In a new study with powerful implications for mental health, scientists hijacked the memories of lab mice, inducing them to form synthetic “hybrid memories” that were a combination of real experience and confused context. The work could eventually pave the way for false-memory or real memory manipulation in people with schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder.
For the first time, researchers have been able to hack into the process of learning in the brain, using induced brain patterns to create a learned behavior. It's not quite as advanced as an instant kung-fu download, and it's not as sleek as cognitive inception, but it's still an important finding that could lead to new teaching and rehabilitation techniques.
Common wisdom dictates that in order to learn a complicated skill, it is best to break the skill down into parts, conquer simpler steps first, and then incrementally move forward, eventually getting to the hard stuff. For example, you don't just tackle a multivariable equation, you start with easier examples. First, you learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Then, you learn how to solve 2x=8, then x + y = 7, and so on and so forth until you are aptly equipped to solve 2(5x + z) = 30x + 3y + 10.
By Gregory MonePosted 10.26.2007 at 5:43 pm 3 Comments
The immune system. Metabolism. Learning and memory. Running short on sleep impairs each of these functions and processes, and now scientists say that it can affect our emotional balance, too.
A group led by Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker used fMRI scans of subjects to show that a lack of sleep messes with the brain's ability to respond to negative stimuli. The researchers kept the volunteers awake for 35 hours, showed them images that would provoke positive or negative reactions, and recorded the response in brain activity. Regions of the brain associated with emotional reactions spiked in sleep-deprived subjects, relative to the well-rested. A word to fathers with newborns: Don't show this paper to your wife. She won't appreciate it.—Gregory Mone