Ever wondered what your brain sounds like on the inside? Trinity College philosophy professor Dan Lloyd has created a program that orchestrates our brainwaves. Scanning brains on an MRI, Lloyd can watch as certain areas of the brain light up and then assign different frequencies to the areas of the brain used, correlating the intensity of usage with volume. The results are bizarrely beautiful.
On the greens of the lovely Bethpage Black for this weekend's U.S. Open and golf courses across the nation, it’s a taboo never spoken about yet easily identified – the yips. Talented, sometimes elite-level golfers, suddenly unable to hold their putter straight for seemingly simple tap-ins. It’s like a virus infecting the golfer's mind, causing involuntary reflexes with no warning and no mercy. Cures for the yips are as unknown as its very cause. But two researchers are recruiting the inflicted and hoping that an MRI will shed light on a disease devastating weekend warriors everywhere.
Addicts form thoughts in a fundamentally different way than those without addictions, according to a report published in today's Journal of Neuroscience. The study, led by scientists at the University of North Carolina and the University of California, compared the brain activity of recovering alcoholics and non-addicts. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they recorded neural activity of both groups while they made a hypothetical financial decision: Less money now or more later? The impulsive "now" option, one demarcated by increased activity in certain brain sites, was chosen by the recovering addicts three times more often than by others. The ones who decided to hold off, however, had more activity in their orbital frontal cortices—the "brakes" area of the brain, which allows us to consider future consequences and weigh them against short-term gain.
The study, the first to identify such differentiation in brain activity, could be the key to discovering viable treatments for addiction.—Abby Seiff
Researchers seeking more reliable lie detection methods are experimenting with brain scan technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). First they must create a scenario in which study subjects will lie predictably. Then they observe blood flow within subjects' brains as they alternately fib and tell the truth. The result: Scientists are starting to identify the specific areas in the brain where lies are formed.