To make memories, new neurons must erase older ones Short-term memory may depend in a surprising way on the ability of newly formed neurons to erase older connections. That's the conclusion of a report in the November 13th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, that provides some of the first evidence in mice and rats that new neurons sprouted in the hippocampus cause the decay of short-term fear memories in that brain region, without an overall memory loss. The researchers led by Kaoru Inokuchi of The University of Toyama in Japan say the discovery shows a more important role than many would have anticipated for the erasure of memories. They propose that the birth of new neurons promotes the gradual loss of memory traces from the hippocampus as those memories are transferred elsewhere in the brain for permanent storage. In effect, the new results suggest that failure of neurogenesis will lead to problems because the brain's short-term memory is literally full.
Meditation found to increase brain size Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office Sara Lazar (center) talks to research assistant Michael Treadway and technologist Shruthi Chakrapami about the results of experiments showing that meditation can increase brain size. People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. “Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. The researchers compared brain scans of 20 experienced meditators with those of 15 nonmeditators. Study participants meditated an average of about 40 minutes a day. Controlling random thoughts Slowing aging?
Welcome to WWW.ZOE7.COM_ Consciousness, Hallucinogens, Hyperspace and Beyond Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells Our fond or fearful memories — that first kiss or a bump in the night — leave memory traces that we may conjure up in the remembrance of things past, complete with time, place and all the sensations of the experience. Neuroscientists call these traces memory engrams. But are engrams conceptual, or are they a physical network of neurons in the brain? In a new MIT study, researchers used optogenetics to show that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie. In that famous surgery, Penfield treated epilepsy patients by scooping out parts of the brain where seizures originated. Fast forward to the introduction, seven years ago, of optogenetics, which can stimulate neurons that are genetically modified to express light-activated proteins. False memory
02.22.2010 - An afternoon nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don’t roll your eyes. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter. Students who napped (green column) did markedly better in memorizing tests than their no-nap counterparts. (Courtesy of Matthew Walker) Conversely, the more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become, according to the findings. “Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the lead investigator of these studies. In the recent UC Berkeley sleep study, 39 healthy young adults were divided into two groups — nap and no-nap.
Nutritional supplement may help prevent Alzheimer's, research suggests (Medical Xpress)—A nutritional supplement available over-the-counter may offer protection from Alzheimer's disease, a study by the University of Virginia and Northwestern University suggests. Researchers at Northwestern and U.Va.'s School of Medicine set out to evaluate the effectiveness of chiro-inositol, a compound that occurs naturally in certain foods and is available as a nutritional supplement, in protecting the brain from beta amyloid toxins, which cause Alzheimer's. The findings indicate potential for a new strategy for developing Alzheimer's disease treatments based on compounds already regarded as safe for human use, the researchers write. "In Alzheimer's, it's been known for many years that the brain does not utilize glucose very well," U.Va. pharmacology professor emeritus Dr. Chiro-inositols essentially help overcome insulin resistance in the brain, the researchers believe. More information: www.fasebj.org/content/27/1/199.full?
The Ten Most Revealing Psych Experiments Psychology is the study of the human mind and mental processes in relation to human behaviors - human nature. Due to its subject matter, psychology is not considered a 'hard' science, even though psychologists do experiment and publish their findings in respected journals. Some of the experiments psychologists have conducted over the years reveal things about the way we humans think and behave that we might not want to embrace, but which can at least help keep us humble. That's something. 1. The Robbers Cave Experiment is a classic social psychology experiment conducted with two groups of 11-year old boys at a state park in Oklahoma, and demonstrates just how easily an exclusive group identity is adopted and how quickly the group can degenerate into prejudice and antagonism toward outsiders. Researcher Muzafer Sherif actually conducted a series of 3 experiments. 2. The prisoners rebelled on the second day, and the reaction of the guards was swift and brutal. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Motion quotient: IQ predicted by ability to filter motion (w/ video) A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose brains are better at automatically suppressing background motion perform better on standard measures of intelligence. The test is the first purely sensory assessment to be strongly correlated with IQ and may provide a non-verbal and culturally unbiased tool for scientists seeking to understand neural processes associated with general intelligence. "Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can't really track it back to one part of the brain," says Duje Tadin, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. In the study, individuals watched brief video clips of black and white bars moving across a computer screen. Share Video
Tactile-Kinestheti Tactile-Kinesthetic Learners Making up about 5% of the population, tactile and kinesthetic learners absorb information best by doing, experiencing, touching, moving or being active in some way. Enjoy feeling, discovery and action Remember by using tools, building models and manipulating things Learn through emotions, touch, movement and space Enjoy demonstrations of concept demonstrations Master skills through imitation and practice. Benefit from hands-on teaching techniques Find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time. Remember who did what in the past, rather than what they said or how they looked. Prefer to stand, walk about or use large motor muscles when learning. Create a model Demonstrate a principle Practice a technique Participate in simulations Engage in hands-on activities Study in comfortable position, not necessarily sitting in a chair PREFERRED TEST STYLES FOR TACTILE-KINESTHETIC LEARNERS Multiple choice, short definitions fill in the blanks
Light particles illuminate the vacuum Researchers from the Finnish Aalto University and the Technical Research Centre of Finland succeeded in showing experimentally that vacuum has properties not previously observed. According to the laws of quantum mechanics, it is a state with abundant potentials. Vacuum contains momentarily appearing and disappearing virtual pairs, which can be converted into detectable light particles. The researchers conducted a mirror experiment to show that by changing the position of the mirror in a vacuum, virtual particles can be transformed into real photons that can be experimentally observed. If we act fast enough, we can prevent the particles from recombining – they will then be transformed into real particles that can be detected', says Dr. For the experiment, the researchers used an array of superconducting quantum-interference devices (SQUID). Explore further: Could 'Jedi Putter' be the force golfers need?
Biofeedback Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will. Some of the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception. Biofeedback may be used to improve health, performance, and the physiological changes that often occur in conjunction with changes to thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Eventually, these changes may be maintained without the use of extra equipment, even though no equipment is necessarily required to practice biofeedback. Biofeedback has been found to be effective for the treatment of headaches and migraines. Definition Sensor modalities Electromyograph The "Muscle Whistler", shown here with surface EMG electrodes, was an early biofeedback device Feedback thermometer Electrodermograph
'Metasurfaces' to usher in new optical technologies (Phys.org) —New optical technologies using "metasurfaces" capable of the ultra-efficient control of light are nearing commercialization, with potential applications including advanced solar cells, computers, telecommunications, sensors and microscopes. The metasurfaces could make possible "planar photonics" devices and optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips for information processing and telecommunications, said Alexader Kildishev, associate research professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. "I think we know enough at this point that we can realistically start to develop prototypes of devices for some applications," he said. The promise of metasurfaces is described in an article appearing Friday (March 15) in the journal Science. The article was co-authored by Kildishev; Alexandra Boltasseva, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Vladimir M.
Hack Your Brain: Improving Memory with Dirty Pictures « How-To News If you're interested in nabbing superhero memory strength, the secret behind training your brain is not necessarily what you might expect. Your standard G-rated brain strengthening exercises range from crossword puzzles to sudoku to calculating fairly simple math problems to improve short term memory, but the real clincher used by some of the pros is essentially... porn. Yep, you read right. Operating on the idea that inappropriate or dirty images are easier to recall than the mundane, Ed Cooke, author and co-founder of Memrise, proposes you associate a raunchy image with what you're trying to remember, and voilà, information successfully locked away in the vault. According to an article in Salon, Cooke used his debaucherous technique to help Joshua Foer—author of "Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything"—to snag the U.S. Creativity is key. Photo by Helga Weber
Breakthrough promises significantly more efficient solar cells A new technique developed by U of T Engineering Professor Ted Sargent and his research group could lead to significantly more efficient solar cells, according to a recent paper published in the journal Nano Letters. The paper, "Jointly-tuned plasmonic-excitonic photovoltaics using nanoshells," describes a new technique to improve efficiency in colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics, a technology which already promises inexpensive, more efficient solar cell technology. Quantum dot photovoltaics offers the potential for low-cost, large-area solar power – however these devices are not yet highly efficient in the infrared portion of the sun's spectrum, which is responsible for half of the sun's power that reaches the Earth. The solution? The new technique developed by Sargent's group shows a possible 35 per cent increase in the technology's efficiency in the near-infrared spectral region, says co-author Dr. "There are two advantages to colloidal quantum dots," Thon says.