Weekly Neuroscience Update

The salience network, highlighted here in two epilepsy patients, is thought to mediate our response to important internal or external signals, such as pain or the sound of a siren. Image: Parvizi et al. Neuron 2013

The salience network, highlighted here in two epilepsy patients, is thought to mediate our response to important internal or external signals, such as pain or the sound of a siren. Image: Parvizi et al. Neuron 2013

In a rare study involving direct brain stimulation researchers say they have uncovered direct evidence that a brain region known as the anterior midcingulate cortex and its surrounding network play a central role in motivation and a readiness to act.

Many studies suggest that pushing your brain to multitask—writing emails, for instance, while watching the day’s latest news and eating breakfast—leads to poorer performance and lower productivity. But for at least one everyday task—visual sampling (the act of picking up bits of visual information through short glances)—multitasking is not a problem for the brain. A collaboration between researchers at the UC Santa Barbara and the University of Bristol in the UK has shown that during visual sampling, the brain can handle various visual functions simultaneously.

Researchers report a detailed account of how speech sounds are identified by the human brain, offering an unprecedented insight into the basis of human language. The finding, they said, may add to our understanding of language disorders, including dyslexia.

A new study correlating brain activity with how people make decisions suggests that when individuals engage in risky behavior, it’s probably not because their brains’ desire systems are too active, but because their self-control systems are not active enough. This might have implications for how health experts treat mental illness and addiction or how the legal system assesses a criminal’s likelihood of committing another crime.

Pain sensitivity is controlled by a genetic “dimmer switch”, which can be re-set, UK scientists have discovered.

Weekly Round Up

Are teenage brains wired to predict the next big music hit?

The brain is constantly changing as it perceives the outside world, processing and learning about everything it encounters. In a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, scientists find a surprising connection between two types of perception: If you’re looking at a group of objects and getting a general sense of them, it’s difficult for your brain to learn relationships between the objects.

Recent research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.suggests that the activity in teen brains may have some Nostradamus-like qualities when it comes to predicting the hits or misses of popular music.

Fear burns memories into our brain, and new research by University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists explains how in findings that have implications for the treatment of PTSD.

Ands speaking of memory…have you forgotten where you put your keys recently? Your brain might be in a better state to recall where you put them at some times than at others, according to new research from UC Davis.