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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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.
Paul Allen's commitment to tackling big questions in neuroscience grows larger still. The Microsoft co-founder has already contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to brain science, much of it to the establishment of the Allen Brain Institute, a nonprofit charged with building a massive database of information about the brain. Now, seemingly from a frustration with the slow pace of discovery elsewhere in the field, Allen has committed another $300 million over the next decade to expanding his institute to include it's own lab for neuroscience investigation.
McSweeney's, purveyor of pretty books, magazines, and short-form web comedy, teamed up with the Stanford MRI Lab for a short film, featured in McSweeney's newest Wholphin DVD quarterly, and it is appropriately themed for a certain pink-hued February day. Seven contestants face off in a "love competition," in which they cram into an MRI machine and "love" as hard as they can for five minutes while being neurochemically examined. It is adorable. More info here, or you can watch the video below.
A group of forward-thinking military scientists want to plug soldiers’ weapons directly into their brains, and this time DARPA is nowhere to be found. The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of scientific thought, issued a report today on the applications of neuroscience in the military and law enforcement contexts. Discussed therein: new performance-enhancing designer drugs, brain stimulation to boost brain function, and weapons systems that plug directly into the brain.
Scores of animals exist in scientific laboratories for the purpose of serving as our proxies, their cortices mapped and their flu responses studied so scientists can figure out how humans work. But in many cases, there's little agreement between their functions and ours, and scientists need to figure out how to draw useful comparisons. To get a better handle on this, brain researchers had humans and monkeys watch "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" inside an MRI machine.
As you listened to your colleagues' conversations at work today, or to a podcast on the train home, or to your personal trainer shouting lift, your brain completed some complex tasks. The frequencies of syllables and whole words were decoded and given meaning, and you could make sense of the language-filled world we live in without actively thinking about it. Now a team of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley has figured out how to map some of these cortical computations. It's a major step toward understanding how we hear — and a possible step toward hearing what we think.
Unlike here in New York, where telling a cabbie to take you to even some of the most common intersections often result in a response of "Okay, how do I get there?", London cabdriver tests are notoriously difficult and complete. You don't just pass the test--you earn "The Knowledge," or the ins and outs of a massive and complex city from end to end. And, it turns out, the level of training needed to pass the test actually changes the structure of the brain, according to a new study.
Given a choice between eating chocolate alone and rescuing their pals, rats will apparently save their pals and then share the chocolate with them. Trapping a rat in a cage sparks its cagemate into action, as it figures out how to open the cage and liberate its jailed friend. This is an unusual example of rats expressing empathy, a trait thought to be reserved to us higher mammals, the primates.
A fluorescent protein derived from a Dead Sea microbe could be a novel way to track electrical signals in the brain, researchers say. It’s noninvasive and nontoxic, so it could enable neuron tracking without harming the neurons.
Super-entities are not just limited to dominance of the globe. Just as the economy is intertwined and largely controlled by a small and powerful core network, so too is your brain. Researchers have long known that some areas of the brain are deeply connected to other regions — but now a team from Indiana University and the Netherlands says these connected brain regions form strong connections to each other, creating a cerebral "rich club."