Archive for July, 2011

Mind Control

A comfy new “brain cap” will soon allow users to remotely control robots with their thoughts. By “comfy” I mean “noninvasive” – instead of sticky electrode patches or needles, the cap uses sensors embedded in its fabric to detect electrical signals along the scalp. Just slip it on, and you can start surfing the internet […]

Memory Lost & Found

New research has unlocked some reasons why memories weaken as we age – and more intriguingly, it suggests that the process can be reversed. According to a study published in the journal Nature, a large part of this decline is due to the chemical environment of neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an area of the frontal […]

The Brain's Inner Room

A growing body of evidence suggests that the thalamus – that walnut-shaped chamber buried deep within the brain – regulates our thoughts, perceptions, and behavior far more than most scientists believed. As discussed in the latest issue of the journal Neuron, studies are showing that the thalamus sometimes controls the focus of our visual attention more than the visual cortex […]

The Contaminated Present

A new study has found that visual memories of recent events may invade our visual perceptions of the current moment. The research, published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, found that when subjects pictured motion in one direction while looking at motion in another direction, they tended to perceive more dramatic motion away from the direction they […]

Inherited Memory

Scientists have discovered a molecular mechanism by which a parent’s experiences can alter the genes of its children. Several recent studies have demonstrated connections between environmental factors and inherited genetic traits – for instance, people whose parents lived through famine tend to have higher rates of diabetes and heart disease – but this latest research, published in the […]

Consistent Networks

A new study has established that functional networks are highly consistent across the brains of many individuals. The research, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, correlated huge amounts of data on the connectivity of macaque visual cortices – particularly the layers known as V1, V3, and V4 – and confirmed that between one monkey’s brain and another, these functional networks […]

Recognition and Localization

New research has identified a wide range of brain areas that help us recognize objects we see – and it’s also revealed some surprises about how the brain distributes processing power. A recent study published in the journal Neuron focuses on a patient – known as “SM” – who suffered a lesion in the right lateral fusiform gyrus (LFG), an […]

Measuring Maturity

New data is enabling neuroscientists to make accurate predictions about a young connectome’s future development. By comparing the resting-state functional networks in pre-adolescent brains with connectivity’ patterns found in adult brains, neuroscientists have developed a brain maturity growth curve that charts functional connectivity changes as the brain matures. A report published in the journal Science explains that nodes […]

Storytelling Synchrony

Research is revealing that the brains of storytellers and listeners fall in sync with each others’ synaptic activity. A team led by Princeton neuroscientist Uri Hasson studied fMRI scans of speakers and listeners during a storytelling session, then asked the listeners a series of follow-up questions to check how well they comprehended the story: Hasson and […]

Inside the Vegetative Mind

For the first time, scientists have successfully communicated with patients trapped in vegetative bodies. As a report published in the journal NeuroImage explains, these patients’ thought patterns come through quite clearly on an fMRI scanner, and they’re able to respond to questions in ways that demonstrate that they understand what’s being asked: To answer yes, [one patient] […]

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