Weekly Round-Up

Peer pressure is hard-wired into our brains

A new study explains why people take stupid chances when all of their friends are watching that they would never take by themselves. According to the study,the human brain places more value on winning in a social setting than it does on winning when you’re alone. Scientists have identified the part of the brain responsible for controlling whether we conform to expectations and group pressure.

Does a blind person reading Braille process words in the brain differently than a person who reads by sight? Mainstream neuroscience thinking implies that the answer is yes because different senses take in the information. But a recent study in Current Biology finds that the processing is the same, adding to mounting evidence that using sensory inputs as the basis for understanding the brain may paint an incomplete picture.

New research sheds light on how and why we remember dreams–and what purpose they are likely to serve.

Child neurologist and neuroscientist Dr. Tallie Z. Baram has found that maternal care and other sensory input triggers activity in a baby’s developing brain that improves cognitive function and builds resilience to stress.

University of British Columbia scientists may have uncovered a new explanation for how Alzheimer’s disease destroys the brain.

The brains of people who relapse into depression differ from those of people who maintain a recovery, a new study shows. The results may provide insight into why some people relapse and why certain therapies may help, the researchers said.

Researchers using scanning technology say they discovered physical differences in the brains of older children with autism compared to those of kids without autism.

And finally, in an effort to understand what happens in the brain when a person reads or considers such abstract ideas as love or justice, Princeton researchers have for the first time matched images of brain activity with categories of words related to the concepts a person is thinking about. The results could lead to a better understanding of how people consider meaning and context when reading or thinking.