Weekly Neuroscience Update

An elderly man who has spent over ten years in a nursing home, barely able to answer yes or no questions—come alive when listening to music from his past is a reminder of the powerful, inspiring, and affecting power of music.

Talking to yourself has long been frowned upon as a sign of craziness, but a recent study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests talking to yourself might actually help you find lost or hidden objects more quickly than being silent.

The longstanding mystery of how selective hearing works — how people can tune in to a single speaker while tuning out their crowded, noisy environs — is solved this week in the journal Nature by two scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Evidence is now mounting that when we attend to objects in the periphery, critical information about them is transmitted, or ‘fed back’, to an unexpected part of the brain: a region that neuroscientists have traditionally believed represents only the ‘fovea’, our central visual field.

A recent study looked at brain scans while adults were being taught new words. Greater activity was shown with average readers when the words were taught in isolation, not in a full sentence.

An international team of scientists reported the largest brain study of its kind had found a gene linked to intelligence, a small piece in the puzzle as to why some people are smarter than others.


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