Tag Archives: memory

Weekly Neuroscience Update

The hippocampus is a region of the brain largely responsible for memory formation. Credit Salk Institute.

The hippocampus is a region of the brain largely responsible for memory formation. Credit Salk Institute.

Scientists have created a new model of memory that explains how neurons retain select memories a few hours after an event. This new framework provides a more complete picture of how memory works, which can inform research into disorders liked Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress and learning disabilities.

A switch in the brain of people with epilepsy dictates whether their seizures will be relatively mild or lead to a dangerous and debilitating loss of consciousness, Yale researchers have found.

By predicting our eye movements, our brain creates a stable world for us. Researchers used to think that those predictions had so much influence that they could cause us to make errors in estimating the position of objects. Neuroscientists at Radboud University have shown this to be incorrect. The Journal of Neuroscience published their findings – which challenge fundamental knowledge regarding coordination between brain and eyes.

Extreme and traumatic events can change a person — and often, years later, even affect their children. Researchers have now unmasked a piece in the puzzle of how the inheritance of traumas may be mediated.

Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found. Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery. The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate. But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report.

Certain errors in visual perception in people with schizophrenia are consistent with interference or ‘noise’ in a brain signal known as a corollary discharge, a new study shows.

Finally this week,  a recent study has shown that use of abstract gestures is a powerful tool for helping children understand and generalize mathematical concepts.

 

 


Weekly Neuroscience Update

Neuroscience research demonstrates that the brain regions underpinning moral judgment share resources with circuits controlling other capacities such as emotional saliency, mental state understanding and decision-making. Credit: Jean Decety

Neuroscience research demonstrates that the brain regions underpinning moral judgment share resources with circuits controlling other capacities such as emotional saliency, mental state understanding and decision-making. Credit: Jean Decety

People who care about justice are swayed more by reason than emotion, according to new brain scan research from the Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. Researchers have discovered a gene that is likely to play a role in the risk of psychosis in bipolar disorders.

A new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralysed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury, has been developed by scientists at UCL and King’s College London.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy.

A new study is the first documented study that shows cognitive behavioral therapy in a group setting is capable of changing the brain structure in patients with chronic pain.

By examining the sense of touch in stroke patients, a University of Delaware cognitive psychologist has found evidence that the brains of these individuals may be highly plastic even years after being damaged.

A new chemical messenger that is critical in protecting the brain against Parkinson’s disease has been identified by scientists.

Scents and smells can form the basis of some of the most significant memories humans form in their lives, a new study suggests

In the first study of its kind, two researchers have used popular music to help severely brain-injured patients recall personal memories.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

neuronal-heat-maps-in-brain

Scientists at CSHL have developed a new mathematical model that makes predictions about where different types are neurons are located throughout the brain. Here are “heat maps” of the brain, made using the mathematical model to predict the distribution of different neurons. Each row represents one neuronal type, and different sections of the brain are shown in each column. Color indicates the likelihood of a particular neuronal type appearing in that area of the brain (white, most likely; black, least). Credit Mitra et al.

A new mathematical model uses gene expression data to predict where neurons are located throughout the brain.

Researchers have studied the acquisition and development of language in babies on the basis of the temporary coordination of gestures and speech. The results are the first in showing how and when they acquire the pattern of coordination between the two elements which allows them to communicate very early on.

The problems people with autism have with memory formation, higher-level thinking and social interactions may be partially attributable to the activity of receptors inside brain cells, researchers have learned.

A new study documents the brain activity underlying our strong tendency to infer a structure of context and rules when learning new tasks (even when a structure isn’t valid). The findings, which revealed individual differences, shows how we try to apply task knowledge to similar situations and could inform future research on learning disabilities.

Researchers have discovered impaired neuronal activity in the parts of the brain associated with anticipatory functioning among occasional 18- to 24-year-old users of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and prescription drugs such as Adderall.

Why do some teenagers start smoking or experimenting with drugs — while others don’t? In the largest imaging study of the human brain ever conducted — involving 1,896 14-year-olds — scientists have discovered a number of previously unknown networks that go a long way toward an answer.

New research shows that, contrary to what was previously assumed, suppressing unwanted memories reduces their influence on behaviour, and sheds light on how this process happens in the brain.

For our brain, animate and inanimate objects belong to different categories and any information about them is stored and processed by different networks. A study shows that there is also another category that is functionally distinct from the others, namely, the category of “social” groups.

A new technique provides a method to noninvasively measure human neural networks in order to characterize how they form.

Education significantly improves mental functioning in seniors even four decades after finishing school, shows a new study. The study shows that people who attended school for longer periods performed better in terms of cognitive functioning than those who did not.

 


Weekly Neuroscience Update

Johns Hopkins researchers report that people with chronic insomnia show more plasticity and activity than good sleepers in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Vanderbilt University have created the most detailed 3-D picture yet of a membrane protein that is linked to learning, memory, anxiety, pain and brain disorders such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and autism.

New research has revealed the dramatic effect the immune system has on the brain development of young children. The findings suggest new and better ways to prevent developmental impairment in children in developing countries, helping to free them from a cycle of poverty and disease, and to attain their full potential.

Rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries.

Researchers have found that decision-making accuracy can be improved by postponing the onset of a decision by a mere fraction of a second. The results could further our understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions characterized by abnormalities in cognitive function and lead to new training strategies to improve decision-making in high-stake environments. The study was published in the March 5 online issue of the journal PLoS One.

A study has revealed how the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is transmitted from cell to cell, and suggests the spread of the disease could be blocked.

Research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests that the expression of the so called MYC gene is important and necessary for neurogenesis in the spinal cord. The findings are being published in the journal  EMBO Reports .

Our memories are inaccurate, more than we’d like to believe. And now a study demonstrates one reason: we apparently add current experiences onto memories.

Damage to the brain may still occur even if symptoms of traumatic brain injury are not present, scientists suggest.

The brain processes read and heard language differently. This is the key and new finding of a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.


Weekly Neuroscience Update

Temporo-parietal jonction (TPJ) © Perrine Ruby / Inserm

Temporo-parietal jonction (TPJ) © Perrine Ruby / Inserm

Some people recall a dream every morning, whereas others rarely recall one. A research team has studied the brain activity of these two types of dreamers in order to understand the differences between them. In a study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the researchers show that the temporo-parietal junction, an information-processing hub in the brain, is more active in high dream recallers. Increased activity in this brain region might facilitate attention orienting toward external stimuli and promote intrasleep wakefulness, thereby facilitating the encoding of dreams in memory.

Many psychiatric disorders are accompanied by memory deficits. Basel scientists have now identified a network of genes that controls fundamental properties of neurons and is important for human brain activity, memory and the development of schizophrenia. 

Researchers have taken a major step toward identifying the specific genes that contribute to bipolar disorder.

A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Aging found that aging adults with hearing loss are at higher risk for accelerated brain-tissue loss.

Brain cell regeneration has been discovered in a new location in human brains. The finding raises hopes that these cells could be used to help people recover after a stroke, or to treat other brain diseases.

Finally this week, researchers are hoping that the world’s largest simulated brain — known as Spaun — will be used to test new drugs that lead to breakthrough treatments for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.


Does the brain rewrite memories?

A multi-colored image of a brain for imaging research. Researchers from Northwestern University released a study showing that the memories can adapt. Scientists used a functional MRI and eye tracking as part of their research.

A multi-colored image of a brain for imaging research. Researchers from Northwestern University released a study showing that the memories can adapt. Scientists used a functional MRI and eye tracking as part of their research.

Memories are not picture perfect. The brain can rewrite old memories to update them with new experiences and information, according to a new study by Northwestern University scientists. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, monitored 17 participants using three different tools: behavioral measures, a functional MRI and eye-movement tracking. Despite the number of participants appearing small, the researchers said it is a statistically robust study.

Read the full story here 


The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory

medium_4786580516

Taking a picture to help you remember something might end up having the opposite effect, according to new research.

A study showed that people who took photographs of items during a museum tour were less likely to remember details than those who merely looked at the objects.

“People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them,” says psychological scientist Linda Henkel, author of the study, which was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Henkel set up an experiment in the university’s museum, in which students were led on a tour and were asked to take note of certain objects, either by photographing them or by simply observing them. The next day, their memory for the objects was tested – and participants were less accurate in recognising the items they had photographed compared to those they had only observed. Henkel called this the “photo-taking impairment effect.”

“When people rely on technology to remember for them – counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves – it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences,” she says.

A second group offered a slight variation on the findings: those taking a photograph of a specific detail on the object by zooming in on it with the camera seemed to preserve memory for the object, not just for the part that was zoomed in on but also for the part that was out of frame.

“These results show how the ‘mind’s eye’ and the camera’s eye are not the same,” Henkel says, adding that memory research indicates taking pictures can help people remember, but only if they take time to observe and review.

photo credit: Carollainy via photopin cc


How Your Memory Works – And How To Improve It

How-Memory-Works-Infographic


Weekly Neuroscience Update

Neuronal activity during exposure to various images reveals distinct spatial groupings. The red region, for example, responds well to face stimuli. Credit by Takayuki Sato/RIKEN Brain Science Institute.

Neuronal activity during exposure to various images reveals distinct spatial groupings. The red region, for example, responds well to face stimuli. Credit by Takayuki Sato/RIKEN Brain Science Institute.

A brain region that responds to a particular category of objects is found to consist of small clusters of neurons encoding visual features of these objects.

Scientists have discovered that by deactivating a major switch in the brain that is linked to learning and memory, memories become jumbled, like “hitting random notes on a keyboard,” and lose their sense of association.

Newcastle University scientists have discovered that as the brain re-organizes connections throughout our life, the process begins earlier in girls which may explain why they mature faster during the teenage years.

Learning requires constant reconfiguration of the connections between nerve cells. Two new studies now yield new insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie the learning process.

In the first study of its kind, two researchers have used popular music to help severely brain-injured patients recall personal memories. Amee Baird and Séverine Samson outline the results and conclusions of their pioneering research in the recent issue of the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

Neuroscientists have successfully demonstrated a technique to enhance a form of self-control through a novel form of brain stimulation.

Finally this week, scientists have discovered that as the brain re-organizes connections throughout our life, the process begins earlier in girls which may explain why they mature faster during the teenage years.


What can mirror neurons teach us about consciousness, mental health and well-being?

mirror-neuron1

The study of mirror neurons is converging to unite the emerging scientific study of consciousness  with the field of cybernetics, to bridge the gap between the mechanistic models of brain function, with the knowledge of ourselves as a lot more than just our brains.

Mind and brain

Human beings cannot be defined by their physical body or brain alone – just as electricity cannot be defined by the nerves through which it travels. The human brain is in fact, a system in constant flux. This distinction between the brain and the mind – that man is not a machine but has and uses a machine – the brain – is critical in our understanding of how we as humans learn and evolve.

Brain inputs and outputs

Cybernetics 030913

This illustration shows that different circuits are called upon in the brain for gathering information from the world around us (i.e. input from the five senses) and for acting on the world (output though thought and action).

We are more than just our brain circuits

In this way the human brain is a system that takes in sensory data to create new nerve connections that are to be used in interactions with the external world. Feedback from the external environment, in turn, is used to enhance subsequent communications with it. This can be described in cybernetic terms as a ‘virtuous loop’ of control, communication and feedback is the key feature of a servomechanism that needs to arrive at a preset goal.  An understanding of consciousness is of particular interest to cybernetics which questions as to how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by brain circuits.

Mirror neurons which mirror neurons which mirror neurons, etc., = consciousness

hofstadter

In a provocative video Douglas Hofstadter argues that mirror neurons – cluster of neurons that help connect us emotionally to other people, respond sympathetically towards others and allow us to anticipate others intentions – have an additional function as part of an internal ‘vortex of control, communication and feedback’ that arrives at the preset goal that we call conscious self-awareness. He goes on to argue that the more self-referentially aware a mind is – the more it self-mirrors – i.e. the more conscious it becomes.

The cybernetics of happiness

Happiness is a matter of attention – of choice – and most important to the dynamic of happiness is – the what, the target/goal – rather than – the how, the path. The frontal lobes of the brain focus attention on what is to be learned while the subconscious mind in part located in a deeper brain structure called the midbrain delivers the drive to achieve it. The idea of focused attention together with the discovery of mirror neurons in the brain is radically altering our understanding of improving self-regulation by providing new opportunities to learn how brains pay attention in real world settings and acquire healthy habits to reduce or prevent needless suffering not only in others but also in ourselves.

Mental health and well-being

In his bestselling positive psychology book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life Martin Seligman insists that in order to protect yourself from being swamped by failure you must have a compelling goal, something that drives you forward. While this may sound obvious and not particularly insightful, goal-setting involves overcoming some very natural inclinations. When you have clear goals in mind defeat cannot be seen as permanent or in any way a reflection on you as a person.  Most problems we have are temporary and external but too often failure is taken personally. This is why having a compelling goal is so important to mental health.

Choose your goals carefully

The choice of goal is also important as mental health and well-being is facilitated when people ‘self-mirror’ with noble, self-empowering goals involving kindness, generosity and courage. Too often in life people set goals such as the accumulation of wealth/possessions, status and/or the pursuit of pleasure only to find disappointment. Pleasure is of the senses and leads to emotional exhaustion while happiness is a by-product of focussed attention on a compelling and self-empowering goal.

It is important to develop the skill of goal setting and apply it to all aspects of your life.

In the end the happiest person is someone who has become their goals.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 712 other followers