Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. It's a broad term encompassing numerous, more specific disciplines, including cognitive, clinical, and developmental neuroscience.
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Sorry, nails-on-chalkboard. The perceived wisdom that you are the worst sound in the world has been upset by a recent Newcastle University showing that the screech produced by a knife scraping a bottle (listen here) is the most unpleasant sound in the world, as determined by MRI scans measuring the brain's response to 74 different sounds. Interestingly enough, nails on a chalkboard came in fifth--behind chalk on a chalkboard, which ranked third.
Hypnosis can be an effective means for treating phobias, managing stress and anxiety, and even for managing pain, but all people are not hypnotized equally. New research from Stanford suggests that about one quarter of people cannot be hypnotized, and using functional and structural MRI scientists there think they've figured out why.
Steven Poole over at the New Statesman has a great piece up bashing the populist, not-so-scientific writings of folks like Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer. It's an angry, thoughtful discussion of the complexities of the brain and why catchy headlines and simplistic conclusions might be doing us a disservice. The first line: "An intellectual pestilence is upon us." Read it here.
Never mind the Jose Canseco method for dream control. MIT researchers have successfully reached inside the brains of rats and manipulated their dreams using an audio cue conditioned into them during the previous day. It's a development that lends insight into the whole sleep/memory consolidation relationship.
The Emotiv brain-computer interface was designed to let users control their computers with their thoughts alone, opening up a new avenue for hands-free computing as well as a potential means for those with disabilities to communicate through machines. So much for good intentions.
Here's a true story: a few years ago, given an Xbox 360 for testing purposes, I went to the Gamestop to get a new game. I like games, but I don't like games with guns or sports, because I don't particularly like guns or sports in real life, either. The guy at the Gamestop was absolutely flummoxed by my request for an Xbox game with neither. He ended up recommending the game version of the movie G-Force, which is a movie for children featuring talking CGI guinea pigs.
Violence in games is widespread, largely because violence triggers certain pleasure points in our brains. But what if we could study the brain to figure out exactly where and why--and what else could produce the same reaction?
Neurologists working with monkeys at Washington University in St. Louis to decode brain activity have stumbled upon a rather surprising result. While working to demonstrate that multiple parameters can be seen in the firing rate of a single neuron (and that certain parameters are embedded in neurons only if they are needed to solve the immediate task), they also found that they could read their monkeys’ minds.
Soldiers scanning the battlefield for threats may soon get a new tool: a brain-scanning set of binoculars that can pick up on a soldier’s unconscious recognition of a potential threat and bring it to his conscious attention. It’s just one of many ways DARPA and other military research groups are looking to have soldiers mind-meld with their machines and materiel, and as the BBC reports, it demonstrates how remarkably close we are to deploying mind-control on the battlefield.
Despite plenty of advances in neuroscience, often what we know about the brain comes with gaps, and anything close to a full piece of knowledge always ends up lacking something — whether it's for the human brain or a mouse's.