Brain/Mind

Facebook Twitter

Why Sleep Deprivation Eases Depression. Sleep deprivation is a quick and efficient way to treat depression.

Why Sleep Deprivation Eases Depression

It works 60 to 70 percent of the time—far better than existing drugs—but the mood boost usually lasts only until the patient falls asleep. As an ongoing treatment, sleep deprivation is impractical, but researchers have been studying the phenomenon in an effort to uncover the cellular mechanisms behind depression and remission. Now a team at Tufts University has pinpointed glia as the key players. The researchers previously found that astrocytes, a star-shaped type of glial cell, regulate the brain chemicals involved in sleepiness. During our waking hours, astrocytes continuously release the neurotransmitter adenosine, which builds up in the brain and causes “sleep pressure,” the feeling of sleepiness and its related memory and attention impairments.

The results confirm that the adenosine buildup is responsible for the antidepressant effects of a lack of sleep. Virtues of Cognitive Workout: New Research Reveals Neurological Underpinnings of Intelligence. How much does environment influence intelligence?

Virtues of Cognitive Workout: New Research Reveals Neurological Underpinnings of Intelligence

Several years ago University of Virginia Professor Eric Turkheimer demonstrated that growing up in an impoverished and chaotic household suppresses I.Q. – without nurture, innate advantages vanish. What about genes? They matter too. After decades of research most psychologists agree that somewhere between 50% and 80% of intelligence is genetic. After all, numerous studies demonstrate that identical twins raised apart have remarkably similar I.Q.’s. A 2008 paper out of the University of Michigan turned all of this on its head. This brings me to a brand new paper recently published in the journal Neuroscience by DRDC Toronto researcher and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, Oshin Vartanian. To answer these questions Vartanian and his team gathered 34 participants and assigned each of them to either an experimental or control group.

Emotional Smarts Tied to General IQ. Emotional smarts and general intelligence may be more closely linked than previously thought, new research suggests.

Emotional Smarts Tied to General IQ

In a group of Vietnam veterans, IQ test results and emotional intelligence, or the ability to perceive, understand and deal with emotion in oneself or in others, were linked. And in brain scans, the same regions of the brain seemed to perform both emotional and cognitive tasks, the study found. The findings were published in the journal Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience. "Intelligence, to a large extent, does depend on basic cognitive abilities, like attention and perception and memory and language," said study coauthor Aron Barbey, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, in a statement. "But it also depends on interacting with other people. In the past, scientists believed that emotional intelligence and general intelligence were distinct, and books and movies are rife with depictions of intellectually brilliant but socially clueless nerds.

Reminiscence bump explanations: Why we remember young adulthood better than any other age. YanLev/iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

Reminiscence bump explanations: Why we remember young adulthood better than any other age

Twentysomethings are having a moment. They’re inspiring self-help guides (see Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How To Make the Most of Them Now), hit television shows, Tumblrs-turned-handbooks, and lyrical New Yorker think pieces. What is it about twentysomethings? Robin Henig asked in the New York Times Magazine not too long ago. In part, she was talking about the current crop of young adults. Katy Waldman is a Slate assistant editor. Follow A little-known but robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. Memory researchers have been wrestling with the reminiscence bump since at least the 1980s, when studies began turning up evidence that memory has a peculiar affinity for events that happen during the third decade of life.

Autobiographical memories are not distributed equally across the lifespan. Illustration by Robert Neubecker. That was exactly what transpired. New Finding Calls Into Question Assumptions About Sexuality. —Paul Stokes, MD, PhD Almost weekly, research reveals the tremendous neuroplasticity of the human brain .

However, most prior studies pointed to the adaptability of the larger, more superficial cerebral cortex . The deeper, primitive ( limbic ) brain was seen as an evolutionary holdover that simply responded to the impulses sent from the higher cortex. Only addiction neuroscientists highlighted the multiple neuroplastic changes that occur in the reward circuit...of addicts. However, they presumed that a pathological process caused this phenomenon.

Twin studies provide a powerful way of investigating the effects of genetic versus environmental factors. The researchers divided the brain's dopamine systems into three overlapping regions based on function: memory and executive functions (implicated in ADHD ), movement and coordination (the system damaged by Parkinson's disease), and reward (central to motivation , appetites and addiction). Result? Eye-Opener: Why Do Pupils Dilate in Response to Emotional States? Scientists use pupil size measurements to study a wide range of psychological processes.Image: Joss Fong What do an orgasm, a multiplication problem and a photo of a dead body have in common?

Eye-Opener: Why Do Pupils Dilate in Response to Emotional States?

Each induces a slight, irrepressible expansion of the pupils in our eyes. For more than a century scientists have known that our eyes' pupils respond to more than changes in light. They also betray mental and emotional commotion. In fact, pupil dilation correlates with arousal so consistently that researchers use pupil size, or pupillometry, to investigate a wide range of psychological phenomena.

"Nobody really knows for sure what these changes do," says Stuart Steinhauer, director of the Biometrics Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The visual cortex in the back of the brain assembles the actual images we see. The pupil response to cognitive and emotional events occurs on an even smaller scale than the light reflex, with changes generally less than half a millimeter.

The Damaging Impact of Abuse on Brain Development. Some 30,000 neuroscientists have converged on the New Orleans convention center, a stone's throw from the French Quarter and overlooking the Mississippi river as it flows into the Gulf.

The Damaging Impact of Abuse on Brain Development

Just as the river always flows downstream, science flows forward toward new understanding and nowhere is it more evident than here. I'm at the annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) conference, which starts today and ends Wednesday. Each day there are thousands of poster presentations and hundreds of talks, each documenting a new finding about the brain, new evidence for the theories explaining how our collection of neurons works, and what it means for us. This year, SfN selected this blog to document the findings in cognition , behavior and disorders of the nervous system.

I am responsible for posting one blog entry per day of the conference. After you're born, the greatest impact on the brain you'll have as an adult comes from the experiences you have in the first years of your life. Common Parasite Linked to Personality Changes. Feeling sociable or reckless?

Common Parasite Linked to Personality Changes

You might have toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which the CDC estimates has infected about 22.5 percent of Americans older than 12 years old. Researchers tested participants for T. gondii infection and had them complete a personality questionnaire. They found that both men and women infected with T. gondii were more extroverted and less conscientious than the infection-free participants. These changes are thought to result from the parasite's influence on brain chemicals, the scientists write in the May/June issue of the European Journal of Personality. “Toxoplasma manipulates the behavior of its animal host by increasing the concentration of dopamine and by changing levels of certain hormones,” says study author Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Although humans can carry the parasite, its life cycle must play out in cats and rodents. This is Scary: Scientists find a way to erase frightening memories. The technique could be used to treat anxiety and other disorders You know that irrational fear of clowns you have because one accidentally popped a balloon animal in your face when you were a kid?

This is Scary: Scientists find a way to erase frightening memories

If a new technique developed by Swedish scientists had existed back then, that fear might never have developed. Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have found that it's possible to interrupt the formation of memories during a crucial stage when they're being cemented in your brain by proteins. In fact, it seems that memories associated with fears can be replaced entirely — if caught before this consolidation process can finish.

By displaying a photograph and simultaneously administering a small electric shock, the researchers were able to induce formation of a fear memory in test subjects. [Image credit: Scared woman via Shutterstock] [via Gizmodo] This article was written by Randy Nelson and originally appeared on Tecca More from Tecca: Science, Social Science, & Humanities. How to Learn in Your Sleep. TIPS/Photoshot Associations learned while asleep can be retained after waking up.

How to Learn in Your Sleep

It sounds like every student's dream: research published today in Nature Neuroscience shows that we can learn entirely new information while we snooze1. Anat Arzi of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and her colleagues used a simple form of learning called classical conditioning to teach 55 healthy participants to associate odours with sounds as they slept. They repeatedly exposed the sleeping participants to pleasant odours, such as deodorant and shampoo, and unpleasant odours such as rotting fish and meat, and played a specific sound to accompany each scent. It is well known that sleep has an important role in strengthening existing memories, and this conditioning was already known to alter sniffing behaviour in people who are awake.

Arzi thinks that we could probably learn more complex information while we sleep. Switch Your Brain Into Sleep Mode: On Demand. Myths About Sleep Myth One—Missing sleep is okay.

Switch Your Brain Into Sleep Mode: On Demand

Myth Two—Your financial, work or relationship problems keep you from sleeping. Myth Three—You can't influence your brain . Reality About Sleep Reality One—Sleep Deprivation can kill you sooner than you think. Reality Two—With all your problems, you have the power to sleep well tonight. Reality Three—You can quickly and easily put your brain into Sleep Mode on demand. Your Brain Has a Sleep Mode! In 2006, Wisseman discovered that in addition to the Executive Function Network, which allows us to focus on our daily tasks (work, play and sleep), there is another network, the Default Mode Network, that pulls us away from the task at hand by preoccupying us with inner self-directed talk.

Recognize Your Sleep Mode Try the following two minute experiential exercise to become familiar with your Sleep Mode. 1. 2. 3. 4. Switch Your Brain into Sleep Mode Tonight When you go to bed tonight, remember the busy head does not settle the busy head. References: Memory in the Brain [Interactive] Brain's Drain: Neuroscientists Discover Cranial Cleansing System. The brain can be a messy place. Thankfully, it has good plumbing: Scientists have just discovered a cleansing river inside the brain, a fluid stream that might be enlisted to flush away the buildup of proteins associated with Alzheimer's, Huntington's and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The researchers, based at the University of Rochester (U.R.), University of Oslo and Stony Brook University, describe this new system in the journal Science Translational Medicine today. The study adds to the evidence that the star-shaped cells called astrocytes play a leading role in keeping the nervous system in good working order. In most of the body, a network of vessels carry lymph, a fluid that removes excess plasma, dead blood cells, debris and other waste. But the brain is different. In this study, researchers led by U.R. neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard have identified a second, faster brain-cleansing system. Is Your Mind Separate From Your Body? Premise #1: “The mind is in the body.” I teach a lot of courses and workshops on mind-body science, and Premise #1 is how I start all of them.

It's a basic assumption of modern psychology, especially for those who study the brain . I define mind as the experience a person has of him or herself—thoughts, emotions, memories , desires, beliefs, sensations, even consciousness itself. And I believe that science can best locate these experiences in the body. Not just in the brain, where we first look for the biological basis of the mind, but distributed throughout the body. For example, hormones circulating throughout the body shape our thoughts and emotions, from testosterone making us more competitive and self-focused to adrenaline making us anxious or energized. I don't find it alarming or depressing that rich psychological experiences may be rooted in the body, and observable physical processes. Of course, not everyone accepts this mind-body premise. Studies cited: 1. 2. First map of the human brain reveals a simple, grid-like structure between neurons.

In an astonishing new study, scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have imaged human and monkey brains and found… well, the image above says it all. It turns out that the pathways in your brain — the connections between neurons — are almost perfectly grid-like. It’s rather weird: If you’ve ever seen a computer ribbon cable — a flat, 2D ribbon of wires stuck together, such as an IDE hard drive cable — the brain is basically just a huge collection of these ribbons, traveling parallel or perpendicular to each other.

There are almost zero diagonals, nor single neurons that stray from the neuronal highways. The human brain is just one big grid of neurons — a lot like the streets of Manhattan, minus Broadway, and then projected into three dimensions. This new imagery comes from a souped-up MRI scanner that uses diffusion spectrum imaging to detect the movement of water molecules within axons (the long connections made by neurons). “Before, we had just driving directions. What Multitasking Does To Our Brains. I can definitely understand how focusing on one task at a time allows you to be more productive. However, I also believe that you can benefit from taking a break after ~an hour of working on something, and then doing something else.

Making progress on multiple different tasks in this way provides a similar feeling of high productivity, but also allows you to get a feel for exactly how much work you have on your plate. Obviously, not every task can be broken up into hour-long work sessions, but if I can diversify what I'm working on, I won't get bored of my work.In terms of making to-do lists, I've found that just making the old-fashioned, linear lists don't quite cut it for me anymore. One method I've found quite useful is the Eisenhower method, which is a 2x2 matrix that organizes your tasks by urgency v.s. importance. It's a nice, visual way to look at your tasks and choose which one to work on based on how necessary it is to complete at that point in time.

Easter Island drug improves learning and memory in mice of all ages. PsycNET - Display Record. Bad Memories Can Be Erased in Potential Breakthrough for Treating Depression and PTSD. Your Optimism Bias: One of the Best and Worst Tricks Your Brain Plays on You. Regular Exercise Leads to a Healthier, Smarter Brain. The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever.

How to Train Your Brain and Boost Your Memory Like a USA Memory Champion. Hack Your Brain to Use Cravings To Your Advantage. The myth of the eight-hour sleep. Prune bad brain wiring with magnetic pulses - health - 18 February 2012. The Brain: Our Strange, Important, Subconscious Light Detectors. Study Before Bed for Significantly Better Retention. Mapping Human Consciousness. MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons.

Train Your Brain for Monk-Like Focus.