Neuroscience

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  • Can daydreaming enhance mental performance?

    Neurology / Neuroscience News From Medical News Today
    24 Oct 2014 | 7:00 am
    Allowing the mind to wander may not be such a negative thing when it comes to working on complex mental tasks, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
  • Spike activity 24-10-2014

    Mind Hacks
    vaughanbell
    24 Oct 2014 | 12:26 pm
    Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: A Victorian lunatic asylum begins to reveal its secrets. The Wellcome Library now has the first of many digitised asylum records online. Narratively has an excellent piece on legendary San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton. The marketers latest fad – make it seem it’s a feminist social campaign – has been taken on as an attempt to sell a rejected antidepressant as a treatment for the invented ‘female sexual dysfunction’. In-depth and important article in the BMJ. Time magazine has a special features that…
  • Navigation for Nerve Cells

    Neuroscience RSS Feeds - Neuroscience News Updates
    Neuroscience News
    24 Oct 2014 | 2:34 pm
    Researchers report FLRT proteins guide precursors of pyramidal cells during neurodevelopment.
  • Reading Novels Increases Connectivity of Areas in the Brain

    The Brain from Top to Bottom Blog - Intermediate Level
    Bruno Dubuc
    20 Oct 2014 | 1:58 pm
    Immersing yourself in reading a good novel is an excellent way to take a break from the stresses of daily life. By seeing things from the protagonists’ point of view while you are reading those few hundred pages, not only do you feel as if you have access to another world, but you may also continue to have this feeling for some time, or even for your entire life, if the book has really made an impression on you. The neurobiological bases of this phenomenon would appear to have been discovered in a study that Gregory S. Berns and his colleagues published in the journal Brain Connectivity in…
  • How to chill on aggression...get blood glucose levels up.

    Deric's MindBlog
    24 Oct 2014 | 3:14 am
    Here is an interesting and quirky piece by Bushman et al. that has been languishing in my queue of potential posts for quite a while: People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest—intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat. We measured glucose levels in 107 married couples over 21 days. To measure aggressive impulses, participants stuck 0–51 pins into a voodoo doll that…
 
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    Neuroscience News -- ScienceDaily

  • Reminiscing can help boost mental performance

    23 Oct 2014 | 8:10 am
    Engaging brain areas linked to so-called 'off-task' mental activities (such as mind-wandering and reminiscing) can actually boost performance on some challenging mental tasks, a new research led by a neuroscientist shows for the first.
  • New window of opportunity to prevent cardiovascular, diseases

    23 Oct 2014 | 7:09 am
    Future prevention and treatment strategies for vascular diseases may lie in the evaluation of early brain imaging tests long before heart attacks or strokes occur, according to a systematic review conducted by a team of cardiologists, neuroscientists, and psychiatrists.
  • If you're over 60, drink up: Alcohol associated with better memory

    23 Oct 2014 | 6:20 am
    For people 60 and older who do not have dementia, light alcohol consumption during late life is associated with higher episodic memory -- the ability to recall memories of events -- researchers report.
  • Bipolar disorder discovery at the nano level

    22 Oct 2014 | 12:47 pm
    A nano-sized discovery helps explain how bipolar disorder affects the brain and could one day lead to new drug therapies to treat the mental illness, researchers report.
  • Brain simulation raises questions

    22 Oct 2014 | 9:34 am
    What does it mean to simulate the human brain? Why is it important to do so? And is it even possible to simulate the brain separately from the body it exists in? These questions are discussed in a new paper.
 
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    MIT News - Neuroscience

  • Kay Tye named 2014 NYSCF – Robertson Investigator

    Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
    20 Oct 2014 | 11:33 am
    The Picower Institute congratulates Kay Tye, a Picower principal investigator and the Whitehead Career Development Assistant Professor in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences who is one of six promising scientists the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) recently selected to receive a $1.5 million award over the next five years. The NYSCF Investigator Program, designed to support emerging scientists engaged in innovative neuroscience and stem cell research, fosters the careers of talented researchers as they transition from completing their postdoctoral studies to managing…
  • Autism as a disorder of prediction

    Anne Trafton | MIT News Office
    7 Oct 2014 | 12:45 pm
    Autism is characterized by many different symptoms: difficulty interacting with others, repetitive behaviors, and hypersensitivity to sound and other stimuli. MIT neuroscientists have put forth a new hypothesis that accounts for these behaviors and may provide a neurological foundation for many of the disparate features of the disorder. The researchers suggest that autism may be rooted in an impaired ability to predict events and other people’s actions. From the perspective of the autistic child, the world appears to be a “magical” rather than an orderly place, because events seem to…
  • Fifteen MIT scientists receive NIH BRAIN Initiative grants

    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | McGovern Institute for Brain Research
    30 Sep 2014 | 12:12 pm
    Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced their first round of BRAIN Initiative award recipients. Six teams and 15 researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were recipients. Mriganka Sur, principal investigator at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the Paul E. Newton Professor of Neuroscience in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) leads a team studying cortical circuits and information flow during memory-guided perceptual decisions. Co-principal investigators include Emery Brown, BCS professor of computational neuroscience and…
  • Picower and MIT scientists awarded BRAIN Initiative grants

    Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
    30 Sep 2014 | 9:24 am
    Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the first round of Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative award recipients, including several MIT interdisciplinary teams. The BRAIN Initiative, spearheaded by President Obama in April 2013, challenges the nation’s leading scientists to advance our sophisticated understanding of the human mind and discover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, and traumatic brain injury. “The human brain is one of the most complicated…
  • Modeling shockwaves through the brain

    Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
    29 Sep 2014 | 12:00 pm
    Since the start of the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 300,000 soldiers have returned to the United States with traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by exposure to bomb blasts — and in particular, exposure to improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury can range from the mild, such as lingering headaches and nausea, to more severe impairments in memory and cognition. Since 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense has recognized the critical importance and complexity of this problem, and has made significant investments in traumatic brain injury…
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    ScienceBlogs

  • 10+ Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn [Greg Laden's Blog]

    Greg Laden
    24 Oct 2014 | 6:59 pm
    Here is a list of things to do after you have installed Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn. There is some discussion of whether or not you should upgraded to 14.10 here, but the short version is, for most people an upgrade from 14.04 is not necessary but not a bad idea, and an upgrade from any earlier version is a very good idea. Mostly, though, you should just upgrade. One could ask the question, should you be installing Ubuntu with Unity. You have to like Unity. I personally like to have a wider range of desktop options than Ubuntu with Unity allows, but for a notebook or laptop where you are…
  • A Q&A with public health leaders on the opioid epidemic: ‘Prescription opioid abuse is still raging out of control’ [The Pump Handle]

    Kim Krisberg
    24 Oct 2014 | 1:01 pm
    The statistics describing America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic are startling, to say the least. Here are just a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: In 2009, prescription painkiller abuse was responsible for nearly half a million emergency department visits — a number that doubled in just five years. Of the more than 41,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2012, more than half were related to pharmaceuticals. In 2012, U.S. health care providers wrote enough painkiller prescriptions — 259 million — to provide every, single American adult with…
  • The Canadian War on Science: More updates to the chronology of the Conservative government’s anti-science actions [Confessions of a Science Librarian]

    John Dupuis
    24 Oct 2014 | 7:57 am
    It has been a year since I last updated my chronological listing of the Harper Conservative government’s war on science. The newly updated master list is here, where you can also read more about this project in general. The previous update from October 2013 is here. Some preliminary metrics about the impact of that original post in the wider world are here. This update contains 140 new incidents, mostly from between the last update and now. They have been integrated into the master list. Some notes. Many of the incidents I list are programs or locations that have sustained significant…
  • Protein folding probably requires the assistance of Frigg [Pharyngula]

    PZ Myers
    24 Oct 2014 | 5:56 am
    The Discovery Institute doesn’t understand the protein folding problem. I mean that literally: they don’t understand the problem. Scientists don’t know the answer, but they have a clear understanding of the problem. PNAS published a “Perspective” article, “The Nature of Protein Folding Pathways,” by S. Walter Englander and Leland Mayne. Unsurprisingly, they try to approach the problem from purely materialistic presuppositions. There is no mention of specificity, amino acid sequence, or digital information. You see, there really is an interesting…
  • Landsjö Castle Plan Develops [Aardvarchaeology]

    Martin R
    24 Oct 2014 | 5:20 am
    Landsjö castle. State of knowledge after the 2014 excavations.I’m giving a talk on Landsjö castle to the Kimstad Historical Society next week, and while preparing my presentation I made a sketch plan of this summer’s discoveries regarding the plan. The ruin just barely breaks the turf, so we didn’t know much about the castle’s layout beforehand except that it had a 60-metre straight stretch of perimeter wall along the west side and that it cannot have been rectangular. Our main architectural discoveries in two July weeks of digging and clearing brush were as follows.
 
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    Deric's MindBlog

  • How to chill on aggression...get blood glucose levels up.

    24 Oct 2014 | 3:14 am
    Here is an interesting and quirky piece by Bushman et al. that has been languishing in my queue of potential posts for quite a while: People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest—intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat. We measured glucose levels in 107 married couples over 21 days. To measure aggressive impulses, participants stuck 0–51 pins into a voodoo doll that…
  • Happiness and well-being sources.

    24 Oct 2014 | 3:11 am
    I’m passing on three items from my queue of potential posts that touch on well-being and happiness. First, of course, there’s an App for that! Kit Eaton reviews three of these: Happify, iMoodJournal and Smiling Mind. Basaraba points to a number of sources on the health benefits of gratitude, as does Dashel Keltner’s Greater Good site. Finally, Reynolds points to studies just published in Cell Magazine that delve into the biochemical details of how exercise may protect us against depression.
  • Speaking out in a group correlates with gender.

    23 Oct 2014 | 3:21 am
    The effectiveness of group decision-making depends on whether the best informed members actually contribute to the discussion. Coffman does a laboratory experiment to examine factors that influence an individual's propensity to contribute, finding that in general undergraduate women contribute less than men, but show the least reluctance for more female-stereotyped subject areas such as art and the most for male-stereotyped subject such as sports: We use a lab experiment to explore the factors that predict an individual's decision to contribute her idea to a group. We find that contribution…
  • Scientific evidence does not support anti-aging claims of the brain game industry.

    22 Oct 2014 | 7:46 am
    MindBlog has done numerous posts on brain training games as possible antidotes to cognitive decline in the elderly. (I've played with both Merzenich's BrainHQ exercises and Luminosity exercises). The Stanford Center for Longevity and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development have together just issued a joint statement skeptical about the effectiveness of "brain game" products such as these (the full statement, with references, is here), signed by 69 prominent psychologists and cognitive scientists from around the world,  even including Adam Gazzaley at UCSF, who has a financial…
  • Humans and robots.

    22 Oct 2014 | 4:04 am
    A recent issue of Science magazine has a special section of articles on the social life of robots. The introduction by Stone and Lavine provides links to the abstracts of the articles (full text is not open access). I pass on their introduction: Autonomous machines have gripped our imagination ever since the first robot flickered on the silver screen, Maria (left) in the 1927 film Metropolis. Most of the robots we know today—unglamorous devices like robotic welders on car assembly lines and the Roomba vacuum cleaner—fall short of those in science fiction. But our relationship with robots…
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    Brain Blogger

  • Exercise Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

    Viatcheslav Wlassoff, PhD
    24 Oct 2014 | 4:00 am
    Physical activity is a holistic strategy for increasing overall health and lowering disease risk among a wide range of individuals, and people with neurological conditions can benefit from them too. The benefits of physical activity for individuals with, or at risk of, dementia are not particularly well known to the general public. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one of the most common forms of dementia. It is still debatable what exactly causes the disease but its risk increases with age. In 2001, the results of a study comparing the effects of physical activity on cognitive impairment were…
  • Comparing the 5 Theories of Emotion

    Beppe Micallef-Trigona, MD, MRCPsych, MSc
    22 Oct 2014 | 4:00 am
    Emotions seem to dominate many aspects of our lives. But what exactly are emotions? The word first appears in our language in the mid-16th century, adapted from the French word émouvoir, which literally means, “to stir up”. However, one can find precursors to the word emotion dating back to the earliest known recordings of language. When searching for a definition, Hockenbury describes an emotion as “a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and an expressive response.” Researchers have…
  • The Science of Acupuncture

    Sara Adaes, PhD (c)
    21 Oct 2014 | 4:00 am
    Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. In the Western world, acupuncture has been a highly controversial therapy, mostly due to the lack of scientific explanations for its mechanisms of action. Nevertheless, acupuncture has become increasingly accepted, having spread worldwide and having become a frequently sought-after alternative therapy. In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Program recognized acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention of complementary medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) now recommends the…
  • Life After Death – The Science of Near Death Experiences

    Carla Clark, PhD
    19 Oct 2014 | 4:00 am
    For millennia, we have wondered what happens after death. This October 2014, scientists at Southampton University have published the largest ever study looking into what happens when patients return from death’s door. The outcomes seem to confirm the incredible – that consciousness continues on after you are considered clinically dead. Classical near death experiences are typically described as being vivid, peaceful and joyous, with heightened senses and an altered perception of time, sometimes encountering spirits or beings. The ‘bright light at the end of the tunnel’ is often…
  • Can Brain Imaging Detect Risk Takers?

    Daniel Faris
    18 Oct 2014 | 4:00 am
    Risk-taking seems to come naturally for some people – from those who don’t hesitate asking for a new promotion, to those who don’t flinch before artfully diving off a cliff into the ocean below. Others play it safer. While upbringing may have some role in our risk-taking probabilities, there are plenty of cases where siblings raised in the same environment have different tendencies to take risks. Several studies have investigated the correlation between brain structure and risk-taking. In response to the statistic that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among…
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    Mind Hacks

  • Spike activity 24-10-2014

    vaughanbell
    24 Oct 2014 | 12:26 pm
    Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: A Victorian lunatic asylum begins to reveal its secrets. The Wellcome Library now has the first of many digitised asylum records online. Narratively has an excellent piece on legendary San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton. The marketers latest fad – make it seem it’s a feminist social campaign – has been taken on as an attempt to sell a rejected antidepressant as a treatment for the invented ‘female sexual dysfunction’. In-depth and important article in the BMJ. Time magazine has a special features that…
  • A Rush of Blood to the Brain

    vaughanbell
    15 Oct 2014 | 5:36 am
    An article from Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry that discusses the concept of ‘moral disability’ and brain trauma in Victorian times includes a fascinating section on what was presumably thought to be the science of ‘knocking some sense into the brain’. The piece is by medical historian Brandy Shillace who researches Victorian scientific ideas and how they affected society. Sadly, the article is locked (quite rightly, humanities can kill if not used correctly) but this is the key section: While eighteenth-century French philosopher François Bichat had suggested that…
  • Hallucinating astronauts

    vaughanbell
    5 Oct 2014 | 1:28 am
    I’ve got a piece in The Observer about the stresses, strains and mind-bending effects of space flight. NASA considers behavioural and psychiatric conditions to be one of the most significant risks to the integrity of astronaut functioning and there is a surprisingly long history of these difficulties adversely affecting missions. Perhaps more seriously, hallucinations have been associated with the breakdown of crew coherence and space mission stress. In 1976, crew from the Russian Soyuz-21 mission were brought back to Earth early after they reported an acrid smell aboard the Salyut-5…
  • Spike activity 05-10-2014

    vaughanbell
    4 Oct 2014 | 4:48 am
    Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Dropping science: neuroscientists throw down epic / excruciating rap battle on Twitter. Bring the line noise. The New Yorker has an interesting piece on the neuroscientific legacy of the Vietnam War. In neuroscience terms, it was America’s World War One. The latest edition of Nature NeuroPod is particularly good: psychosis, detecting animacy, network theory for brains. Livescience covers an interesting study finding that the uncanny valley effect is affected by loneliness. The US Government spend $300 million on BRAIN initiative…
  • A review of Susan Greenfield’s “Mind Change”

    vaughanbell
    2 Oct 2014 | 6:30 am
    I was asked to write a review of Susan Greenfield’s new book “Mind Change” for the October edition of Literary Review magazine which has just been published. You can read the review in the print edition and I did have the full text posted here but the good folks at the magazine have also put it online to read in full, so do check it out at the link below. Mind Change marshals many published sources to address these claims. However, this provides little scientific insight owing to Greenfield’s difficulty with synthesising the evidence in any meaningful sense, while she also…
 
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    Neuroethics & Law Blog

  • PEBS Neuroethics Roundup (JHU)

    NELB Staff
    23 Oct 2014 | 3:07 pm
    Last Edition's Most Popular Article(s): Q&A: Robots and the Law, Science Upcoming Event: International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting Washington, D.C. November 13-14, 2014 In The Popular Press: New Algorithms Search for Signs of Consciousness in Brain Injury Patients, Wired Burden...
  • "Why Behavioral Economics Isn't Better, and How it Could Be"

    NELB Staff
    23 Oct 2014 | 3:06 pm
    Recently published in SSRN (and forthcoming in Research Handbook on Behavioral Law and Economics (J. Teitelbaum & K. Zeiler eds, (2015)): "Why Behavioral Economics Isn't Better, and How it Could Be" OWEN D. JONES, Vanderbilt University What’s holding Behavioral Economics...
  • Stanford's Center for Law and the Biosciences Fellowship

    Adam Kolber
    23 Oct 2014 | 2:38 am
    Quoting from here: Stanford Law School invites applications for the 2015-2016 Fellowship Program at the Center for Law and the Biosciences. The Goal: This fellowship is intended for people who want an academic or policy career working on legal and...
  • PEBS Neuroethics Roundup (JHU)

    NELB Staff
    16 Oct 2014 | 3:06 pm
    Last Edition's Most Popular Article(s): 5 Myths About the Human Brain Debunked, Vox In The Popular Press: How Scientists are Studying Consciousness — With Mirrors, Electrodes, and Anesthesia, Vox Let Science Decide the Voting Age, NewScientist In Interrogations, Teenagers Are...
  • "Confronting Cognitive 'Anchoring Effect' and 'Blind Spot' Biases in Federal Sentencing: A Modest Solution for Reforming a Fundamental Flaw"

    NELB Staff
    15 Oct 2014 | 4:18 pm
    Recently published in SSRN (and recently published in 104 Journal of Criminal law and Criminology 489 (2014)): "Confronting Cognitive 'Anchoring Effect' and 'Blind Spot' Biases in Federal Sentencing: A Modest Solution for Reforming a Fundamental Flaw" MARK W. BENNETT, U.S....
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    Neuromarketing

  • Do You Suffer From Funnel Vision?

    Roger Dooley
    21 Oct 2014 | 7:02 am
    They say if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. One of the favorite tools of marketers, the sales funnel, may produce the same kind of myopia, according to Unmarketing’s Scott Stratten. Stratten’s new book, Unselling: The New [...]
  • Packaging Power, Imaginative Imagery, More – Roger’s Picks

    Roger Dooley
    20 Oct 2014 | 8:14 am
    Here’s my latest content for the week, and hand picked items both I and my readers liked, too. My Stuff Brands often think about the retail packaging of their product, since they know it reflects on their brand and product. [...]
  • Weird Mood Effects, Psycho Trolls, Unselling, and More – Roger’s Picks

    Roger Dooley
    10 Oct 2014 | 10:02 am
    Here’s the most compelling stuff we found all week, plus what I published. I hope that’s compelling, too! My Stuff Internet trolls are toxic to communities, and their antics can drive away productive and helpful members. The common assumption has [...]
  • Do Twitter And TV Shrink Your Brain?

    Roger Dooley
    7 Oct 2014 | 4:02 am
    Media multitasking, watching TV while using Twitter on a phone, for example, is becoming extremely common. A new study finds, however, that these multiple screen users have less gray matter in a specific area of the brain.
  • The Two-Pizza Rule, Costco’s Sampling Secrets, More… Roger’s Picks

    Roger Dooley
    3 Oct 2014 | 4:12 am
    Diverse topics this week include a one-word motivator that boosts effort and results, why Costco gives you free food, how to create a call to action that gets results, the psychology behind Jeff Bezos's "two pizza" team rule, how music makes your brain work better, and more.
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    SharpBrains

  • Douglas Ziedonis (UMass­ Med­ical School) to speak on scaling up meditation and mindfulness

    SharpBrains
    24 Oct 2014 | 6:03 am
    Excited to announce that Dr. Dou­glas Ziedo­nis, Pro­fes­sor and Chair of the Depart­ment of Psy­chi­a­try at at the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts Med­ical School, will share his work and insights on Scal­ing up med­i­ta­tion and mind­ful­ness via well­ness pro­grams and biofeed­back sensors at the 2014 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit (Octo­ber 28-30th). Dr. Ziedo­nis is also Pres­i­dent of UMass Memo­r­ial Behav­ioral Health Ser­vices. He is inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized for his research and lead­er­ship in address­ing co-occurring…
  • How can front-line professionals incorporate the emerging brain health toolkit to their practices?

    SharpBrains
    23 Oct 2014 | 6:48 am
    Don’t miss the ses­sion How can front-line pro­fes­sion­als incor­po­rate the emerg­ing brain health toolkit to their practices at the 2014 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit next week, featuring: Eliz­a­beth Frates, Direc­tor of Med­ical Stu­dent Edu­ca­tion at the Insti­tute of Lifestyle Medicine Dr. Cather­ine Madi­son, Direc­tor of the Ray Dolby Brain Health Cen­ter at Cal­i­for­nia Pacific Med­ical Center Bar­bara Van Amburg, Chief Nurs­ing Offi­cer at Kaiser Per­ma­nente Red­wood City Kate Sul­li­van, Direc­tor of the Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter at…
  • 10 Ways To Improve Health & Well-being Based On Latest Non-Invasive Neurotechnologies

    Alvaro Fernandez
    22 Oct 2014 | 8:04 am
    Last month I had the fortune to join over 1,900 pioneers from 90 countries at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Tianjin, China, to discuss how innovation can improve the state of the world. Throughout hundreds of panels, workshops, private meetings and social gatherings, we examined how to deal with climate change, how to invest in public infrastructure, how to better regulate financial services, and dozens of other pressing topics. In addressing these issues, everyone — independent of nationality or discipline – brought to the table our most precious asset: the amazing…
  • Challenge: Helping consumers separate brain training wheat from brain games chaff

    SharpBrains
    22 Oct 2014 | 7:06 am
    Brain-Training Companies Get Advice From Some Academics, Criticism From Others (The Chronicle of Higher Education): “…brain-game companies entice people to buy subscriptions to their online training programs, many of which promise to increase customers’ “neuroplasticity,” “fluid intelligence,” and working memory capacity. They even claim to help stave off the effects of aging. Leading scientists have criticized those promises, though…(just released) a statement objecting “to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse…
  • Best practices to assess and enhance brain functions via mobile devices and wearables

    SharpBrains
    21 Oct 2014 | 6:25 am
    Don’t miss the session Best prac­tices to assess and enhance brain func­tion via mobile devices and wearables at the 2014 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit next week, featuring: Corinna E. Lathan, Founder and CEO of AnthroTronix (just received FDA clearance) Eddie Mar­tucci, VP Research & Devel­op­ment at Akili Inter­ac­tive Labs Alex Doman, Co-Founder of Sleep Genius Joan Sev­er­son, Pres­i­dent of Dig­i­tal Artefacts (developer of BrainBaseline) Chair: Jayne Plun­kett, Mem­ber of the Group Man­age­ment Board for Swiss Re We are looking forward to it! –> Explore…
 
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    BSP Show Notes - Brain Science Podcast

  • What Do Mirror Neurons Really Do? (BSP 112)

    Ginger Campbell, MD
    16 Oct 2014 | 5:11 am
    Greg Hickok, PhD (Click on photo to hear his interview) Ever since their chance discovery back in 1992 mirror neurons have captured the imagination of both scientists and nonscientists, but their actual role remains mostly speculative. In The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition Dr. Gregory Hickok (UC-Irvine) explains why the most popular theory is probably wrong. He also provides a fascinating account of how science is really done and the sobering lesson that scientists can fall prey to the same cognitive biases (and tendencies toward laziness)…
  • Exercise Promotes Brain Plasticity (BSP 111)

    Ginger Campbell, MD
    2 Sep 2014 | 1:00 am
    John Ratey, MDClick picture to hear interview According to psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey the best way to improve brain plasticity is by exercise.  I spoke to him shortly after he published his best-seller Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008). He commented that even compared to drugs "Exercise is the champ."Download BSP 111 Since then Dr. Ratey has been traveling the world promoting the value of exercise for people of all ages, but his main focus has been on young people and on trying to restore and invigorate physical education programs in the schools. In…
  • "Neurobiology for Dummies" (BSP 110)

    Ginger Campbell, MD
    26 Jul 2014 | 11:09 am
    Frank Amthor, PhD: Click image to play BSP 110 Frank Amthor's latest book Neurobiology for Dummies isn't just for readers who are new to neuroscience. In this excellent follow-up to his Neuroscience for Dummies Dr. Amthor discusses a wide variety of brain-related topics. Since I have known Frank for several years it was a special treat to interview him for BSP 110. We talked about a wide variety of ideas ranging from what makes neurons special to how brains differ from current computers.  How to get this episode:FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)Buy…
  • John Ratey Returns

    Ginger Campbell, MD
    24 Jun 2014 | 1:00 am
    Richard Manning and John Ratey (click on photo to hear Dr. Ratey's interview) Back in 2008 I interviewed Dr. John Ratey twice: first about his then new book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (BSP 33) and then later about his work with ADHD (BSP 45). Dr. Ratey was one of my favorite guests so I was eager to interview him about his new book Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind. This latest book explores the science behind the current movement to embrace a more healthy lifestyle based on lessons learned from our hunter gatherer ancestors. Since the topic…
  • Avoiding "Neuromania" (BSP 109)

    Ginger Campbell, MD
    28 May 2014 | 9:55 am
    I have spent the last 7 1/2 years sharing and promoting neuroscience and while it has been encouraging to see the field grow in popularity, there has also been a disturbing trend toward increased hype. One goal of the Brain Science Podcast is to provide accurate information that helps the average listener enjoy the science and avoid pseudoscience. BSP 109 was inspired by several excellent books that have documented the hazards of what some writers are calling "neuromania" or neurocentrism, which is the tendency to see the brain as the only path to understanding. How to get this episode:FREE:…
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    Neuronarrative

  • The Seductive Power of Overconfidence

    David DiSalvo
    15 Oct 2014 | 6:27 am
    Belief sells, whether it’s true or not. In the case of overconfidence, the belief in one’s ability—however out of proportion to reality—generates its own infectious energy. Self-deception is a potent means of convincing the world to see things your way.read more
  • Gut Feeling: How Bacteria Manipulates Your Brain

    David DiSalvo
    8 Sep 2014 | 5:40 pm
    The next time you can’t figure out why you’re suddenly craving a huge slab of ultra-decadent chocolate cake—consider the possibility that it’s not just you doing the craving. New research suggests that the armies of bacteria living in our guts can pull the strings in our brains to get what they want.read more
  • The Happiness Equation

    David DiSalvo
    22 Aug 2014 | 8:01 pm
    I can’t pretend to understand how the researchers developed the equation, but one word in their lengthy explanation resonates with my math-addled brain: expectations. After all the complex analyses, it really all comes down to what we expect and how strongly we expect it.read more
  • Why Is Being Alone With Our Thoughts So Hard?

    David DiSalvo
    9 Aug 2014 | 10:55 am
    Have we become so enraptured with gadgets, social media and the dull roar of crowds that we can’t stomach facing ourselves? read more
  • Why Profile Photos Are Liars

    David DiSalvo
    21 Jul 2014 | 5:05 pm
    Psychology researchers want us to know something about our profile photo-centrism – it’s a lie, and it’s leading us to draw conclusions that likely have zero basis in reality.read more
 
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    "On the Brain" with Dr. Michael Merzenich

  • Lifting the Fog of Chemobrain

    Dr. Merzenich
    13 Oct 2014 | 7:10 am
     Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to get the word out about BrainHQ and how it can help people. Let’s take people experiencing “chemobrain” (cognitive losses resulting from chemotherapy) as an example. Clinical scientists have shown that using BrainHQ exercises virtually re-normalizes the brain of an individual suffering from chemobrain. Benefits clearly extend beyond those skills and abilities that […]The post Lifting the Fog of Chemobrain appeared first on "On the Brain" with Dr. Michael Merzenich.
  • We’re All to Blame When the Punishment is Worse Than the Crime

    Dr. Merzenich
    6 Oct 2014 | 8:30 am
    I would guess that a lot of citizens were pretty angry when they read the tragic story of Kalief Browder in The New Yorker this month. I certainly was. If you haven’t read it, allow me to summarize: a young man near the end of his sophomore year in high school is accused of robbery and assault under […]The post We’re All to Blame When the Punishment is Worse Than the Crime appeared first on "On the Brain" with Dr. Michael Merzenich.
  • The Story of “Hack My Brain,” Todd Sampson, BrainHQ, and Me

    Dr. Merzenich
    15 Sep 2014 | 4:35 pm
    On September 19, 2014, at 8:00 p.m., the Science Channel will air a 3-part documentary called “Hack My Brain.” As the chief scientific consultant for the show, I helped the host, Todd Sampson, improve his memory, attention, and processing speed using BrainHQ. (If you want to try the same assessments and training Todd used, go […]The post The Story of “Hack My Brain,” Todd Sampson, BrainHQ, and Me appeared first on "On the Brain" with Dr. Michael Merzenich.
  • New Eye Test Can Detect Early Alzheimer’s

    Dr. Merzenich
    6 Aug 2014 | 11:35 am
    I wrote recently about some things that can increase or decrease amyloid beta protein in the body, and how the protein plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Now, scientists are working on an eye test that scans for amyloid beta deposits in the retina as a way to detect early Alzheimer’s. The research is still […]The post New Eye Test Can Detect Early Alzheimer’s appeared first on "On the Brain" with Dr. Michael Merzenich.
  • Why Does Brain Speed Matter, and What Can I Do to Improve It?

    Dr. Merzenich
    12 Mar 2014 | 4:40 pm
    I just saw an article in Scientific American about why brain speed is important, how it decays as we age, and what the effects are on daily life over time. But this is nothing new: we have been talking about brain speed for years! Some highlights from the article include: “Studies suggest that the speed […]The post Why Does Brain Speed Matter, and What Can I Do to Improve It? appeared first on "On the Brain" with Dr. Michael Merzenich.
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    NeuroLogica Blog

  • The Many Interacting Worlds Hypothesis

    Steven Novella
    24 Oct 2014 | 7:50 am
    Howard Wiseman, a theoretical quantum physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and his colleagues have come up with an entirely new theory to explain the weird behavior of particles at the quantum level. The idea is that quantum effects result from classical universes interacting with each other. Classical physics is essentially the physics of Newton and describes the macroscopic world. In classical physics particles have a definitive location and momentum. At the scale of fundamental particles, however, the world behaves very differently. At this so-called quantum level,…
  • A Brain-Training Update

    Steven Novella
    23 Oct 2014 | 5:19 am
    Can playing video games or specifically designed computer games improve your cognitive function? There are many companies who claim that they can and who would like to sell you such games that they claim are “scientifically designed.” So-called brain-training is a burgeoning business, with perhaps the best known product being Lumosity. Lumosity promises: “Scientifically designed games: Lumosity scientists study many common neuropsychological tasks, design some new ones, and transform these tasks into fun, challenging games.” They claim to be a “leader in the…
  • Graphene Neuro-electrode

    Steven Novella
    21 Oct 2014 | 5:20 am
    This news item combines two technologies that I have been eagerly following, graphene and brain-machine interface. Researchers have developed a 1-molecule thick graphene electrode that is transparent and can be used for high-resolution electrophysiological recordings of brain cell activity. Before I explain why this is such a cool advance, I will quickly review these technologies. Graphene is an allotrope of carbon – it is made of a single atom thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal sheet like chickenwire. This arrangement is very stable with strong bonds, making for a…
  • Defending Sick Children

    Steven Novella
    20 Oct 2014 | 5:32 am
    One of the most difficult issues that skeptical physicians face is dealing with children sick with cancer whose parents refuse standard therapy. These cases are always highly charged, because the stakes are extremely high. Obviously the stakes are highest for the child as their life is literally on the line. The stakes are also high for society, however, because they force a specific decision regarding the relative rights of parents vs the responsibility of the state to care for minors. Two recent cases once again raise these issues. One comes from Western Australia where 10-year-old Tamara…
  • Brain Activity in Vegetative Patients

    Steven Novella
    17 Oct 2014 | 5:31 am
    A vegetative state is a particular kind of coma in which patients appear to be awake but give no signs (by definition) of any awareness. They do not respond to their environment in any way or do anything purposeful. Some patients display a flicker of awareness, and they are categorized as minimally conscious. Neuroscientists have been using the latest technology to look at brain function in vegetative subjects and comparing that function to healthy controls. In this way they hope to gain insight into the neurological correlates of consciousness – what brain activity is necessary for and…
 
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    The Brain Understanding Itself

  • Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory

    Alex Doman
    1 Oct 2014 | 2:09 pm
    Perhaps you saw the viral video that was going around in the summer of 2012. It featured an elderly gentleman in a nursing home, coming alive through listening to music from his era as if it was manna from heaven. I posted about Henry’s Music back then not knowing that two years later a social worker named Dan Cohen, the man responsible for giving the gift of music to Henry would be my guest on The Listening Program® Radio. That video was a clip from the production of Alive Inside, the 2014 Sundance Audience Award winning documentary, which brings attention to the work of nonprofit Music…
  • The Irlen Method Explained

    Alex Doman
    19 Aug 2014 | 12:08 pm
      Earlier this summer I had the good fortune of attending the Advanced Clinical Summit with my friends and colleagues at EEG Info in Southern California.  My wife and I were there together speaking with many of the leading Neurofeedback practitioners from around the world. During the course of that weekend I noticed a familiar face in the room. That familiar face was Helen Irlen, creator of the Irlen Method. Helen’s name has come up often with our network of providers who offer The Listening Program® and inTime™ music listening therapy methods. Many of whom combine our brain…
  • Full Access to inTime Video Series

    Alex Doman
    21 Jul 2014 | 2:58 pm
    During the launch of inTime earlier this year we were very honored to have The Rockefeller University host us in their Science and Lecture Series for inTime: Intercultural Rhythms, Music, Sound and Science. The event was a panel discussion with fellow inTime producers Sheila Allen, Nacho Arimany and me, moderated by neuroscientist Dr. Kamran Fallahpour. Following the panel inTime music composer and multi-instrumentalist Nacho Arimany treated us to an incredible concert of his original world-music compositions. Why am I sharing this with you now? Well, our friends at Ferro Productions and…
  • Forgive me

    Alex Doman
    15 May 2014 | 3:25 pm
      Forgive me, I can’t contain my excitement! After months of hard work by an amazing group of people today we launched the entirely new Sleep Genius app for iOS. And then the most amazing thing happened… It has been featured as a Best New App in the App Store! Personally, I have to  agree with Apple on that point. Can’t sleep like 25% of your family and friends? Check out the app and tell me what you think! Android users, the new app will be in Google play anytime now. Wearables anyone? Sleep Genius seamlessly integrates with Jawbone Up and Fitbit. Note you’ll…
  • Back At It

    Alex Doman
    13 May 2014 | 11:20 am
    Did you miss me? Perhaps you didn’t notice I was gone… Either way, I wanted to share that I’m back at it! Back at what you ask? Blogging… In November I decided to take a hiatus from writing posts so I could focus with a really awesome team of people to launch two exciting products for Advanced Brain Technologies and Sleep Genius. One of these launched in February. It is a rhythm-based music listening therapy called inTime and I must say it is incredible! I couldn’t be happier about the response to it and the stories I am already hearing about the lives it is…
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    Brain Posts

  • Smartphone App Boosts Alcoholism Treatment Outcome

    23 Oct 2014 | 7:20 am
    Smartphone apps and other mobile technology are emerging as promising tools in medical treatment.A recent randomized study published in JAMA Psychiatry found evidence that a smartphone app improves alcoholism treatment outcomes.David Gustafson and colleagues conducted a study funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.A series of 349 adults with DSM-IV alcohol dependence were enrolled as they entered a alcoholism residential treatment program.Approximately half of the subjects were provided with a smartphone that had an app known as Addiction-Comprehensive Health…
  • Sleep Problems in Alcoholism Treatment

    21 Oct 2014 | 8:25 am
    In a previous post, I summarized a research study six month outcome of insomnia in a group of subjects treated for alcoholism.This study found a high persistence of insomnia despite reduction, and in many cases abstinence, from alcohol.A second study recently published by investigators at the National Institute of Health provides some additional insight into this topic.Gwenyth Wallen and colleagues studied a series of 164 participants admitted to a 4-6 week inpatient program for alcohol dependence.Subjects had an average inpatient length of stay of 32 days. Sleep problems were assessed using…
  • Persistent Insomnia and Alcoholism

    20 Oct 2014 | 7:56 am
    Sleep problems complicate the treatment and recovery in alcoholism. Heavy alcohol consumption modifies the nature of sleep architecture.A high blood alcohol concentration at bedtime may promote sleep early in the sleep cycle.However, as alcohol levels decline, sleep is often interrupted with limiting rapid eye movement (REM) sleep duration.Shortened total sleep time with alcohol can produce a lack of feeling well rested on awakening.For those with alcoholism or alcohol dependence, successful treatment and alcohol abstinence can restore a normal sleep pattern. However, the clinical…
  • Personality, Emotion and Psychopathology: David Watson Lecture Notes

    7 Oct 2014 | 1:15 pm
    I had the privilege to attend today the William K Warren Frontiers in Neuroscience Conference in Tulsa, OK by Dr. David Watson from Notre Dame University.Dr. Watson's lecture was titled: An integrative model of personality, emotion and psychopathology. This lecture summarized a body of research examining personality, psychological symptoms and a variety of brain disorders.Here are my lecture notes and links to relevant research citations. The first two citations have links to a free full-text manuscript for those with more interest in the topic.Lecture Notes:Dr. Watson opens by…
  • Alcohol Research: Weekend Reading Links

    3 Oct 2014 | 7:15 am
    In October, I will be looking at selected alcohol-related research studies.Here is a list of a few abstracts that caught my attention.These abstracts all have links to a free full-text manuscript for further reading.These selected abstracts come from a review of over 200 recent research studies.Smartphone alcoholism recovery supportThis randomized trial compared outcome in those who did and did not use a smartphone alcoholism continuing care app. Smartphone app users reported fewer numbers of heavy drinking days in the follow up period.Alcohol intake and risk of depressionFive thousand men…
 
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    Psychology Headlines Around the World

  • Personality Researchers Endorse Social Psychology Network

    Social Psychology Network News
    24 Oct 2014 | 10:37 am
    Source: Social Psychology Network NewsThe Association for Research in Personality has officially endorsed Social Psychology Network. In its statement, the Association described Social Psychology Network as "a fantastic resource for those interested in personality psychology as well as a number of other topics... We enthusiastically endorse the Network and invite our members to join, support, and enjoy it."
  • Eight Months on "Hawaiian Mars" Tests Rigors of Exploration

    Yahoo News - Top Headlines
    24 Oct 2014 | 10:37 am
    Source: Yahoo News - Top HeadlinesSix people have sealed themselves inside a white vinyl dome in Hawaii to embark on an eight-month test of how their mental health might fare during a mission to Mars. "We are surrounded by basaltic lava and living in isolation on the slopes of Mauna Loa where there is little evidence of plant or animal life," wrote crew member Jocelyn Dunn, a doctoral candidate at Purdue University's School of Industrial Engineering, after her...
  • Northern Ireland Prostitution Ban Divides Opinion

    The Guardian
    24 Oct 2014 | 10:36 am
    Source: The GuardianSex workers fear new law will put them in more danger, while advocates of Swedish model claim it will eradicate trafficking When Laura Lee, a part-time escort and sex worker rights campaigner, stood up in the Northern Ireland Assembly to give evidence against a proposed bill that would make it illegal to buy sex, like in Sweden, she was blunt in her estimation of the damage it would cause. If the Swedish model is introduced in any way, shape or...
  • Six in 10 Americans Support Death Penalty Despite Botched Injections

    The Guardian
    24 Oct 2014 | 10:36 am
    Source: The GuardianSupport for capital punishment little changed since 2008 despite recent blunders, but down significantly from mid-1990s high Americans support of the death penalty has changed little since 2008, even as shortage of lethal injection drugs has resulted in several high-profile botched executions this year. About six in 10 Americans continue to support capital punishment, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday...
  • Disabled People Neglected in Many Developing Countries

    The Guardian
    24 Oct 2014 | 10:35 am
    Source: The GuardianData collection must be dramatically improved and standardised, says international development minister Lynne Featherstone The hundreds of millions of people living with disabilities in developing countries will remain invisible unless the world dramatically improves its data collection on disability, the UKs parliamentary undersecretary for international development has warned.
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    The Neurocritic

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Mid-Cingulate Cortex

    15 Oct 2014 | 1:17 am
    What happens in the brain during a highly immersive reading experience? According to the fiction feeling hypothesis (Jacobs, 2014), narratives with highly emotional content cause a deeper sense of immersion by engaging the affective empathy network to a greater extent than neutral narratives. Emotional empathy in this case, the ability to identify with a fictional character via grounded metarepresentations of ‘global emotional moments’ (Hsu et al., 2014) relies on  a number of brain regions, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsomedial PFC, anterior insula (especially…
  • The use and abuse of the prefix neuro- in the decades of the BRAIN

    6 Oct 2014 | 3:04 am
    Two Croatian academics with an anti-neuro ax to grind have written a cynical history of neuroword usage through the ages (Mazur & Rinčić, 2013). Actually, I believe the authors were being deliberately sarcastic (at times), since the article is rather amusing.1 Placing that phenomenon of "neuroization" of all fields of human thought and practice into a context of mostly unjustified and certainly too high – almost millenarianistic – expectations of the science of the brain and mind at the end of the 20th century, the present paper tries to analyze when the use of the prefix neuro- is…
  • White House BRAIN Conference

    1 Oct 2014 | 3:35 am
    September 30 is the last day of the fiscal year for the US government. So it's no coincidence that President Obama's BRAIN Initiative1 ended the year with a bang. The NIH BRAIN Awards were announced on the last possible day of FY2014, coinciding with the White House BRAIN Conference. A total of $46 million was dispersed among 58 awards involving over 100 scientists.Census of Cell Types (RFA MH-14-215)  Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)  Next Generation Human Imaging (RFA MH-14-217)  Large-Scale Recording-Modulation - New Technologies (RFA NS-14-007)  Large-Scale…
  • Anthropomorphic Neuroscience Driven by Researchers with Large TPJs

    26 Sep 2014 | 4:51 am
    For immediate release — SEPTEMBER 26, 2014Research from the UCL lab of Professor Geraint Rees has proven that the recent craze for suggesting that rats have “regrets” or show “disappointment” is solely due to the size of the left temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) in the human authors of those papers (Cullen et al., 2014). This startling breakthrough was part of a larger effort to associate every known personality trait, political attitude, and individual difference with the size of a unique brain structure.Cullen and colleagues recruited 83 healthy behavioral neuroscientists and…
  • Should Policy Makers and Financial Institutions Have Access to Billions of Brain Scans?

    16 Sep 2014 | 3:18 am
    "Individual risk attitudes are correlated with the grey matter volume in the posterior parietal cortex suggesting existence of an anatomical biomarker for financial risk-attitude," said Dr Tymula.This means tolerance of risk "could potentially be measured in billions of existing medical brain scans." 1 -Gray matter matters when measuring risk toleranceLet's pretend that scientists have discovered a neural biomarker that could accurately predict a person's propensity to take financial risks in a lottery. Would it be ethical to release this information to policy makers? That seems to be the…
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    The Beautiful Brain

  • Can Computers Write Books?

    Ben Ehrlich
    18 Oct 2014 | 8:01 pm
    What’s that thing about monkeys typing Shakespeare? Give an abstract device an infinite amount of time to produce a endless string of random linguistic symbols and there is a technically a non-zero probability that such a “monkey” will eventually hit upon any existing piece of literature, the theorem goes. In other words, pure chance can be highly creative. In the 1960s, movements like the Oulipo imposed certain constraints on their work, following certain patterns (the most famous example may be the experimental novel La Disparition by Georges Perec, written without…
  • World’s Oldest Art

    Ben Ehrlich
    9 Oct 2014 | 10:55 am
    New analysis of cave sites in Indonesia have revealed some of the oldest art in human history. Forty thousand years ago, with natural mineral pigments mixed with water or other liquids, people painted animals like the “babirusa” (deer-pig) and left hand signatures stenciled out of negative space. The findings brings into relief our Eurocentric view of culture. Either this creativity developed independently in Asia or, as the research now suggest, the homosapien brain was perhaps able to create art before leaving Africa. (Photo credit: AP/Kinez Riza, Nature Magazine)
  • Neuroaesthetics: The Gathering

    Noah Hutton
    4 Sep 2014 | 9:22 pm
    Top scientists and philosophers working at the intersection of art and neuroscience gather in New York City for the 2014 International Association of Empirical Aesthetics summit. Ville cranienne (Skull City). AndreÌ Masson, 1940. Drawing on paper. It’s hard to know how much we don’t know about the brain. The presence of vast unknowns in the field means that many current debates in neuroscience hinge on differing scales of inquiry and the significance of results from current methods. Are single neurons the place to look? How much weight do fMRI results bear? Do we actually even…
  • E.O. Wilson on the Brain

    Ben Ehrlich
    19 Aug 2014 | 7:39 pm
    In this month’s issue of Harper’s magazine, legendary biologist E.O. Wilson—the ant man who also authors books about the meaning of existence—takes on consciousness and the brain. The article, “On Free Will,” carries the unsurprising subtitle: “And how the brain is like a colony of ants.” He runs down the essential anatomical, functional, genetic and evolutionary information about the brain, defining the complex organ and its unique importance. Then, he relates the efforts of philosophers to find a physical basis for consciousness, which may or may…
  • Sculptor of Her Own Brain

    Ben Ehrlich
    16 May 2014 | 7:54 am
    Rebecca Kamen believes that artists and scientists have a similar mission, and she tries to reflect these similarities in her sculptures. Inspired by the work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, “the father of modern neuroscience,” some of her sculptures are on display at the National Institutes for Health, where she has been the artist in residence in the neuroscience program. PBS NewsHour has published an article about her story, called “Portrait of a dyslexic artist, who transforms neurons into ‘butterflies.'” Ramón y Cajal famously referred to the cells in our…
 
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    The Neurocritic

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Mid-Cingulate Cortex

    The Neurocritic
    15 Oct 2014 | 1:17 am
    What happens in the brain during a highly immersive reading experience? According to the fiction feeling hypothesis (Jacobs, 2014), narratives with highly emotional content cause a deeper sense of immersion by engaging the affective empathy network to a greater extent than neutral narratives. Emotional empathy in this case, the ability to identify with a fictional character via grounded metarepresentations of ‘global emotional moments’ (Hsu et al., 2014) relies on  a number of brain regions, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsomedial PFC, anterior insula (especially…
  • The use and abuse of the prefix neuro- in the decades of the BRAIN

    The Neurocritic
    6 Oct 2014 | 3:04 am
    Two Croatian academics with an anti-neuro ax to grind have written a cynical history of neuroword usage through the ages (Mazur & Rinčić, 2013). Actually, I believe the authors were being deliberately sarcastic (at times), since the article is rather amusing.1 Placing that phenomenon of "neuroization" of all fields of human thought and practice into a context of mostly unjustified and certainly too high – almost millenarianistic – expectations of the science of the brain and mind at the end of the 20th century, the present paper tries to analyze when the use of the prefix neuro- is…
  • White House BRAIN Conference

    The Neurocritic
    1 Oct 2014 | 3:35 am
    September 30 is the last day of the fiscal year for the US government. So it's no coincidence that President Obama's BRAIN Initiative1 ended the year with a bang. The NIH BRAIN Awards were announced on the last possible day of FY2014, coinciding with the White House BRAIN Conference. A total of $46 million was dispersed among 58 awards involving over 100 scientists.Census of Cell Types (RFA MH-14-215)  Tools for Cells and Circuits (RFA MH-14-216)  Next Generation Human Imaging (RFA MH-14-217)  Large-Scale Recording-Modulation - New Technologies (RFA NS-14-007)  Large-Scale…
  • Anthropomorphic Neuroscience Driven by Researchers with Large TPJs

    The Neurocritic
    26 Sep 2014 | 4:51 am
    For immediate release — SEPTEMBER 26, 2014Research from the UCL lab of Professor Geraint Rees has proven that the recent craze for suggesting that rats have “regrets” or show “disappointment” is solely due to the size of the left temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) in the human authors of those papers (Cullen et al., 2014). This startling breakthrough was part of a larger effort to associate every known personality trait, political attitude, and individual difference with the size of a unique brain structure.Cullen and colleagues recruited 83 healthy behavioral neuroscientists and…
  • Should Policy Makers and Financial Institutions Have Access to Billions of Brain Scans?

    The Neurocritic
    16 Sep 2014 | 3:18 am
    "Individual risk attitudes are correlated with the grey matter volume in the posterior parietal cortex suggesting existence of an anatomical biomarker for financial risk-attitude," said Dr Tymula.This means tolerance of risk "could potentially be measured in billions of existing medical brain scans." 1 -Gray matter matters when measuring risk toleranceLet's pretend that scientists have discovered a neural biomarker that could accurately predict a person's propensity to take financial risks in a lottery. Would it be ethical to release this information to policy makers? That seems to be the…
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    The Brain from Top to Bottom Blog - Intermediate Level

  • Reading Novels Increases Connectivity of Areas in the Brain

    Bruno Dubuc
    20 Oct 2014 | 1:58 pm
    Immersing yourself in reading a good novel is an excellent way to take a break from the stresses of daily life. By seeing things from the protagonists’ point of view while you are reading those few hundred pages, not only do you feel as if you have access to another world, but you may also continue to have this feeling for some time, or even for your entire life, if the book has really made an impression on you. The neurobiological bases of this phenomenon would appear to have been discovered in a study that Gregory S. Berns and his colleagues published in the journal Brain Connectivity in…
  • Poverty Imposes a Cognitive Burden on the Brain

    Bruno Dubuc
    6 Oct 2014 | 11:47 am
    Neuroscience is providing growing evidence that poverty can have serious consequences not only for the health of people who are “struggling to make both ends meet” (something that has been known for a long time), but also on their cognitive abilities. The most recent of these studies looking specifically at this aspect of poverty was published in the journal Science in August 2013 by economist Anandi Mani and her colleagues. Using two different approaches, this research team reached the same conclusion: for people at the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum, everyday life requires so…
  • The Intelligence in Our Hands

    Bruno Dubuc
    15 Sep 2014 | 2:34 pm
    The first crisp days of autumn are great for outdoor chores like chopping firewood, installing storm windows, and raking leaves. Distracted by the blazing fall foliage, you may sometimes find yourself performing complex tasks with your hands while your mind is clearly off somewhere else. It’s as if your hands had “a mind of their own.” But this mental aspect of manual work is not just a passing impression you may have; it’s also one of the hottest topics in cognitive science today. MIT Press has just published The Hand, an Organ of the Mind: What the Manual Tells the Mental. This…
  • Nervous and Immune Systems Closely Tied

    Bruno Dubuc
    2 Sep 2014 | 1:27 pm
    By the late 20th century, cognitive neuroscientists had recognized that they would never truly understand how the brain functions unless they also considered the body in which it does so. This concept of “embodied” cognition implies that the brain constantly maintains a dynamic relationship with the rest of the body, which in turn is totally immersed in its physical and social environment. This model contrasts sharply with others that compare the brain to a computer or treat it as a disembodied organ that simply manipulates symbolic representations of inputs to provide appropriate…
  • The myth of left-brained and right-brained personalities

    Bruno Dubuc
    18 Aug 2014 | 9:59 am
    One often reads that certain functions of the human brain are lateralized—for example, that the left hemisphere is more involved in language and the right in the processing of visuospatial information. One also often hears it said that some people are left-brained (meaning that they are analytical, logical, and focused on details) while others are right-brained (more subjective and creative, with more of a tendency to see things as a whole). But according to a study published on August 14, 2013 in the online journal PLOS ONE, although there is abundant evidence for the lateralization of…
 
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    Your Brain Health

  • Season of your birth affects your mood in later life

    Sarah McKay
    24 Oct 2014 | 1:07 am
    I’m turning 40 early in the new year and planning to celebrate fearlessly and fabulously with a mid-summer cocktail party. I’m a summer baby, and according to new research that means I have a tendency to be excessively positive! I’m sure I can grumble with the best of them, but my husband confirms he wouldn’t have […] The post Season of your birth affects your mood in later life appeared first on Your Brain Health.
  • Should teenagers sleep in and start school later in the day?

    Sarah McKay
    16 Oct 2014 | 7:26 am
    Would teenagers do better in their exams if they could sleep in and start school later in the day? Can physical fitness improve academic achievement? Will teaching the same lesson multiple times over with breaks between sessions improve learning? Can computer games teach children to read? These questions above are part of a multi-million-pound research project, […] The post Should teenagers sleep in and start school later in the day? appeared first on Your Brain Health.
  • Not all scientific studies are created equal [video]

    Sarah McKay
    11 Oct 2014 | 12:35 pm
    Daily we’re bombarded by attention grabbing headlines that promise miracle cures to all of our ailments — often backed up by a ‘scientific study’ or calling into doubt ‘previous research’. But what are these studies, and how do we know if they are reliable? In this groovy little video, David H. Schwartz dissects two types […] The post Not all scientific studies are created equal [video] appeared first on Your Brain Health.
  • How stem cells can help to repair the damaged brain.

    Sarah McKay
    3 Oct 2014 | 2:10 am
    At the time of publishing this blog post I’m in Marrakesh with my family about to start month three of our travels! So I’m very grateful to once again publish an article from a guest blogger.   This week’s post comes from Dr Matt Tomlinson a research scientist who has over a decade of lab work looking […] The post How stem cells can help to repair the damaged brain. appeared first on Your Brain Health.
  • Does fasting improve mental acuity and help you live longer?

    Sarah McKay
    11 Sep 2014 | 5:13 pm
    Todays guest blog post comes from Dr Devika Garg, a fresh PhD in neurosciences from the National University of Singapore, with a passion for bringing complex science to the public in simple and engaging ways. She has interests in poetry, music, the creative ways neurons function to create complex animal behaviors, and the wonderful way […] The post Does fasting improve mental acuity and help you live longer? appeared first on Your Brain Health.
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