Posts Tagged ‘Brain’

Posted: January 4, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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“The mother has first dibs on influencing the child’s brain,” said Patricia Kuhl, of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, in a press release. “The vowel sounds in her speech are the loudest units and the fetus locks onto them.” Previous studies have shown that the perception of speech sounds develops in infants long before they are able to speak themselves. Between the ages of 6 months and a year, for example, babies quickly get better at telling the difference between sounds often used in their native languages. At the same time, they rapidly lose the ability to distinguish between the typical sounds of other languages. (via Language Learning Begins in Womb : Discovery News)

Posted: January 2, 2013 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Can We Have Brain-to-Brain Communication?

Michio Kaku says this brain-to-brain communication would involve not just the exchange of information, but also the transmission of emotions and feelings, “because these are also part of the fabric of our thoughts.”

(by bigthink)

When it comes to your moods, decisions and behaviour, the brain in your head is not the only one doing the thinking

IT’S been a tough morning. You were late for work, missed a crucial meeting and now your boss is mad at you. Come lunchtime you walk straight past the salad bar and head for the stodge. You can’t help yourself – at times of stress the brain encourages us to seek out comfort foods. That much is well known. What you probably don’t know, though, is that the real culprit may not be the brain in your skull but your other brain.

Yes, that’s right, your other brain. Your body contains a separate nervous system that is so complex it has been dubbed the second brain. It comprises an estimated 500 million neurons – about five times as many as in the brain of a rat – and is around 9 metres long, stretching from your oesophagus to your anus. It is this brain that could be responsible for your craving under stress for crisps, chocolate and cookies.

Embedded in the wall of the gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS) has long been known to control digestion. Now it seems it also plays an important role in our physical and mental well-being. It can work both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head and, although you are not conscious of your gut “thinking”, the ENS helps you sense environmental threats, and then influences your response. “A lot of the information that the gut sends to the brain affects well-being, and doesn’t even come to consciousness,” says Michael Gershon at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York.

The second brain also shares many features with the first. It is made up of various types of neuron, with glial support cells. It has its own version of a blood-brain barrier to keep its physiological environment stable. And it produces a wide range of hormones and around 40 neurotransmitters of the same classes as those found in the brain. In fact, neurons in the gut are thought to generate as much dopamine as those in the head. Intriguingly, about 95 per cent of the serotonin present in the body at any time is in the ENS.

Gut instincts: The secrets of your second brain – life – 17 December 2012 – New Scientist

Posted: December 21, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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IQ tests are misleading because they do not accurately reflect intelligence, according to a study which found that a minimum of three different exams are needed to measure someone’s brainpower.

For more than a century our intelligence quotient (IQ) has been used to measure how clever people are and Mensa, the society for the intellectual elite, has even used the test to weed out sub-par applicants. But now the scale has been dismissed as a “myth” by scientists who found that our intelligence can only be predicted by combining results from at least three tests of our mental agility. Different circuits within the brain are used for different thought processes, the researchers showed, meaning separate tests of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal skills are needed to measure someone’s overall intelligence. Their landmark study was based on the results of an online intelligence test which was launched by the Daily Telegraph and New Scientist two years ago, and attracted more than 110,000 responses. Dr Roger Highfield, the Telegraph columnist and one of the authors of the paper, said: “When you come to the most complex known object, the human brain, the idea that there is only one measure of intelligence had to be wrong. (via IQ tests ‘do not reflect intelligence’ – Telegraph)

Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings. The result — achieved through computational models of brain imaging data collected while the subjects watched hours of movie clips — is what researchers call “a continuous semantic space.” Some relationships between categories make sense (humans and animals share the same “semantic neighborhood”) while others (hallways and buckets) are less obvious. The researchers found that different people share a similar semantic layout.

Scientists construct first map of how the brain organizes everything we see

Creativity is important—without it, human society cannot survive—yet finding an appropriate method to quantify imagination has scientists stumped

NEW YORK — While jazz musician Vijay Iyer played a piece on the piano, he wore an expression of intense concentration. Afterward, everyone wanted to know: What was going on in his head? The way this music is often taught, “they tell you, you must not be thinking when you are playing,” Iyer said after finishing his performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” a piece that requires improvisation. “I think that is an impoverished view of what thought is. … Thought is distributed through all of our actions.” Iyer’s performance opened a panel discussion on music and the mind at the New York Academy of Sciences on Wednesday (Dec. 13). Music elicits “a splash” of activity in many parts of the brain, said panelist Jamshed Bharucha, a neuroscientist and musician, after moderator Steve Paulson of the public radio program “To the Best of Our Knowledge” asked about the brain’s response to music. “I think you are asking a question we can only scratch the surface of in terms of what goes on in the brain,” Bharucha said. [Why Music Moves Us]

Music’s Effects on the Mind Remain Mysterious: Scientific American

Posted: December 19, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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I am, as I say, addicted, and I keep a sharp eye out for trends. Over the last several years, I’ve noticed a striking increase in articles whose common theme is where things happen in the brain. It appears that recent technological developments in ‘neural imaging’ have made it possible to measure the amount of activity that’s going on in a given brain region while a subject is engaged in some experimental task. And, though perhaps not mandatory, it’s natural enough to infer from a reliable correlation between a mental process and a locus of neural activity that the latter is the site of the former. If there’s a place in the brain where you find a whole lot of neurons going off when and only when whoever owns the brain is thinking about teapots, it’s at least plausible, all else being equal, that you’ve found where in that brain its thinking about teapots happens. Likewise, if certain neurons fire at certain frequencies just when a guy is conscious, one might infer that that’s where his consciousness hangs out. All the more so if the correlation holds across subjects.

Jerry Fodor · Diary: why the brain? · LRB 30 September 1999