Mind & Brain, Neurology, News, Studies

Many parts, but the same mold – how the brain forms new thoughts

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A recent study, described in the Sept. 17 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and co-authored by postdoctoral fellow Steven Frankland and Professor of Psychology Joshua Greene, takes a look at exactly how the human brain creates new thoughts. Their findings indicate that two adjacent brain regions are the cornerstone of the process, using a sort of conceptual algebra similar to the workings of silicon computers that represent variables and their changing values.

Genetics, Mind & Brain, Neurology, News, Science, Studies

Life without music – study looks at brain with amusia

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For most people listening to music or playing an instrument is a great way to relax, unwind, have fun, and express themselves. But not everybody is able to perceive, appreciate or memorize music, to sing or to dance. Monica is one such person, and to her, any kind of music is just a bunch of noise that makes her head ache and feel stressed.

Mind & Brain, News, Psychology

Effectiveness of talk therapy overstated, study finds

Image via Wiki Commons.

Publication bias strikes again: because only positive results are published in scientific journals, medical literature greatly overstates the benefits of talk therapy for depression.

Genetics, Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

The universal test for viral infections could be a game changer


In what can only be classed as a breakthrough in medicine, a team at Washington University in St. Louis found a way to make an universal test that can identify virtually any known virus. The method works by analyzing bodily samples for signature genetic markers unique to each virus. It’s surprisingly accurate, as the researchers report the test not only identified the viruses on par with standard tests, but found additional ones which would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Once it passes extensive clinical trials, doctors using the test could come up with a complete list of viral infections harbored inside a patient’s body, correctly diagnose their condition and apply the right treatment. In some situations, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Mind & Brain, News

First long term study on medical cannabis shows only small adverse effects, but also small reductions in pain

Image via Wiki Commons.

A new study conducted on medical consumption of cannabis came up with some good news, and some bad news: for starters, while there were some adverse effects on consumers, no serious effects were reported. However, the reduction in pain also seems to be very small.

Mind & Brain, Science

Exerting self-control impairs your capacity to form memories

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Our ability to inhibit impulsive behaviors, to exercise willpower, is considered a core feature of the brain’s executive functions. This, along with others such as reasoning, working memory and attention regulate our thoughts and guide our behavior, allowing us to adapt them to the changing demands of our environment. But the effort our brain puts into refraining from impulses is so great that it can actually diminish its ability to form memories of the experience.

Mind & Brain, Neurology, News, Science

How your brain puts the “where” and “when” in memories

It's not RAM.
Image via wikimedia

Each memory relies on three critical elements, those being the “what,” “where” and “when” building blocks. Neuroscientists from MIT have identified a brain circuit — connecting the hippocampus and a region of the cortex known as entorhinal cortex — that handles the “when” and “where” components.

Mind & Brain, News

Telepathy achieved – two human brains linked in complex experiment

University of Washington postdoctoral student Caitlin Hudac wears a cap that uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMG) to deliver brain signals from the other guessing-game participant. (University of Washington)

University of Washington researchers have created the first telepathic link between two humans. Their technique didn’t rely on supernatural powers, but rather on nerve impulses, electrodes, and advanced science.

Animals, Mind & Brain, News, Offbeat, Science

Chimps enjoy the movies just as much as we do


A video of an ape, breaking out of its cage and attacking; the victim — a human scientist, that picks up a small red hammer and defends himself, battering the primate ran amok. It sounds like a pretty gruesome video, bound to have animal right’s activists redouble their efforts to see the heartless jailers brought to justice. But hey, wait a minute… Apes don’t wear sneakers.

Mind & Brain, News, Psychology, Science

Close relationships make handling stress easier

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New research has found evidence of emotional burden sharing (also known as load sharing) between partners in a close relationship. The study, co-authored by Queen’s University PhD candidate Jessica Lougheed, found that a strong personal relationship can help ease stress when placed in difficult situations.