Simulated manned mission to Mars yields valuable information: boredom key problem

In case you didn’t know, there was a big pretend manned mission to Mars going on in 2010 and 2011, organized by the Russian Academy of Science in conjunction with the European and Chinese space agencies. The experiment, Mars500, placed six people in a simulated spaceship en route to Mars for 520 days, in order to find out problems which

NASA to test sleep-aid coloured light bulbs

Space flight insomnia is quite a common issue, one for which space agencies don’t have a definite answer yet – but they’re working on it; one thing NASA plans to do is swap a fluorescent panel with a solid-state lighting module (SSLM) containing LEDs which produces a blue, whitish or red-coloured light depending on the time. Some studies concluded that

Mind over matter: paralyzed woman controls robotic arm with her thoughts

Doctors in Pittsburg are stunned by the ability of a patient who reached a never seen before mental control level of a robotic arm. The human part Jan Scheuermann, 53, who is paralyzed neck down, was able to move, grasp and release a variety of common household items with the same ability as with a normal arm. Experts in the

Making brain cells from urine

Some of the human waste we flush out each day could become valuable research material – a potent source of brain cells to analyze, something extremely important for neurodegenerative diseases studies. The technique, described in Nature Methods doesn’t involve embryonic stem cells, which have serious drawbacks when transplanted such as the risk of developing tumours. Instead, the method uses ordinary

Meet SPAUN – the most complex artificial human brain yet

Needless to say, the human brain is the most complex neural structure encountered so far. While a computer can outwork a human in many cognitive tasks, our brain can perform a variety of tasks that no computing machine can even scratch the surface. Just think a bit about imagination – how could a computer ever come as close as generating

Right below the eyes is the best place to get the look of a person

Eye contact plays a very important role in human interactions, however a recent research study made by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara found that looking below the eyes is the best place to get the feel of what a person is up to. Besides, apparently most of us are already hard-wired to fix our initial gaze to this point, albeit for an

Vegetative patients can now communicate with the outside world through fMRI and EEG

As amazing as it sounds, communicating with a person in a vegetative state is no longer something we see in sci-fi movies, it is beginning to become a reality. A vegetative state occurs when some patients come out of a come and wake up, but not with their minds, just their bodies. While they are able to breathe on their

White smell: the neutral fragrance discovered by scientists

You’ve heard about white color and white noise, but know there’s a new neutral signal that balances the senses, the sens of smell to be more exact – white smell! Scientists at the Weizmann Institute have shown that white odor indeed exists, although it can’t be found in nature, after they created a mixture of various pure scents to convey the

Keeping the brain healthy with age: reading, writing or playing games

A new study found a direct correlation between the frequency of cognitive activity at later life and brain health. As we age, the brain’s structural integrity begins to dwindle, however these effects can be hampered to a certain degree by engaging in intellectual activities like reading, writing or playing chess. Any kind of activity that puts strain on the intellect later on in life

Curing jet lag with timezone adjusting LED glasses

Along with technology came a series of new afflictions that plagued mankind. Most of them are psychological, like internet addiction or the ever worrisome jet lag. The latter is a big problem for millions of people regularly traveling in different time zones, causing them to miss hours of sleep, feel extremely tired, not eat well and feel depressed. Australia’s Flinders

Brain waves encode rules for behavior

One of the biggest mysteries scientists are trying to figure out is how the brain encodes thoughts, perceptions and memories – at a molecular level. Nobody knows how this assembly truly works. But a study from MIT and Boston University might shed some light on that matter; the team, led by Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT,

Going inside the unconscious brain

A new study published by MIT revealed, for the first time, what happens inside the brain when you go unconscious. By monitoring the patients’ brain as they were given anesthetics, the researchers were able to identify a distinctive brain activity pattern that occurred as unconsciousness settles in. The pattern can be characterized by a breakdown between different regions in the

Brain scans of rappers offer valuable insight on creativity

Freestyle rapping is perhaps the most prized skill in hip hop – it is the ability to make rhymes on the fly, and it’s usually what rappers do to “duel” – the one who makes the better insults win. But Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists, didn’t go to a rap show – they brought the rap show to the

Zebrafish regenerates brain after injury – what can we learn from it?

Any mammal, including humans, suffering from an injury to the central nervous system will lead to a life-long loss of the particular affected brain function. Some invertebrates, like the zebrafish, in contrast can regenerate parts of their organs, even the central nervous system. The zebrafish’s remarkable ability to regrew parts of its damaged brain has fascinated neuroscientists for decades, but

Men, not women, are better multitaskers

The long held belief that women are better multitaskers than men seems to finally be debunked, according to a new Swedish study. “On the contrary, the results of our study show that men are better at multitasking than women,” Timo Maentylae, a psychology professor at Stockholm University, said. Surprising or not, the female ability to multitask can be directly correlated

Key to facial blindness lies in the brain – researchers find out by mistake

Some people never forget a face, some people do it all the time; and then there’s the people who actually can’t differentiate between one face and another, suffering from a condition called facial blindness. For the first time, researchers have managed to pinpoint two places in the brain (in the fusiform gyrus) which are responsible for differentiating between faces, but

Cooking food helped early humans grow bigger brains

The pyramids, art, all of the world’s great inventions, literary works, just about any valuable intellectual work can be traced back to food – cooked food. If you care to go as far back as our very roots, that is. Previous research showed that cooked food made it easier and more efficient for our guts to absorb calories more rapidly, which

Psychopaths can be spotted through a smell test, study says

Australian scientists say that persons with psychopathic tendencies could be spotted through a smell test, correlated with a psychological questionnaire. The link doesn’t lye in the actual odor emanated by a potentially psychopathic person, though, but rather in their sense of smell. The study conducted by Mehmet Mahmut and Richard Stevenson, from Macquarie University, is based on findings which show that people

Einstein’s brain: now available on iPad

After the most recognized physics figure in the world, Albert Einstein, past away on April 18, 1955, the whole world was left in shock, seeing how he was even by then considered the most famous physicist in history. His dying wish was that of being cremated, however an eccentric physician by the name of Thomas Harvey, a Princeton Hospital pathologist, removed Einstein’s

Atlas of the human brain might help identify the mechanics of neural conditions

Neuroscientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle have created an atlas of the human brain, which highlights the activity of genes across the entire organ. The brain map was created after many hard years of labor, and might help scientists from across the world  identify factors that underlie neurological and psychiatric conditions. “The human brain is the most complex structure known