Brain imaging pioneer Nancy Kanwisher, who uses fMRI scans to see activity in brain regions (often her own), shares what she and her colleagues have learned: The brain is made up of both highly specialized components and general-purpose “machinery.” Another surprise: There’s so much left to learn.
When faced with a difficult decision, it is often suggested to “sleep on it” or take a break from thinking about the decision in order to gain clarity. But new brain imaging research from Carnegie Mellon University, published in the journal “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” finds that the brain regions responsible for making decisions continue to be active even when the conscious brain is distracted with a different task. The research provides some of the first evidence showing how the brain unconsciously processes decision information in ways that lead to improved decision-making.
A study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has shown that neurons in our brain ‘mirror’ the space near others, just as if this was the space near ourselves. The study, published in the scientific journal Current Biology, sheds new light on a question that has long preoccupied psychologists and neuroscientists regarding the way in which the brain represents other people and the events that happens to those people.
New drugs which may have the potential to stop faulty brain cells dying and slow down the progression of Parkinson’s, have been identified by scientists in a pioneering study which is the first of its kind.
Neuroscientists have discovered that a virtual-reality hand, which is synchronized to “pulse” in time to an individual’s heartbeat, creates the illusion in the brain of “body ownership” – with the brain believing the hand is part of its own body.
Cornell researchers have developed a reliable method to distinguish memory declines associated with healthy aging from the more-serious memory disorders years before obvious symptoms emerge. The method also allows research to accurately predict who is more likely to develop cognitive impairment without expensive tests or invasive procedures.
People who suffer from the common gastrointestinal disorder irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have more stress-related memory problems than others, according to a new study. The researchers also found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol were related to poor memory performance. While stress has long been known to affect gut symptoms, this is the first study showing that stress also impacts on cognition in IBS.
In a new study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers have found that the same brain networks that are activated when you’re burned by hot coffee also light up when you think about a lover who has spurned you.
Scientists have found a way to determine what emotions you’re feeling by looking at brain activity measured by imaging technology.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, are important to emotion research because they bring “a new method with potential to identify emotions without relying on people’s ability to self-report,” study researcher Karim Kassam, an assistant professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, said in a statement.
“It could be used to assess an individual’s emotional response to almost any kind of stimulus, for example, a flag, a brand name or a political candidate.”
For the study, researchers used a combination of brain imaging — functional magnetic resonance imaging — and machine learning. They recruited 10 actors from the university’s drama school to act out different emotions, such as anger, happiness, pride and shame, while inside an fMRI scanner, for multiple times in random order.
To make sure that researchers were able to measure the actual emotions and not just the acting out of emotions, they had the study participants also look at emotion-eliciting images while undergoing FMRI brain scans.
“Despite manifest differences between people’s psychology, different people tend to neurally encode emotions in remarkably similar ways,” study researcher Amanda Markey, a graduate student in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at the university, said in a statement.
Source: Huffington Post
A bird listening to birdsong may experience some of the same emotions as a human listening to music, suggests a new study on white-throated sparrows, published in Frontiers of Evolutionary Neuroscience.
Scientists at University College Cork (UCC) have come up with an innovative strategy to deliver a therapy into the brain to treat the neurogenerative disease, Huntington’s disease (HD). The strategy, which involves using modified sugars to carry gene therapies into the brain, is being hailed as an exciting development which could be applied to many brain disorders, especially those with a genetic basis.
Researchers have used brain imaging technology to show that young people with a known genetic risk of bipolar but no clinical signs of the condition have clear and quantifiable differences in brain activity when compared to controls.
Scientists have identified a previously unknown group of nerve cells in the brain. The nerve cells regulate cardiovascular functions such as heart rhythm and blood pressure. It is hoped that the discovery, which is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, will be significant in the long term in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases in humans.
Scientists say they have found a way to distinguish between different types of dementia without the need for invasive tests, like a lumbar puncture.
Scientists at the University of Western Ontario have discovered that perhaps IQ is not the best measure of cognitive performance. Instead, they found that verbal language, short-term memory, and logical reasoning were the most important predictors of cognitive performance.
Harvard neuroscience researchers have just confirmed what many of us have suspected all along: social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are “brain candy” for Internet users. Every status update, every tweet, every pin is a micro-jolt delivered squarely to the pleasure centers of our brains.
Brain networks — areas of the brain that regularly work together — might avoid traffic jams at their busiest intersections by communicating on different frequencies, according to new research.
Researchers at Stanford University have determined from brain-imaging data whether experimental subjects are recalling events of the day, singing silently to themselves, performing mental arithmetic, or merely relaxing.
Recent research has revealed some of the changes that take place in women’s brains during motherhood, and experts say that it could help them figure out what motivates mothers to care for their babies.
A study recently published by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher shows that reward circuits in the brain are sensitized in anorexic women and desensitized in obese women. The findings also suggest that eating behavior is related to brain dopamine pathways involved in addictions.
Researchers at the University of Leeds have found a previously unknown mechanism through which pain is signalled by nerve cells – a discovery that could explain the current failings in the drug development process for painkillers and which may offer opportunities for a new approach.
Post-traumatic stress is estimated to afflict more than 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, but until now, it’s been labeled a “soft disorder” — one without an objective biological path to diagnosis. That may have changed this week, after researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center announced they’d found a distinct pattern of brain activity among PTSD sufferers.
A live tweeted brain surgery this week reached an online audience of more than 14 million people, according to the hospital that used social media to broadcast the operation.
High-impact activities like football are known to cause creeping brain damage that can’t easily be detected until after death. But promising research may give rise to new methods of diagnosing chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Scientists have proven that light intensity influences our cognitive performance and how alert we feel.
Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that the single protein—alpha 2 delta—exerts a spigot-like function, controlling the volume of neurotransmitters and other chemicals that flow between the synapses of brain neurons. The study, published online in Nature, shows how brain cells talk to each other through these signals, relaying thoughts, feelings and action, and this powerful molecule plays a crucial role in regulating effective communication.
In this brain video Dr. Greg Berns talks about a new study using brain imaging to study teen brain development. It turns out that adolescents who engage in dangerous activities have frontal white matter tracts that are more adult in form than their more conservative peers.
This week..how the brain corrects perceptual errors, how meditation and hypnosis change the brain’s signature, a new method for delivering complex drugs directly to the brain, the brain development of children, and how regular exercise helps overweight children do better at school.
New research provides the first evidence that sensory recalibration – the brain’s automatic correcting of errors in our sensory or perceptual systems – can occur instantly.
In Meditation, Hypnosis Change the Brain signature the Vancouver Sun reports that mindfulness training is ‘a valuable, drug-free tool in the struggle to foster attention skills, with positive spinoffs for controlling our emotions.’
Oxford University scientists have developed a new method for delivering complex drugs directly to the brain, a necessary step for treating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Motor Neuron Disease and Muscular Dystrophy.
A new study has found that a mother’s iron deficiency early in pregnancy may have a profound and long-lasting effect on the brain development of the child, even if the lack of iron is not enough to cause severe anemia.
Children with Tourette syndrome could benefit from behavioural therapy to reduce their symptoms, according to a new brain imaging study.
Regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do mathematics, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report.
Image Credit: Photostock
People’s brains are more responsive to friends than to strangers, even if the stranger has more in common, according to a study in the Oct. 13 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
In Time magazine’s What Your Brain Looks Like After 20 Years of Marriage, Belinda Luscomb has been taking a look at the neuroscience of love.
And speaking of love, new research has also found that falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second!
And what exactly is going on in your brain if you are looking back with nostalgia at past loves? I came across a fascinating article on the neuroscience of nostalgia and memories.
Now a question for you? How many of you feel you have lost the art of writing by hand, now that we are all so computer literate these days? Associate professor Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger’s Reading Centre asks if something is lost in switching from book to computer screen, and from pen to keyboard and discovers that writing by hand does indeed strengthen the learning process.
Among the hot topics of debate at last month’s SFN meeting was that of the developing brain and how early childhood experiences, whether good or bad, influence the brain for a lifetime.
Regina Sullivan of New York University postulates that child abuse-related epigenetic changes, which alter the brain, are passed on to the next generation, perhaps explaining the cycle of abuse observed in many families. (The development and maintenance of an organism is orchestrated by a set of chemical reactions that switch parts of the genome off and on at strategic times and locations. Epigenetics is the study of these reactions and the factors that influence them.)
The primary evidence for stress-related changes comes from human brain imaging, which has uncovered brain differences between children with a typical childhood and those who suffer abuse.
However, work being done by Bruce McEwen, professor of neuroscience at Rockefeller University in New York, shows that the effects of childhood experiences such as neglect or abuse, can be reversed through interventions such as high-quality early care and education programmes.
Source: New Scientist
Here’s a short video describing how recent advances in brain imaging with fMRI which allows you watch activity in discrete parts of the brain – for instance when in pain can allow you control it. If true, the implications of this finding are staggering …and liberating for those with seemingly intractable emotional issues.