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Spectral Signatures of Reorganised Brain Networks in Disorders of Consciousness

Spectral Signatures of Reorganised Brain Networks in Disorders of Consciousness | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Theoretical advances in the science of consciousness have proposed that it is concomitant with balanced cortical integration and differentiation, enabled by efficient networks of information transfer across multiple scales. Here, we apply graph theory to compare key signatures of such networks in high-density electroencephalographic data from 32 patients with chronic disorders of consciousness, against normative data from healthy controls. Based on connectivity within canonical frequency bands, we found that patient networks had reduced local and global efficiency, and fewer hubs in the alpha band. We devised a novel topographical metric, termed modular span, which showed that the alpha network modules in patients were also spatially circumscribed, lacking the structured long-distance interactions commonly observed in the healthy controls. Importantly however, these differences between graph-theoretic metrics were partially reversed in delta and theta band networks, which were also significantly more similar to each other in patients than controls. Going further, we found that metrics of alpha network efficiency also correlated with the degree of behavioural awareness. Intriguingly, some patients in behaviourally unresponsive vegetative states who demonstrated evidence of covert awareness with functional neuroimaging stood out from this trend: they had alpha networks that were remarkably well preserved and similar to those observed in the controls. Taken together, our findings inform current understanding of disorders of consciousness by highlighting the distinctive brain networks that characterise them. In the significant minority of vegetative patients who follow commands in neuroimaging tests, they point to putative network mechanisms that could support cognitive function and consciousness despite profound behavioural impairment.

Via Ashish Umre
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Astrocytes, The Brain's Lesser Known Cells, Get Some Cognitive Respect

"What I thought quite unique was the idea that astrocytes, traditionally considered only guardians and supporters of neurons and other cells, are also involved in the processing of information and in other cognitive behavior," says Verma, a professor in the Laboratory of Genetics and American Cancer Society Professor.

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excerpt: "It's not that astrocytes are quick—they're still slower than neurons. But the new evidence suggests that astrocytes are actively supplying the right environment for gamma waves to occur, which in turn makes the brain more likely to learn and change the strength of its neuronal connections."

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Nine Scientific Pioneers Receive the 2014 Kavli Prizes | The Kavli Foundation

Nine Scientific Pioneers Receive the 2014 Kavli Prizes | The Kavli Foundation | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

Nine pioneering scientists have been named this year’s recipients of the Kavli Prizes – prizes that recognize scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. This year’s laureates were selected for pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation, for transformative contributions to the field of nano-optics and for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition.

 
Sharrock's insight:

My main interest is in the neuroscience fields: "The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience is shared between Brenda Milner, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Canada, John O’Keefe, University College London, UK, andMarcus E. Raichle, Washington University in St.Louis School of Medicine, USA. They receive the prize “for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition”.

The recipients of the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience have all played major roles in advancing our understanding of memory and in the development of techniques to measure the brain. They have discovered that these functions are produced by specialized systems in the brain, which they analysed through a variety of research approaches. They have found the specific regions of the brain that are involved in memory, and how specialized nerve cells perform different roles.

The higher cognitive functions of our brains such as attention, memory, and planning are crucial to create our rich mental lives: memory is essential for humans, from the recognition of where we are, through learning new skills, to being able to recall events. In humans memory can be said to define who we are, and we know that loss of memory can have devastating effects on an individual’s personality. Knowing how memory function should work in healthy people could open the door to understanding what has changed in patients with dementia and memory loss."

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The brain’s data compression mechanisms

The brain’s data compression mechanisms | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

Researchers have hitherto assumed that information supplied by the sense of sight was transmitted almost in its entirety from its entry point to higher brain areas, across which visual sensation is generated. “It was therefore a surprise to discover that the data volumes are considerably reduced as early as in the primary visual cortex, the bottleneck leading to the cerebrum,” says PD Dr Dirk Jancke from the Institute for Neural Computation at the Ruhr-Universität. “We intuitively assume that our visual system generates a continuous stream of images, just like a video camera. However, we have now demonstrated that the visual cortex suppresses redundant information and saves energy by frequently forwarding image differences.”

 
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Cochlear Implant Users Can Now Hear Music with New Strategies

Cochlear Implant Users Can Now Hear Music with New Strategies | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Bionics University of Washington scientists have developed a new way of processing the signals in cochlear implants to help users hear music better. The technique lets users perceive... [[ This is a content summary only.
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The time machine in our mind. The imagistic mental machinery that allows us to travel through time

The time machine in our mind. The imagistic mental machinery that allows us to travel through time | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

“This article provides the first comprehensive conceptual account for the imagistic mental machinery that allows us to travel through time—for the time machine in our mind. It is argued that language reveals this imagistic machine and how we use it. Findings from a range of cognitive fields are theoretically unified and a recent proposal about spatialized mental time travel is elaborated on. The following novel distinctions are offered: external vs. internal viewing of time; “watching” time vs. projective “travel” through time; optional vs. obligatory mental time travel; mental time travel into anteriority or posteriority vs. mental time travel into the past or future; single mental time travel vs. nested dual mental time travel; mental time travel in episodic memory vs. mental time travel in semantic memory; and “seeing” vs. “sensing” mental imagery. Theoretical, empirical, and applied implications are discussed. (...) Many conceptualizations observed in language have also been found to exist in mental representations that are more basic than language itself. (…)

 

The evolution of the capacity to simulate possible future events, based on episodic memory, enhanced fitness by enabling action in preparation of different possible scenarios that increased present or future survival and reproduction chances. Human language may have evolved in the first instance for the sharing of past and planned future events, and, indeed, fictional ones, further enhancing fitness in social settings.”


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Eight Habits that Improve Cognitive Function

Eight Habits that Improve Cognitive Function | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
What daily habits improve brain structure and cognitive function?

Via Luis Valdes
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The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition

The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Michael Tomasello argues that the roots of the human capacity for symbol-based culture, and the kind of psychological development that takes place within it, are based in a cluster of uniquely human cognitive capacities that emerge early in human...

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Daniel Kahneman - Interview Transcript

Daniel Kahneman - Interview Transcript | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Nobelprize.org, The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize

 

I never think of myself as having demonstrated irrationality.  There is a definition of rationality within the contest of economic theory or decision theory more broadly, which is a completely unrealistic conception of a human agent with a complete preference order about all states of the world, with a Bayesian set of beliefs about all possible states and this defines rationality in the context of economic theory. Now as a descriptive hypothesis this is a totally implausible hypothesis and, you know, it is fairly easy to show that that hypothesis isn’t true and we’ve been doing that, my late colleague Amos Tversky and I, and many others. It’s also not particularly interesting to show that it isn’t true because it’s so easy to do. We have been able to show some of the ways in which people depart from this ideal of rationality but this is not irrationality. People are reasonable, they’re prudent agents. It’s just that the definition of rationality that is used in economic theory is, I think, a very implausible definition and it fails descriptively and we have been able to document some of these failures and explain them. 

Sharrock's insight:

There is a lot of material and thought in these interviews with Nobel Prize Winners. This may be a powerful resource to learn the powerful ideas from the developers of them because when they are interviewed in this context, they are compelled to impress and inform. 

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This Is How Cats See the World - Wired

This Is How Cats See the World - Wired | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
This Is How Cats See the World
Wired
Scientists used to think cats were dichromats — able to only see two colors — but they're not, exactly.
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Sight: 5 Future Technology Innovations from IBM

In 5 years, computers will not only be able to look at images, but understand them. Computers will be trained to turn pictures and videos into features, iden...
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