The whole of human intelligence, right at your fingertips. Sure it might not make the layman an engineer or physicist, but if we want to learn about a particular topic the internet can give us that information. But you better hold on tight before you lose it. New research finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.
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Jiang, T., Hou, Y., & Wang, Q. (2016) Does micro-blogging make us “shallow”? Sharing information online interferes with information comprehension. Computers in Human Behavior, 210-214. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.008
Neuroscientists have a schizophrenic view of how neurons. On the one hand, we say, neurons are ultra-efficient and are as precise as possible in their encoding of the world. On the other hand, neurons are pretty noisy, with the variability in … Continue reading →... Read more »
Back in 2013, I wondered if we would ever discover the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts. Why, I asked, do certain ideas just "pop" into our minds at particular times? Now a new paper published in Neuroimage, Canadian neuroscientists Melissa Ellamil and colleagues reports on the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts.
Ellamil et al. recruited a group of 18 volunteers, all of whom were highly experienced practitioners of mindfulness meditation. These individuals were selected, the authors... Read more »
Ellamil M, Fox KC, Dixon ML, Pritchard S, Todd RM, Thompson E, & Christoff K. (2016) Dynamics of neural recruitment surrounding the spontaneous arising of thoughts in experienced mindfulness practitioners. NeuroImage. PMID: 27114056
Why does one person who tries cocaine get addicted, while another might use it and then leave it alone? Why do some people who kick a drug habit manage to stay clean, while others relapse? And why do some families seem more prone to addiction than others? According to a new study, the road to answering these questions may have a lot to do with specific genetic factors that vary from individual to individual.
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Flagel, S., Chaudhury, S., Waselus, M., Kelly, R., Sewani, S., Clinton, S., Thompson, R., Watson, S., & Akil, H. (2016) Genetic background and epigenetic modifications in the core of the nucleus accumbens predict addiction-like behavior in a rat model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201520491. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520491113
Happiness. It’s something we all strive for, but how do we measure it — as a country? A global community? Not so surprisingly, researchers are turning to social media to answer these questions and more. In a newly published study, computer scientists used two years of Twitter data to measure users’ life satisfaction, a component of happiness.
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Yang, C., & Srinivasan, P. (2016) Life Satisfaction and the Pursuit of Happiness on Twitter. PLOS ONE, 11(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150881
Does the thought of money make people more selfish? Last year, I blogged about the theory of 'money priming', the idea that mere reminders of money can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. The occasion for that post was a study showing no evidence of the claimed money priming phenomenon, published by psychologists Rohrer, Pashler, and Harris. Rohrer et al.'s paper was accompanied by a rebuttal from Kathleen Vohs, who argued that 10 years of research and 165 studies establish that mone........ Read more »
Vadillo MA, Hardwicke TE, & Shanks DR. (2016) Selection bias, vote counting, and money-priming effects: A comment on Rohrer, Pashler, and Harris (2015) and Vohs (2015). Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 145(5), 655-63. PMID: 27077759
image: Mihály Vöröslakos / University of Szeged “Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS,” I warned last time. Now the infamous cadaver study has reared its ugly hot-wired head in Science News (Underwood, 2016).The mechanism of action of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) had been called into question by Dr. György Buzsáki during his presentation at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting....Or had it?To recap, my understanding was that an unpublished study of transcranial e........ Read more »
Ozen, S., Sirota, A., Belluscio, M., Anastassiou, C., Stark, E., Koch, C., & Buzsaki, G. (2010) Transcranial Electric Stimulation Entrains Cortical Neuronal Populations in Rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(34), 11476-11485. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5252-09.2010
Underwood, E. (2016) Cadaver study challenges brain stimulation methods. Science, 352(6284), 397-397. DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.397
In a new paper called Molecular fMRI, MIT researchers Benjamin B. Bartelle, Ali Barandov, and Alan Jasanoff discuss technological advances that could provide neuroscientists with new tools for mapping the brain.
Currently, one of the leading methods of measuring brain activity is functional MRI (fMRI). However, as Bartelle et al. note, it has its limitations:
Because brain activity mapping with fMRI depends on neurovascular coupling, resolution at the level of single cells is out of reach.... Read more »
No one knows Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) quite like veterans. Unfortunately, it is a major cause of mortality and morbidity, often causing lifelong disability for those who survive. There is simply no treatment, jut care, but a new study might change that. Stem cell therapy has recently been receiving attention as a way to promote […]... Read more »
Junling Gao, Raymond J. Grill, Tiffany J. Dunn, Supinder Bedi, Javier Allende Labastida, Robert A. Hetz, Hasen Xue, Jason R. Thonhoff, Douglas S. DeWitt, Donald S. Prough.... (2016) Human Neural Stem Cell Transplantation-Mediated Alteration of Microglial/Macrophage Phenotypes after Traumatic Brain Injury. Cell Transplantation. DOI: 10.3727/096368916X691150
Recent studies of transcranial electrical stimulation in human cadaver heads showed a 90% loss of current when delivered through the skin (Buzsáki, 2016 CNS meeting).Siren SongBy Margaret AtwoodThis is the one song everyone would like to learn: the songthat is irresistible:the song that forces mento leap overboard in squadronseven though they see the beached skullsthe song nobody knowsbecause anyone who has heard itis dead, and the others can't remember.Better living through electricity. The l........ Read more »
Fertonani A, & Miniussi C. (2016) Transcranial Electrical Stimulation: What We Know and Do Not Know About Mechanisms. The Neuroscientist. PMID: 26873962
Monai H, Ohkura M, Tanaka M, Oe Y, Konno A, Hirai H, Mikoshiba K, Itohara S, Nakai J, Iwai Y.... (2016) Calcium imaging reveals glial involvement in transcranial direct current stimulation-induced plasticity in mouse brain. Nature communications, 11100. PMID: 27000523
The human brain was initially used for basic survival tasks, such as staying safe and hunting and gathering. Yet, 200,000 years later, the same human brain is able to learn abstract concepts, like momentum, energy, and gravity, which have only been formally defined in the last few centuries. New research has now uncovered how the brain is able to acquire brand new types of ideas.
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Robert A. Mason, & Marcel Adam Just. (2016) Neural Representations of Physics Concepts . Psychological Science. info:other/Pre-print
Eco-friendly behaviors, such as recycling coffee pods, are associated with a sense of pride.... Read more »
Bissing-Olson, M., Fielding, K., & Iyer, A. (2016) Experiences of pride, not guilt, predict pro-environmental behavior when pro-environmental descriptive norms are more positive. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 145-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.01.001
If Parkinson’s disease wasn’t bad enough for families to have to learn to deal with, about 80% of patients also develop dementia. That’s the problem with the brain; while it has the amazing ability to adapt to just about anything, it can’t fix everything. There are no particularly good solutions to Parkinson’s or dementia, however, early detection of dementia is key to keeping it at bay and a new study may have a way to do just that.
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Bertrand, J., McIntosh, A., Postuma, R., Kovacevic, N., Latreille, V., Panisset, M., Chouinard, S., & Gagnon, J. (2016) Brain Connectivity Alterations Are Associated with the Development of Dementia in Parkinson's Disease. Brain Connectivity, 6(3), 216-224. DOI: 10.1089/brain.2015.0390
If you see me on the street and I am running, there is a good chance you should be running as well, because something dangerous is coming. I don’t run, I hate to run, I loathe running, did I mention I don’t like to run? Maybe it’s all the running I did in the military, or if a new study is correct, it may have to do with my mother. Which is good, because now I can blame someone else for my hatred of running.
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Eclarinal, J., Zhu, S., Baker, M., Piyarathna, D., Coarfa, C., Fiorotto, M., & Waterland, R. (2016) Maternal exercise during pregnancy promotes physical activity in adult offspring. The FASEB Journal. DOI: 10.1096/fj.201500018R
Does ice cream cause drownings? Let's think about this statistically. Consider that, in any given city, daily sales of ice cream are, most likely, positively correlated with daily rates of drownings.
Now, no matter how strong this correlation is, it doesn't really mean that ice cream is dangerous. Rather, the association exists because of a 'confound' variable. In this case it's temperature: on sunny days, people tend to eat more ice cream and they also tend to go swimming more often, thu... Read more »
Westfall J, & Yarkoni T. (2016) Statistically Controlling for Confounding Constructs Is Harder than You Think. PloS one, 11(3). PMID: 27031707
It's that time of the year again. You step out of the house and your eyes itch, your nose starts running and your head feels like an empty balloon. Yes, it's allergy season again. Even the resilient ones, give them enough time and eventually they will develop some form of allergic reaction. But what are allergies and why do so many people suffer from them?Allergies are a glitch in our immune system. The immune system is built to recognize and destroy pathogens -- potential threats like viruses........ Read more »
Ziska, L., Knowlton, K., Rogers, C., Dalan, D., Tierney, N., Elder, M., Filley, W., Shropshire, J., Ford, L., Hedberg, C.... (2011) Recent warming by latitude associated with increased length of ragweed pollen season in central North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(10), 4248-4251. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014107108
Li, Q., & Zhou, J. (2016) The microbiota–gut–brain axis and its potential therapeutic role in autism spectrum disorder. Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.013
Molloy, J., Allen, K., Collier, F., Tang, M., Ward, A., & Vuillermin, P. (2013) The Potential Link between Gut Microbiota and IgE-Mediated Food Allergy in Early Life. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(12), 7235-7256. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph10127235
Currently, neuroscientists think our brain has about enough storage space to hold the entire internet. That’s a lot of space, about a petabyte in fact — if we are to believe this estimate. So, what did you read in the news this day 5 years ago? Don’t worry, I don’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning and my long-term memory doesn’t fair much better. However, vital information about how the brain erases long-term memories has been uncovered by researchers.
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Migues, P., Liu, L., Archbold, G., Einarsson, E., Wong, J., Bonasia, K., Ko, S., Wang, Y., & Hardt, O. (2016) Blocking Synaptic Removal of GluA2-Containing AMPA Receptors Prevents the Natural Forgetting of Long-Term Memories. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(12), 3481-3494. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3333-15.2016
Dopamine is love. Dopamine is reward. Dopamine is addiction.Neuroscientists have a love/hate relationship with how this monoamine neurotransmitter is portrayed in the popular press.wwlp.comthestranger.com[The claim of vagus nerve-stimulating headphones is worth a post in its own right.]observer.com“You can fold your laundry, but you can’t fold your dopamine.”- James Cole Abrams, M.A. (in Contemplative Psychotherapy)The word dopamine has become a shorthand for positive reinforcement, whethe........ Read more »
Zalocusky, K., Ramakrishnan, C., Lerner, T., Davidson, T., Knutson, B., & Deisseroth, K. (2016) Nucleus accumbens D2R cells signal prior outcomes and control risky decision-making. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature17400
In today’s lexicon, the term mental illness is used pretty widely. It can be used to describe someone suffering from depression, to PTSD, to even someone suicidal. In fact, today it is sort of a catch all term for anyone who is involved in a mass shooting here in the US. We are getting off […]... Read more »
Elkington, K., Teplin, L., Abram, K., Jakubowski, J., Dulcan, M., & Welty, L. (2015) Psychiatric Disorders and Violence: A Study of Delinquent Youth After Detention. Journal of the American Academy of Child , 54(4), 302-31200000. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.01.002
Su, J., Chen, J., Lippold, K., Monavarfeshani, A., Carrillo, G., Jenkins, R., & Fox, M. (2016) Collagen-derived matricryptins promote inhibitory nerve terminal formation in the developing neocortex. The Journal of Cell Biology, 212(6), 721-736. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201509085
Jacobs, R., Barba, A., Gowins, J., Klumpp, H., Jenkins, L., Mickey, B., Ajilore, O., Peciña, M., Sikora, M., Ryan, K.... (2016) Decoupling of the amygdala to other salience network regions in adolescent-onset recurrent major depressive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 1-13. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291715002615
Dowell, N., Cooper, E., Tibble, J., Voon, V., Critchley, H., Cercignani, M., & Harrison, N. (2016) Acute Changes in Striatal Microstructure Predict the Development of Interferon-Alpha Induced Fatigue. Biological Psychiatry, 79(4), 320-328. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.015
Li, W., Lai, T., Bohon, C., Loo, S., McCurdy, D., Strober, M., Bookheimer, S., & Feusner, J. (2015) Anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder are associated with abnormalities in processing visual information. Psychological Medicine, 1-12. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291715000045
Vita, A., De Peri, L., Deste, G., Barlati, S., & Sacchetti, E. (2015) The Effect of Antipsychotic Treatment on Cortical Gray Matter Changes in Schizophrenia: Does the Class Matter? A Meta-analysis and Meta-regression of Longitudinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies. Biological Psychiatry, 78(6), 403-412. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.02.008
It was a clear case of a false alarm, toxoplasmosis, a parasite that infects mice and cats was thought to have an effect on humans. However, after a thorough review of the data it was off the hook, or so we thought. Individuals with a psychiatric disorder involving recurrent bouts of extreme, impulsive anger--road rage, for example--are more than twice as likely to have been exposed to a common parasite than healthy individuals with no psychiatric diagnosis.
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Coccaro, E., Lee, R., Groer, M., Can, A., Coussons-Read, M., & Postolache, T. (2016) Toxoplasma gondii Infection: Relationship With Aggression in Psychiatric Subjects. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 334-341. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.14m09621
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