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Category Archives: Neuroscience
Men and women’s brains are wired in completely different ways which may explain why the sexes excel at certain tasks, brain scans reveal. US researchers at the University of Pennsylvania scanned the brains of nearly 1,000 men, women, boys and girls and found striking differences. Male brains are wired front to back, with few connections bridging the two hemispheres. In females, the connections criss-cross between left and right. These differences might explain why men, in general, tend to be better at learning and … Continue reading
Is punishment or reward more effective for helping people learn. A lot of people would say different incentives motivate different people, or in different circumstances, but in psychology there is a sizable body of evidence that in order to learn skills, positive feedback is more effective. This fining has been verified not just with humans, but also with other species. It was strange then that after Daniel Kahneman discussed this research with Israeli fighter pilot instructors that he was met … Continue reading
To reduce the severity of his seizures, Joe had the bridge between his left and right cerebral hemispheres (the corpus callosum) severed. As a result, his left and right brains no longer communicate through that pathway. Here’s what happens as a result:
Superstitious people do all sorts of puzzling things. But it’s not just the superstitious who knock on wood. From time to time, we all rap our knuckles on a nearby table if we happen to let fate-tempting words slip out. “The cancer is in remission, knock on wood,” we might say. In fact, it’s so common we often don’t think about it. But it’s worth asking: why do people who do not believe that knocking on wood has an effect on … Continue reading
A surge of electrical activity in the brain could be responsible for the vivid experiences described by near-death survivors, scientists report. A study carried out on dying rats found high levels of brainwaves at the point of the animals’ demise. US researchers said that in humans this could give rise to a heightened state of consciousness. The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lead author of the study, Dr Jimo Borjigin, of the University of Michigan, … Continue reading
Novel microchips imitate the brain’s information processing in real time. Neuroinformatics researchers from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich together with colleagues from the EU and US demonstrate how complex cognitive abilities can be incorporated into electronic systems made with so-called neuromorphic chips: They show how to assemble and configure these electronic systems to function in a way similar to an actual brain. No computer works as efficiently as the human brain — so much so that building an … Continue reading
New research suggests that reading books, writing and participating in brain-stimulating activities at any age may preserve memory. The study is published in the July 3, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ”Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, with Rush … Continue reading
In a new study, a European research team suggests that the average intelligence level of Victorian-era people was higher than that of modern-day people. They base their controversial assertion on reaction times (RT) to visual stimuli given as tests to people from the late 1800s to modern times—the faster the reaction time, they say, the smarter the person. The Victorian era has been highly touted by historians as one of the most productive in human history—inventions, observations and highly acclaimed … Continue reading
After just five days of non-invasive brain stimulation and a bit of cognitive training, researchers at Oxford University were able to enhance people’s high-level abilities, such as mental arithmetic and manual calculations. And remarkably, the effect lasts for months. The discovery was made by scientists working at Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology, and it could lead to entirely new education strategies. But more immediately, it could also help people with learning disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. We … Continue reading
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new technique creating transperent three-dimensional visualisations of whole brains. Known as CLARITY the process enables scientists to explore the brain’s fine wiring and molecular structures completely intact in order to label specific points with molecular markers. The path of a single nerve projection can now be traced through a forest of other cells. Originally developed with the brains of mice, the technique also works with human brains. For example, the team led by Dr Karl … Continue reading
In November 2012, IBM announced that it had used the Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer to achieve an unprecedented simulation of more than 530 billion neurons. The Blue Gene/Q Sequoia accomplished this feat thanks to its blazing fast speed; it clocks in at over 16 quadrillion calculations per second. In fact, it currently ranks as the second-fastest supercomputer in the world. But, according to Kwabena Boahen, Ph.D., the Blue Gene still doesn’t compare to the computational power of the brain itself. … Continue reading
New findings clarify where and how the brain’s “slow waves” originate. These rhythmic signal pulses, which sweep through the brain during deep sleep at the rate of about one cycle per second, are assumed to play a role in processes such as consolidation of memory. For the first time, researchers have shown conclusively that slow waves start in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for cognitive functions. They also found that such a wave can be set … Continue reading
A team of scientists and engineers at the University of Minnesota is giving new meaning to the old adage: “Mind over matter.” Led by Bin He, Ph.D., director of the Biomedical Functional Imaging and Neuroengineering Laboratory, the team has created a non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) that could one day restore mobility and independence for individuals with amputated limbs, paralysis and other impairments that prevent or limit normal movement. With the help of this interface, volunteers have been able to precisely … Continue reading
At the same settings and light conditions, a camera will take the same picture every time. In contrast, a brain does not make perfect reconstructions of a stimulus. It appears instead to accumulate evidence over time, which it then fits to an evolving internal model. A group of Princeton researchers has sought to explain some aspects of how rats and humans might accumulate evidence in an experimental decision-making task. Publishing recently in Science, they present a method which they claim … Continue reading
Ever find yourself racking your brain on a Monday morning to remember where you put your car keys? When you do find those keys, you can thank the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for storing and retrieving memories of different environments-such as that room where your keys were hiding in an unusual spot. Now, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have helped explain how the brain keeps track of the incredibly rich and complex environments people navigate on … Continue reading
One molecule makes nerve cells grow longer. Another one makes them grow branches. These new experimental manipulations have taken researchers a step closer to understanding how nerve cells are repaired at their farthest reaches after injury. The research was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. “If you injure a peripheral nerve, it will spontaneously regenerate, but it goes very slowly. We’re trying to speed that up,” said Dr. Jeffery Twiss, a professor and head of the biology department at … Continue reading
An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways? While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, … Continue reading
After studying the brains of violent killers, rapists and robbers, German neurologist Gerhard Roth claims to have found a “dark patch” in the center of the brain — he calls it the evil spot, a genetic source of violent behavior. Roth, a professor at the University of Bremen, told Germany news site Bild.de that he had shown short films to criminals and measured their brain activity. A small section at the front of their brains showed no reaction to violent … Continue reading