Brain Neurons Discovered   Science Daily - October 23, 2009

Keeping track of time is one of the brain's most important tasks. As the brain processes the flood of sights and sounds it encounters, it must also remember when each event occurred. But how does that happen? How does your brain recall that you brushed your teeth before you took a shower, and not the other way around?

First-time Internet users find boost in brain function after just one week   PhysOrg - October 19, 2009
"Naives" with minimal prior Internet search experience (top), and "Savvies" with a lot of Web search experience (bottom). Images show patterns of activity for first brain scans (left) and second brain scans (right). Note during the second brain scans, which is after Internet training, both Naives and Savvies have similar brain patterns.

  Study shows that color plays musical chairs in the brain   PhysOrg - October 1, 2009
Color is normally thought of as a fundamental attribute of an object: a red Corvette, a blue lake, a pink flamingo. Yet despite this popular notion, new research suggests that our perception of color is malleable, and relies heavily on biological processes of the eye and brain.

Consciousness is the brain's Wi-Fi, resolving competing requests, study suggests   PhysOrg - October 1, 2009
During the Stroop Task (pictured), which involves having to say the name of the color that the word is written in (blue for the top word) rather than reading the word (red), we feel conflicting urges as we fight the urge to read the word. New research by San Francisco State University Professor Ezequiel Morsella suggests it is our consciousness that resolves this kind of dilemma, acting as the brain's Wi-Fi network that mediates competing requests from different parts of the body.

Special brain wave boost slows motion   PhysOrg - October 1, 2009
Researchers have found that they can make people move in slow motion by boosting one type of brain wave. The findings offer some of the first proof that brain waves can have a direct influence on behavior. There are many types of brain waves, distinguished by their frequency and location, Brown explained. In the new study, the researchers injected a small electrical current into the brain through the scalps of fourteen people while the participants manipulated the position of a spot on a computer screen as quickly as they could with a joystick.

Where religious belief and disbelief meet in the brain   PhysOrg - October 1, 2009
Researchers have found that the process of believing or disbelieving a statement, whether religious or not, seems to be governed by the same areas in the brain. When it comes to religion, believers and nonbelievers appear to think very differently. But at the level of the brain, is believing in God different from believing that the sun is a star or that 4 is an even number? While religious faith remains one of the most significant features of human life, little is known about its relationship to ordinary belief. Nor is it known whether religious believers differ from nonbelievers in how they evaluate statements of fact.

The making of the male brain (estrogen required)   PhysOrg - October 1, 2009
Territorial behavior in male mice might be linked to more "girl-power" than ever suspected, according to new findings at UCSF. For the first time, researchers have identified networks of nerve cells in the brain that are associated with how male mice defend their territory and have shown that these cells are controlled by the female hormone estrogen.

How we know a dog is a dog: Concept acquisition in the human brain   PhysOrg - September 23, 2009
A new study explores how our brains synthesize concepts that allow us to organize and comprehend the world. The research, published by Cell Press in the September 24th issue of the journal Neuron, uses behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to track how conceptual knowledge emerges in the human brain and guides decision making. The ability to use prior knowledge when dealing with new situations is a defining characteristic of human intelligence. This is made possible through the use of concepts, which are formed by abstracting away the common essence from multiple distinct but related entities.

Scientists See Numbers Inside People's Heads   Live Science - September 26, 2009

By carefully analyzing brain activity, scientists can tell what number a person has just seen, research now reveals. They can similarly tell how many dots a person was presented with. Past investigations had uncovered brain cells in monkeys that were linked with numbers. Although scientists had found brain regions linked with numerical tasks in humans - the frontal and parietal lobes, to be exact - until now patterns of brain activity linked with specific numbers had proven elusive.

Use it or lose it? Study suggests the brain can remember a 'forgotten' language   PhysOrg - September 24, 2009
Many of us learn a foreign language when we are young, but in some cases, exposure to that language is brief and we never get to hear or practice it subsequently. Our subjective impression is often that the neglected language completely fades away from our memory. But does "use it or lose it" apply to foreign languages? Although it may seem we have absolutely no memory of the neglected language, new research suggests this "forgotten" language may be more deeply engraved in our minds than we realize.

Brain Learns to Detect Danger as a Baby Learns to Crawl   Live Science - September 24, 2009
When an object approaches, it projects an expanding image on the human eye's retina, which for adults can signal danger of an imminent collision. We learn to jump out of the way when necessary. Babies can't jump. And scientists have long wondered when this warning sign is activated in infants, and whether it has anything to do with their ability to learn to crawl. A new study finds a connection. In adults, the "looming stimuli," as scientists call it, creates waves of neural activity in the visual cortex part of the brain. So researchers hooked 18 infants up to external brain probes to see what goes on in their wee little noggins as colored dot on a screen approached.

Scientists find mechanism that constructs key brain structure   PhysOrg - September 16, 2009
Yale University researchers have found a molecular mechanism that allows the proper mixing of neurons during the formation of columns essential for the operation of the cerebral cortex. Scientists have known for years that information processing in the cerebral cortex depends upon groupings of neurons that assemble in the shape of vertical columns. If the number and mix of neurons in the column are wrong, severe cognitive problems can result. For instance, malformations of these columns have been implicated in some forms of autism and mental retardation. Scientists, however, have not been able to find the molecular mechanism responsible for this intermixing.

Researchers discover the first-ever link between intelligence and curiosity   PhysOrg - September 15, 2009
Scientists from University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital have discovered a molecular link between intelligence and curiosity, which may lead to the development of drugs to improve learning. The researchers also discovered that both curiosity and spatial memory were impaired when a benign drug (developed at Mount Sinai) blocked the NCS-1 protein from binding to the dopamine type-2 receptors (a major target of anti-psychotics) in the dentate gyrus.

Do Brains Shrink As We Age?   Live Science - September 15, 2009
As we get older, our brains get smaller, or at least that's what many scientists believe. But a new study contradicts this assumption, concluding that when older brains are "healthy" there is little brain deterioration, and that only when people experience cognitive decline do their brains show significant signs of shrinking. The results suggest that many previous studies may have overestimated how much our brains shrink as we age, possibly because they failed to exclude people who were starting to develop brain diseases, such as dementia, that would lead to brain decay, or atrophy.

Earlier Model of Human Brain's Energy Usage Underestimated Its Efficiency   Scientific American - September 10, 2009
A long-held model of the brain's efficiency crumbles as researchers find that one function of mammals' brains consumes a lot less energy than previously assumed. Now, basic measurements of neural activity--from brain energy budgets to fMRI results--may have to be reassessed. The human brain is an incredible energy drain. Taking up only about 2 percent of the body's mass, the organ uses more than a fifth of bodily energy. Ever more accurate calculations of its energy budget at the level of the neuron (nerve cell) are important to researchers ranging from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysts to evolutionary biologists.

Your Brain Is Organized Like a City   Live Science - September 7, 2009

A big city might seem chaotic, but somehow everything gets where it needs to go and the whole thing manages to function on most days, even if it all seems a little worse for the wear at the end of the day. Sound a bit like your brain? Neurobiologist Mark Changizi sees strikingly real similarities between the two. Changizi and colleagues propose that cities and brains are organized similarly, and that the invisible hand of evolution has shaped the brain just as people have indirectly shaped cities. It's all driven by the need for organization and efficiency, the researchers say.

Believing Is Seeing: Thoughts Color Perception -- Implications From Everyday Misunderstandings To Eyewitness Memory   Science Daily - September 3, 2009
Folk wisdom usually has it that "seeing is believing," but new research suggests that "believing is seeing," too -- at least when it comes to perceiving other people's emotions. Researchers have found that the way we initially think about the emotions of others biases our subsequent perception (and memory) of their facial expressions.

Neuroscientists Find Brain Region Responsible For Our Sense Of Personal Space   Science Daily - September 1, 2009

In a finding that sheds new light on the neural mechanisms involved in social behavior, neuroscientists have pinpointed the brain structure responsible for our sense of personal space. The discovery could offer insight into autism and other disorders where social distance is an issue.

New study suggests the brain predicts what eyes in motion will see   PhysOrg - August 26, 2009
When the eyes move, objects in the line of sight suddenly jump to a different place on the retina, but the mind perceives the scene as stable and continuous. A new study reports that the brain predicts the consequences of eye movement even before the eyes take in a new scene.

Getting wired: How the brain does it   PhysOrg - August 26, 2009
In a new study, researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), McGill University have found an important mechanism involved in setting up the vast communications network of connections in the brain. A signaling pathway involving interactions between a schizophrenia-linked gene product, Calcineurin, and a transcription factor known as Nuclear Factor in Activated T-cells (NFAT) contributes to the connectivity at nerve cell (neuron) junctions or synapses and affects the extent of nerve cell projections or dendritic branches, in the visual system. The results of this study, published in the journal Neuron, may bring hope to adults suffering from brain injuries and offer the possibility of early diagnosis, treatments and therapies for schizophrenia, autism or other developmental disorders where abnormal neurological wiring is thought to occur early in life.

Obese People Have 'Severe Brain Degeneration'   Live Science - August 26, 2009
A new study finds obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals. Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years. The results, based on brain scans of 94 people in their 70s, represent "severe brain degeneration.

Clinical Depression Causes Early Malfunctions In The Brain's Pleasure Center, Study Shows   Science Daily - August 24, 2009
Clinically depressed individuals are less capable of finding pleasure in activities they previously enjoyed, a recent study has shown. Research shows reduced brain function in the reward center of the brain in depressed individuals, when compared to healthy subjects.

Doing what the brain does -- how computers learn to listen   PhysOrg - August 14, 2009
We see, hear and feel, and make sense of countless diverse, quickly changing stimuli in our environment seemingly without effort. However, doing what our brains do with ease is often an impossible task for computers. Researchers at the Leipzig Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging in London have now developed a mathematical model which could significantly improve the automatic recognition and processing of spoken language. In the future, this kind of algorithms which imitate brain mechanisms could help machines to perceive the world around them.

Brain Innately Separates Living And Non-living Objects For Processing   Science Daily - August 14, 2009
For unknown reasons, the human brain distinctly separates the handling of images of living things from images of non-living things, processing each image type in a different area of the brain. For years, many scientists have assumed the brain segregated visual information in this manner to optimize processing the images themselves, but new research shows that even in people who have been blind since birth the brain still separates the concepts of living and non-living objects.

The mind's eye scans like a spotlight   PhysOrg - August 13, 2009
You're meeting a friend in a crowded cafeteria. Do your eyes scan the room like a roving spotlight, moving from face to face, or do you take in the whole scene, hoping that your friend's face will pop out at you? And what, for that matter, determines how fast you can scan the room? Researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory say you are more likely to scan the room, jumping from face to face as you search for your friend. In addition, the timing of these jumps appears to be determined by waves of activity in the brain that act as a clock. The study, which appears in the Aug. 13 issue of the journal Neuron, sheds new light on a long-standing debate among neuroscientists over how the visual system picks out an object of interest in a complex scene.

Researchers Unravel Mystery Behind Long-lasting Memories   Science Daily - August 13, 2009

A new study may reveal how long-lasting memories form in the brain. Researchers hope that the findings may one day help scientists develop treatments to prevent and treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The researchers hope that the findings, now available online and scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Neuroscience, may one day help scientists develop treatments to prevent and treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Human mind: Sound and vision wired through same 'black box'   PhysOrg - August 12, 2009
Sounds and images share a similar neural code in the human brain, according to a new Canadian study. In the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists from the Université de Montréal and the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University explain how the same neural code in the brain allows people to distinguish between different types of sounds, such as speech and music, or different images.

Sight & Sound Processed Same by Brain   Live Science - August 12, 2009
Sounds and images by the brain in a similar way, a new study finds. Study participants had their brains scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), a non-invasive form of brain mapping used to determine how the brain recognizes different characteristics in musical instruments, words from conversations or environmental sounds.

Brain difference in psychopaths identified   PhysOrg - August 4, 2009
Professor Declan Murphy and colleagues Dr Michael Craig and Dr Marco Catani from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London have found differences in the brain which may provide a biological explanation for psychopathy. The results of their study are outlined in the paper 'Altered connections on the road to psychopathy', published in Molecular Psychiatry.

Adult Brain Can Change Within Seconds   Science Daily - July 30, 2009

The human brain can adapt to changing demands even in adulthood, but neuroscientists have now found evidence of it changing with unsuspected speed. Their findings suggest that the brain has a network of silent connections that underlie its plasticity.

Brain Surgery Done With Sound   Live Science - July 28, 2009
Focused ultrasound surgery has now been performed successfully on nine human patients, according to a preliminary study done in Switzerland. Thirty years ago, this kind of technique was science fiction; today, it is science fact. The groundbreaking finding here is that you can make lesions deep in the brain - through the intact skull and skin--with extreme precision and accuracy and safety.

  Brain's center for perceiving 3-D motion is identified   PhysOrg - July 21, 2009

Drs. Bas Rokers (pictured), Alex Huk and Larry Cormack discovered the center for 3-D motion processing in the human brain, the MT+ area. An enhanced image of Rokers' brain from an fMRI scan shows the MT+ area active when perceiving 3-D motion (bright blue area in the lower left of the photo).

Scientists reveal secret of girl with 'all seeing eye'   PhysOrg - July 20, 2009

Scientists have discovered how a 10-year-old girl born with half a brain is able to see normally through one eye. The youngster, from Germany, has both fields of vision in one eye and is the only known case of its kind in the world. Normally, the left and right fields of vision are processed and mapped by opposite sides of the brain, but scans on the German girl showed that retinal nerve fibres that should go to the right hemisphere of the brain diverted to the left.

Adult brain can change within seconds   PhysOrg - July 17, 2009
The human brain can adapt to changing demands even in adulthood, but MIT neuroscientists have now found evidence of it changing with unsuspected speed. Their findings suggest that the brain has a network of silent connections that underlie its plasticity.

Scientists discover why we never forget how to ride a bicycle   PhysOrg - July 17, 2009
You never forget how to ride a bicycle - and now a University of Aberdeen led team of neuroscientists has discovered why. When one acquires a new skill like riding a bicycle, the cerebellum is the part of the brain needed to learn the co-ordinated movement. They discovered that one particular type of nerve cell -the so called molecular layer interneuron - acts as a "gatekeeper", controlling the electrical signals that leave the cerebellum. Molecular layer interneurons transform the electrical signals into a language that can be laid down as a memory in other parts of the brain.

Linking genes, brain and behavior in children   PhysOrg - July 13, 2009
It comes as no surprise that some babies are more difficult to soothe than others but frustrated parents may be relieved to know that this is not necessarily an indication of their parenting skills. According to a new report in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, children's temperament may be due in part to a combination of a certain gene and a specific pattern of brain activity. The pattern of brain activity in the frontal cortex of the brain has been associated with various types of temperament in children. For example, infants who have more activity in the left frontal cortex are characterized as temperamentally "easy" and are easily calmed down. Conversely, infants with greater activity in the right half of the frontal cortex are temperamentally "negative" and are easily distressed and more difficult to soothe.

Why Are Human Brains So Big?   Live Science - July 13, 2009
There are many ways to try to explain why human brains today are so big compared to those of early humans, but the major cause may be social competition, new research suggests. But with several competing ideas, the issue remains a matter of debate. Compared to almost all other animals, human brains are larger as a percentage of body weight. And since the emergence of the first species in our Homo genus (Homo habilis) about 2 million years ago, the human brain has doubled in size. And when compared to earlier ancestors, such as australopithecines that lived 4 million to 2 million years ago, our brains are three times as large. For years, scientists have wondered what could account for this increase.

Finding Fear: Neuroscientists Locate Where It Is Stored In The Brain   Science Daily - July 8, 2009

Neuroscientists using an imaging technique that enabled them to trace the process of neural activation in the brain have pinpointed the neurons where fear conditioning is encoded.

Nut-Size Ancient Skull Explains Our Brains' Bigness?   National Geographic - July 1, 2009
By scanning a 54-million-year-old skull roughly the size of a walnut, scientists have created the first virtual 3-D model of an early primate brain, a new study says. Surprisingly, the model suggests that primates (such as lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans, among others) might have evolved larger brains as a result of the need to move quickly from tree to tree - not, as commonly assumed, to hunt for fruit or navigate within a single tree.

Site For Alcohol's Action In The Brain Discovered   Science Daily - June 29, 2009
Alcohol's inebriating effects are familiar to almost everyone. But the molecular details of alcohol's impact on brain activity remain a mystery. A new study brings us closer to understanding how alcohol alters the way brain cells work. Their findings reveal an alcohol trigger site located physically within an ion channel protein; their results could lead to the development of novel treatments for alcoholism, drug addiction, and epilepsy.

Reading the brain without poking it   PhysOrg - June 29, 2009
Experimental devices that read brain signals have helped paralyzed people use computers and may let amputees control bionic limbs. But existing devices use tiny electrodes that poke into the brain. Now, a University of Utah study shows that brain signals controlling arm movements can be detected accurately using new microelectrodes that sit on the brain but don't penetrate it.

First Image of a Memory Being Made   Live Science - June 26, 2009

For the first time, an image of a memory being made at the cellular level has been captured by scientists. The image shows that proteins are created at connections between brain cells when a long-term memory is formed. Neuroscientists had suspected as much, but hadn't been able to see it happening until now. The experiment also revealed some surprising aspects of memory formation, which remains a somewhat mysterious process.

Evolutionary Origins of Your Right and Left Brain   Scientific American - June 24, 2009

The left hemisphere of the human brain controls language, arguably our greatest mental attribute. It also controls the remarkable dexterity of the human right hand. The right hemisphere is dominant in the control of, among other things, our sense of how objects interrelate in space. Forty years ago the broad scientific consensus held that, in addition to language, right-handedness and the specialization of just one side of the brain for processing spatial relations occur in humans alone. Other animals, it was thought, have no hemispheric specializations of any kind.

Brains replay memories while we sleep and store the highlights, claim scientists - June 24, 2009
We may think we are asleep - but deep in the recesses of our mind a "memory editor" is working overtime, replaying the experiences of the day and storing the highlights on our brain's version of a video recorder, claim scientists.

Gene predicts how brain responds to fatigue, human study shows   PhysOrg - June 24, 2009
New imaging research in the June 24 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience helps explain why sleep deprivation affects some people more than others. After staying awake all night, those who are genetically vulnerable to sleep loss showed reduced brain activity, while those who are genetically resilient showed expanded brain activity, the study found. The findings help explain individual differences in the ability to compensate for lack of sleep.

Aging Brains Show Great Promise for Rejuvenation   PhysOrg - June 24, 2009
UQ neuroscientists have, for the first time, been able to demonstrate that moderate exercise significantly increases the number of neural stem cells in the aging brain.

Researchers discover how old memories are re-saved and changed   PhysOrg - June 23, 2009
Researchers at McGill University have discovered a series of molecular mechanisms that regulate how our brains call up, restore and even change old memories. This process, called memory reconsolidation, radically alters our understanding of how memory works. The McGill team led by Prof. Karim Nader discovered that extremely strong fear memories do not initially undergo reconsolidation, but over time (on the order of a month or so) even these memories can undergo reconsolidation. Furthermore, the authors identified some of the brain mechanisms that determine whether a memory will or will not undergo reconsolidation.

Competition may be reason for bigger brain   PhysOrg - June 23, 2009
For the past 2 million years, the size of the human brain has tripled, growing much faster than other mammals. Examining the reasons for human brain expansion, University of Missouri researchers studied three common hypotheses for brain growth: climate change, ecological demands and social competition. The team found that social competition is the major cause of increased cranial capacity.

Marking anorexia with a brain protein   PhysOrg - June 23, 2009
Eating disorders are frequently seen as psychological or societal diseases, but do they have an underlying biological cause? A new study shows that the levels of a brain protein differ between healthy and anorexic women.

Brain Sees Tools as Extensions of Body   Live Science - June 23, 2009
The idea that the human brain sees tools as an extension of the body is an old one. Now scientists have some proof that it's true. Tool use is not entirely unique to humans, but the efficient use of a wide range of tools is a key skill separating us from other animals. Researchers have long thought that when we use a tool, even for just a few minutes, it changes the way our brain represents the size of our body; the tool becomes a part of what is known in psychology as our body schema. In the new study, researchers reasoned that if one incorporates a used tool into the body schema, his or her subsequent bodily movements should differ when compared to those performed before the tool was used.

Brain energy use key to understanding consciousness   PhysOrg - June 16, 2009
High levels of brain energy are required to maintain consciousness, a finding which suggests a new way to understand the properties of this still mysterious state of being. At its simplest, consciousness can be defined as the ability to respond meaningfully to external stimuli. Most studies of consciousness have used imaging technology to try to pinpoint areas of brain activity during tasks such as memorization or problem solving.

Brain Regions Responsible for Empathy Mapped by Researchers   PhysOrg - June 16, 2009
Columbia University researchers have shown for the first time that two brain systems are primarily responsible for allowing humans to accurately predict the emotions of others. Psychology professors Kevin Ochsner and Niall Bolger, graduate student Jamil Zaki and research assistant Jochen Weber used functional MRI scans to zero in on the parts of the brain that people use when correctly discerning how others are feeling. The researchers videotaped 11 volunteers discussing emotional events in their lives, such as the birth of a child or the loss of a parent or grandparent. The volunteers then watched their videotapes and rated, moment-to-moment, how positively or negatively they had felt while talking.

How Alcohol Changes the Brain ... Quickly   Live Science - June 15, 2009
In the name of science, eight men and seven women drank alcohol through a straw while lying in an MRI scanner, presumably not all together, to see what would happen. It went to their heads. Quickly, the researchers say. Only 6 minutes after consuming an amount of alcohol equivalent to three beers leading to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.06 percent, which impairs driving ability changes had already taken place in the brain cells.

  Long-distance brain waves focus attention   PhysOrg - May 28, 2009
Just as our world buzzes with distractions -- from phone calls to e-mails to tweets -- the neurons in our brain are bombarded with messages. Research has shown that when we pay attention, some of these neurons begin firing in unison, like a chorus rising above the noise. Now, a study in the May 29 issue of Science reveals the likely brain center that serves as the conductor of this neural chorus.

Scientists reaching consensus on how brain processes speech   PhysOrg - May 26, 2009
Neuroscientists feel they are much closer to an accepted unified theory about how the brain processes speech and language, according to a scientist at Georgetown University Medical Center who first laid the concepts a decade ago and who has now published a review article confirming the theory.

Scientists discover how the brain remembers one-time experiences   PhysOrg - May 26, 2009

Single events account for many of our memories - a marriage proposal, a wedding toast, a baby's birth. Until a recent UC Irvine discovery, scientists knew little about what happens inside your brain that allows you to remember such events. In a study with rats, neuroscientist John Guzowski and colleagues found that a single brief experience was as effective at activating neurons and genes associated with memory as more repetitive activities.

Brain chemical reduces anxiety, increases survival of new cells   PhysOrg - May 13, 2009
New research on a brain chemical involved in development sheds light on why some individuals may be predisposed to anxiety. It also strengthens understanding of cellular processes that may be common to anxiety and depression, and suggests how lifestyle changes may help overcome both.

Meditation increases brain gray matter   PhysOrg - May 13, 2009
Push-ups, crunches, gyms, personal trainers -- people have many strategies for building bigger muscles and stronger bones. But what can one do to build a bigger brain? Meditate. That's the finding from a group of researchers at UCLA who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. In a study published in the journal NeuroImage and currently available online (by subscription), the researchers report that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group. Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus -all regions known for regulating emotions.

Daydreaming Really Works the Brain   Live Science - May 13, 2009
Contrary to the notion that daydreaming is a sign of laziness, letting the mind wander can actually let the parts of the brain associated with problem-solving become active, a new study finds. Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia in Canada and her colleagues placed study participants inside an fMRI scanner, where they performed the simple routine task of pushing a button when numbers appear on a screen. The researchers tracked subjects' attentiveness moment-to-moment through brain scans, subjective reports from subjects and by tracking their performance on the task.

Brain's Willpower Spot Found   Live Science - May 12, 2009
When healthy eaters choose broccoli over a Butterfinger, they use a small region in their brains that indulgers don't use. That bundle of cells is a clue to the biology of willpower, a new study finds. Like a wagging finger in our heads, the region admonishes us to consider long-term benefits over instant rewards when we make decisions. "This is the first time people have looked at the mechanism of self-control in people who are making real-life decisions," said Todd Hare, a Caltech neuroscientist who led the study. To zero in on the nodule that imposes willpower, Hare and his colleagues scanned the brains of 37 people who called themselves dieters. During the scans, the subjects pored over 50 photos of foods. They rated the foods according to taste and healthiness.

Brain processes written words as unique 'objects'   PhysOrg - April 29, 2009
A new study provides direct experimental evidence that a brain region important for reading and word recognition contains neurons that are highly selective for individual real words. The ability to read is a complex cognitive skill that is thought to depend on neural representations built as a result of experience with written words. Although some theories of reading as well as some neuropsychological and experimental data have argued for the existence of a neural representation for whole real words, experimental evidence for such a representation has been elusive.

Brain works best when cells keep right rhythms   PhysOrg - April 26, 2009
It is said that each of us marches to the beat of a different drum, but new Stanford University research suggests that brain cells need to follow specific rhythms that must be kept for proper brain functioning. These rhythms don't appear to be working correctly in such diseases as schizophrenia and autism

Brain Music: Putting The Brain's Soundtracks To Work   Science Daily - April 29, 2009

Every brain has a soundtrack -- probably many. Can those soundtracks be made useful? When that soundtrack is recorded and played back -- to an emergency responder, or a firefighter -- it may sharpen their reflexes during a crisis, and calm their nerves afterward.

How The Brain Translates Memory Into Action   Science Daily - April 27, 2009
When we emerge from a supermarket laden down with bags and faced with a sea of vehicles, how do we remember where we've parked our car and translate the memory into the correct action to get back there? New research identifies the specific parts of the brain responsible for solving this everyday problem.

Early brain activity sheds new light on the neural basis of reading   PhysOrg - April 27, 2009
Most people are expert readers, but it is something of an enigma that our brain can achieve expertise in such a recent cultural invention, which lies at the interface between vision and language. Given that the first alphabetic scripts are thought to have been invented only around four to five thousand years it is unlikely that enough time has elapsed to allow the evolution of specialized parts of the brain for reading. While neuroimaging techniques have made some progress in understanding the neural underpinning of this essentially cultural skill, the exact unfolding of brain activity has remained elusive.

  World premiere of brain orchestra   BBC - April 24, 2009
Led by an "emotional conductor" and a traditional one, music and video change in time with the performers' brain waves and heart rate. According to the work's producer, the orchestra aims to "see what the brain can do without the body". The orchestra's premiere performance closed the Science Beyond Fiction conference in Prague. The project is the creation of the Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS) group at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

Simulated brain closer to thought   BBC - April 22, 2009
A detailed simulation of a small region of a brain built molecule by molecule has been constructed and has recreated experimental results from real brains. The "Blue Brain" has been put in a virtual body, and observing it gives the first indications of the molecular and neural basis of thought and memory.

Controlling our brain's perception of emotional events   PhysOrg - April 20, 2009
Research performed by Nicole Lauzon and Dr. Steven Laviolette of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario has found key processes in the brain that control the emotional significance of our experiences and how we form memories of them. A lack of proper brain function in this area is what lies beneath such conditions as Schizophrenia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In people who suffer from these conditions emotional experiences can become distorted, causing the person to 'lose touch' with reality.

Our brains make their own marijuana: We're all pot heads deep inside   PhysOrg - April 20, 2009
U.S. and Brazilian scientists have just proven that one of Bob Dylan's most famous lines "everybody must get stoned" is correct. That's because they've discovered that the brain manufactures proteins that act like marijuana at specific receptors in the brain itself. This discovery, published online in The FASEB Journal, may lead to new marijuana-like drugs for managing pain, stimulating appetite, and preventing marijuana abuse. Read more at:

Study shows brain activity associated with phantom limbs   PhysOrg - March 26, 2009
Phantom limbs, often described after amputation, are also experienced as an extra limb in patients who are paralyzed on one side following a stroke. Referred to as supernumerary phantom limb (SPL), patients can usually perceive these limbs as a vivid somatosensory presence of an extra limb, but generally cannot see or intentionally move them. In some unusual cases, however, patients have reported seeing their phantom limb or feeling objects or body parts with it, which indicates that multiple areas of the brain may be involved in SPLs.

When it comes to intelligence, size matters   PhysOrg - March 26, 2009
A collaborative study led by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University has demonstrated a positive link between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in the brains of healthy 6 to 18 year olds. The correlation is evident in regions that integrate information from different parts of the brain. The imaging study published this week in a special issue of scientific journal Intelligence is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind with a representative sample of healthy children and adolescents.

Brain Wave Patterns Can Predict Blunders, New Study Finds   Science Daily - March 25, 2009
Everyone makes an occasional error due to lack of attention. Now scientists have found a distinct electric signature in the brain which predicts that such an error is about to be made. The discovery could prove useful in a variety of applications, from developing monitoring devices that alert air traffic control operators that their attention is flagging, to devising and monitoring new strategies to help children cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Fructose metabolism by the brain increases food intake and obesity   PhysOrg - March 25, 2009
he journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (BBRC), published by Elsevier, will publish an important review this week online, by M. Daniel Lane and colleagues at Johns Hopkins, building on the suggested link between the consumption of fructose and increased food intake, which may contribute to a high incidence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers Identify Early Brain Marker for Familial Form of Depression   PhysOrg - March 24, 2009
Findings from one of the largest-ever imaging studies of depression indicate that a structural difference in the brain - a thinning of the right hemisphere - appears to be linked to a higher risk for depression, according to new research at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The study compared the thickness of the cortex by imaging the brains of 131 subjects, aged 6 to 54 years-old, with and without a family history of depression. Structural differences were observed in the biological offspring of depressed subjects but were not found in the biological offspring of those who were not depressed.

Financial advice causes 'off-loading' in the brain   PhysOrg - March 24, 2009
A study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that expert advice may shut down areas of the brain responsible for decision-making processes, particularly when individuals are trying to evaluate a situation where risk is involved. During times of uncertainty such as an economic recession, many people feel unqualified to sort out the implications of their financial decisions. Often they will seek the advice of a consultant on what choices to make.

What is 'Real'? How Our Brain Differentiates Between Reality and Fantasy   PhysOrg - March 24, 2009
Most people can easily tell the difference between reality and fantasy. We know that characters in novels and movies are fictitious, and we also understand that historical figures - even if we've never met them personally - were real people. As obvious as this distinction may seem, however, scientists know very little about the specific brain mechanisms that are responsible for our ability to distinguish between real and fictional events.

Brain Scans Can Read Memories   Live Science - March 13, 2009
Humans create memories of locations in physical or virtual space as they move around – and it all shows up on brain scans. Researchers tracked brain activity related to "spatial memory" as volunteers moved about inside a virtual reality setup. Their new study challenges previous scientific thinking by showing that memories are recorded in regular patterns. "Surprisingly, just by looking at the brain data we could predict exactly where they were in the virtual reality environment," said Eleanor Maguire, a neuroscientist at the University College London in the U.K. "In other words, we could 'read' their spatial memories."

Intelligence Mapped in the Brain   Live Science - March 12, 2009
A new map of the brain shows that most key aspects of intelligence are handled in specific spots, while processing speed is distributed throughout the noggin. Researchers used brain scans to map the mental regions involved in the cognitive work done while taking IQ tests, which remain the most widely-used intelligence tests in the world. The scans helped examine each of four cognitive indexes of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) in 241 neurological patients who had suffered from strokes, tumor, resection and trauma. The study found some overlap in brain regions that might suggest future revisions for the IQ test, and suggested that brain scans could even help predict IQ scores.

Scientists See God on the Brain   Live Science - March 9, 2009
Science can't say whether God represents a loving, vengeful or nonexistent being. But researchers have revealed for the first time how such religious beliefs trigger different parts of the brain. Brain scans showed that participants fell back on higher thought patterns when reacting to religious statements, whether trying to figure out God's thoughts and emotions or thinking about metaphorical meaning behind religious teachings. "That suggests that religion is not a special case of a belief system, but evolved along with other belief and social cognitive abilities," said Jordan Grafman, a cognitive neuroscientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland.

Scientists identify the neural circuitry of first impressions   PhysOrg - March 8, 2009
Neuroscientists at New York University and Harvard University have identified the neural systems involved in forming first impressions of others. The findings, which show how we encode social information and then evaluate it in making these initial judgments.

Researchers find brain differences between believers and non-believers   PhysOrg - March 4, 2009
Believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress, according to new University of Toronto research that shows distinct brain differences between believers and non-believers. In two studies led by Assistant Psychology Professor Michael Inzlicht, participants performed a Stroop task a well-known test of cognitive control while hooked up to electrodes that measured their brain activity.

Evidence Appears To Show How And Where Brain's Frontal Lobe Works   Science Daily - March 4, 2009
An expert in cognitive and linguistic sciences has mapped parts of the brain that control abstract or concrete decision making by studying stroke patients. A new study of stroke victims has produced evidence that the frontal lobe of the human brain controls decision-making along a continuum from abstract to concrete, from front to back.

How stress unravels the brain's structure   PhysOrg - March 4, 2009
The helpless behavior that is commonly linked to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is preceded by stress-related losses of synapsesmicroscopic connections between brain cells in the brain's hippocampal region.

  Oldest Fossil Brain Found in "Bizarre" Prehistoric Fish   National Geographic - March 3, 2009
Digital x-ray images of a "bizarre" 300 million-year-old shark relative have revealed the oldest known fossilized brain, researchers announced yesterday.

  Oldest fossil brain found in Kansas   PhysOrg - March 2, 2009
When Alan Pradel of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris CAT scanned a 300-million-year-old fossilized iniopterygian from Kansas, he and his colleagues saw a symmetrical blob nestled within the braincase. This turned out to be the oldest brain found in fossil form, a wholly unexpected and rare discovery.

New and unexpected mechanism identified how the brain responds to stress   PhysOrg - March 2, 2009
Chronic stress takes a physical and emotional toll on our bodies and scientists are working on piecing together a medical puzzle to understand how we respond to stress at the cellular level in the brain. Being able to quickly and successfully respond to stress is essential for survival.

Sex is in the brain, says new research   PhysOrg - March 2, 2009
More than 40 percent of women ages 18-59 experience sexual dysfunction, with lack of sexual interest hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD being the most commonly reported complaint, according to medical researchers. While some question the validity of this diagnosis, a multidisciplinary team from the Stanford University School of Medicine is devoted to objective investigation of such problems.

Study finds brain hub that links music, memory and emotion   PhysOrg - February 24, 2009
When people are familiar with a tune, their brains show increased activity in the regions shaded in green in this fMRI image. Red areas respond to salient autobiographical memories, and blue areas respond to tunes that a person enjoys. The brain region known as the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex responds both to familiarity and autobiographical associations (yellow).

How we think before we speak: Making sense of sentences   PhysOrg - February 20, 2009
We engage in numerous discussions throughout the day, about a variety of topics, from work assignments to the Super Bowl to what we are having for dinner that evening. We effortlessly move from conversation to conversation, probably not thinking twice about our brain's ability to understand everything that is being said to us. How does the brain turn seemingly random sounds and letters into sentences with clear meaning?

Brain Scans "Read Minds" With Surprising Accuracy   National Geographic - February 18, 2009 Could MRI someday stand for Mind Reading Imagery? Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology can tell what people are thinking with startling accuracy, a new study found. Volunteers were shown two different patterns, then asked to picture one or the other. Using fMRI brain scans, the researchers predicted at better than 80 percent which of the two patterns each person was actively holding in memory 11 seconds later.

Brains of Lonely People Work Differently   Live Science - February 18, 2009
Lonely people have less activity in a part of the brain that normally lights up in association with reward, scientists have found. It's not clear if social isolation diminishes the brain-reward response, however, or if people with less activity in that part of the brain tend toward loneliness. More research will be need to sort out the findings, which come from a study of just 23 female college students. But the finding offers hope that scientists may improve their understanding of loneliness, a growing emotional problem in an increasingly scattered society and one known to raise the risks of several health problems. The subjects were surveyed with standard questions to determine who felt socially isolated, or lonely, vs. those who did not. They then underwent fMRI brain scans while looking at photos of people enjoying themselves.

At Rest, Your Brain Runs in Screensaver Mode   Live Science - February 5, 2009
Your brain's visual centers remain active when your eyes are closed and even when you sleep, studies have shown. But it's a different type of activity, one not fully understood. A new study sheds light. In both situations resting with eyes closed or sleeping electrical activity continues in the brain, but the activity is represented by slow electrical fluctuations, rather than the bursts of activity that occur when you're awake with eyes wide open. The resting oscillations, as the scientists call them, were found to be most pronounced during deep sleep, as might be expected. The slow fluctuation pattern can be compared to a computer screensaver, say the researchers at the Weizmann Institute.

Exploring the Folds of the Brain--And Their Links to Autism   Scientific American - February 3, 2009
One of the first things people notice about the human brain is its intricate landscape of hills and valleys. These convolutions derive from the cerebral cortex, a two- to four-millimeter-thick mantle of gelatinous tissue packed with neurons sometimes called gray matter that mediates our perceptions, thoughts, emotions and actions. Other large-brained mammals such as whales, dogs and our great ape cousins have a corrugated cortex, too each with its own characteristic pattern of convolutions. But small-brained mammals and other vertebrates have relatively smooth brains. The cortex of large-brained mammals expanded considerably over the course of evolution much more so than the skull. Indeed, the surface area of a flattened human cortex equivalent to that of an extra-large pizza is three times larger than the inner surface of the braincase. Thus, the only way the cortex of humans and other brainy species can fit into the skull is by folding.

Left vs. Right: Battle in Brain Discovered   Live Science - January 22, 2009
Most animals, including humans, have functionally lopsided brains. Some things are processed in the left hemisphere, others on the right side. While some of the differences are learned and others inherited, the spectrum of possibilities indicates something more random may be at work, too. A new study of zebrafish embryos suggests a tug-of-war in the developing brain is responsible for at least part of this asymmetry. Researchers have known that brain cells called neurons migrate long distances in a developing brain. The battle to attract nerve cells to one side or the other is governed by a protein called Fgf8, the new study found. The protein acts as a magnet to attract nerve cells to one hemisphere of the brain.

Where am I? How our brain works as a GPS device   PhysOrg - January 9, 2009
We've all experienced the feeling of not knowing where we are. Being disoriented is not pleasant, and it can even be scary, but luckily for most of us, this sensation is temporary. The brain employs a number of tricks to reorient us, keeping our confusion to a minimum and quickly pointing us in the right direction. Research has suggested that animals and young children mainly rely on geometric cues (e.g. lengths, distances, angles) to help them get reoriented.

Growth of new brain cells requires 'epigenetic' switch   PhysOrg - January 8, 2009 New cells are born every day in the brain's hippocampus, but what controls this birth has remained a mystery. Reporting in the January 1 issue of Science, neuroscientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that the birth of new cells, which depends on brain activity, also depends on a protein that is involved in changing epigenetic marks in the cell's genetic material.

Exercise Improves Old Brains   Live Science - January 5, 2009
The moment of truth has arrived, again. The holidays have passed, the leftovers are dwindling and you have renewed your annual New Year's resolution to get back into shape... for real. Don't worry, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 63 percent of Americans have a Body Mass Index (BMI) in excess of 25 (defined as overweight), while a quarter are greater than 30 (obese). As we get older, those extra pounds start to affect other areas of our health, contributing to the onset of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and even sexual function.

Your Brain Sees $$$ More Clearly Than You Know   Live Science - December 27, 2008 When you see something of value, your brain essentially sees dollar signs, a new study finds. The effect occurs even if you don't consciously realize the object's worth. Researchers scanned the brains of subjects who were presented with choices of constantly changing red and green objects that represented 10 cents or nothing, with good choices in a game leading to potential winnings of $10.

Thoughts of money light up the brain - December 26, 2008
Like the pound signs in the eyes of cartoon characters, thoughts of money light up visual areas of the brain, scientists have found.

Our unconscious brain makes the best decisions possible   PhysOrg - December 26, 2008
Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that the human brain—once thought to be a seriously flawed decision maker—is actually hard-wired to allow us to make the best decisions possible with the information we are given. The findings are published in today's issue of the journal Neuron.

Spirituality Spot Found in Brain   Live Science - December 26, 2008
What makes us feel spiritual? It could be the quieting of a small area in our brains, a new study suggests. The area in question -the right parietal lobe -is responsible for defining "Me," said researcher Brick Johnstone of Missouri University. It generates self-criticism, he said, and guides us through physical and social terrains by constantly updating our self-knowledge: my hand, my cocktail, my witty conversation skills, my new love interest. People with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives, reports the study in the current issue of the journal Zygon. Most previous research on neuro-spirituality has been based on brain scans of actively practicing adherents (i.e. meditating monks, praying nuns) and has resulted in broad and inconclusive findings. (Is the brain area lighting up in response to verse or spiritual experience?) So Johnstone and colleague Bret Glass turned to the tried-and-true techniques of neuroscience's early days -studying brain-injured patients. The researchers tested brain regions implicated in the previous imaging studies with exams tailored to each area's expertise -similar to studying the prowess of an ear with a hearing test. They then looked for correlations between brain region performance and the subjects' self-reported spirituality.

Why we yawn: To cool our brains    MSNBC - December 15, 2008
If your head is overheated, there's a good chance you'll yawn soon, according to a new study that found the primary purpose of yawning is to control brain temperature. The finding solves several mysteries about yawning, such as why it's most commonly done just before and after sleeping, why certain diseases lead to excessive yawning, and why breathing through the nose and cooling off the forehead often stop yawning. The key yawn instigator appears to be brain temperature. "Brains are like computers," Andrew Gallup, a researcher in the Department of Biology at Binghamton University said. They operate most efficiently when cool, and physical adaptations have evolved to allow maximum cooling of the brain.

Britain: 'Oldest human brain' discovered    BBC - December 12, 2008
Archaeologists have found the remains of what could be Britain's oldest surviving human brain. The team, excavating a York University site, discovered a skull containing a yellow substance which scans showed to be shrunken, but brain-shaped. Brains consist of fatty tissue which microbes in the soil would absorb, so neurologists believe the find could be some kind of fossilized brain. The skull was found in an area first farmed more than 2,000 years ago. More tests will now be done to establish what it is actually made of.

How The Brain Thinks About Crime And Punishment    Science Daily - December 11, 2008
A new study reveals that humans use different neural mechanisms for determining criminal responsibility and assigning an appropriate punishment. The research, published in the journal Neuron, provides fascinating insight into brain systems that may explain how thousands of years of reliance on human sanctions to enforce social norms gave rise to our current criminal justice system.

Forgotten But Not Gone: How The Brain Re-learns    Science Daily - November 22, 2008
Thanks to our ability to learn and to remember, we can perform tasks that other living things can not even dream of. However, we are only just beginning to get the gist of what really goes on in the brain when it learns or forgets something. What we do know is that changes in the contacts between nerve cells play an important role. But can these structural changes account for that well-known phenomenon that it is much easier to re-learn something that was forgotten than to learn something completely new?

New theory of visual computation reveals how brain makes sense of natural scenes    PhysOrg - November 20, 2008
Computational neuroscientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that provides insight into the function of the brain's visual cortex and the information processing that enables people to perceive contours and surfaces, and understand what they see in the world around them.

A Key to Sharp Old Minds Found    Live Science - November 17, 2008
In a new study, researchers examined the brains of five dead people who were considered super aged because after age 80 they had performed higher on memory tests than others their age. The scientists compared these brains to those from some "normal," non-demented elderly folks who had died.

Neuroimaging Of Brain Shows Who Spoke To A Person And What Was Said    Science Daily - November 13, 2008
Scientists have developed a method to look into the brain of a person and read out who has spoken to him or her and what was said. With the help of neuroimaging and data mining techniques the researchers mapped the brain activity associated with the recognition of speech sounds and voices. In their Science article "Who" is Saying "What"? Brain-Based Decoding of Human Voice and Speech the four authors demonstrate that speech sounds and voices can be identified by means of a unique 'neural fingerprint' in the listener's brain.

Optical illusions: caused by eye or brain?    PhysOrg - November 11, 2008

When viewing the famous optical illusion painting Enigma by Isia Leviant, many people claim to see motion within the colored circles moving against the black and white striped background. Although this optical illusion has been known for a long time, its physiological origins are still unknown. Optical Illusion Wikipedia

What Color is the Number 7?    Live Science - November 10, 2008
Researchers from Israel, England, and Spain collaborated on a project that demonstrated that people with average brains are capable of having synesthetic experiences, meaning that triggering one of the senses causes the involuntary use of another. Examples of this phenomenon include when people consistently see a certain numerical digit as a certain color or when hearing a certain sound triggers the experience of a certain taste. The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, contradict the prevailing belief that synesthesia results only within people who have extra synaptic connections in their brain.

Simple brain mechanisms explain arbitrary human visual decisions    PhysOrg - November 10, 2008
Mark Twain, a skeptic of the idea of free will, argues in his essay "What Is Man?" that humans do not command their minds or the opinions they form. Twain's views get a boost this week from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and University of Chieti, Italy. In Nature Neuroscience, scientists report that a simple decision-making task does not involve the frontal lobes, where many of the higher aspects of human cognition, including self-awareness, are thought to originate. Instead, the regions that decide are the same brain regions that receive stimuli relevant to the decision and control the body's response to it.

Japanese researchers make brain tissues from stem cells PhysOrg - November 6, 2008
A handout released from Japan's natural science research center Riken shows a functional human brain tissue made from stem cells at their laboratory in Kobe. Japanese researchers said they had created functioning human brain tissues from stem cells, a world first that has raised new hopes for the treatment of disease.

Researchers identify new target in brain for treating schizophrenia PhysOrg - November 5, 2008
Research from the University of Pittsburgh could expand the options for controlling schizophrenia by identifying a brain region that responds to more than one type of antipsychotic drug. The findings illustrate for the first time that the orbitofrontal cortex could be a promising target for developing future antipsychotic drugs—even those that have very different mechanisms of action. The study will be published during the week of Nov. 3 in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, with a print version to follow.

Study Shows Brain Functions Same Way Awake or Asleep PhysOrg - November 4, 2008
Johns Hopkins researchers have found strong evidence supporting the view that the sleeping mind functions the same as the waking mind, a discovery that could significantly alter basic understanding of the normal and abnormal brain.

Our cheatin' brain: The brain's clever way of showing us the world as a whole PhysOrg - October 29, 2008
Whether we choose to admit it or not, we all experience memory errors from time to time. Research has suggested that false memory may be a result of having too many other things to remember or perhaps if too much time has passed. However, previous studies have indicated that a specific type of false memory known as "boundary extension" occurs for different reasons. Boundary extension is a mistake that we often make when recalling a view of a scene—we will insist that the boundaries of an image stretched out farther than what we actually saw.

Angry faces take priority in our brain PhysOrg - October 29, 2008
In any social situation, we need to be aware of threats to our own safety from other people. That may be why our brains are better attuned to remembering the identity of angry faces over short periods of time. As well as discovering improved short term memory for angry faces, researchers at Bangor University's School of Psychology have located a key brain area that responds more actively to angry than happy or neutral faces. This discovery is being published in a scientific paper today by PLoS ONE (eISSN-1932-6203), an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication, publishing reports on primary research from any scientific discipline.

Brain's 'Hate Circuit' Identified Science Daily - October 29, 2008
People who view pictures of someone they hate display activity in distinct areas of the brain that, together, may be thought of as a "hate circuit," according to new research.

How we see objects in depth: The brain's code for 3-D structure PhysOrg - October 28, 2008 A team of Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists has discovered patterns of brain activity that may underlie our remarkable ability to see and understand the three-dimensional structure of objects. Computers can beat us at math and chess, but humans are the experts at object vision. (That's why some Web sites use object recognition tasks as part of their authentication of human users.) It seems trivial to us to describe a teapot as having a C-shaped handle on one side, an S-shaped spout on the other and a disk-shaped lid on top. But sifting this three-dimensional information from the constantly changing, two-dimensional images coming in through our eyes is one of the most difficult tasks the brain performs. Even sophisticated computer vision systems have never been able to accomplish the same feat using two-dimensional camera images.

Seeing a brain as it learns to see PhysOrg - October 22, 2008
A brain isn't born fully organized. It builds its abilities through experience, making physical connections between neurons and organizing circuits to store and retrieve information in milliseconds for years afterwards. Now that process has been caught in the act for the first time by a Duke University research team that watched a naēve brain organize itself to interpret images of motion.

Emotion and scent create lasting memories -- even in a sleeping brain PhysOrg - October 16, 2008
When French memoirist Marcel Proust dipped a pastry into his tea, the distinctive scent it produced suddenly opened the flood gates of his memory. n a series of experiments with sleeping mice, researchers at the Duke University Medical Center have shown that the part of the brain that processes scents is indeed a key part of forming long-term memories, especially involving other individuals.

Blindsight: How brain sees what you do not see PhysOrg - October 15, 2008
Blindsight is a phenomenon in which patients with damage in the primary visual cortex of the brain can tell where an object is although they claim they cannot see it. A research team led by Prof. Tadashi Isa and Dr. Masatoshi Yoshida of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan, provides compelling evidence that blindsight occurs because visual information is conveyed bypassing the primary visual cortex.

'Switch' in brain linked to weight gain BBC - October 3, 2008
The discovery of another way in which the body appears to control how much it eats could shed fresh light on obesity. US researchers said poor diets may trigger a signaling system which prompts the body to consume even more. When the signals - involving a protein linked to inflammation - were blocked in mice, they maintained normal weight.

Musicians Use Both Sides Of Their Brains More Frequently Than Average People Science Daily - October 3, 2008
Supporting what many of us who are not musically talented have often felt, new research reveals that trained musicians really do think differently than the rest of us. Psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking, and also use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.

When a light goes on during thought processes PhysOrg - October 1, 2008
Thought processes made visible: An international team of scientists headed by Mazahir Hasan of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg has succeeded in optically detecting individual action potentials in the brains of living animals. The scientists introduced fluorescent indicator proteins into the brain cells of mice via viral gene vectors: the illumination of the fluorescent proteins indicates both when and which neurons are communicating with each other.

Epilepsy, Autism, Schizophrenia: Master Switch That 'Balances The Brain' Found Science Daily - September 25, 2008
Neuroscientists have identified the first known "master switch" to orchestrate the formation and maintenance of inhibitory synapses on neurons, essential for proper brain function. The switch, called Npas4, regulates more than 200 genes that calm over-excited cells, restoring a balance that is thought to go askew in neurologic disorders like epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia. Inhibitory connections are also required to launch critical periods, when the brain can readily rewire and learn.

New Master Switch Found In Brain Regulates Appetite And Reproduction Science Daily - September 2, 2008
Body weight and fertility have long known to be related to each other -- women who are too thin, for example, can have trouble becoming pregnant. Now, a master switch has been found in the brain of mice that controls both, and researchers say it may work the same way in humans.

   The secrets of the brain BBC - August 19, 2008
Twenty-eight year old Kathryn Proctor, a florist, had been having epileptic fits for about four years. "It started off with eye spasms - they were actually seizures and they developed into full fits. "The fits can be controlled with medication but they found a lump on my brain and there's a 50% chance that it's causing the epilepsy. "It's on the right-hand side, about halfway up on the frontal lobe."

Brain's counting skill 'built-in' BBC - August 19, 2008
Humans have an in-built ability to do mathematics even if they do not have the language to express it, a research team has suggested. A study in Australian Aboriginal children, whose languages lack number words, found they did just as well as English-speaking children in numeracy. The findings contradicts other research which found having "counting words" was the key to developing number skills. The study appears in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. British and Australian researchers assessed 45 indigenous Australian children aged between four and seven years. This may help explain why children in numerate cultures with developmental dyscalculia find it so difficult to learn arithmetic

Big Brains Arose Twice In Higher Primates Science Daily - July 10, 2008
After taking a fresh look at an old fossil, researchers determined that the brains of the ancestors of modern neotropical primates were as small as those of their early fossil simian counterparts in the Old World. This means one of the hallmarks of primate biology, increased brain size, arose independently in isolated groups -- the platyrrhines of the Americas and the catarrhines of Africa and Eurasia.

Brain Region for Overcoming Fear, Anxiety Found National Geographic - July 9, 2008
Special cells in the brain allow animals to overcome fear and anxiety by recalling memories of similar situations when they were unafraid, according to new research. The finding could lead to new drugs for helping people with anxiety-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, scientists say. Previous work had suggested that a part of the brain called the amygdala an almond-shaped mass of cells deep in the brain plays an important role in this process, known as fear extinction.

Brain 'Noise' Increases With Age Live Science - July 8, 2008
Like the wavy lines and snowy static that dance across old TV screens, your brain generates noise. Neuroscientists had thought that this brain noise, detectable by researchers using high-tech gear, wasn't important to the goings-on in your noggin. It was also suspected that this noise would decline with age as children grew up and their mental processes became more efficient. But new research suggests that noise actually increases with age and is a sign of greater complexity in the brain. Researchers at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto had a group of 79 people complete a series of face memory tasks, measuring how well they were able to accurately recall faces. The participants represented two age groups, children (ages 8 to 15) and young adults (ages 20 to 33). While they were performing the task, EEG (electroencephalography) recordings were taken to measure the precise timing of brain activity.

Brain's "Core" Revealed by First Hi-Res Wiring Map National Geographic - July 2, 2008

The first high-resolution map of wiring in the cerebral cortex has revealed a structural "core" that seems to play a vital role in communication within and between the two halves of the human brain. This core is a densely interconnected region of nerve cells and fibers that sits deep inside the cortex almost at the center of the brain. Scans show that this same region lights up with activity while the brain is at rest, indicating that the core might play a role in coordinating the large-scale flow of information.

Neuroscientists Discover A Sense Of Adventure Science Daily - June 26, 2008
Wellcome Trust scientists have identified a key region of the brain which encourages us to be adventurous. The region, located in a primitive area of the brain, is activated when we choose unfamiliar options, suggesting an evolutionary advantage for sampling the unknown. It may also explain why rebranding of familiar products encourages to pick them off the supermarket shelves.

When It Comes to Brains, Size Matters PhysOrg - June 21, 2008
Findings of a three-year study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of Florida, Gainesville run counter to the popular belief that women have better language skills than men. n a study of 200 university students, the researchers found that women and men performed similarly on tests of language and reading skills. Differences in brain organization between men and women may be driven by sex differences in brain size, they said.

MIT unlocks mystery behind brain imaging PhysOrg - June 19, 2008
In work that solves a long-standing mystery in neuroscience, researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have shown for the first time that star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes previously considered bit players by most neuroscientists make noninvasive brain scans possible.

Gay Men, Straight Women Have Similar Brains National Geographic - June 16, 2008
Gay peoples' brains share similar characteristics to those of the opposite sex, a new study says. Researchers found resemblances in the brain's physical structure and size as well as the strength of neural connections among gay people and straight people of the opposite sex.

'Daydreaming' brain is coma clue BBC - June 13, 2008
Researchers may have found a way to predict whether severely brain-damaged patients will regain consciousness. A part of the brain which can stay active even in severely brain-damaged patients could offer a clue about the chances of recovery, they claim.

How the brain separates audio signals from noise PhysOrg - June 10, 2008
In a new article published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Alexander Gutschalk and his colleagues provide an important advance towards solving this mystery by discovering the neural correlates of conscious auditory perception.

Researchers show how the brain can protect against cancer PhysOrg - June 9, 2008
Scientists have been aware for many years that if cancer patients are not able to deal with the stress associated with being sick, the cancer will progress faster than in calmer patients. To counteract this phenomenon, physicians encourage treatments that help cancer patients handle their stress. Scientists theorized that the stress relief may have come as a result of increased beta-endorphin peptide (BEP), the "feel good" hormones in the brain that are released during exercise, a good conversation, and many other aspects of life that give humans pleasure.

Exploring The Mechanics Of Judgment, Beliefs: Technique Images Brain Activity When We Think Of Others Science Daily - May 19, 2008
How do we know what other people are thinking? How do we judge them, and what happens in our brains when we do? MIT neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe is tackling those tough questions and many others. Her goal is no less than understanding how the brain gives rise to the abilities that make us uniquely human--making moral judgments, developing belief systems and understanding language.

Mind's Limit Found: 4 Things at Once Live Science - April 28, 2008

I forget how I wanted to begin this story. That's probably because my mind, just like everyone else's, can only remember a few things at a time. Researchers have often debated the maximum amount of items we can store in our conscious mind, in what's called our working memory, and a new study puts the limit at three or four. Working memory is a more active version of short-term memory, which refers to the temporary storage of information. Working memory relates to the information we can pay attention to and manipulate. Early research found the working memory cut-off to be about seven items, which is perhaps why telephone numbers are seven digits long (although some early telephone dialing started with a two- or three-letter "exchange," often the first letters of a community name, followed by four or five figures, e.g. PEnnsylvania 6-5000). Now scientists think the true capacity is lower when people are not allowed to use tricks like repeating items over and over or grouping items together.

Brains Wired to Tell Left from Right Live Science - April 2, 2008
Show me your left hand. No, your other left hand. A lot of us have had those moments when we can't quickly tell left from right, but a new study suggests our brain is hard-wired to tell the difference, down to the level of the cells. The left and right sides of the brain differ in many animal species. This is thought to influence cognitive performance and social behavior. For instance, in humans, the left half of the brain is concerned with language processing whereas the right side is better at comprehending musical melody.

Study shows compassion meditation changes the brain PhysOrg - March 28, 2008 Can we train ourselves to be compassionate? A new study suggests the answer is yes. Cultivating compassion and kindness through meditation affects brain regions that can make a person more empathetic to other peoples' mental states, say researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

New Compound Identifies Alzheimer's Disease Brain Toxins, Study Shows Science Daily - March 28, 2008
A groundbreaking study in the journal Brain confirms that Pittsburgh Compound-B binds to the telltale beta-amyloid deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The finding is a significant step toward enabling clinicians to provide a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in living patients.

Epilepsy Marked By Neural 'Hub' Network Science Daily - March 28, 2008
An increased number of neuron "hubs" in the epileptic brain may be the root cause for the seizures that characterize the disorder, according to a new study. Scientists have identified that these hubs -- a small number of highly connected neurons -- are formed in the hippocampus during the transition from a healthy brain to an epileptic one.

Brain's 'Sixth Sense' For Calories Discovered Science Daily - March 27, 2008
The brain can sense the calories in food, independent of the taste mechanism, researchers have found in studies with mice. Their finding that the brain's reward system is switched on by this "sixth sense" machinery could have implications for understanding the causes of obesity. For example, the findings suggest why high-fructose corn syrup, widely used as a sweetener in foods, might contribute to obesity.

Study shows compassion meditation changes the brain PhysOrg - March 27, 2008
The research suggests that individuals - from children who may engage in bullying to people prone to recurring depression - and society in general could benefit from such meditative practice.

Brain's 'Sixth Sense' For Calories Discovered Science Daily - March 27, 2008
The brain can sense the calories in food, independent of the taste mechanism, researchers have found in studies with mice. Their finding that the brain's reward system is switched on by this "sixth sense" machinery could have implications for understanding the causes of obesity. For example, the findings suggest why high-fructose corn syrup, widely used as a sweetener in foods, might contribute to obesity.

Language Feature Unique To Human Brain Identified Science Daily - March 24, 2008
Researchers have identified a language feature unique to the human brain that is shedding light on how human language evolved. The study marks the first use of diffusion tensor imaging, a noninvasive imaging technique, to compare human brain structures to those of chimpanzees, our closest living relative.

Tiny Brain-Like Computer Created Live Science - March 10, 2008

The image demonstrates the design of an artificial brain built using a nano-brain reported in this issue of PNAS. Several molecular nano-brain are arranged in a way to work as powerful as our central nervous system. Numerical digits and alphabets float across the architecture demonstrating a matrix generated during a real-time operation similar to the Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix.

Chemical brain controls nanobots BBC - March 11, 2008

A tiny chemical "brain" which could one day act as a remote control for swarms of nano-machines has been invented. The molecular device - just two billionths of a metre across - was able to control eight of the microscopic machines simultaneously in a test. Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists say it could also be used to boost the processing power of future computers. Many experts have high hopes for nano-machines in treating disease.

"Brain Reading" Device Can Predict What People See National Geographic - March 5, 2008
A new computer program can match brain activity with visual images and even predict what people are seeing, a study has shown. The work raises the possibility that one day computers could "read" a person's brain to digitally re-create memories, dreams, or imaginings.

Researchers Use MRI To Study Spontaneity, Creativity Science Daily - February 28, 2008
A pair of Johns Hopkins and government scientists have discovered that when jazz musicians improvise, their brains turn off areas linked to self-censoring and inhibition, and turn on those that let self-expression flow.

Scientists See Deep Inside Human Brain Live Science - February 29, 2008
The human brainstem, the most primitive area of our brains, has been notoriously difficult to image because of its small size. Now researchers have devised a new experimental technique that produces some of the best functional images ever taken of the human brainstem. The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brainstem activity in dehydrated humans.

Parental Instinct Region Found In The Brain Science Daily - February 27, 2008
Why do we almost instinctively treat babies as special, protecting them and enabling them to survive? Darwin originally pointed out that there is something about infants which prompts adults to respond to and care for them which allows our species to survive. Nobel-Prize-winning zoologist Konrad Lorenz proposed that it is the specific structure of the infant face, including a relatively large head and forehead, large and low lying eyes and bulging cheek region, that serves to elicit these parental responses. But the biological basis for this has until now, remained elusive. A possible brain basis for parental instinct has been discovered. Researchers showed that a region of the human brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex is specifically active within a seventh of a second in response to (unfamiliar) infant faces but not to adult faces.

Brain Waves Pattern Themselves After Rhythms Of Nature Science Daily - February 20, 2008
The same rules of physics that govern molecules as they condense from gas to liquid, or freeze from liquid to solid, also apply to the activity patterns of neurons in the human brain. When liquids undergo phase transitions, they evaporate into gas or freeze into ice. When the brain undergoes a phase transition, it moves from random to patterned activity.

How Believing Can Be Seeing: Context Dictates What We Believe We See Science Daily - February 19, 2008
Scientists have found the link between what we expect to see, and what our brain tells us we actually saw. The study reveals that the context surrounding what we see is all important -- sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things which aren't really there.

Brain Damage Occurs Within Minutes From The Onset Of A Stroke, Study Reveals Science Daily - February 19, 2008
Harmful changes to the brain's synaptic connections occur within the first three minutes following a stroke. The finding, using mouse models, suggests cardiac arrest and stroke in humans would trigger a similar chain of events. Stroke is caused by loss of blood flow to the brain and is a leading cause of death and disability in North America. Synapses are tiny brain switches that relay information from one neuron to another.

Why We Can't Find a Face in the Crowd Live Science - January 23, 2008
Spotting a friend in a crowd can be nerve-wracking. New research suggests your brain processes this sea of faces as a collection of blurred lines and edges. The result: an indecipherable jumble. The phenomenon is called crowding and occurs when a person fails to recognize an individual object in a cluttered environment. The seeming malfunction could be due to one of the shortcuts our brains use to help us make sense of the vast amount of visual information we take in every second. While scientists have documented crowding for simple objects, many had assumed this breakdown in recognition would not hold for human faces.

Culture Influences Brain Function, Study Shows Science Daily - January 14, 2008
People from different cultures use their brains differently to solve the same visual perceptual tasks, researchers report in the first brain imaging study of its kind. Psychological research has established that American culture, which values the individual, emphasizes the independence of objects from their contexts, while East Asian societies emphasize the collective and the contextual interdependence of objects. Behavioral studies have shown that these cultural differences can influence memory and even perception. But are they reflected in brain activity patterns?

Can Dying People Hang in There for the Holidays? Live Science - December 21, 2007
Most of us have heard stories about a dying loved one who clung to life just long enough to see their next birthday, or special holiday, or their child's wedding. It's a comforting, widely held belief that we have at least some control over what is perhaps the most unpredictable thing of all: death. The phenomena seems widespread partly because of our psychological bias for selective attention. We tend to notice the times that something remarkable occurred, while subconsciously ignoring all the times that nothing remarkable happened. In psychology, this tendency is sometimes called "remembering the hits and ignoring the misses." For every story we hear about someone who seems to have defiantly fended off death to make it to his or her 100th birthday, there are thousands of people who die just a few days short of that century mark. But their stories are not as interesting, and therefore less likely to be reported and remembered. (There is also a darker implication to this belief, suggesting that people who died before a special event didn't have enough will to live or somehow didn't try hard enough to live longer.)

Secrets Of Alcohol's Effect On Brain Cells Revealed Science Daily - December 10, 2007
Alcohol triggers the activation of a variety of genes that can influence the health and activity of brain cells, and new research sheds light on how that process occurs.

This Is Your Brain On Violent Media Science Daily - December 10, 2007
Scientists show that a brain network responsible for suppressing behaviors like inappropriate or unwarranted aggression became less active after study subjects watched several short clips from popular movies depicting acts of violence. These changes could render people less able to control their own aggressive behavior.

Brain 'irrelevance filter' found BBC - December 10, 2007
Scientists believe they have located a new brain area essential for good memory - the "irrelevance filter". People who are good at remembering things, even with distractions, have more activity in the basal ganglia on brain scans, the Swedish team found.

"Brainbows" Shed Light on Mind's Wiring National Geographic - October 31, 2007
Genetically engineered mice furnished with fluorescent proteins are providing the most detailed pictures yet of the brain's intricate circuitry. The innovation offers an intimate peek into the development and inner workings of the nervous system at the level of individual neurons, researchers say.

Brain Cells Colored To Create 'Brainbow' Live Science - October 31, 2007

Borrowing genes from bacteria, coral and jellyfish, scientists have set mice brains aglow in a bold panoply of colors, revealing the intricate highways and byways of neuronal connections. The technique, dubbed "Brainbow" by its Harvard University inventors, is detailed in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Nature. Previous techniques for highlighting neurons used at most two colors. One common approach developed in 1873 by an Italian physician and still used today, called the Golgi method, stains neurons in their entirety but only affects a few brain cells at a time.

Brain Circuits That Control Hunger Identified Science Daily - October 30, 2007
Researchers have determined the brain circuits involved in hunger that are influenced by a hormone called leptin. In previous clinical trials, supplementation of leptin, the signaling molecule produced by fat cells, produced moderate weight loss in some obese patients, purportedly by inhibiting hunger and promoting feelings of being full. Thus, this new work suggests possible new targets for treating obesity.

New Theory: How Intelligence Works Live Science - September 11, 2007

Like memory, human intelligence is probably not confined to a single area in the brain, but is instead the result of multiple brain areas working in concert, a new review of research suggests. The review by Richard Haier of the University of California , Irvine , and Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico proposes a new theory that identifies areas in the brain that work together to determine a person's intelligence.

Adult Brain Can Still Change Live Science - September 6, 2007
A new case study of a stroke patient suggests that adults' brains might be just as "plastic," or capable of creating new neural pathways, as those of children. Past research has established the remarkable capacity of young brains to change or adapt to deficits by creating new signaling routes, a phenomenon called plasticity. However, whether adult brains have that same capacity has remained controversial.

Pac-Man finds next level in fear research Guardian - August 25, 2007
A version of the computer game Pac-Man that delivers an electric shock to players has revealed how the human brain reacts to imminent danger. Volunteers played a game in which they had to outrun a virtual predator as it stalked them around a maze. If caught they received a shock to the hand. The study revealed that when the threat was far away players predominantly used the prefrontal cortex region of the brain, which is for complex planning tasks. But when the predator had closed in, activity rapidly shifted to a more primitive part of the brain called the peri-aqueductal gray, which governs quick-response survival mechanisms, such as the familiar fight, flight or freeze reactions. The study is the first to capture in humans the shift in brain activity that lies at the heart of one of evolution's most primitive defense mechanisms. Details of the experiments were published in the journal Science yesterday.

The Brain Doesn't Like Visual Gaps And Fills Them In Science Daily - August 22, 2007 When in doubt about what we see, our brains fill in the gaps for us by first drawing the borders and then 'coloring' in the surface area, new research has found. The research is the first to pinpoint the areas in the brain, and the timing of their activity, responsible for how we see borders and surfaces.

Volume Knob Found in Brain Live Science - August 21, 2007

Highways in the brain thought only to transport information passively from one brain cell to another can actually boost or dampen the traveling signal, a new study suggests. The results, found in mice, could explain how nicotine in cigarettes enhances mental sharpness in humans, a phenomenon documented in several past studies.

Scientists see new memory forming in the brain Guardian - August 2, 2007
Scientists have witnessed a new memory being formed for the first time, a breakthrough they believe will pave the way to map memories across the brain. High-resolution images captured by the team show how connections between neighbouring brain cells changed when a memory was laid down. The feat marks the end of a century-long search by scientists to see the "face" of a new memory, a hunt which began when the psychology historian Theodore Ribot first postulated the cellular basis of memories in his late 19th century book Diseases of Memory.

Sex On The Brain Science Daily - May 8, 2007
New evidence on sex differences in people's brains and behaviors emerges with the publication of results from the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Sex ID Internet Survey. Survey questions and tests focused on participants' sex-linked cognitive abilities, personality traits, interests, sexual attitudes and behavior, as well as physical traits.

Study: Brain workings are chaotic MSNBC - February 27, 2007
The inner workings of the brain aren't as organized as once thought. According to a new study, it's mayhem up there. It's long been believed that information is passed on from one neuron to another at junctions where two neurons, or a neuron and a muscle, meet. Neurons are nervous system cells that process and relay information. At the junction of two neurons, also known as a synapse, one neuron releases a chemical messenger neurotransmitter to excite the other neuron. This is done by diffusing the neurotransmitter to the branches (dendrites) of the transmitting neuron. The new study purports that neurons don't just release these chemicals at synapses but along the entire span of their extensions, all the while exciting neighboring cells.

'Altruistic' brain region found BBC - January 22, 2007
Scientists say they have found the part of the brain that predicts whether a person will be selfish or an altruist. Altruism - the tendency to help others without obvious benefit to oneself - appears to be linked to an area called the posterior superior temporal sulcus. Using brain scans, the US investigators found this region related to a person's real-life unselfish behavior.

Brain Scans Predict When People Will Buy Products Science Daily - January 4, 2007
For the first time, researchers have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine what parts of the brain are active when people consider whether to purchase a product and to predict whether or not they ultimately choose to buy the product.

Scan shows how brains plot future BBC - January 2, 2007
Brain scans have given US scientists a clue about how we create a mental image of our own future. The Washington University team say that specific areas of the brain are active when thinking about upcoming events. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study could help doctors trying to understand damage inflicted by strokes, injuries or diseases. The findings tally with damage spotted in the brains of patients who have lost the ability to 'think ahead'. The brain remains the most poorly understood organ of the body, but the use of MRI scans to examine the way they work has taken off in recent years. When patients or volunteers are placed in the functional MRI scanner and asked to think or move in a particular way, specific areas of the brain 'light up' on the scan image, corresponding with increased electrical activity in those regions.

'Spectrum of empathy' found in the brain BBC - September 19, 2006
Ever wondered how some people can "put themselves into another person's shoes" and some people cannot? Our ability to empathise with others seems to depend on the action of "mirror neurons" in the brain, according to a new study. Mirror neurons, known to exist in humans and in macaque monkeys, activate when an action is observed, and also when it is performed. Now new research reveals that there are mirror neurons in humans that fire when sounds are heard. In other words, if you hear the noise of someone eating an apple, some of the same neurons fire as when you eat the apple yourself. So-called auditory mirror neurons were known only in macaques. To determine if they exist in humans Valeria Gazzola, at the school of behavioural and cognitive neurosciences neuroimaging centre at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and colleagues, put 16 volunteers into functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners and observed their brains as they were played different noises.

Doubt cast over brain 'God spot' BBC - August 30, 2006

There is no single "God spot" in the brain, Canadian scientists say. A University of Montreal team found Christian mystical experiences are mediated by several brain regions. Researchers asked 15 nuns to recount mystical experiences while studying them on MRI scanners, the journal, Neuroscience Letters reported. There has been much debate about how the brain reacts during connections with God among religious followers.

Gene sequence which appears to play a central role in giving humans their unique brain capacity BBC - August 17, 2006

Scientists say they have discovered a gene sequence which appears to play a central role in giving humans their unique brain capacity. The area, called HAR1, has undergone accelerated evolutionary change in humans and is active during a critical stage in brain development. The researchers compared genes from humans, chimpanzees and other animals to try to see which set man apart.

Electrical Current Used to Control Human Walk Scientific American - August 8, 2006

Walking upright separates humans from most other creatures. Our bipedal gait is a wonder of balance but it remains unclear exactly how our brains manage to maintain this posture and use it to arrive at desired destinations. Now researchers have shown that the balance mechanisms of our inner ears play a decisive role in directing the human walk, as well as demonstrating that blindfolded volunteers can be steered by simple electrical current.

Prosopagnosis: Inability to recognize faces BBC - July 27, 2006
What is it like to look at your children or husband and not recognize them? One woman is fighting to overcome the disturbing effects of a virus that struck entirely without warning. When Claire looks into the eyes of her children, it is a moment of profound confusion. The 45-year-old mother of four suffers from prosopagnosia, sometimes known as face blindness. She cannot recognise the faces of her children, her husband or even herself, after a virus struck little more than two years ago, causing inflammation in her brain and permanently harming the temporal lobe. The loss of key parts of Claire's memory has proved traumatic and has profoundly disrupted the sort of relationships most of us take for granted. Every day is a battle.

Science is beginning to find ways to control happiness in the brain artificially BBC - May 24, 2006
Science is beginning to find ways to control happiness in the brain artificially. Since the dawn of time we have sought short-cuts to happiness. Early man got high on psychotropic drugs. Alcohol has been around since the stone age. The designer drugs of today promise ecstasy in a pill. Now neuroscientists are beginning to manipulate happiness in the brain. In a series of experiments in the 1950s and 1960s psychologists pinpointed the pleasure zones in the brains of rats and eventually in human patients. In 1954 Peter Milner and James Olds performed a radical experiment on rats. They implanted electrodes into rats' brains, and found that when they gave electrical brain stimulation the rats seemed to experience pleasure and almost ecstasy at times.

Craving for food lights up the brain Science Daily - May 18, 2006
Scientists at the Medical Research Council have unearthed the perfect excuse for overeating: it's in the brain. Researchers at the council's cognition and brain sciences unit have come up with the first neurobiological proof as to why some people seem unable to resist food. The research, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, not only provides evidence that some people are particularly susceptible to images of food but helps to explain the power of food advertising.

How the brain builds its image of the body Guardian - November 29, 2005
Scientists have identified the region of the brain that is responsible for the way people view their bodies. The parietal cortex generates the body image, and disruption of the region's normal functioning could play a role in conditions such as anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder, in which people grossly over- or underestimate their body size, researchers believe.

Brain areas disconnect during deep sleep MSNBC - September 30, 2005
Experiments shed light on what happens to consciousness

Your brain never stops working. But it does cease talking to itself when you lose consciousness, a new study shows. Scientists have long wondered what the brain does and doesn't do during deep sleep. It remains active, they know. So what's the difference between consciousness and the lack of it? When we're awake, different parts of the brain use chemicals and nerve cells to communicate constantly across the entire network, similar to the perpetual flow of data between all the different computers, routers and servers that make up the Internet. In the deepest part of sleep, however, the various nodes of your cranial Internet all lose their connections

Brain Region Tied to the emotion 'Regret' is Identified   Scientific American - August 8, 2005
It's human nature to sometimes regret a decision. Now scientists have identified the brain region that mediates that feeling of remorse: the medial orbitofrontal cortex.

'Thoughts read' via brain scans   BBC - August 7, 2005
Scientists say they have been able to monitor people's thoughts via scans of their brains.

Blink and you really do 'miss it'   BBC - July 26, 2005
Parts of the brain are temporarily "switched off" when we blink, scientists have found. A blink lasts for between 100 and 150 milliseconds. We automatically blink 10 to 15 times a minute to moisten and oxygenate the cornea. During a blink, there is no visual input and no light, but we do not consciously recognize everything has momentarily gone dark.

Brain pacemaker lifts depression   BBC - June 28, 2005

Fitting patients with a brain pacemaker could switch off hard-to-treat depression, believe UK experts. The technology, already used to treat Parkinson's disease, uses wires and a battery source to stimulate deep parts of the brain with electric currents. As well as helping depressed patients who have failed on all other therapies, it might also be helpful for treating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Brain Region Linked to Understanding Figures of Speech   Scientific American - May 26, 2005

Metaphors make for colorful sayings, but can be confusing when taken literally. A study of people who are unable to make sense of figures of speech has helped scientists identify a brain region they believe plays a key role in grasping metaphors.

Highest functions of brain produce lowest form of wit   Guardian - May 23, 2005
The research revealed that areas of the brain that decipher sarcasm and irony also process language, recognise emotions and help us understand social cues.

The foundations for the basic left-right body development   Science Daily - May 21, 2005
Humans and other animals may appear to be symmetrical on the outside, but symmetry is only skin deep. Many body organs, such as the stomach, the heart and the liver, are tipped to the right or left side. So how does the developing embryo distinguish left from right? Salk scientists have now discovered that the foundations for the basic left-right body plan are laid by a microscopic 'pump' on the outer surface of the embryo's underside that wafts chemical messengers over to the left side of the body. This sets up a chemical concentration gradient that tells stem cells how and where to develop.

Researchers Find Where Musical Memories Are Stored In The Brain   Science Daily - April 2005

group of Dartmouth researchers has learned that the brain's auditory cortex, the part that handles information from your ears, holds on to musical memories. This finding extends previous work on auditory imagery and parallels work on visual imagery, which both show that sensory-specific memories are stored in the brain regions that created those events.

How ice cream tickles your brain   Guardian - April 28, 2005
Eatng ice cream really does make you happy. Scientists have found that a spoonful of the cold stuff lights up the same pleasure centre in the brain as winning money or listening to your favorite music. Neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London scanned the brains of people eating vanilla ice cream. They found an immediate effect on parts of the brain known to activate when people enjoy themselves; these include the orbitofrontal cortex, the "processing" area at the front of the brain.

Brain Scans Helps Scientists "Read" Minds   Scientific American - April 25, 2005
Of the super powers one might like to have, mind reading would likely land near the top of the list for many people. Now two papers published this week by Nature Neuroscience show how scientists are inching toward this goal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of people's brains, researchers report, can reveal what types of images they have recently seen.

Brain scan 'shows if people trust you'   BBC - April 1, 2005
US scientists say they can tell whether one person trusts another, by using a brain scan. The results suggest that a brain region called the caudate nucleus lights up when it receives or computes data to make decisions based on trust.

Paralyzed people can now control artificial limbs by thought alone   BBC - March 31, 2005
A paralysed man in the US has become the first person to benefit from a brain chip that reads his mind. Matthew Nagle, 25, was left paralysed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair after a knife attack in 2001.

Brain Region Learns To Anticipate Risk, Provides Early Warnings   Science Daily - February 27, 2005

Following the Asian tsunami, scientists struggled to explain reports that primitive aboriginal tribesmen had somehow sensed the impending danger in time to join wild animals in a life-saving flight to higher ground. Our brains are better at picking up subtle warning signs than we previously thought.

First View Of Many Neurons Processing Information In Living Brain   Science Daily - January 28, 2005

Harvard Medical School researchers have applied a new microscopy technique in a living animal brain that for the first time reveals highly sophisticated time-lapse images of many neurons coordinating to produce complex patterns of activity. The approach will open up new avenues for analyzing neurodegenerative diseases and other aspects of the brain.

Higher states of consciousness - January 2, 2005
Scientists believe that only humans have "higher consciousness" - which is difficult to define, but consists of a greater understanding of our place in time and space; our temporal nature; communication of abstract concepts through language and so on. Jung was neither the first nor the most fascinating case of OBE or NDE. He followed a long line of forceful personalities who used trance-states to mesmerize ordinary folk into thinking they were spiritually special.

How we recognize faces from birth   BBC - December 6, 2004
Scientists believe they have worked out exactly how we recognize a face when we see it. Experts have known for some time that there is something special about faces that draws us to look at them, even after the first few hours of birth. A brain region called the fusiform face area (FFA) has been pinpointed as key.

Learning languages 'boosts brain'   BBC - October 13, 2004
Learning a second language "boosts" brain-power, scientists believe. Researchers studied the brains of 105 people - 80 of whom were bilingual. They found learning other languages altered grey matter - the area of the brain which processes information - in the same way exercise builds muscles. People who learned a second language at a younger age were also more likely to have more advanced grey matter than those who learned later, the team said. Scientists already know the brain has the ability to change its structure as a result of stimulation - an effect known as plasticity - but this research demonstrates how learning languages develops it.

Brain Study Shows Why Revenge is Sweet   National Geographic - August 27, 2004
Revenge is sweet. Many of us have felt that way, and now scientists say they know why. A new brain-imaging study suggests we feel satisfaction when we punish others for bad behavior. In fact, anticipation of this pleasure drives us to crack the whip, according to scientists behind the new research.

Depression Traced To Overactive Brain Circuit   Science Daily - August 4, 2004

A brain imaging study by the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found that an emotion-regulating brain circuit is overactive in people prone to depression - even when they are not depressed. Researchers discovered the abnormality in brains of those whose depressions relapsed when a key brain chemical messenger was experimentally reduced. Even when in remission, most subjects with a history of mood disorder experienced a temporary recurrence of symptoms when their brains were experimentally sapped of tryptophan, the chemical precursor of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is boosted by antidepressants.

Researchers Find That Color Perception Is Not Innate, But Acquired After Birth   Science Daily - July 27, 2004
Rearing experimental animals under special illumination, researchers have found new evidence that early visual experience is indispensable for the development of normal color perception. The wavelength composition of the light reflected from an object changes considerably in different conditions of illumination. Nevertheless, the color of the object remains the same. This property, so-called "color constancy," is the most important property of the color visual system. It has been unclear based on previous work whether the attribute of color constancy is innate or acquired after birth.

The brain's role in stuttering   Science Daily - July 23, 2004

New research from Purdue University shows that even when people who stutter are not speaking, their brains process language differently. Traditionally, stuttering is thought of as a problem with how someone speaks, and little attention has been given to the complex interactions between neurological systems that underlie speaking. Stuttering, which interrupts the flow of speech, affects 5 percent of people in the United States at some time in their lives. Stuttering usually begins in the preschool years, and there is a higher incidence in males. Characteristics of the disorder can range from repetition of sounds, prolongation of syllables, elongated pauses between words and speech that occurs in spurts.

Human Intelligence Determined By Volume And Location Of Gray Matter Tissue In Brain   Science Daily - July 20, 2004

General human intelligence appears to be based on the volume of gray matter tissue in certain regions of the brain, UC Irvine College of Medicine researchers have found in the most comprehensive structural brain-scan study of intelligence to date. The study also discovered that because these regions related to intelligence are located throughout the brain, a single 'intelligence center,' such as the frontal lobe, is unlikely.

How the brain feels false limbs   BBC - July 1, 2004

Scientists have shown how the brain can be fooled into feeling sensations in a fake limb. They recorded changes in brain activity during an experiment in which volunteers were made to think a rubber hand was their own limb. The University College London team hope their work will shed light on self-perception disorders such as schizophrenia and stroke.

Man's creative side unlocked after a stroke   BBC - June 21, 2004

Before suffering a stroke three years ago, Tommy McHugh had no interest in art save for the tattoos that covered his arms while in prison. Now, Tommy, 54, spends every moment he can drawing, sculpting and writing poetry. Tommy's stroke appeared to unlock his creative side.

Scientists Uncover How Brain Retrieves And Stores Older Memories   Science Daily - May 7, 2004
Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and UCLA have pinpointed for the first time a region of the brain responsible for storing and retrieving distant memories. It was previously known that the hippocampus processes recent memory, but that the hippocampus did not store memories permanently. The anterior cingulate cortex where older, or lifelong, memories are stored and recalled. The formation of new memories is thought to involve the strengthening of synaptic connections between groups of neurons. Remembering involves the reactivation of the same group, or network, of neurons. As memories age, the networks gradually change. Initially, memories for everyday life events appear to depend on networks in the region of the brain called the hippocampus. However, over time, these memories become increasingly dependent upon networks in the region of the brain called the cortex.

Language 'Center' Of Brain Shifts With Age   Science Daily - April 28, 2004
Along with left- or right-handedness, the hemisphere of the brain where language capacity resides is likely predetermined. Researchers have now shown that with age, language capacity in the brain becomes more evenly distributed between hemispheres. These study outcomes may offer promising therapeutic implications for adults who have experienced an injury, illness or other trauma to the brain. From childhood until about age 25, language capacity in right-handers grows stronger in the left hemisphere of the brain. This phenomenon is usually converse to a person's "handedness", where a right-handed person holds language in the left hemisphere, and vice versa. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) researchers have now shown that after about age 25, language capacity "evens out" somewhat, with older adults using more of both hemispheres relative to language skills.

Brain Visualized In Real Time As Animal 'Smells'   Science Daily - April 27, 2004
In real time in a living animal, scientists have observed regions of the brain as they respond to odors. The Rockefeller University study with mice promises to advance research on how animals, as well as humans, sense odors. The technique of visualizing the brain as it senses odors also may help clarify the role of "orphan receptors" in the field of drug discovery.

Brain Studies Reveal Where Aesthetic, Insight Reside   Scientific American - April 13, 2004

Asking people to perform a mental exercise while their brain activity is monitored is a technique that has enabled neuroscientists to probe the biological basis of the human mind. Research reported today has traced two familiar mental phenomena to specific locations in the brain. One trait believed to differentiate humans from other primates is the ability to appreciate aesthetics. Scientists have suspected that such judgement stems from an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex - one of the last cortical regions to expand dramatically over evolution - but experimental evidence has been lacking.

Brain's Left And Right Sides Work Together Better In Mathematically Gifted Youth   Science Daily - April 12, 2004
There really may be something different about the brains of math-heads. Math giftedness seems to favor boys over girls, appearing an estimated six to 13 times more often. It's not known why but prenatal exposure to testosterone is suspected to be one influence due to its selective benefit to the right half of the brain. However, the mathematically gifted boys showed no such hemispheric differences. Those who were precocious in math were equally good at processing global and local elements with either hemisphere, suggesting more interactive, cooperative left and right brains.

Movie Experiment Hints That Our Brains Work Alike   National Geographic - March 11, 2004
Do we all see the natural world in the same way? To answer that age-old question, a group of Israeli researchers went to the movies. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they watched the classic Clint Eastwood Western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Their surprising answer: Our brains tick together. The research showed the brain-activity patterns of people watching the same movie look very similar, regardless of their gender and age. Viewers tend to focus on the same faces and objects, even when they are looking at complex scenes. The experiment also showed that different brain areas actually pick up different types of scenes, from a close-up of an actor to an outdoor scene.

Human brain began evolving early   BBC - February 17, 2004

The human brain may have started evolving its unique characteristics much earlier than has previously been supposed, according to new research. Hominid brains were being reorganized before the growth in brain size thought to have established a gulf between human and ape abilities, it is claimed. The conclusions come from analysis of a small-brained fossil hominid - or human-like primate - from South Africa.

Researchers Pinpoint Brain Areas That Process Reality, Illusion   Space Daily - February 11, 2004
new collaborative study involving a biomedical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis and neurobiologists at the University of Pittsburgh shows that sometimes you can't believe anything that you see. More importantly, the researchers have identified areas of the brain where what we're actually doing (reality) and what we think we're doing (illusion, or perception) are processed.

Brain scan shows emotional rejection pain as strong as physical pain   BBC - October 10, 2003

Being snubbed socially provokes exactly the same brain response as being physically hurt, say US researchers. Volunteers were asked to play a computer game designed to fool them into feeling excluded, while brain scans were taken at the same time.

'Brain training' link to hunger   BBC - September 6, 2003

Scientists in London have shown that the brain can be trained to hunger for foods on seeing an abstract image. The experiment could hold the key to understanding eating disorders.

Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes   Scientific American - April 15, 2003

People with synesthesia whose senses blend together - are providing valuable clues to understanding the organization and functions of the human brain.

Scientists develop 'brain chip'   BBC - March 12, 2003

A "brain chip" could be used to replace the "memory centre" in patients affected by strokes, epilepsy or Alzheimer's disease, it has been claimed. US scientists say a silicon chip could be used to replace the hippocampus, where the storage of memories is co-ordinated. They are due to start testing the device on rats' brains shortly. If that goes well, the Californian researchers will test the artificial hippocampus in live rats within six months and then monkeys trained to carry out memory tasks before progressing to human trials once the chip has been proved to be safe. The aim is that the silicon chip - the first brain prosthesis - will be able to replace damaged brain tissue. Current devices, such as cochlear implants, only stimulate brain activity.

Scientists Identify Brain Regions Where Nicotine Affects Attention, Other Cognitive Skills   Science Daily - January 14, 2003
Nicotine administration in humans is known to sharpen attention and to slightly enhance memory. Now scientists, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have identified those areas of the brain where nicotine exerts its effects on cognitive skills. Their findings suggest that nicotine improves attention in smokers by enhancing activation in the posterior cortical and subcortical regions of the brain--areas traditionally associated with visual attention, arousal, and motor activation. This study provides the first evidence that nicotine-induced enhancement of parietal cortex activation is associated with improved attention.

How the brain processes emotions   BBC - January 13, 2003

Scientists have discovered how the brain processes emotionally charged information. They have found that the left side of the brain alone appears to take responsibility for decoding the literal meaning of emotional messages. But it seems that the brain's right hemisphere plays a role in assessing the tone in which the message is delivered - a concept known technically as prosody. The findings are based on measuring how fast blood flows to the tissues of the brain. A greater velocity implies more activity in that area of the brain because brain cells, when active, require an increased supply of oxygen and glucose, both of which are carried in the blood.

Site 2   Science Daily - January 13, 2003
Our Emotional Brains: Both Sides Process The Language Of Feelings, With The Left Side Labeling The 'What' And The Right Side Processing The 'How'

A New Window To View How Experiences Rewire The Brain   Science Daily - December 23, 2002
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have developed sophisticated microscopy techniques that permit them to watch how the brains of live mice are rewired as the mice learn to adapt to new experiences. Their studies show that rewiring of the brain involves the formation and elimination of synapses, the connections between neurons. The technique offers a new way to examine how learning can spur changes in the organization of neuronal connections in the brain.

Brains Of Elderly Can Compensate To Remain Sharp, Study Indicates   Science Daily - November 8, 2002
Elderly adults who perform as well as younger adults on certain cognitive tests appear to enlist the otherwise underused left half of the prefrontal cortex of their brain in order to maintain performance, Duke University neuroscientists have found. In contrast, elderly people who are not "high performers" on the tests resemble younger adults in showing a preferred usage of the right side of the prefrontal cortex.

Individual Neurons Reveal Complexity Of Memory Within The Brain   Science Daily - January 4, 2002
An investigation of the activity of individual human nerve cells during the act of memory indicates that the brain's nerve cells are even more specialized than many people think – no pun intended. Although nerve cells that change activity during the use of memory are widely distributed in the brain, individual neurons generally respond to specific aspects of memory. "For the first time, we've been able to show differences within regions of the temporal lobe in the way individual neurons respond to memory. Everything we've done to this point was to show that there are individual neurons that change activity --but we hadn't been able to sort them out in any meaningful way.

Women have more brain cells   BBC - November 13, 2001
Women's brains are more tightly packed with cells in the area that controls mental processes such as judgement, personality, planning and working memory, researchers have discovered. A team from McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, found that women have up to 15% more brain cell density in certain areas of the frontal lobe, which controls so-called higher mental processes. The cells are found in areas that make connections with other parts of the brain, such as the limbic system which is thought to play a major role in the emotions. However, as they get older, women appear to shed cells more rapidly from this area than men. By old age, the density is similar for both sexes.