by sschroeder in Daily Observations
Few scientists know the brain as well as APS Past President Michael Gazzaniga does. A pioneer in cognitive neuroscience, Gazzaniga was the first researcher to study patients in whom the ... Read more »
Memories allow us to survive and adapt in constantly changing environments. Fear memory especially warns us to avoid that jumpy hornet in the garden, or the slithering snake on the hiking trail. These memories aren’t very specific – this is evolutionarily beneficial as it allows us to respond to new but similar threats on the [...]... Read more »
Xu W, & Südhof TC. (2013) A neural circuit for memory specificity and generalization. Science (New York, N.Y.), 339(6125), 1290-5. PMID: 23493706
Someone is trying to make me eat my words.yum. (source)That someone is the Dopamine Project. I am on record as saying "It is better for the public to learn simplified bite-size science morsels than to learn nothing at all." And my specific example was that it's better for people to know that 'dopamine is a reward molecule' than to not even know the term dopamine.But sometimes things just go too far. The "Dopamine Project" is a website run by Charles Lyell with a stated 'self-help' purpose: "The ........ Read more »
"The connection with the sun coming up is a misconception," asserts an article in the rural lifestyle magazine Grit. "Roosters crow all the time." Some roosters in Japan would like to loudly disagree. They've shown scientists that their crowing has everything to do with what time of day it is—something they don't even need the sun to know.
Tsuyoshi Shimmura and Takashi Yoshimura, both of Nagoya University in Japan, investigated whether a rooster's crowing is tied to its circ........ Read more »
Shimmura, T., & Yoshimura, T. (2013) Circadian clock determines the timing of rooster crowing. Current Biology, 23(6). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.015
Religions tend to evolve and adapt to benefit a society the most. The first religion can be uncovered from ancient anthropomorphic sculptures 42,000 years ago.... Read more »
WU Fei-fei,JIN Li-ji,LI Xiao-yu,LI Hua-qiang,CAO Zhen-hui,YOU Jian-song,XU Yong-ping(Ministry of Education Center for Food Safety of Animal Origin,College of Life Science and Technology, Dalian University of Technology,Dalian 116024,China). (2012) Research progress in active ingredients and pharmacological effects of deer antler. Chinese Journal. info:/
A new editorial in The Journal of Comparative Neurology celebrates a paper that goes the extra mile in making its anatomical data available:
(The authors) provide an unprecedented level of access to their supporting data by publishing their full set of experimental outcomes in the form of virtual slides, or whole‐slide images.
The editorial nicely summarizes why archiving data from brain slices is particularly important. Brains are complex structures, and there is necessarily a lot of inter........ Read more »
by ebender in Daily Observations
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, recognized by the United Nations General Assembly for the purpose of improving the lives of people living with autism. According to the organization ... Read more »
Cook, R., Brewer, R., Shah, P., . (2013) Alexithymia, not autism, predicts poor recognition of emotional facial expressions. Psychological Science. info:/
True facts about giraffes!
They’re tall. And I use the word precisely. They’re not just big; their legs are about half again as long as you’d predict based on their mass and bodies of other mammals.
Being tall has distinct consequences for the nervous system. The distances that signals have to travel might mean there is lots of lag between something happening out in the world, the signal getting to the brain, and the appropriate response going all the way back down to the muscles the........ Read more »
More H. L., O'Connor S. M., Brondum E., Wang T., Bertelsen M. F., Grondahl C., Kastberg K., Horlyck A., Funder J., & Donelan J. M. (2013) Sensorimotor responsiveness and resolution in the giraffe. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216(6), 1003-1011. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.067231
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is popular tool in neuroscience. A TMS kit is essentially a portable, powerful electromagnet, called a ‘coil’. Switching on the coil causes it to emit a magnetic pulse, and this magnetic field is strong enough to evoke electrical activity in the brain. So, by placing the TMS coil next to someone’s [...]... Read more »
Duecker F, & Sack AT. (2013) Pre-stimulus sham TMS facilitates target detection. PloS one, 8(3). PMID: 23469232
We've recently discussed dopamine as a reward prediction signal. But that is really just the start of the complicated dopamine story. Dopamine's role in reward and punishment (by the hiking artist)Some research groups have also found that dopamine neurons respond to aversive stimuli, like an air puff to the face or an electric shock. This finding seems to be be completely incompatible with the idea that dopamine is a signal for reward. Luckily some scientists took the time to try to resolve this........ Read more »
Bromberg-Martin ES, Matsumoto M, & Hikosaka O. (2010) Dopamine in motivational control: rewarding, aversive, and alerting. Neuron, 68(5), 815-34. PMID: 21144997
In case you missed it, I had a guest post this week in Nature's SpotOn NYC series on Communication and the Brain (#BeBraiNY), held in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week. The theme concerned the challenges of engaging the public's interest in cognitive sciences, and communicating the knowns (and unknowns) of brain disorders:In the current funding climate of budget cuts and sequestration, there’s a wide latitude between overselling the immediate clinical implications of "imaging every spike........ Read more »
Joachim Allgaier, Sharon Dunwoody, Dominique Brossard, Yin-Yueh Lo, & Hans Peter Peters. (2013) Journalism and Social Media as Means of Observing the Contexts of Science. BioScience. info:/10.1525/bio.2013.63.4.8
Previous experiments have looked at unconscious decision making. A new paper (citation below) confirms those experiments and adds more information. The authors are looking at the hypothesis that extrastriate and prefrontal neural regions are active during the encoding of decision information and continue to process that information during a subsequent distractor task. “It is [...]... Read more »
Creswell, J., Bursley, J., & Satpute, A. (2013) Neural Reactivation Links Unconscious Thought to Decision Making Performance. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nst004
Long-term memory is costly. To encode a memory, the brain needs to synthesize many proteins that ultimately lead to changes in synaptic strength, which is thought to be the molecular mechanism behind memory storage. So what happens under nutrient starvation? Does memory storage fail? Plaçais, P. -Y. & Preat, T. To favor survival under food shortage, [...]... Read more »
Plaçais PY, & Preat T. (2013) To favor survival under food shortage, the brain disables costly memory. Science (New York, N.Y.), 339(6118), 440-2. PMID: 23349289
In a new study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have successfully transplanted, for the first time, stem cell derived neural cells into three monkeys with artificially induced brain damage. The cells were derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, which in turn were created by autologous skin cells. According to the researchers, the neural cells integrated perfectly into the lesions and were only visible because they were previously marked with a fluorescent protein. The s........ Read more »
Marina E. Emborg, Yan Liu, Jiajie Xi, Xiaoqing Zhang, Yingnan Yin, Jianfeng Lu, Valerie Joers, Christine Swanson, James E. Holden, Su-Chun Zhang. (2013) Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neural Cells Survive and Mature in the Nonhuman Primate Brain. Cell Reports. info:/10.1016/j.celrep.2013.02.016
(Alternate title: In Soviet Russia, Mirror Neurons Explain YOU!) A draft of this post has been sitting around for a few weeks, and while I’m happy with today’s sanity check, I still can’t help but suspect that I am missing something in the debate on “action understanding”. So I am happy to be convinced that [...]... Read more »
Rizzolatti G, Fogassi L, & Gallese V. (2001) Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 2(9), 661-70. PMID: 11533734
Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) remains one of the most effective treatments for major depressive disorder (MDD).The mechanism of action for ECT in MDD is unclear. Research targeting brain changes in ECT is an important pathway to understanding the mechanism of action for ECT.Patients with MDD show disruptions in brain functional connectivity as measures by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The connectivity abnormalities in MDD have included changes in limbic, cortical........ Read more »
Abbott, C., Lemke, N., Gopal, S., Thoma, R., Bustillo, J., Calhoun, V., & Turner, J. (2013) Electroconvulsive Therapy Response in Major Depressive Disorder: A Pilot Functional Network Connectivity Resting State fMRI Investigation. Frontiers in Psychiatry. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00010
Broad generalizations are often made in popular psychology about one side or the other having characteristic labels, such as "logical" for the left side or "creative" for the right. These labels need to be treated carefully; although a lateral dominance is measurable, both hemispheres contribute to both kinds of processes.In psychology and neurobiology, the theory is based on what is known as the lateralization of brain function. So does one side of the brain really control specific functions? A........ Read more »
Ross, E., & Monnot, M. (2008) Neurology of affective prosody and its functional–anatomic organization in right hemisphere. Brain and Language, 104(1), 51-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2007.04.007
George MS, Parekh PI, Rosinsky N, Ketter TA, Kimbrell TA, Heilman KM, Herscovitch P, & Post RM. (1996) Understanding emotional prosody activates right hemisphere regions. Archives of neurology, 53(7), 665-70. PMID: 8929174
Dehaene, S. (1999) Sources of Mathematical Thinking: Behavioral and Brain-Imaging Evidence. Science, 284(5416), 970-974. DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.970
Devinsky, O. (2009) Delusional misidentifications and duplications: Right brain lesions, left brain delusions. Neurology, 72(1), 80-87. DOI: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000338625.47892.74
"It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is." -President Bill Clinton, August 17, 1998image: Brain electrodes, by laimagendelmundoDr. Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks wrote a terrific post on The history of the birth of neuroculture as a follow-up to his Observer piece on Folk Neuroscience. That article explained how neuro talk has invaded many aspects of everyday discourse. In the new post he briefly covers the history of modern neuroscience, a necessary prelude to contemporary neuroc........ Read more »
Adelman, G. (2010) The Neurosciences Research Program at MIT and the Beginning of the Modern Field of Neuroscience. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 19(1), 15-23. DOI: 10.1080/09647040902720651
LEWIS, N. (1948) SUGGESTIVE RESEARCH LEADS IN CONTEMPORARY NEUROCHEMISTRY. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 136(13), 866. DOI: 10.1001/jama.1948.02890300016005
A month ago, I posted (here) on a paper reported in ScienceDaily. (citation below) I had not read the paper but commented on a quote of the author, included in the ScienceDaily item, which to me implied a dated understanding of a division between perception and cognition. The authors have kindly sent me a copy [...]... Read more »
Can food be addictive? Is obesity sometimes a form of substance abuse? In a new paper, neuroscientist and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, muses on ‘The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity’ Volkow and her coauthors start out with a disclaimer – “we do not claim that obesity is the result [...]... Read more »
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