Where the brain processes spiritual experiences Science Daily - June 2, 2018
Yale scientists have identified a possible neurobiological home for the spiritual experience -- the sense of connection to something greater than oneself. Activity in the parietal cortex, an area of the brain involved in awareness of self and others as well as attention processing, seems to be a common element among individuals who have experienced a variety of spiritual experiences. researchers stressed other brain areas are probably also involved in formation of spiritual experiences. The method can help future researchers study spiritual experience and its impact on mental health, he said.
Study reveals brain activity patterns underlying fluent speech Medical Express - June 1, 2018
When we speak, we engage nearly 100 muscles, continuously moving our lips, jaw, tongue, and throat to shape our breath into the fluent sequences of sounds that form our words and sentences. A new study by UC San Francisco scientists reveals how these complex articulatory movements are coordinated in the brain. The new research reveals that the brain's speech centers are organized more according to the physical needs of the vocal tract as it produces speech than by how the speech sounds (its "phonetics"). Linguists divide speech into abstract units of sound called "phonemes" and consider the /k/ sound in "keep" the same as the /k/ in "coop." But in reality, your mouth forms the sound differently in these two words to prepare for the different vowels that follow, and this physical distinction now appears to be more important to the brain regions responsible for producing speech than the theoretical sameness of the phoneme.
Some human brains are nearly twice the size of others but how might that matter? Medical Express - June 1, 2018
Differences in size are related to the brain's shape and the way it is organized. The bigger the brain, the more its additional area is accounted for by growth in thinking areas of the cortex, or outer mantle - at the expense of relatively slower growth in lower order emotional, sensory, and motor areas.
Scientists find fear, courage switches in brain Science Daily - May 2, 2018
Located smack-dab in the middle of the brain, these clusters, or nuclei, each send signals to a different area of the brain, igniting opposite behaviors in the face of a visual threat. By selectively altering the activation levels of the two nuclei, the investigators could dispose the mice to freeze or duck into a hiding space, or to aggressively stand their ground, when approached by a simulated predator.
Brain injuries increase dementia risk, study finds BBC - April 11, 2018
An analysis of 2.8 million people found those who had one or more traumatic brain injuries were 24% more likely to get dementia than those who had not. The risk was greatest in people who had the injuries in their 20s, who were 63% more likely to get the condition at some point in their life.
Older adults grow just as many new brain cells as young people Science Daily - April 6, 2018
Researchers show for the first time that healthy older men and women can generate just as many new brain cells as younger people. There has been controversy over whether adult humans grow new neurons, and some research has previously suggested that the adult brain was hard-wired and that adults did not grow new neurons. This study counters that notion. The findings may suggest that many senior citizens remain more cognitively and emotionally intact than commonly believed.
The brain learns completely differently than we've assumed since the 20th century Medical Express - March 23, 2018
The brain is a complex network containing billions of neurons, where each of these neurons communicates simultaneously with thousands of other via their synapses (links). However, the neuron actually collects its many synaptic incoming signals through several extremely long ramified "arms" only, called dendritic trees.
Hyperreality: How Will Your Brain Handle the Future Internet? Seeker - March 22, 2018
Technology is changing the way our brains work. Cell phones and computers trigger cognitive offloading. For example, it used to be common to memorize phone numbers; many people can still recall their childhood best friend’s number. However, children today will most likely never commit a phone number to memory. This is cognitive offloading - information is put into devices so we do not have to store it in our brains. This is one example, of many, that showcases how technology is possibly negatively impacting our brains. But what are ways internet obsession can be used for good? Hyperreality may hold the answer.
Do you see what I see? Researchers harness brain waves to reconstruct images of what we perceive Medical Express - February 22, 2018
A new technique developed by neuroscientists at the University of Toronto Scarborough can, for the first time, reconstruct images of what people perceive based on their brain activity gathered by EEG. The technique developed by Dan Nemrodov, a postdoctoral fellow in Assistant Professor Adrian Nestor's lab at U of T Scarborough, is able to digitally reconstruct images seen by test subjects based on electroencephalography (EEG) data.
Neuroscientists discover a brain signal that indicates whether speech has been understood Medical Express - February 22, 2018
Neuroscientists from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Rochester have identified a specific brain signal associated with the conversion of speech into understanding. The signal is present when the listener has understood what they have heard, but it is absent when they either did not understand, or weren't paying attention. The uniqueness of the signal means that it could have a number of potential applications, such as tracking language development in infants, assessing brain function in unresponsive patients, or determining the early onset of dementia in older persons.
Human brain tripled in size gradually over three million years as we developed culture, language, and the ability to make tools, study reveals Daily Mail - February 21, 2018
The evolution of the human brain may have occurred far more gradually than previously believed. A new study on nearly 100 fossils from several different human species has found that brain size tripled over the course of the last three million years, in a process that was likely slow and consistent, as opposed to a series of 'step-like increases.' Experts say the shift was driven by increasing complexity, as humans developed culture, language, and the ability to make tools.
Brain-machine interface study suggests how brains prepare for action Medical Express - February 16, 2018
Somewhere right now in Pyeongchang, South Korea, an Olympic skier is thinking through the twists and spins she'll make in the aerial competition, a speed skater is visualizing how he'll sneak past a competitor on the inside line, and a curler is imagining the perfect sweep. It's called mental rehearsal, and psychologists and athletes alike know that it works: picturing ourselves going through routines, whether it's figure skating or something more mundane, improves our chances of success.
Researchers discover brain cells change following close contact with a stressed individual Medical Express - February 16, 2018
Health-care workers treating soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report that some soldiers' partners and family members display symptoms of PTSD despite never serving in the military. Stress transmitted from others can change the brain in the same way as a real stress does.
Tickling the brain with electrical stimulation improves memory Science Daily - January 29, 2018
Tickling the brain with low-intensity electrical stimulation in a specific area can improve verbal short-term memory. Mayo Clinic researchers report their findings in Brain. The researchers found word recall was enhanced with stimulation of the brain's lateral temporal cortex, the regions on the sides of the head by the temples and ears. Patients recalled more words from a previously viewed list when low-amplitude electrical stimulation was delivered to the brain. One patient reported that it was easier to picture the words in his mind for remembering.
Unique pattern of neural wiring in people who are creative geniuses is found for the first time Daily Mail - January 16, 2018
A simple brain scan can now determine whether or not you have a creative mind. Scientists have found a pattern of neural activity that marks out people who are good at generating original ideas, such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Experts could one day target the brain regions responsible using a 'creativity pill' to make people more imaginative, according to one researcher.
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 Inspire.com - 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 Nautil.us - 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.
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 Telegraph.co.uk - 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 Telegraph.co.uk - 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 Telegraph.co.uk - 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 Telegraph.co.uk - 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.
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