Highly controversial brain scan predicts whether criminals are likely to reoffend

As the writers on Nature depict it, it evokes the dystopian worlds of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick – if you’ve read his works or seen Minority Report, you’ll understand it. Neuroscientists have developed a brain scan that shows how likely are convicted felons to commit crimes again. Brain scanning felons Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist at the non-profit Mind

Heavy drinkers may get extra “brain fuel” from alcohol

When a lion hunts a gazelle, he is actually hunting the weakest of the herd, the one which is the slowest. Repeating the hunt, in time only strengthens the herd. The drunken version of this is that the same things happen with alcohol and neurons: sure, alcohol destroys some neurons, but it’s only the weaker ones, and the remaining ones

Cackatoos exhibit remarkable self-control akin to humans

You might be used to seeing birds peck grains as soon as you throw the food in front of them, so it’s no wonder why might find this surprising. University of Vienna established a cognitive experiment centered around a most intelligent type of bird – Cackatoos – and found that they’re capable of self-control, restraining themselves from immediately eating food

Flipping a single “molecular switch” makes an old mouse brain young

A single molecular switch can make the transition between the active, malleable brain of an adolescent and the mature, stable brain of an adult; yep, a single gene can turn us back to the childlike curiosity we exhibit as adolescents. Researchers have known for quite a while that adolescent brains are typically more malleable (or plastic) than adult ones, allowing

A scientific explanation for the “phantom limb”

Every once in a while, some people who have had a limb, organ or some other body part amputated or removed still experience it, feel its pain and experience the sensation that it’s still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. This sensation is typically referred to as  phantom limb. Now, researchers at Oxford University have

How the brain loses and gains consciousness

For more than two centuries physicians have been using general anesthetics to perform surgeries, however even now in the 21st century scientists know very little about what happens to the brain when the patient moves to and fro a state of consciousness. This becomes even more important when you consider the very rare but frightening cases in which some patients

Wireless brain-interface boasts promising start

We’ve showed you some incredible brain-computer interface scientific advances in the past few weeks alone, be it the merged rat brain organic computer or flexible electronic “tattoo” that might enable functioning telepathy, and the field is only growing. We couldn’t be more happy, you can imagine, since the potential medical uses alone for this kind of technology are simply staggering.

Baby’s ability to interpret languages is innate, research shows

Despite having brains that are still “under construction”, babies are able, even three months before full term, to distinguish between different syllables. It was recently shown that full born babies, even just a few days after they are born, display remarkable linguistic sophistication: they can distinguish between two different languages [1], they can recognizes their mother’s voice[2], and they can

Learning to play a musical instrument doesn’t make you smarter, study finds

There seems to be a general belief, especially among parents, that if you send children to music lessons the experience will make them smarter. However, a group of researchers at  University of Toronto, intrigued  by this highly thrown about, yet never proven, link between the two conducted a study to see if this belief genuinely holds. Their findings suggest, in the authors’ own words,

How the brain tackles tongue-twisting words and why it’s important

Can you imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie? Sorry about that folks – that was a bit twisted right? Just earlier you’ve used your  lips, tongue, jaw and larynx in a highly complex manner in order to render these sounds out loud. Still, very little is known of how the brain actually manages to perform this

Biological marker for dyslexia found. Good news: reading can be improved

Researchers at Northwestern University claim they have uncovered the mechanisms that lead to difficulty in reading. Apparently, there is a direct correlation between one’s ability to encode speech sound in the brain and ease of reading. The scientists also devised an experiment and saw that children with reading impairment significantly improved after being fitted with a listening device. It’s rather

How seals sleep with only half their brain

A new study led by an international team of biolgoists has shown just some brain chemicals allow seals to sleep with only half of the brain. “Seals do something biologically amazing — they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake. Seals sleep this way while

Babies can tell two languages apart as early as seven months-old

A new study by scientists at University of British Columbia and Université Paris Descartes found that babies growing up in bilingual environments are more than well equipped to tackle the challenge of distinguishing between the two from a very early age – as young as seven months old according to the findings. Scientists, linguistics and neurologists mostly, have always been

Obama funds brain mapping, interesting questions arise

This week, the Obama administration has announced plans to pursue a 10-year, $3 billion research effort aimed at mapping the human brain in “its entirety”. The project, called the Brain Activity Map, is designed to help scientists better understand how the ~100 billion neurons interact in our brains. Initially, the announcement was met with applause, as  the study could prove

Professional athletes learn faster than University students

There’s a common stereotype that depicts athletes as being grunts that are all brawn and no brain. In reality, the truth couldn’t be farther. Athletes, the good ones at least, seemingly posses an above average intelligence, and a recent study by cognitive scientists at University of Montreal adds further weight to this statement. In the study professional and amateur athletes bested university

The making of a bully – childhood trauma is key

They say that the bully is actually the victim – and studies on adolescent rats seem to support this idea; younger rats subjected to a stressful environment turn out to be aggressive adults, behaviors that may be explained by accompanying epigenetic changes and altered brain activity. Whoa, let’s slow down a little. Much like humans, rats are also vulnerable to

Graphene and brain research get biggest research prize ever – $2 billion [shorties]

Research into the new wondermaterial graphene and the neurochemistry of the human brain will be given up to two billion euros ($2.68 billion) in funding – the largest research grant in official, recorded history, the European Commission said on Monday. The two areas are the beneficiaries of the Future Emerging Technology (FET) Flagship programme, described as an “X-Factor for science”;

Yoga helps reduce symptoms of most major psychiatric diseases

It’s a well known fact that yoga does good to the mind and body, but the extent of that benefit is something still debated. Now, yoga supporters have just gotten a big hand from a study conducted by psychiatrists. “Yoga has also become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and consumers to differentiate legitimate claims

People remember facebook updates better than faces or quotes from books

There are some 30 million facebook updates pushed on the massive social network every hour, so it might seem like common  sense for most of us to dismiss these as trivial. Scientists at University of Warwick and UC San Diego however chose not to ignore these fleeting, yet direct text updates and actually found some interesting conclusions as part of a

Spiders on drugs – see how they web

In 1995, scientists working at NASA took a break from the usual cosmic research to tackle a much different problem: getting spiders stoned. Their experiments have shown that common house spiders spin their webs in different ways according to the psychotropic drug they have been given; the more toxic the drug, the more deformed the web. Surprisingly enough, spiders on