SYDNEY: Synaesthesia - a neurological rarity in which two or more senses are connected - actually improves a number of traits such as memory and colour-processing, and could be a tool for understanding how the 'typical' brain works.
Synaesthesia is a condition that involves the production of a sense impression, such as the smell of daisies, by stimulation of another sense, such as seeing a river. It is present in 2 to 4% of the population and the majority of synaesthetes have experienced it since childhood.
New findings raise questions about our brain's role in decision-making.
These days, we seem to be living in a new golden age of choice. One moment we’re tweeting, the next we are changing our profile picture. We get a hankering for hummus and next thing we know, it’s off to Yelp the nearest falafel place. In every choice and action we make, online or off, we have the unique sense that we are in control. This is what it feels like to have free will.
But many neuroscientists have maintained a long-standing opinion that what we experience as free will is no more than mechanistic patterns of neurons firing in the brain. Although we feel like free agents contemplating and choosing, they would argue that these sensations are merely an emotional remnant that brain activity leaves in its wake. If these neuroscientists are right, then free will isn’t worth much discussion.
Editor's Note: Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D., is director of Emory University’s Center for Ethics. By Paul Root Wolpe, Special to CNN (CNN) -- “My thoughts, they roam freely. Who can ever guess them?” So goes an old German folk song.
t happens more often as we age. But the brain scientists say it shouldn’t be seen as evidence of an intellectual deficit or some medical problem. Instead, they say, retrieval failures offer a glimpse into how the brain does and doesn’t work, not just in the skulls of presidential candidates but for everyone else, too.
"You are not aware of the electrochemical events occurring at each of the trillion synapses in your brain at this moment. But you are aware, however dimly, of sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, and moods. At the level of your experience, you are not a body of cells, organelles, and atoms; you are consciousness and its ever-changing contents, passing through various stages of wakefulness and sleep, and from cradle to grave.
The term “consciousness” is notoriously difficult to define. Consequently, many a debate about its character has been waged without the participants’ finding even a common topic as common ground. By “consciousness,” I mean simply “sentience,” in the most unadorned sense. To use the philosopher Thomas Nagel’s construction: A creature is conscious if there is “something that it is like” to be this creature; an event is consciously perceived if there is “something that it is like” to perceive it. Whatever else consciousness may or may not be in physical terms, the difference between it and unconsciousness is first and foremost a matter of subjective experience. Either the lights are on, or they are not."
Motor theories of speech perception have been re-vitalized as a consequence of the discovery of mirror neurons. Some authors have even promoted a strong version of the motor theory, arguing that the motor speech system is critical for perception. Part of the evidence that is cited in favor of this claim is the observation from the early 1980s that individuals with Broca's aphasia, and therefore inferred damage to Broca's area, can have deficits in speech sound discrimination. Here we re-examine this issue in 24 patients with radiologically confirmed lesions to Broca's area and various degrees of associated non-fluent speech production. Patients performed two same-different discrimination tasks involving pairs of CV syllables, one in which both CVs were presented auditorily, and the other in which one syllable was auditorily presented and the other visually presented as an orthographic form; word comprehension was also assessed using word-to-picture matching tasks in both auditory and visual forms. Discrimination performance on the all-auditory task was four standard deviations above chance, as measured using d', and was unrelated to the degree of non-fluency in the patients' speech production. Performance on the auditory-visual task, however, was worse than, and not correlated with, the all-auditory task. The auditory-visual task was related to the degree of speech non-fluency. Word comprehension was at ceiling for the auditory version (97% accuracy) and near ceiling for the orthographic version (90% accuracy). We conclude that the motor speech system is not necessary for speech perception as measured both by discrimination and comprehension paradigms, but may play a role in orthographic decoding or in auditory-visual matching of phonological forms.
The idea of the class is to get students thinking about how to create neurotechnology innovations—new inventions that can solve outstanding scientific questions or address unmet clinical needs. Designing neurotechnologies is difficult because of the complex properties of the brain: its inaccessibility, heterogeneity, fragility, anatomical richness, and high speed of operation.
For decades, science has suggested that when people make decisions, they tend to ignore logic and go with the gut. But a psychological scientist has a new suggestion: Maybe thinking about logic is also intuitive.
New research indicates that glia cells are "the brain's supervisors." By regulating the synapses, they control the transfer of information between neurons, affecting how the brain processes information.
Someone with the condition known as grapheme-color synesthesia might experience the number 2 in turquoise or the letter S in magenta.
Now, researchers reporting their findings online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on November 17 have shown that those individuals also show heightened activity in a brain region responsible for vision.
Economics is at the start of a revolution that is traceable to an unexpected source: medical schools and their research facilities.
Efforts to link neuroscience to economics have occurred mostly in just the last few years, and the growth of neuroeconomics is still in its early stages. But its nascence follows a pattern: revolutions in science tend to come from completely unexpected places.
WASHINGTON — Tricking people with severe arthritis into thinking their sore hand is healthy dampens their pain, a new study suggests.
If confirmed, the preliminary results may offer a powerful and inexpensive way to fight persistent arthritis pain.
“The results are really exciting,” said pain expert Candy McCabe of the University of Bath in England, who wasn’t involved in the study. “The whole thing is visual trickery, but the science behind it is strong.”
Memory researchers at the University of California Irvine are developing a large collection of remarkable research subjects, who themselves maintain a remarkably large collection of memories.
On Sunday at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting, UC Irvine researcher Aurora Leport offered new insights into people with this remarkable talent, suggesting their brains are structured differently than they are in those of us who can't remember what we ate for lunch yesterday. Those structural differences may account not only for their curious quirk of memory, but for some other quirks as well.
The simplest description of a black hole is a region of space-time from which no light is reflected and nothing escapes. The simplest description of consciousness is a mind that absorbs many things and attends to a few of them. Neither of these concepts can be captured quantitatively. Together they suggest the appealing possibility that endlessness surrounds us and infinity is within.
In the scientific realm, anecdotal evidence—the individual patient, the single result—tends to be shunned in favor of large, dense data sets and impersonal statistical analyses. Although that foundation must remain the core of solid research, examples and narratives should be invoked to round out the explanation of what the hard science says, Zachary Meisel and Jason Karlawish, both of the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, contended in an essay published online Tuesday in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association. “Stories are an essential part of how individuals understand and use evidence,” they wrote. And they can have a powerful effect on public opinion and policy.
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