Archive for September, 2011

Take Your Time

Stimulating a certain brain region makes people take less time to consider their decisions, a new study reports. One particular area of the frontal lobe – the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) – is involved in helping us take conscious control over our decision-making process. While the mPFC is stuck on a problem, an ancient brain structure called […]

Secret Sleep Memory

Our memories for certain types of info seem to improve more during sleep than during wakefulness, a new study reports. Researchers have found that recall for pairs of words improves dramatically after a period of sleep, as does working memory capacity. An equivalent period of wakefulness results in much less improvement in these areas than sleep […]

Brain Videos!

For the first time ever, scientists have recorded video images from the brain’s visual pathway, a new study reports. By recording fMRI scans of volunteers’ brains as they watched various movie clips, the scientists were able to correlate neuronal firing patterns with certain aspects of visual images – like, say, coordinates or colors. Another specially […]

Transforming Tracts

Our brains don’t stop developing in our teenage years – they keep changing well into our 20s, a new study shows. By imaging the “wiring” of different brain areas, researchers have determined that white matter – connective brain material consisting mainly of the axons (branches) of neurons – continues to grow and change throughout our 20s. […]

Drugs, Neuroscience, and You

Let’s be honest here: if a person really wants to try an illegal drug, he or she is going to find a way to try it. To me, the most reasonable response to this fact seems to be to share clear, science-backed explanations of the effects and risks involved with each drug. So today, I’m […]

Cell Support

Scientists have used lasers create microscopic scaffolds for cells, a new paper reports. These custom-made scaffolds – which are about a thousandth of a millimeter in length – may soon see use in the emerging field of tissue engineering, to shape and support the growth of specific cell groups, and to deliver cells to highly precise locations. […]

Cooler Heads

Yawning may be a reflex for cooling our brains off, a new study suggests. People are less likely to yawn when their own body temperature is lower than that of the surrounding environment, the research shows – in fact, a person’s tendency to yawn actually varies with theseasons, becoming more frequent in winter and less frequent in summer. Scientists have debated the cause(s) of yawning for […]

Gimme Some Sugar

Hunger weakens the ability of regulatory brain areas to put the brakes on reward-oriented ones, a new study has found. When our brains have enough glucose to go around, a region called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) helps regulate our emotions and hold our attention in a particular spot. But brain scans show that when glucose levels drop, […]

Overconfidence Advantages

Fortune favors the bold1 – and sometimes even the unreasonably overconfident, a new study says. Using a mathematical model of simulated competitors, researchers found that while overconfident strategies don’t always win, their wins tend to be bigger than those of more cautious opponents. The total rewards they reap often make up for their losses – and then some. […]

Microscope Hat!

A pin-sized microscope will give us an up-close view of animals’ brain activity as they explore their environment, a new paper reports. The new microscope detects fluorescent light, which scientists often use to mark active cells. But unlike other miniature microscopes, which cost thousands of dollars and monitor only a few cells at a time, this one […]

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