Category Archives: Neuroscience

How To Get Better Sleep

Some tips to combat sleep deprivation!

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Older adults nearly twice as likely to have memories affected by distractions

old people

Older people are nearly twice as likely as their younger counterparts to have their memory and cognitive processes impaired by environmental distractions (such as irrelevant speech or written words presented along with target stimuli), according to a new study from psychologists at Rice University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Whereas other studies had found that older adults are distracted by memories of prior similar events, this was the first study to convincingly demonstrate across several tasks an impairment … Continue reading

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Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Cajal-mi

Santiaago Ramon y Cajal 1 May 1852 – 18 October 1934) was a Spanish Pathologist, Histologist, Neuroscientist and Nobel Laureate. His original pioneering investigations of the microscopic structure of the brain have led him to be designated by many as the father of modern neuroscience. His medical artistry was legendary, and hundreds of his drawings illustrating the delicate arborizations of brain cells are still in use for educational and training purposes. The son of physician and anatomy lecturer Justo Ramón and Antonia … Continue reading

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Myths About The Brain You Thought Were True

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Scientists Accidentally Discover The Brain’s Consciousness “Off Switch”

While performing deep brain surgery on a woman with epilepsy, neuroscientists from George Washington University stimulated an area of her brain that unexpectedly — and temporarily — caused her to lose awareness. It’s a discovery that could shed light on the very nature of consciousness itself. “We describe a region in the human brain where electrical stimulation reproducibly disrupted consciousness,” write the scientists in their study. It’s an important finding as the “neural mechanisms that underlie consciousness are not fully … Continue reading

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The brain’s balancing act: Researchers discover how neurons equalize between excitation and inhibition

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a fundamental mechanism by which the brain maintains its internal balance. The mechanism, described in the June 22 advanced online publication of the journal Nature, involves the brain’s most basic inner wiring and the processes that control whether a neuron relays information to other neurons or suppresses the transmission of information. Specifically, the scientists have shown that there is a constant ratio between the total amount of … Continue reading

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How our brains store recent memories, cell by single cell

Confirming what neurocomputational theorists have long suspected, researchers at the Dignity Health Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. and University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that the human brain locks down episodic memories in the hippocampus, committing each recollection to a distinct, distributed fraction of individual cells. The findings, published in the June 16 Early Edition of PNAS, further illuminate the neural basis of human memory and may, ultimately, shed light on new treatments for diseases and … Continue reading

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The best way to predict the future

A small group of people have a surprising knack for correctly predicting the course of world events – and you could be one of them, says David Robson. Cast your mind back across the turbulent events of recent history. Did you foresee President Obama’s election before he was even elected as a Democratic candidate – or did you back Hillary Clinton? How about the Arab Spring – could you hear the revolution in the first tremors of dissatisfaction? And did … Continue reading

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Does ‘free will’ stem from brain noise?

Our ability to make choices — and sometimes mistakes — might arise from random fluctuations in the brain’s background electrical noise, according to a recent study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis. “How do we behave independently of cause and effect?” said Jesse Bengson, a postdoctoral researcher at the center and first author on the paper. “This shows how arbitrary states in the brain can influence apparently voluntary decisions.” The brain has a … Continue reading

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Super Brains: Kaku on What Makes a Genius

Are champions born or are they made? Science still cannot settle that debate. But one thing is clear: Certain brain injuries can produce super geniuses. This is not an invitation to throw yourself down the stairs head first. Science has yet to figure out why specific brain injuries can give people remarkable abilities. Jason Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Washington, was attacked one night by a pair of unknown assailants outside of a karaoke bar. After the assault, he … Continue reading

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Full-Metal Therapy

nerves

We’re not quite to the point where humans can be given liquid metal-based self-healing powers like those showcased by the super-cyborgs in the Terminator film series. But we’re closing in. Last month, neurosurgeons in China announced the development of a new liquid metal that can help regrow completely severed nerve fibers. As many as 20 million Americans today suffer varying levels of debilitation from over 100 different types of damage to peripheral nerves within the spine and throughout the body. … Continue reading

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Scientist have discovered a single gene that can boost your IQ by six points

People are living longer, which is good. But old age often brings a decline in mental faculties and many researchers are looking for ways to slow or halt such decline. One group doing so is led by Dena Dubal of the University of California, San Francisco, and Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institutes, also in San Francisco. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke have been studying the role in ageing of klotho, a protein encoded by a gene called KL. A … Continue reading

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A new study says yawning cools the brain

yawn

We yawn when we’re tired or bored and to oxygenate the brain, but a new study suggests that yawning actually regulates the brain’s temperature. A team of international researchers looked at how often people yawned in Vienna, Austria, and Arizona, in the US, during winter and summer. They found that people in Arizona yawn more in the winter than in the summer; the opposite happened in Vienna, were people yawn more during summer. The results had nothing to do with … Continue reading

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Brain imaging study reveals what makes some people more susceptible to peer influence

A brain area activated by group decisions can distinguish people more likely to conform to the will of a group, say researchers from UCL. The team, led by Dr Tali Sharot, UCL Affective Brain Lab, monitored the brain activity of individuals in groups of five people choosing food or drink they’d like to consume before and after being told the most popular choice in their group. The results showed that people were likely to conform to the most popular choice … Continue reading

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Know the brain, and its axons, by the clothes they wear

It is widely know that the grey matter of the brain is grey because it is dense with cell bodies and capillaries. The white matter is almost entirely composed of lipid-based myelin, but there is also a little room in the grey matter for a few select axons to be at least partially myelinated. A group of well known researchers, mostly from Harvard and MIT, decided to look for possible patterns in the myelin found in cortical grey matter. Their … Continue reading

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Crows Are As Smart As A Seven-Year-Old Child

Crows are as smart as an average five to seven-year-old human child, according to a new study. The research shows that the crow behavior described in a popular Aesop’s fable is real and that crows actually understand water displacement. Science has known for a long time that crows and other members of the corvid family are intelligent. Now, researchers at the University of Auckland found that New Caledonian crows, Corvus moneduloides, can solve the pitcher puzzle in Aesop’s fable with reasoning abilities … Continue reading

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The unconscious mind can detect a liar—even when the conscious mind fails

When it comes to detecting deceit, your automatic associations may be more accurate than conscious thought in pegging truth-tellers and liars, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings suggest that conscious awareness may hinder our ability to detect whether someone is lying, perhaps because we tend to seek out behaviors that are supposedly stereotypical of liars, like averted eyes or fidgeting. But those behaviors may not be all that indicative of … Continue reading

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Music doesn’t ring everyone’s bell

While some people can’t live without the sound of music, for others Midnight Oil is just something you burn and Cold Chisel is an uncomfortable tool, new research suggests. A study published in today’s issue of Current Biology shows that some people may not find any pleasure in music at all. To pinpoint whether the condition — called musical anhedonia — exists, researchers analysed the reactions of three different groups of people to both a music task and a monetary reward task. The … Continue reading

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Dreams, déjà vu and delusions caused by faulty ‘reality testing’

dejavu

New research from the University of Adelaide has delved into the reasons why some people are unable to break free of their delusions, despite overwhelming evidence explaining the delusion isn’t real. In a new paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, University of Adelaide philosopher Professor Philip Gerrans says dreams and delusions have a common link – they are associated with faulty “reality testing” in the brain’s higher order cognitive systems. “Normally this ‘reality testing’ in the brain monitors … Continue reading

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How many Neurons and Synapses are there in a Brain?

Neurons and Synapses

Neurons communicate with one another via synapses, where the axon terminal of one cell impinges upon another neuron’s dendrite. The human brain has a huge number of synapses. Each of the one hundred billion neurons has on average 7,000 synaptic connections to other neurons. It has been estimated that the brain of a three-year-old child has about 1 quadrillion synapses. This number declines with age, stabilizing by adulthood. Estimates vary for an adult, ranging from 100 to 500 trillion synapses.

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