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This month, we feature videos of a Greater Good presentation by Rick Hanson, the best-selling author and trailblazing psychologist. In this excerpt from his talk, Dr. Hanson explains how we can take advantage of the brain’s natural “plasticity”—it’s ability to change shape over time.
Aristotle declared that humans are the only animal to laugh, but then, he never saw this video of Jaak Panksepp tickling rats. When you play it, you’ll hear the tickled rats chirping — an ultrasonic noise that’s audible thanks to the special equipment that enabled Dr. Panksepp and his colleagues to discover this phenomenon. Young rats make the same chirp when they chase and play with one another, and they like to hang out with other rats who chirp at this frequency (50 kHz). It seems to be a happy sound: rats will run mazes and press levers in order to be tickled, and they’ll emit the same chirp when the dopamine reward circuits in the brain are stimulated. Some researchers still aren’t sure these sounds qualify as animal laughter, but Dr.
404, File Not Found, Where did the old content go? Thank you for your interest in webcast.berkeley. Please note that we launched a new site on June 30, 2011. As part of the launch, much of our back catalog of courses that we were unable to migrate out of a proprietary format which we no longer support are now unavailable.
Though still a long way from being tested in humans, the implant demonstrates for the first time that a cognitive function can be improved with a device that mimics the firing patterns of neurons. In recent years neuroscientists have developed implants that allow paralyzed people to move prosthetic limbs or a computer cursor, using their thoughts to activate the machines. In the new work, being published Friday, researchers at Wake Forest University and the University of Southern California used some of the same techniques to read neural activity. But they translated those signals internally, to improve brain function rather than to activate outside appendages. “It’s technically very impressive to pull something like this off, given our current level of technology,” said Daryl Kipke, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the experiment.
WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IS COMMONLY BELIEVED, BUT NOT TRUE – You read by recognizing the shapes of words and groups of words. Words that are in all capital letters all have the same shape: a rectangle of a certain size. This makes words displayed in all uppercase harder to read than upper and lower case (known as “mixed case”). Mixed case words are easier to read because they make unique shapes, as demonstrated by the picture below.