Neurogenesis: How To Grow New Brain Cells Adults can still grow new brain cells — neurogenesis — but what are they for? For a long time scientists believed that neurogenesis was impossible: adults had all the brain cells they were ever going to have. Now we know that’s not true. In fact, we continue to grow new brain cells into adulthood. Decision-Making and Control in the Brain Damage to the brain's frontal lobe is known to impair one's ability to think and make choices. And now scientists say they've pinpointed the different parts of this brain region that preside over reasoning, self-control and decision-making. Researchers say the data could help doctors determine what specific cognitive obstacles their patients might face after a brain injury.
Neuroplasticity definition Neuroplasticity: The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. Brain reorganization takes place by mechanisms such as "axonal sprouting" in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function. For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere may take over some of its functions. The brain compensates for damage in effect by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons.
How To Boost Brain Power and Memory Until just a few years ago, doctors believed that the brain stopped making new neural connections - meaning that the memory began to get irreversibly worse - when the body stopped developing, usually in the early 20s. And doctors knew that, like any other part of the body, neurons weaken as people age. Loss of brain function due to neural breakdown was assumed to be a normal, unavoidable part of aging. It turns out they were wrong. In the past few years, it has become clear that you can, in fact, make new neurons starting in your 20s and continuing well into old age.
How The Brain Rewires Itself It was a fairly modest experiment, as these things go, with volunteers trooping into the lab at Harvard Medical School to learn and practice a little five-finger piano exercise. Neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone instructed the members of one group to play as fluidly as they could, trying to keep to the metronome's 60 beats per minute. Every day for five days, the volunteers practiced for two hours. Then they took a test. UCSB scientists discover how the brain encodes memories at a cellular level (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a major discovery in how the brain encodes memories. The finding, published in the December 24 issue of the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to the development of new drugs to aid memory. The team of scientists is the first to uncover a central process in encoding memories that occurs at the level of the synapse, where neurons connect with each other. "When we learn new things, when we store memories, there are a number of things that have to happen," said senior author Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director and Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research, at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute.
People control thoughts better when they see their brain activity The brain's rostrolateral prefrontal cortex region (credit: UBC Dept. of Psychology) Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered that people can gain greater control over their thoughts with real-time brain feedback. Participants performed tasks that either raised or lowered mental introspection in 30-second intervals over four six-minute sessions. fMRI technology tracked real-time activity in the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC), the region of the brain involved with higher-order thoughts. Participants with access to real-time fMRI feedback could see their RLPFC activity increase during introspection and decrease during non-introspective thoughts, such as mental tasks that focused on body sensations.
Kinesthetic learning Kinesthetic learning (also known as Tactile learning) is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. People with a preference for kinesthetic learning are also commonly known as "do-ers". Tactile-kinesthetic learners make up about five percent of the population. The Fleming VAK/VARK model (one of the most common and widely used categorizations of the various types of learning styles) categorized learning styles as follows: History Kinesthetic intelligence was originally coupled with tactile abilities, and was defined and discussed in Howard Gardner's Frames Of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Neurogenesis Neurogenesis (birth of neurons) is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem cells and progenitor cells. Most active during pre-natal development, neurogenesis is responsible for populating the growing brain with neurons. Recently neurogenesis was shown to continue in several small parts of the brain of mammals: the hippocampus and the subventricular zone. Studies have indicated that the hormone testosterone in vertebrates, and the prohormone ecdysone in insects, have an influence on the rate of neurogenesis. Occurrence in adults
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.
Can We Trust Neuroscience? When a study like this comes out a flurry of activity hits the web through news articles and blogs, but what does it really mean? Does an increase in gray matter mean that if we practice mindfulness meditation for 30-minutes a day for 8 weeks we’ll be smarter, be able to retain more information or have less fear? The truth is, the field of neuroscience, while enjoying an explosion of new research is still in its infancy. We actually don’t know what this increase in gray matter means. It seems to suggest that if there is change in these areas that are associated with learn, memory, anxiety and stress that it is a positive effect. But sometimes we can run too far with interpreting the research and then the skeptics come out and have their say debunking what was found.
Eidetic memory -photographic memory Overview The ability to recall images in great detail for several minutes is found in early childhood (between 2% and 10% of that age group) and is unconnected with the person's intelligence level. Like other memories, they are often subject to unintended alterations. The ability usually begins to fade after the age of six years, perhaps as growing vocal skills alter the memory process. A few adults have had phenomenal memories (not necessarily of images), but their abilities are also unconnected with their intelligence levels and tend to be highly specialized. In extreme cases, like those of Solomon Shereshevsky and Kim Peek, memory skills can actually hinder social skills. Persons identified as having a related condition known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) are able to remember very intricate details of their own personal life, but this ability seems not to extend to other, non-autobiographical information.