Brain Bugs: Hallucinations, Forgotten Faces, and Other Cognitive Quirks | Think Tank What's the Big Idea? If seeing is believing, then how do we come to know? One common misperception holds that vision springs directly from the eyes. True, the eyes, ears, and skin bombard us with a constant stream of information. But sensory input is only the first step in a complex journey towards arriving at our understanding of the world. As neuroscientist V.S. What's the Significance? For neurologists like Ramachandran, "the question of how neurons encode meaning and evoke all the semantic associations of an object is the holy grail of neuroscience, whether you are studying memory, perception, art, or consciousness." This is because brain damage is highly specialized. John developed a blood clot in a vein in his leg, which traveled to his cerebral arteries, causing a stroke. There was nothing wrong with his vision or hearing. In John's case, the "wire between the vision and the amagydala," which regulates emotion, had been cut. Dan Honan contributed to this article.
From Sci-Fi to Sci-Fact: The New Frontier of Neuroscience | Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa With rendition switcher Question: What is the most exciting part of brain science for you? Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa: I think the most exciting part of what I do right now is exactly the fact that what we are doing is giving patients new hope; that we're looking at a disease, which is brain cancer, that people have looked at for hundreds of years and we have not been able to understand, and we're finally perhaps beginning to scratch the surface, we're beginning to look at an old disease with new eyes. And what new eyes are those is the fact that within brain cancer there may be a small population of cells that have the ability to recreate the same type of cancer, which means that despite the fact that we can actually do a perfect surgical resection and we can take a lot of these tumors out, these patients eventually continue to progress, perhaps because we're leaving those small little cells back there that are able to recreate the whole tumor. Recorded on: July 2, 2008
Why Can Some People Recall Every Day Of Their Lives? Brain Scans Offer Clues : Shots - Health Blog hide captionResearchers are using MRI scans to learn more about the brains of people with extraordinary memory. iStockphoto.com Researchers are using MRI scans to learn more about the brains of people with extraordinary memory. Six years ago, we told you about a woman, identified as A.J., who could remember the details of nearly every day of her life. Bob Petrella, 62, of Los Angeles had to go through a lot of memory testing to qualify as someone with superior autobiographical memory. Petrella scored 55 percent correct on the news events, according to a paper published in July in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. "They asked, 'What day of the week was Jan. 1, 1984?' Petrella is one of 11 individuals who have now been extensively studied by memory researcher James McGaugh at the University of California, Irvine. They don't have photographic memories. "They're reasonably successful in what they do. "People like us, we forget normal things. May 25, 1977. "He's germ-avoidant.
In the Shadow of Hegel: How Does Thought Arise Out of Matter? | Postcards from Žižek What's the Big Idea? Before neuroscience and quantum physics, there was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The 19th century German idealist revolutionized Western thought, and every great thinker since has been working in his shadow, says Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. Watch the video interview: Often seen as a precursor to Marxists and existentialists, Hegel believed that knowledge is not static, but dynamic. But what does it mean in a world where cognitive scientists can see brain function on an fMRI scan, capture the visual data, and reassemble it into videos using quantitative modeling? What's the Significance? Reductionists like Stephen Hawking may give the impression that contemporary science is uniquely capable of answering the big questions, like Does the world have an end? Which is why he's calling for the rehabilitation of classical philosophy: for contemporary philosophers to engage with the work of scientists and vice versa.
Touring the brain Evolution has created a staggering range of organisms, each with features cleverly honed for its environmental niche. But while evolution is a fantastic creator, adding almost whatever is needed, it is surprisingly lazy at tidying up after itself, at pruning what is no longer required. In the bacterial world, where margins for survival may be razor sharp, things are more efficient. But most animals carry with them a surplus of obsolete features, such as the astronomical quantities of pathological DNA interlopers that sit in every cell in our bodies. But there are also more large-scale examples of detritus we endure. For instance, whenever we get cold, our hair duly stands on end to create a buffer of trapped air around our skins, as if such an action would make any difference to keep us cocooned from the cold—it doesn’t (unlike other primates, we simply don’t have enough hair to make this automatic response functional). The cortex, too, exhibits a surprising degree of redundancy.
Can We Learn To Forget Our Memories? : Shots - Health Blog hide captionResearch shows that under certain circumstances, we can train ourselves to forget details about particular memories. iStockphoto.com Around 10 years ago, Malcolm MacLeod got interested in forgetting. For most people, the tendency to forget is something we spend our time cursing. Where are my keys? What am I looking for in the refrigerator again? That time in fourth grade when you walked down the hall with your skirt tucked into the back of your underwear, if you sat down and practiced forgetting, could you erase it? Certainly there were people who competed in memory competitions who practiced techniques for remembering and were wildly successful. Still, they were curious. Blocking Memories With Practice MacLeod and Noreen weren't the first to experiment with intentional forgetting. And so MacLeod and Noreen took this technique as a starting point and invited a series of people into their lab. MacLeod and Noreen showed the subjects 16 of the 24 words over and over and over.
Does Self-Awareness Require a Complex Brain? | Brainwaves (Image by David R. Ingham, via Wikimedia Commons) The computer, smartphone or other electronic device on which you are reading this article has a rudimentary brain—kind of.* It has highly organized electrical circuits that store information and behave in specific, predictable ways, just like the interconnected cells in your brain. On the most fundamental level, electrical circuits and neurons are made of the same stuff—atoms and their constituent elementary particles—but whereas the human brain is conscious, manmade gadgets do not know they exist. Consciousness, most scientists argue, is not a universal property of all matter in the universe. Humans are more than just conscious—they are also self-aware. Numerous neuroimaging studies have suggested that thinking about ourselves, recognizing images of ourselves and reflecting on our thoughts and feelings—that is, different forms self-awareness—all involve the cerebral cortex, the outermost, intricately wrinkled part of the brain.
Neural implant recovers ability to make decisions, monkey study shows Researchers have taken a key step towards recovering specific brain functions in sufferers of brain disease and injuries by successfully restoring the decision-making processes in monkeys. By placing a neural device onto the front part of the monkeys' brains, the researchers, from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, University of Kentucky and University of Southern California, were able to recover, and even improve, the monkeys' ability to make decisions when their normal cognitive functioning was disrupted. The study, which has been published today (Sept. 14) in IOP Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering, involved the use of a neural prosthesis, which consisted of an array of electrodes measuring the signals from neurons in the brain to calculate how the monkeys' ability to perform a memory task could be restored. "The MIMO model is a specific type of calculation which looks for the complex mathematical relationship between an input (L2/3) and an output (L5).
Sex matters: Men recognize cars and women recognize living things best, psychological analysis finds Women are better than men at recognizing living things and men are better than women at recognizing vehicles. That is the unanticipated result of an analysis Vanderbilt psychologists performed on data from a series of visual recognition tasks collected in the process of developing a new standard test for expertise in object recognition. "These results aren't definitive, but they are consistent with the following story," said Gauthier. "Everyone is born with a general ability to recognize objects and the capability to get really good at it. Nearly everyone becomes expert at recognizing faces, because of their importance for social interactions. Most people also develop expertise for recognizing other types of objects due to their jobs, hobbies or interests. The results were published online on Aug. 3 in the Vision Research journal in an article titled, "The Vanderbilt Expertise Test Reveals Domain-General and Domain-Specific Sex Effects in Object Recognition."