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Henry Markram: Supercomputing the brain's secrets

Henry Markram: Supercomputing the brain's secrets
Related:  Brainware

Where is The Mind?: Science gets puzzled and almost admits a non-local mentalscape. This will be the last "home-produced" blog entry for a while [save the short "Everyday Spirituality" which will follow it as a sign-off] . West Virginia beckons tomorrow morning and off I will go to whatever that entails. As I said in one of the commentary responses the other day, I hope that reading two journal runs "cover-to-cover" will bring up a few thoughts worth sharing. This day's entry was inspired by two articles bumped into coincidentally which had scientists puzzling about a holographic universe and a non-local mind. The first of these articles [both from the New Scientist] was "Where in the World is the Mind?" That brings in the second serendipitous article. It reminded me then, also, of a moment when I was able to spend a [too short] time with David Bohm, the famous theoretical physicist. I am happy to be [in body] a holographic projection of force dimensions--not from the "edge" of the universe but its core reality.

Researchers discover how inhibitory neurons behave during critical periods of learning -- ScienceDaily We've all heard the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Now neuroscientists are beginning to explain the science behind the adage. For years, neuroscientists have struggled to understand how the microcircuitry of the brain makes learning easier for the young, and more difficult for the old. New findings published in the journal Nature by Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine show how one component of the brain's circuitry -- inhibitory neurons -- behave during critical periods of learning. The brain is made up of two types of cells -- inhibitory and excitatory neurons. "We knew from previous studies that excitatory cells propagate information. The prevailing theory on inhibitory neurons was that, as they mature, they reach an increased level of activity that fosters optimal periods of learning. We've all heard the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

Partnerships in the brain: Mathematical model describes the collaboration of individual neurons -- ScienceDaily How do neurons in the brain communicate with each other? One common theory suggests that individual cells do not exchange signals among each other, but rather that exchange takes place between groups of cells. Researchers from Japan, the United States and Germany have now developed a mathematical model that can be used to test this assumption. A neuron in the neocortex, the part of the brain that deals with higher brain functions, contacts thousands of other neurons and receives as many inputs from other neurons. "From the many signals measured in parallel, the novel method filters the information on whether the neurons communicate individually or as a group," explains Dr. Prof. In future, the scientists hope to learn how to use their methods on the signals recorded from hundreds of neurons simultaneously. How do neurons in the brain communicate with each other? Prof.

You're not irrational, you're just quantum probabilistic: Researchers explain human decision-making with physics theory -- ScienceDaily The next time someone accuses you of making an irrational decision, just explain that you're obeying the laws of quantum physics. A new trend taking shape in psychological science not only uses quantum physics to explain humans' (sometimes) paradoxical thinking, but may also help researchers resolve certain contradictions among the results of previous psychological studies. According to Zheng Joyce Wang and others who try to model our decision-making processes mathematically, the equations and axioms that most closely match human behavior may be ones that are rooted in quantum physics. "We have accumulated so many paradoxical findings in the field of cognition, and especially in decision-making," said Wang, who is an associate professor of communication and director of the Communication and Psychophysiology Lab at The Ohio State University. "Whenever something comes up that isn't consistent with classical theories, we often label it as 'irrational.' "Our brain can't store everything.

Controlling brain cells with sound waves -- ScienceDaily Salk scientists have developed a new way to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic waves. The new technique, dubbed sonogenetics, has some similarities to the burgeoning use of light to activate cells in order to better understand the brain. This new method--which uses the same type of waves used in medical sonograms--may have advantages over the light-based approach--known as optogenetics--particularly when it comes to adapting the technology to human therapeutics. It was described September 15, 2015 in the journal Nature Communications. "Light-based techniques are great for some uses and I think we're going to continue to see developments on that front," says Sreekanth Chalasani, an assistant professor in Salk's Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory and senior author of the study. "But this is a new, additional tool to manipulate neurons and other cells in the body." Next, they found a membrane ion channel, TRP-4, which can respond to these waves.

The Neuroscience of the Gut People may advise you to listen to your gut instincts: now research suggests that your gut may have more impact on your thoughts than you ever realized. Scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Genome Institute of Singapore led by Sven Pettersson recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that normal gut flora, the bacteria that inhabit our intestines, have a significant impact on brain development and subsequent adult behavior. We human beings may think of ourselves as a highly evolved species of conscious individuals, but we are all far less human than most of us appreciate. Moreover, these bacteria have been implicated in the development of neurological and behavioral disorders. But this new study is the first to extensively evaluate the influence of gut bacteria on the biochemistry and development of the brain. Are you a scientist?

Scientists Proclaim Animal and Human Consciousness the Same A remarkable thing happened at The First Annual Francis Crick Memorial Conference held at the University of Cambridge, July 7 in U.K. A group of prominent neuroscientists signed a proclamation declaring human and animal consciousness alike. Called The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness, it states: We declare the following: The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. To many pet parents and animal lovers, the conference only confirms what they already believed through their own observations and interactions with animals – albeit, not with the credibility of scientific research. Stephen Hawking — considered the greatest mind in physics since Albert Einstein — was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony. Related Reading:

How Dogs Read Our Moods: Emotion Detector Found In Fido's Brain : Shots - Health News hide captionYou need me to lie still inside this noisy MRI scanner for 10 minutes? No problem. Just give me some treats. Volunteers pose with the brain scanner at the MR Research Centre in Budapest. Courtesy of Borbala Ferenczy and Eniko Kubinyi You need me to lie still inside this noisy MRI scanner for 10 minutes? A paw on the leg. Dogs always seem to know when you're upset and need extra love, even though they hardly understand a word of what you say. hide captionDogs were happy to go into the brain scanner when they saw more experienced dogs sitting quietly in the machines. Courtesy of Eniko Kubinyi Dogs were happy to go into the brain scanner when they saw more experienced dogs sitting quietly in the machines. And the neural circuitry acts surprisingly like the voice-detection device found in people's brains. "They are happy volunteers in the scanner — you should just see it! hide captionWe heard there's a neuroscience experiment happening. Courtesy of Current Biology

The Creative Gifts of ADHD - Beautiful Minds - Scientific American Blog Network "Just because a diagnosis [of ADHD] can be made does not take away from the great traits we love about Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes. In fact, we actually love Calvin BECAUSE of his ADHD traits. Calvin’s imagination, creativity, energy, lack of attention, and view of the world are the gifts that Mr. Watterson gave to this character." -- The Dragonfly Forest In his 2004 book "Creativity is Forever", Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. Research since then has supported the notion that people with ADHD characteristics are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement than people without these characteristics (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Recent work in cognitive neuroscience also suggests a connection between ADHD and creativity (see here and here). The Imagination Network Why does this matter? This was Sir John B.

Taste perception is influenced by extreme noise conditions -- ScienceDaily Eating is a fundamentally multisensory experience: we don't just eat our food, we also see it, smell it, and hear ourselves chewing it. However, perception of non-food components of the dining experience can also influence flavor perception. For instance, desserts are rated as sweeter if they are presented on a white vs. black plate, and exposure to loud noise reduces affective food ratings. The latter result is particularly relevant to the bad reputation of airline food. Air cabins are unusual environments where food is routinely consumed under extreme noise conditions. Noise condition had no influence on intensity ratings for salty, bitter, and sour tastes. A relationship between audition and taste is not surprising: bilateral branches of the facial nerve that innervate taste buds cross the tympanic membrane of the ear on their way to the brain.

It’s Music to Our Eyes: Emotional Reactions to Music Reflected in Pupil Size When people are listening to music, their emotional reactions to the music are reflected in changes in their pupil size. Researchers from the University of Vienna and the University of Innsbruck, Austria, are the first to show that both the emotional content of the music and the listeners’ personal involvement with music influence pupil dilation. This study, published in the scientific journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience“, demonstrates that pupil size measurement can be effectively used to probe listeners’ reactions to music. The pupil size reflexively adjusts to the amount of ambient light, contracting in bright daylight and dilating at night. Sounds may also evoke pupil dilations, depending on their emotional content. Using short music excerpts from the Romantic era, renowned for its emotional pathos, a team of researchers led by Bruno Gingras (University of Innsbruck) showed that listeners’ pupils indeed dilated in response to emotional music. About this neuroscience research