The Brain

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“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
George Orwell

What’s going on up there in your head?
Pass it on! Tell a friend!

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How the Brain Focuses

By David Orenstein — Neuroscience News

Working memory, that handy ability to consciously hold and manipulate new information in mind, takes work. In particular, participating neurons in the prefrontal cortex have to work together in synchrony to focus our thoughts, whether we’re remembering a set of directions or tonight’s menu specials.

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Modern Humans Grow More Brain Cells

Than Neanderthals

By RODRIGO PÉREZ ORTEGA — Science

Lab experiments pinpoint extra brain growth orchestrated by a single gene change in modern humans. We humans are proud of our big brains, which are responsible for our ability to plan ahead, communicate, and create. Inside our skulls, we pack, on average, 86 billion neurons—up to three times more than those of our primate cousins. For years, researchers have tried to figure out how we manage to develop so many brain cells. Now, they’ve come a step closer: A new study shows a single amino acid change in a metabolic gene helps our brains develop more neurons than other mammals—and more than our extinct cousins, the Neanderthals.

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Why Facts Don’t Change Minds

cognitive biases and brain biology

By Keith M. Bellizzi – The Conversation

Our worldview forms during childhood as a result of our socialization within a particular cultural context. Our views get reinforced over time by the social groups we keep, the media we consume, and even the way in which our brains are wired. Challenging our worldviews with facts can feel like an attack on our personal identities and can often result in hardening our positions. Researchers assess how we can open our minds and explore facts that may go against our personal worldviews.

People form opinions based on emotions, such as fear, contempt and anger, rather than relying on facts. New facts often do not change people’s minds.

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The Mystery of Consciousness

By Elana Oberlander – Bar-Ilan University

Consciousness can not simply be reduced to neural activity alone, researchers say. A novel study reports the dynamics of consciousness may be understood by a newly developed conceptual and mathematical framework.

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The Creative Brain

By INSTITUT DU CERVEAU (PARIS BRAIN INSTITUTE)

We must use all of our prior knowledge while trying to come up with a creative idea. But how does this take place in our thoughts and brains? Two semantic memory search mechanisms that are involved in creativity have been uncovered by Emmanuelle Volle’s group (Inserm) at the Frontlab of the Paris Brain Institute in association with the Universities of Graz (Austria), Warwick (UK), and the Israel Institute of Technology.

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To Better Understand the Brain

look at the big picture

By Mallory Locklear — Yale University

Researchers have learned a lot about the human brain through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that can yield insight into brain function. But typical fMRI methods may be missing key information and providing only part of the picture, Yale researchers say.

In a new study, they evaluated various approaches and found that zooming out and taking a wider field of view captures additional relevant information that a narrow focus leaves out, offering greater understanding of neural interplay.

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Signs of Dog Intelligence

gifted dogs like to play

By Linda Carroll — NBC News

“Gifted” dogs, who have a rare talent for learning lots of words for objects easily, also turn out to be more playful than other dogs, a new study finds.

Prior research in humans has shown a link between playfulness and problem-solving abilities, so animal behavior researchers from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, wondered if the same was true for rollicking pups.

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AI Chips

a million times faster than human brain synapses

By Katyanna Quach — The Register

In the early days of AI research it was hoped that once electronics had equalled the ability of human synapses many problems would be solved. We’ve now gone way beyond that.

A team at MIT reports that it has built AI chips that mimic synapses, but are a million times faster, and are additionally massively more energy efficient than current designs. The inorganic material is also easy to fit into current chip-building kit.

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When The Brain Gets Hacked!

By Tansu Yegen onTwitter

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Ant Colonies Behave Like Neural Networks

By Katherine Fenz — Rockefeller University

Temperatures are rising, and one colony of ants will soon have to make a collective decision. Each ant feels the rising heat beneath its feet but carries along as usual until, suddenly, the ants reverse course. The whole group rushes out as one—a decision to evacuate has been made. It is almost as if the colony of ants has a greater, collective mind.  

A new study suggests that indeed, ants as a group behave similar to networks of neurons in a brain. 

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Neural Networks Could Work More Like Brains

By Alex Wilkins — Newscientest.com

Networks of nanoscale resistors that work in a similar way to nerve cells in the body could offer advantages over digital machine learning. A resistor that works in a similar way to nerve cells in the body could be used to build neural networks for machine learning.

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The Knowledge Illusion

Why We Never Think Alone

By Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach

We all think we know more than we actually do.

Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the community with which we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

The human mind is both brilliant and pathetic. We have mastered fire, created democratic institutions, stood on the moon, and sequenced our genome. And yet each of us is error prone, sometimes irrational, and often ignorant. The fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge explains why we often assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individual-oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. But our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things. The Knowledge Illusion contends that true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the community around us.

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Rejuvenating Aging Brains

By Bruce Goldman — Stanford University

Researchers discuss current studies about cognitive rejuvenation and discuss steps we can take to help protect our brains as we age.

Neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D., has spent 20 years unearthing and examining various molecules with neuroprotective and neurodegenerative properties. These molecules are found in or on different cell types in the brain and on the blood vessels abutting it, or floating in the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes it. And they become increasingly important as we age.

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Brain-Computer Interfaces

implanted in humans for the first time

By Alan Truly — digitaltrends.com

A Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is now in clinical trials on human patients, the first time this has ever happened in the United States. The honor goes to a lesser-known brain interface technology leader, Synchron, and its Stentrode device.

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Brains Adapt to a Robotic Third Thumb

By Tom Hale — IFLSCIENCE

It turns out humans are a dab hand at using a robotic “third thumb”, suggests a recent experiment that saw people learning to use a specially designed robotic extra thumb. Not only did they master the use of the extra thumb with surprising ease, but scans also showed their brain had quickly adapted to manage the new skill.

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The Law of Attraction

a brain network for social attraction

By Neuroscience News

A special network that runs from the retina deep into the brain may help mediate social attraction, a new study reveals. When you’re HOT, you’re HOT. And when your NOT, you’re . . . yunno!

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, in foundation, study this process in young zebrafish. They now discovered a neuronal circuit that mediates social attraction.

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The Source of Consciousness

with Mark Solms
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Consciousness Is Irrelevant to Quantum Mechanics

an interview with Carlo Rovelli

Interviewed By Alexis Papazoglou — Editor for IAI News

In this interview, Carlo Rovelli explains Heisenberg’s anti-realist motivations, clarifies the role of the “observer” in quantum mechanics, and articulates his relational interpretation of the theory, according to which reality is a network of interactions.

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Decoding the Brain

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Why and How Consciousness Arises

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The Mystery of Consciousness

sleep provides a major key

By Neuroscience News

During sleep, the brain analyzes auditory input but is unable to focus on the sound or identify the noise; therefore no conscious awareness of the stimuli occurs.

A new discovery from Tel Aviv University may provide a key to a great scientific enigma: How does the awake brain transform sensory input into a conscious experience?

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Pioneers of Brain-Computer Interfaces

By Elissa Welle — Statnews

They blazed a trail by having their brains linked to computers. Now they want to help shape the field’s future.

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Brain Region Weighs Information from Different Sources

By Neuroscience News

The posterior inferior parietal lobe plays a critical role in integrating information from different sources during decision-making tasks.

Sometimes when making decisions, we have to draw on both our memories and the current facts in front of us. One example is attempting to decipher a hastily scribbled note while simultaneously trying to recall what we were writing about. To arrive at a decision, our brains assign levels of confidence to the two sources of information and then combine them.

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Learning Is Based on Neurons’ Ability to Cooperate for Survival

By Neuroscience News

Exploring systemwide intracellular metabolic cooperation as a mechanism for learning offers promise for a better understanding of how memory and learning occur in the brain. The emerging trend in neuroscience is to consider the work of neurons as anticipatory and future oriented.

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9 Ways to Improve Brain Health

By SciTechDaily

Your brain is an amazing thing. Your brain filters out the noise, allowing you to focus on what’s important. Your brain makes calculations and connections that enable you to think critically, solve problems, and develop new ideas, and it keeps your body functioning, coordinating all your muscles and organs. So it’s no wonder you want to do everything you can to protect your brain and keep it in good health. Here are nine ways you can improve your brain health.

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Top 5 Foods for Better Brain Health

By SCITECHDAILY.COM

Do you want to make sure your brain stays healthy into your golden years? Are you curious about which foods are best for a healthy brain? Look no further.

You are what you eat. The food we eat has a direct impact on our bodies, including our brains. Nutritionists argue that our diets are even more important to the overall health and condition of our brain as we get older, making it even more vital to make sure you’re eating the right foods.

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Developmental Dyslexia

essential to human adaptive success

By University of Cambridge — MedicalXpress

Cambridge researchers studying cognition, behavior and the brain have concluded that people with dyslexia are specialized to explore the unknown. This is likely to play a fundamental role in human adaptation to changing environments.

They think this ‘explorative bias’ has an evolutionary basis and plays a crucial role in our survival.

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Overlooked Strengths of Dyslexia

essential to human adaptive success

By University of Cambridge — SciTechDaily

Researchers say people with Developmental Dyslexia have specific strengths relating to exploring the unknown that have contributed to our species’ successful adaptation and survival.

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Can We Think Without Using Language?

Science suggests that words aren’t strictly necessary for reasoning

By Joanna Thompson — LIVESCIENCE

What goes on inside our own heads when we think?

Humans have been expressing thoughts with language for tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of years. It’s a hallmark of our species — so much so that scientists once speculated that the capacity for language was the key difference between us and other animals. And we’ve been wondering about each other’s thoughts for as long as we could talk about them.

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Silence for Thought

Special Interneuron Networks in the Human Brain

By Irina Epstein — Neuroscience Research News

The analysis of the human brain is a central goal of neuroscience. However, for methodological reasons, research has largely focused on model organisms, in particular the mouse.

Now, neuroscientists gained novel insights on human neural circuitry using tissue obtained from neurosurgical interventions. Three-dimensional electron microscope data revealed a novel expanded network of interneurons in humans compared to mouse.

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The Believing Brain

From ghosts and gods to politics and conspiracies

By Michael Shermer

How we construct beliefs and reinforce them as truths.

In this work synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist, historian of science, and the world’s best-known skeptic Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world.

Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. 
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Theory of Mind

what chess and drug dealers can teach you about manipulation

By Jonny Thomson — BigThink

Theory of mind is the ability we all have to see things from another’s point of view. It’s essential in all our interactions.

Thinking ahead is one hallmark of intelligence. Without it, we’re simply slaves to our instincts and reflexes. The role of forward thinking when dealing with others is addressed in a recent study out of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. It shows just how far ahead we think when we interact with — and manipulate — other people.

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The Neural Architecture of Intelligence

Finding solutions to the diverse problems we encounter in life

By Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D. — Psychology Today

The human brain is home to around 100 billion neurons. That’s roughly the number of stars the Milky Way harbors. Compared to most stars that like to drift through the galaxy by their lonesome selves, our neurons are champion extroverts. They like to make connections; 10^15 of them. Thanks to the miraculous chemical and electrical choreography that our networking neurons stage on any ordinary day, we are able to write love letters, calculate gratuities, and cure diseases.

KEY POINTS:
  • General intelligence is our general problem-solving aptitude.
  • Intelligence doesn’t reside in one particular region or network of the brain.
  • Brain plasticity is central to general intelligence.
  • General intelligence reflects individual differences in the efficiency and flexibility of brain networks.
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Exploring Artificial Consciousness

in the context of the film “Being John Malkovich”

By Ingrid Fadelli — Tech Xplore

Computer scientists and neuroscientists have been pondering on the difference between intelligence and “consciousness,” wondering whether machines will ever be able to attain the latter. Amar Singh, Assistant Professor at Banaras Hindu University, recently published a paper in a special issue of Springer Link’s AI & Society that explores these concepts by drawing parallels with the fantasy film “Being John Malkovich.”

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Doctor Ice Pick

By Claire Prentice

A haunting and true short story of the lobotomist who cut a brutal swathe through the lives of thousands of vulnerable Americans.

In July 1952, Dr. Walter Freeman arrived at the gates of a West Virginia asylum. In his medical bag he carried two metal picks and a surgical hammer. He had invented a “cheap, easy” ten-minute lobotomy. The press described it as a miracle cure, a new frontier in psychosurgery.

That summer, in just twelve days, Freeman lobotomized 228 men, women, and children in West Virginia’s public mental hospitals. His blitzkrieg of brain surgery became known as “Operation Ice Pick,” named after the tools he wielded.

To some, the doctor was a hero, solving the crisis facing the nation’s underfunded and overcrowded psychiatric institutions. But many who watched him operate saw a dangerous risk-taker, a showman and a charlatan. This is the true story of a scientific pioneer whose misguided quest created one of the biggest tragedies in American medical history.

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The Third Man Factor

Surviving the Impossible

By John Geiger

An extraordinary account of how people at the very edge of death often sense an unseen presence beside them who encourages them to make one final effort to survive.

This incorporeal being offers a feeling of hope, protection, and guidance, and leaves the person convinced he or she is not alone. There is a name for this phenomenon: it’s called the Third Man Factor.

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Suspicious Minds

why we believe conspiracy theories

By Rob Brotherton

We’re all conspiracy theorists. Some of us just hide it better than others.

Conspiracy theorists do not wear tin-foil hats (for the most part). They are not just a few kooks lurking on the paranoid fringes of society with bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptilian aliens running society in secret. They walk among us. They are us.

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Why Some People Are More Prone to Believing Conspiracy Theories

a neuroscientist explains it

By Francesca Benson — IFLSCIENCE!

Recently, droves of people have hurled themselves headfirst into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. While some of the more outlandish theories make for a fun read, many take them completely seriously, declaring that they see a sinister underbelly to everyday life.

Neuroscientist Shannon Odell explains why in this video from Inverse.

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Conspiracy Theories Are a Mental Health Crisis

The complex relationship between mental health, conspiracy theories, and disinformation that no one’s talking about. 

By Rebecca Ruiz — Mashable

Every day, people who spend time online face a deluge of conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation. Plenty of them move along, clicking past outlandish or false content that’s designed to lure them in. Some, however, become ensnared for reasons experts don’t fully understand. People quickly slip into dark corners of the internet and find a community of believers, or even zealots, who swear they’ve discovered hidden truths and forbidden knowledge.

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Moonwalking with Einstein

The art and science of remembering everything

By Joshua Foer

The blockbuster phenomenon that charts an amazing journey of the mind while revolutionizing our concept of memory

Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer’s yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top “mental athletes.” He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human memory. From the United States Memory Championship to deep within the author’s own mind, this is an electrifying work of journalism that reminds us that, in every way that matters:

We are the sum of our memories.
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Reading Transforms Us

How books can help us develop our key emotional and cognitive skills.

By Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D. — Psychology Today

KEY POINTS:
  • Reading fiction can spur growth and self-development.
  • Exiting our self-narratives and simulating others’ mental states is behind the mechanism of fiction’s transformational powers.
  • Reading fiction can help increase cognitive empathy and teach us about ourselves.
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Why Do We Forget Books We’ve Read?

Dr Sean Kang, a cognitive psychologist, says the information is still there, but it’s tucked away in long-term memory

By Coco Kahn — The Guardian

Ever thought about a book you’ve read, and had no recollection of the plot? Or followed a recommendation to watch a TV show, only to find you’ve already seen it? We live in an age of mass content, with TV, books and films consumed at some of the highest levels in recent years. Could this be wreaking havoc with our ability to remember them?

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Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

By Paul J. Zak — Harvard Business Review

Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

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Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

By Scott Myers

Your Protagonist, must resonate with a reader.

What that boils down to is creating a sense of empathy on the part of the reader.

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Other Minds

The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

By Peter Godfrey-Smith

Philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith dons a wet suit and journeys into the depths of consciousness in Other Minds!

Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus.

In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes.

How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through an evolutionary lineage so radically distant from our own? What does it mean that evolution built minds not once but at least twice?

The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?

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Thinking Is for Suckers

but if you’re an octopus, suckers are for thinking

By A.J. Fillo — NOVA PBS

Octopuses “think” with neurons so distributed throughout their bodies that sometimes the left hand literally doesn’t know what the…left hand is doing.

Like humans, octopuses are incredibly intelligent. But an octopus’ mind is about as alien to the human mind as the human mind is…well, to an alien’s.

“I like to [ask], ‘How are they intelligent?’ rather than ‘How intelligent are they?’” says Dominic Sivitilli, a behavioral neuroscientist and astrobiologist at the University of Washington who presented a new octopus cognition model at the AbSciCon 2019 conference this week.

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Octopus Brain and Human Brain Share the Same Jumping Genes

By International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA) — PHYS.ORG

The octopus is an exceptional organism with an extremely complex brain and cognitive abilities that are unique among invertebrates. So much so that in some ways it has more in common with vertebrates than with invertebrates. The neural and cognitive complexity of these animals could originate from a molecular analogy with the human brain, as discovered by a research paper recently published in BMC Biology and coordinated by Remo Sanges from SISSA of Trieste and by Graziano Fiorito from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples.

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Your Brain Operates at the Edge of Chaos

why that’s actually a good thing

By Monisha Ravisetti — CNET

We derive a wealth of benefits from teetering between calmness and mayhem.

Your brain is constantly perched on the edge of chaos. And it’s not because you’re behind on 47 laptop updates or obsessing over that typo in an email you sent your boss.

No, because even at your most zen, your 86 billion brain cells strut along a tightrope between calm and catastrophe; serenity and disarray; order and disorder. At any moment, they could domino into disaster. But no need to panic. 

This tricky brain stunt is actually a good thing. 

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The Memory of Fear

Why It is Seared Into Our Brains

By Barri Bronston — MedicalXpress

Experiencing a frightening event is likely something you’ll never forget. But why does it stay with you when other kinds of occurrences become increasingly difficult to recall with the passage of time?

A team of neuroscientists from the Tulane University School of Science and Engineering and Tufts University School of Medicine have been studying the formation of fear memories in the emotional hub of the brain—the amygdala—and think they have a mechanism.

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The Complexity of the Brain

new insights

By Complexity Science Hub Vienna — Medical Xpress

A recent study out of the Complexity Science Hub (CSH) Vienna paves the way to a deeper insight into the complexity of the human brain, one of the largest and most sophisticated organs in the human body. The study develops a mathematical and computational framework for analyzing neural activity.

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Mysteries of the Brain

By CNET

A collection of articles about they mysterious brain.

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The Quantum Origin of Consciousness

the collapse of a leading theory

By Foundational Questions Institute — PHYS.ORG

The origin of consciousness is one of the greatest mysteries of science. One proposed solution, first suggested by Nobel Laureate and Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hammeroff, at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, attributes consciousness to quantum computations in the brain. This in turn hinges on the notion that gravity could play a role in how quantum effects disappear, or “collapse.” But a series of experiments in a lab deep under the Gran Sasso mountains, in Italy, has failed to find evidence in support of a gravity-related quantum collapse model, undermining the feasibility of this explanation for consciousness.

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Biological Difference Between Psychopaths and Normal People

By NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY — ScienceTechDaily

A new study has shown that psychopathic people have a bigger striatum area in their brain.

Neuroscientists using MRI scans discovered that psychopathic people have a 10% larger striatum, a cluster of neurons in the subcortical basal ganglia of the forebrain, than regular people. This represents a clear biological distinction between psychopaths and non-psychopathic people. 

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The Empty Brain

By Robert Epstein — Pocket

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge, or store memories. In short: Your brain is not a computer.

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

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Why Idiots Think They’re Smart

Dunning On The Dunning–Kruger Effect

By Tom Hale — IFLSCIENCE

“I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing,” a wise guy once said. 

Have you ever noticed that the person with the least amount of knowledge on a subject is often the most confident to blast you with their opinion about it?

This is a well-known experience that can perhaps be explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias whereby people with limited ability in a given field tend to greatly overestimate their own competence. The less ability, the more they tend to overestimate their competence. 

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How the Brain Changes During Treatment

By UBC Faculty of Medicine — SciTechDaily

Researchers have for the first time shown what occurs in the brain during repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, a treatment for depression (rTMS). When other strategies, such as medications, have failed to help a patient with their depression, rTMS is often used as a treatment. 

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Socially Isolated People Have Differently Wired Brains

and poorer cognition

By Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian, Christelle Langley, Chun Shen, and Jianfeng Feng — Neuroscience News

Summary: Social isolation is linked to alterations in brain structure and cognitive deficits. Additionally, social isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia as a person ages.

Why do we get a buzz from being in large groups at festivals, jubilees and other public events? According to the social brain hypothesis, it’s because the human brain specifically evolved to support social interactions. Studies have shown that belonging to a group can lead to improved well-being and increased satisfaction with life.

Unfortunately though, many people are lonely or socially isolated. 

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How Dogs Think of Their Toys

a glimpse into the dog’s mind

By Sara Bohm — Neuroscience News

Summary: Dogs have multi-modal mental imagery of items and objects that are familiar to them. When a dog thinks about an object, they imagine the object’s different sensory features.

In a new study just published in the journal of Animal Cognition, researchers from the Family Dog Project (Eötvös Loránd University University, Budapest) found out that dogs have a “multi-modal mental image” of their familiar objects.

This means that, when thinking about an object, dogs imagine the object’s different sensory features. For instance, the way it looks or the way its smells.

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The Brain Has a “Low-Power” Mode

that bunts our senses

By Matt Curtis — Quanta Magazine

When our phones and computers run out of power, their glowing screens go dark and they die a sort of digital death. But switch them to low-power mode to conserve energy, and they cut expendable operations to keep basic processes humming along until their batteries can be recharged.

Our energy-intensive brain needs to keep its lights on too. Brain cells depend primarily on steady deliveries of the sugar glucose, which they convert to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to fuel their information processing.

When food has been in short supply for a long time and body weight falls below a critical threshold, the brain reduces its energy consumption by changing how it processes information.

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How Minds Change

The Surprising science of belief, opinion and peruasion

By David McRaney

A brain-bending investigation of why some people never change their minds—and others do in an instant.

What made a prominent conspiracy-theorist YouTuber finally see that 9/11 was not a hoax? How do voter opinions shift from neutral to resolute? Can widespread social change only take place when a generation dies out? From one of our greatest thinkers on reasoning, HOW MINDS CHANGE is a book about the science, and the experience, of transformation.

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We Are Fictional Characters of Our Own Creation

By Nick Chater — BIG Think

We imagine and debate the inner lives of literary characters, knowing there can be no truth about their real motives or beliefs. Could our own inner lives also be works of fiction?

  • Data suggests that the stories we tell ourselves about our motives, beliefs, and values are not merely unreliable but entirely fictitious. 
  • Our brains are such master storytellers that they even are able to justify choices that we never made. 
  • Introspection is not some strange inner perception; it is the human imagination turned upon itself.
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Brain Connections

Cosmological Thinking Meets Neuroscience

By Nanci Bomphey — Neuroscience News

A new mathematical model that identifies essential connections between neurons reveals some neural networks in the brain are more essential than others.

After a career spent probing the mysteries of the universe, a Janelia Research Campus senior scientist is now exploring the mysteries of the human brain and developing new insights into the connections between brain cells.  

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Octopuses May Be So Terrifyingly Smart

because they share humans genes for intelligence

By Donavyn Coffey — LiveScience

Genetic sequences called transposons help regulate learning.

Octopuses are brainy creatures with sophisticated smarts, and now scientists have uncovered a clue that may partly explain the cephalopods’ remarkable intelligence: Its genes have a genetic quirk that is also seen in humans, a new study finds.

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New Form of Dementia

It’s shockingly common

By SciTechDaily

The symptoms of Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE) are comparable to those of Alzheimer’s disease, involving memory loss and issues with thinking and reasoning in old age.

A recent study indicates the prevalence of brain changes from limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy might be approximately 40% in older adults and as high as 50% in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the researchers, the paper, which will soon be published in Acta Neuropathologica, is the most comprehensive evaluation of the incidence of a kind of dementia identified in 2019 and now known as LATE. According to the findings, the prevalence of LATE-related brain changes may be about 40% in older adults and up to 50% in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

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What Causes the Brain’s Emotional Hub to Switch to Negative States?

By Lisa LaPoint — Neuroscience News

Tucked into the temporal lobe, near the base of our brain, sits a small, almond-shaped region called the amygdala that processes our emotions.

Neuroscientists at Tufts University have been investigating the symphony of signals created within a subsection of this area—the basolateral amygdala—to better understand how they contribute to negative feelings such as anxiety and fear.

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