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Unpacking the toolkit of human consciousness

Unpacking the toolkit of human consciousness | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
No matter how different they seem—the learned and contemplative neuroscientist versus the toy orangutan with a penchant for off-color jokes—almost any adult who experiences them knows that Princeton University professor Michael Graziano is the...
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Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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A social neuroscience perspective could increase empathy in physicians, enhance patient care

A social neuroscience perspective could increase empathy in physicians, enhance patient care | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
In the October issue of World Psychiatry, neuroscientists and UC Berkeley psychiatrist Jodi Halpern contribute a perspective on the need for increased research on the components of empathy, in order to develop interventions and programs designed to increase the levels of empathy in clinical practice.

According to the article, clinical empathy is increasingly being seen as an important element of quality health care, and has been associated with improved patient satisfaction, increased adherence to treatment, and fewer malpractice complaints.


As well, for doctors, higher levels of empathy have led to decreased burnout, personal distress, depression, and anxiety, along with increased life satisfaction and psychological well-being.


By Amabelle Ocampo


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Brainhack movement comes to FIU, promotes global collaboration in neuroscience research

Brainhack movement comes to FIU, promotes global collaboration in neuroscience research | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
FIU’s Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging Center (CNIC) hosted the Miami Brainhack Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) conference Oct. 18. Brainhack is a unique
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Our brains have an internal calorie counter, research suggests

Our brains have an internal calorie counter, research suggests | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new neuroimaging study suggests that our brain evaluates food based on caloric density, even when we're not conscious of how many calories something contains, which is perhaps why many of us prefer junk food.

 

Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University in the US, have discovered that our brain subconsciously makes decisions on what food to eat based on the food’s calorie content. The findings which are published in the journal Psychological Science, could explain why many people choose high calorie foods.

 

"Earlier studies found that children and adults tend to choose high-calorie food" said Alain Dagher, neurologist and lead author of the study, in a press release. "The easy availability and low cost of high-calorie food has been blamed for the rise in obesity. Their consumption is largely governed by the anticipated effects of these foods, which are likely learned through experience.”

 

The study involved a group of participants who were asked to rate pictures of familiar foods based on which they would like to consume. They were then asked to estimate the calorie content of each food item. Observations showed that the participants preferred high caloric food, even though they were not able to accurately indicate the calorie content.

 

The team also performed brain scans on the participants while they were evaluating the food images which supported the observations. The scan results showed that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - an area of the brain that is involved in decision making - was correlated with the foods’ caloric content. While the participants were rating the foods, there was increased activity in the insular cortex - a part of the brain that is involved in processing the sensory properties of food.


“Our study sought to determine how people's awareness of caloric content influenced the brain areas known to be implicated in evaluating food options. We found that brain activity tracked the true caloric content of foods,” said Dagher. 


Read more here: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20142110-26369.html


The associated research article can be read here:

pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/10/08/0956797614552081


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, Today, 12:35 PM

The ability of our brains to evaluate the calorific content of food is tied very closely to hunger. Cutting calories would make us hungry and eat more in the long run http://sco.lt/7lEwkb Therefore, it is important that we choose foods with a decent calorific content but a low glyceamic index so that our bodies do not metabolize all the carbohydrates at one go http://sco.lt/59Yakz ;

 

Similarly, artificial sweeteners throws off our brain's ability to monitor calories and has been linked to glucose intolerance http://sco.lt/7leSVF ;

 

On the plus side, research has shown that it is possible to train our brains to prefer healthy foods http://sco.lt/5IXUzR Read more scoops on the human brain here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Brain

http://www.scoop.it/t/food-health-and-nutrition/?tag=Brain

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Scientific evidence does not support the brain game claims, Stanford scholars say - Stanford Report

Scientific evidence does not support the brain game claims, Stanford scholars say - Stanford Report | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Sixty-nine scientists at Stanford University and other institutions issued a statement that the scientific track record does not support the claims that so-called "brain games" actually help older adults boost their mental powers.
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Astrocytic mechanism that repairs brain after stroke discovered.

Astrocytic mechanism that repairs brain after stroke discovered. | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A previously unknown mechanism through which the brain produces new nerve cells after a stroke has been discovered at Lund University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The findings have been pub...

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Like Valium and Oxycontin, without the Side Effects [Video]

Like Valium and Oxycontin, without the Side Effects [Video] | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Whether it be mental calm or analgesia, neuroscientists have discovered a range of possible health benefits from meditation
-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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The Neuroscience of Love & Loneliness - YouTube

Neuropschology power couple John and Stephanie Cacioppo explore the spectrum of emotion from companionship to social isolation by peering into the human brai...

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Our brains are maladapted to the modern world we live in - Johns Hopkins News-Letter

Our brains are maladapted to the modern world we live in Johns Hopkins News-Letter Civilization allows many of us to flood our brains' pleasure centers with dopamine and other chemicals many times a day through supernormal stimuli like junk food,...
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Can Brain Imaging Detect Risk Takers? - Brain Blogger (blog)

Can Brain Imaging Detect Risk Takers? - Brain Blogger (blog) | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it


The study, which was conducted by Dr.

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Mental illness: social factors versus genetics - gulfnews.com

Mental illness: social factors versus genetics - gulfnews.com | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Second International Psychology Conference in Dubai highlights how traumatic circumstances are increasingly overshadowing natural risks in patients
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Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from #ALS AWARENESS #LouGehrigsDisease #PARKINSONS
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New breakthrough in Parkinson’s research

New breakthrough in Parkinson’s research | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Sheffield University researchers have found vital new evidence on how to target and reverse the effects caused by one of the most common genetic causes of Parkinson’s Disease.

Via TEAM Mike Lopez Memorial Foundation |Find us on Twitter:@TEAMCUREALS
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Neural correlates of strategic reasoning during competitive games

Although human and animal behaviors are largely shaped by reinforcement and punishment, choices in social settings are also influenced by information about the knowledge and experience of other decision-makers. During competitive games, monkeys increased their payoffs by systematically deviating from a simple heuristic learning algorithm and thereby countering the predictable exploitation by their computer opponent. Neurons in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) signaled the animal’s recent choice and reward history that reflected the computer’s exploitative strategy. The strength of switching signals in the dmPFC also correlated with the animal’s tendency to deviate from the heuristic learning algorithm. Therefore, the dmPFC might provide control signals for overriding simple heuristic learning algorithms based on the inferred strategies of the opponent.


Neural correlates of strategic reasoning during competitive games
Hyojung Seo, Xinying Cai, Christopher H. Donahue, Daeyeol Lee

Science 17 October 2014:
Vol. 346 no. 6207 pp. 340-343
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1256254


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Spectral Signatures of Reorganised Brain Networks in Disorders of Consciousness

Spectral Signatures of Reorganised Brain Networks in Disorders of Consciousness | Social Neuroscience Advances | 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.

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The Secrets of Sleep

We delve into the secrets of sleep and find out why some people are night owls and others early risers.

 

Sleep is essential for resting our minds and bodies, and it's controlled by a mysterious phenomenon known as our internal body clock. This 'master clock' is located in the hypothalamus of our brains, and is established during the first months of our lives. It controls the timing of our nightly sleeps through the release of the chemical melatonin.


While most people's body clock runs roughly to a 24-hour cycle, melatonin release can peak anywhere from 9pm to 3am, depending on the individual. It's this difference in chemical release timing that sees some people become night owls, and other early risers.


Once we're asleep, our brains will cycle through different levels of consciousness, from deep sleep to rapid eye movement sleep (REM). REM sleep is the period throughout which we dream, and it's thought to be a crucial part of memory storage, and works like a recharger for the brain. Most people have four or five dreams every night, but we usually don't remember them.


Find out why people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to overeat, and what the longest recorded period without sleep is by watching the latest episode of RiAus's A Week in Science above.

 

Read more here: http://sciencealert.com.au/features/20141710-26353.html


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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, Today, 8:57 PM

Intelligent and creative people are more likely to have problems sleeping because  when they lie quietly with their eyes closed, to relax, the enter a state of mind called "random episodic silent thought" http://sco.lt/5kno1J

 

Research has shown that our brains can make decisions while we're sleeping http://sco.lt/5pcSOn

 

Some tips on how to fall asleep quicker at night have been scooped here: http://sco.lt/5yWKDx

Rescooped by Jocelyn Stoller from Contemplative Neuroscience
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The Mind of the Meditator

The Mind of the Meditator | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Scientific American Just put out a decent summary of the current neuroscience research on meditation written by friends, Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz, and Richie Davidson. I enjoyed reading the ar...

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See-Through Sensors Open New Window Into the Brain

See-Through Sensors Open New Window Into the Brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers' efforts to understand the brain.
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See-through, one-atom-thick, carbon electrodes powerful tool to study brain disorders

See-through, one-atom-thick, carbon electrodes powerful tool to study brain disorders | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine and School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have used graphene—a two-dimensional form of carbon only one atom thick—to fabricate a new type...
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Head injury causes the immune system to attack the brain

Head injury causes the immune system to attack the brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Scientists have uncovered a surprising way to reduce the brain damage caused by head injuries - stopping the body's immune system from killing brain cells. The study, published in the open access journal Acta Neuropathologica Communications, showed that in experiments on mice, an immune-based treatment ...
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What is a Good Life?

What is a Good Life? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new book explores what we know and don’t yet know about human nature and the role of the environment in shaping our moral character.

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Other People Do Matter: ECPP2014

Other People Do Matter: ECPP2014 | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The 7th ECPP in Amsterdam from 1st-4th July was a fabulous opportunity to get up-to-date with the latest positive psychology research and practice. I was struck by how often the conference returned to the theme of connection and, in the widest-possible sense, well-being from a community perspective.

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Psychology professor's new study shows the social impact of saying 'thanks'

Psychology professor's new study shows the social impact of saying 'thanks' | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Dr. Monica Bartlett has a lot to be thankful for.  Bartlett, an assistant professor of psychology at Gonzaga, recently conducted a study to be published in the journal “Emotion” that contains the first known evidence of the positive effects that expressions of gratitude have on the building and strengthening of social relationships. 

Bartlett and Dr. Lisa Williams from the University of South Wales, Australia, brought 70 GU student participants into a lab under the premise that they would be participating in a “peer editing program,” during which they would serve as mentors for high school students writing college essays. At the end of the study, all of the GU participants received a handwritten note from their mentee. Thirty of these handwritten notes contained the words “Thank you SO much,” while the other 40 did not. 

Results showed that the participants who received the thank you notes not only viewed their mentees as warmer people; they were also more willing to continue their relationship with their mentee.  When given the opportunity, most of the 30 participants were willing to share their phone number or email with their mentee for future social interaction.


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Researchers at Cambridge develop new EEG brain scan - BBC News

Researchers at Cambridge develop new EEG brain scan - BBC News | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers at Cambridge University say they have found a new way of searching for signs of awareness in the brains of patients in a persistent vegetative state
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Pathological gambling is associated with altered opioid system in the brain ... - EurekAlert (press release)

All humans have a natural opioid system in the brain. Now new research, presented at the ECNP Congress in Berlin, has found that the opioid system of pathological gamblers responds differently to those of normal healthy volunteers.
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How Sound Waves Help Deliver Medicine to the Brain

How Sound Waves Help Deliver Medicine to the Brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Under most circumstances, the bones and cells protecting our brain are a blessing.
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Oxytocin: Paul Zak to present 2014 Waitt Lecture

Oxytocin: Paul Zak to present 2014 Waitt Lecture | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Zak's lecture, "The Moral Molecule: Vampire Economics the New Science of Good and Evil," will focus on his discovery that the hormone oxytocin influences trust, empathy and generosity in both men and women.


"Once we showed oxytocin responded to people trusting each other and motivated reciprocity, then we began a sort of longer term study to see how much oxytocin tells us about these positive social behaviors we call moral behaviors," he explained. 


"Oxytocin works to increase our sense of emotional connection or empathy to others. It really enhances our social skills."


Plus oxytocin in autism in Autism.


Via Edwin Rutsch
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