Science, Technology, and Current Futurism
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Explainer: the brain

Explainer: the brain | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Over the last 15 years, the methods used to study the brain have advanced significantly, and with this so has our understanding. Which makes the task of explaining the most complex organ in the body, well, complex.
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Just how plastic is the brain?

Just how plastic is the brain? | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Differences between M.M. and controls were also seen in brain scans. Typically, the ventral visual cortex shows different patterns of activity depending on whether you are viewing a face, an object, or a scene – but M.M. didn’t seem to have developed the necessary networks.
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Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech

Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Building on previous studies targeting the amygdala, a team of researchers has found that some brain cells recognize emotions based on the viewer's preconceptions rather than the true emotion being expressed.
Sharrock's insight:

"These are very exciting findings suggesting that the amygdala doesn't just respond to what we see out there in the world, but rather to what we imagine or believe about the world," says Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Caltech and coauthor of a paper that discusses the team's study.  "It's particularly interesting because the amygdala has been linked to so many psychiatric diseases, ranging from anxiety to depression to autism.  All of those diseases are about experiences happening in the minds of the patients, rather than objective facts about the world that everyone shares."


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Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, March 2, 2015 12:49 AM

emotions are the products of our mind, as much as they are of objective reality out there!

Miklos Szilagyi's curator insight, March 4, 2015 3:29 AM

Another, deeper roots to our biases... on the brain-cell level... well, that might be a challenge...

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Wireless brain sensor-transmitter could unchain neuroscience from cables

Wireless brain sensor-transmitter could unchain neuroscience from cables | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

In a study in the journal Neuron, scientists describe a new high data-rate, low-power wireless brain sensor. The technology is designed to enable neuroscience research that cannot be accomplished with current sensors that tether subjects with cabled connections. Experiments in the paper confirm that new capability. The results show that the technology transmitted rich, neuroscientifically meaningful signals from animal models as they slept and woke or exercised.


“We view this as a platform device for tapping into the richness of electrical signals from the brain among animal models where their neural circuit activity reflects entirely volitional and naturalistic behavior, not constrained to particular space,” said Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering and physics affiliated with the Brown Institute for Brain Science and the paper’s senior and corresponding author. “This enables new types of neuroscience experiments with vast amounts of brain data wirelessly and continuously streamed from brain microcircuits.”


“The brain sensor is opening unprecedented opportunities for the development of neuroprosthetic treatments in natural and unconstrained environments,” said study co-author Grégoire Courtine, a professor at EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), who collaborated with Nurmikko’s group on the research. To confirm the system performance, the researchers did a series of experiments with rhesus macaques, which walked on a treadmill while the researchers used the wireless system to measure neural signals associated with the brain’s motion commands. They also did another experiment in which animal subjects went through sleep/wake cycles, unencumbered by cables or wires; the data showed distinct patterns related to the different stages of consciousness and the transitions between them.


“We hope that the wireless neurosensor will change the canonical paradigm of neuroscience research, enabling scientists to explore the nervous system within its natural context and without the use of tethering cables,” said co-lead author David Borton. “Subjects are free to roam, forage, sleep, etc., all while the researchers are observing the brain activity. We are very excited to see how the neuroscience community leverages this platform.”



Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Study shows how brain maps develop to help us perceive the world

Study shows how brain maps develop to help us perceive the world | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
the order in which we see things could help the brain calibrate how we perceive time, as well as the objects around us.
Sharrock's insight:

"the order in which we see things could help the brain calibrate how we perceive time, as well as the objects around us."

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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.

Sharrock's insight:

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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Scientists Accidentally Discover The Brain's Consciousness "Off Switch"

Scientists Accidentally Discover The Brain's Consciousness "Off Switch" | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
While performing deep brain surgery on a woman with epilepsy, neuroscientists from George Washington University stimulated an area of her brain that unexpectedly — and temporarily — caused her to lose awareness.
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Neurons: A Curious Collection of Shapes and Sizes - BrainFacts.org

Neurons: A Curious Collection of Shapes and Sizes - BrainFacts.org | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Neurons — the nerve cells that make up the brain and nervous system — look different from all other cells in the body. And from one another.
Sharrock's insight:

Every neuron is different: "That diversity is extraordinary. Scientists have identified hundreds of types and subtypes of neurons using advanced cellular imaging techniques, and more are discovered each year."

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The Molecules that Maintain the Brain - BrainFacts.org

The Molecules that Maintain the Brain - BrainFacts.org | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
A family of proteins determines which nerve cells thrive or die.

 

We're all born with many more nerve cells than we eventually keep. Why do some cells survive and build intricate connections while others wither and die? How do nerve cells know which connections to make? The identification of a protein that tells nerve cells where to grow forever changed the way scientists think about cell growth and degeneration. Such insight is giving scientists new ways to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression. 
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Near death, explained

Near death, explained | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
New science is shedding light on what really happens during out-of-body experiences -- with shocking results.
Sharrock's insight:

What are the conclusions here? Why does the author suggest that the scientific "findings" challenge "the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity"? I'm not seeing it.

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SensoMotoric Instruments: Gaze and Eye Tracking Systems

SensoMotoric Instruments: Gaze and Eye Tracking Systems | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) is a world leader in hardware and software solutions for gaze and eye tracking, eye movement and eye control in psychology, neurology, usability, market research, sports, training, medicine.

 

From January 22-25, 2014, the World Leaders will gather in Davos, CH, as they have been doing each year for more than three decades. SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI; www.smivision.com) will be there to present eye tracking as a key technology which drives industry transformation – especially when used in combination with brain response data. Decision making, the related information processing and human-machine-interaction are being transformed by better understanding and real time usage of visual attention, emotions and brain information processing.

 

In a unique on-site eye tracking experiment with world leaders conducted in Davos, SMI will demonstrate how eye tracking reveals the underlying factors of information retrieval. How these insights can be used to improve decision making, inform policy-making and strategy will be explained by Olivier Oullier, professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at Aix-Marseille University (France) and also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. He will lead the experiment all week long and, on January 23rd, he will present results from an innovative worldwide lab and on site study he conducted for the World Economic Forum and his partners. Key insights on sustainable consumption were investigated and compared across countries thanks to the unique mobility afforded by the combination of SMI Eye Tracking Glasses 2.0 (ETG) in combination with Emotiv's EPOC brain response technology.


Via Ashish Umre
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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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Prophecy Sciences Wants To Transform Recruiting With A Blend Of Neuroscience, Games, Biometrics And Machine Learning

Prophecy Sciences Wants To Transform Recruiting With A Blend Of Neuroscience, Games, Biometrics And Machine Learning | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Ask any startup or business what its top priorities are at any given moment and, more often than not, the conversation begins and ends with recruiting.

Via Thomas Faltin
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Saliency, switching, attention and control: a network model of insula function

Saliency, switching, attention and control: a network model of insula function | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

The insula is a brain structure implicated in disparate cognitive, affective, and regulatory functions, including interoceptive awareness, emotional responses, and empathic processes. While classically considered a limbic region, recent evidence from network analysis suggests a critical role for the insula, particularly the anterior division, in high-level cognitive control and attentional processes. The crucial insight and view we present here is of the anterior insula as an integral hub in mediating dynamic interactions between other large-scale brain networks involved in externally oriented attention and internally oriented or self-related cognition. The model we present postulates that the insula is sensitive to salient events, and that its core function is to mark such events for additional processing and initiate appropriate control signals. The anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex form a “salience network” that functions to segregate the most relevant among internal and extrapersonal stimuli in order to guide behavior. Within the framework of our network model, the disparate functions ascribed to the insula can be conceptualized by a few basic mechanisms: (1) bottom–up detection of salient events, (2) switching between other large-scale networks to facilitate access to attention and working memory resources when a salient event is detected, (3) interaction of the anterior and posterior insula to modulate autonomic reactivity to salient stimuli, and (4) strong functional coupling with the anterior cingulate cortex that facilitates rapid access to the motor system. In this manner, with the insula as its integral hub, the salience network assists target brain regions in the generation of appropriate behavioral responses to salient stimuli. We suggest that this framework provides a parsimonious account of insula function in neurotypical adults, and may provide novel insights into the neural basis of disorders of affective and social cognition.

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Circadian Surprise: How Our Body Clocks Help Shape Our Waistlines

Circadian Surprise: How Our Body Clocks Help Shape Our Waistlines | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
scientists have made a cool discovery: We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies — from our pancreas to our stomach to our fat cells.

"Yes, there are clocks in all the cells of your body," explains Fred Turek, a circadian scientist at Northwestern University. "It was a discovery that surprised many of us."
Sharrock's insight:

I've seen this in other research, especially regarding perception and cognition. Charisma, for example, is correlated with speed (frequency) and volume (amplitude) of speech/delivery and the intensity of gestures. Increasingly, research points to how we socially analyze based on timing. 

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