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Researchers create highly detailed 3D model of an individual neural synapse (w/ Video)

Researchers create highly detailed 3D model of an individual neural synapse (w/ Video) | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers in Germany has created a very highly detailed 3D computer model of an individual rat synapse showing the distribution of approximately 30,000 proteins involved in the process of sending a message from one neuron to another. In their paper published in the journal ...
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Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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Breaking Research: Separable short- and long-term memories can form after a momentous occasion

Breaking Research: Separable short- and long-term memories can form after a momentous occasion | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Imagine that you are a starving fruit fly, desperately searching for food in a new area. Suddenly, you encounter a mysterious new odor and discover a nearby source of life-sustaining food. After a single experience such as this, flies can instantly form an association between that new odor and food, and will follow the odor if it encounters it again (Figure 1-1). Yamagata et al. took advantage of this instinctual behavior to study how the fly brain stores a long-term memory after one event.

They trained groups of flies to associate a particular odor (A) with a sugar reward by presenting them with both stimuli at the same time. They confirmed that the flies formed a memory by giving them a choice between odor A and a different odor (B), and found that flies preferably flocked to an area scented with odor A.

They also identified a large group of dopamine neurons (known as PAM neurons) that were activated by the sugar reward. If the researchers activated the PAM neurons instead of providing sugar when the flies encountered odor A, the flies still associated that odor with a reward (Figure 1-2).

Now the question: how does PAM neuron activity paired with an odor form a long-term memory?  The researchers found that the PAM neurons could actually be grouped into two types. When they activated one type, which they dubbed stm-PAM, the flies only formed a short-term memory. The researchers tested their memory immediately after training and found most of the flies hanging around odor A. But 24 hours later, the memory was gone.

Surprisingly, when the researchers activated the other type of PAM neurons during training (called ltm-PAM), the flies only formed a long-term memory! The flies weren’t particularly interested in odor A immediately after training, but 24 hours later the flies flocked toward it. This incredible result showed that long-term memory doesn’t necessarily require a short-term counterpart. So, instead of the reward pathway forming a short-term memory that later transforms into a long-term memory, this sugar reward formed two complementary memories.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Sex redefined

Sex redefined | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.


http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943


Via Complexity Digest
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Bernard Ryefield's comment, Today, 11:14 AM
Nature and sex redefined – we have never been binary
A recent article in Nature suggests that biologists ‘now think’ the idea of two sexes is inaccurate; in fact, says Vanessa Heggie, for decades biologists have been at the forefront of campaigns against this simplistic understanding of sex: http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-h-word/2015/feb/19/nature-sex-redefined-we-have-never-been-binary
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Empathy, Compassion & Neuroscience Part 1 - YouTube

Professor Al Kaszniak's talk to the UA Psychology Department (not to AMRIG) on 4/2/10.

Via Edwin Rutsch
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Skin test may shed new light on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases

Skin test may shed new light on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Scientists have discovered a skin test that may shed new light on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, according to a study released today will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., April 18 to 25, 2015.
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Decisions are reached in the brain by the same method used to crack the Nazi Enigma code

Decisions are reached in the brain by the same method used to crack the Nazi Enigma code | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The highlight of the award winning film, "The Imitation Game", is when Alan Turing and colleagues devise an ingenious statistical method that eventually helped decipher the Nazis' Enigma code.
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Morality is the key to personal identity

Morality is the key to personal identity | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

We tend to think that our memories determine our identity, but it’s moral character that really makes us who we are ... ‘Know thyself’ is a flimsy bargain-basement platitude, endlessly recycled but maddeningly empty. It skates the very existential question it pretends to address, the question that obsesses us: what is it to know oneself? The lesson of the identity detector is this: when we dig deep, beneath our memory traces and career ambitions and favourite authors and small talk, we find a constellation of moral capacities. This is what we should cultivate and burnish, if we want people to know who we really are.


Via Dr James Hawkins
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Dr James Hawkins's curator insight, January 15, 1:05 AM

Very interesting article by psychologist Nina Strohminger

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Why You Should Marry An Emotionally Complex Man

Why You Should Marry An Emotionally Complex Man | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Trust us ladies — we’re worth the hassle.
_____
by Serge Bielanko for YourTango
Of all the types of guys you might ever end up with in this world, you could do a lot worse that the emotionally complex one.
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Hard Feelings: Science’s Struggle to Define Emotions

Hard Feelings: Science’s Struggle to Define Emotions | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
When Paul Ekman was a grad student in the 1950s, psychologists were mostly ignoring emotions. Most psychology research at the time was focused on behaviorism—classical conditioning and the like.
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Newborn neurons in the adult brain may help us adapt to the environment

Newborn neurons in the adult brain may help us adapt to the environment | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The discovery that the human brain continues to produce new neurons in adulthood challenged a major dogma in the field of neuroscience, but the role of these neurons in behavior and cognition is still not clear.
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New growth factor indicates possible regenerative effects in Parkinson’s disease

New growth factor indicates possible regenerative effects in Parkinson’s disease | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers have long sought treatments that can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
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Teaching the Nervous System to Forget Chronic Pain — NOVA Next | PBS

Teaching the Nervous System to Forget Chronic Pain — NOVA Next | PBS | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
To the nervous system, memories and chronic pain are strikingly similar. Can we use the same neurochemical technique to erase them both?
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Science behind commonly used anti-depressants appears to be backwards, researchers say

Science behind commonly used anti-depressants appears to be backwards, researchers say | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The science behind many anti-depressant medications appears to be backwards, say the authors of a paper that challenges the prevailing ideas about the nature of depression and some of the world’s most commonly prescribed medications.

Via Donald J Bolger
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The real virtue of virtual empathy

The real virtue of virtual empathy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

recent student project at the University of Southern California is using virtual war in an unfamiliar way.  Rather than glory in combat and explosions, like many blockbuster video games, this program aims to use an immersive recreation of the Syrian civil war to educate players about the experience of being in the middle of such a terrible conflict.


We often think of video games as tools for imaginary killing, not imaginary caring. The reality is, however, that games can help us build empathy.


by Kevin Schut


Via Edwin Rutsch
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Researchers discover a gene for human brain size - only found in humans

Researchers discover a gene for human brain size - only found in humans | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

About 99 percent of human genes are shared with chimpanzees. Only the small remainder sets us apart. However, we have one important difference: The brain of humans is three times as big as the chimpanzee brain. During evolution our genome must have changed in order to trigger such brain growth. Wieland Huttner, Director and Research Group Leader a the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), and his team identified for the first time a gene that is only present in humans and contributes to the reproduction of basal brain stem cells, triggering a folding of the neocortex. The researchers isolated different subpopulations of human brain stem cells and precisely identified, which genes are active in which cell type. In doing so, they noticed the gene ARHGAP11B: it is only found in humans and in our closest relatives, the Neanderthals and Denisova-Humans, but not in chimpanzees. This gene manages to trigger brain stem cells to form a bigger pool of stem cells. In that way, during brain development more neurons can arise and the cerebrum can expand. The cerebrum is responsible for cognitive functions like speaking and thinking.


Wieland Huttner’s researchers developed a method that isolates and identifies special subpopulations of brain stem cells from the developing human cerebrum. No one has managed to do this so far. The scientists first isolated different stem and progenitor cell types from fetal mice and human cerebrum tissue. In contrast to the big and folded human brain, the brain of mice is small and smooth. After the isolation, the researchers compared the genes that are active in the various cell types and were able to identify 56 genes that are only present in humans and which play a role in brain development. “We noticed that the gene ARHGAP11B is especially active in basal brain stem cells. These cells are really important for the expansion of the neocortex during evolution,” says Marta Florio, PhD student in Wieland Huttner’s lab, who carried out the main part of the study.


The human-specific gene also works in mice: In the further course of the study, the researchers focused on the function of this special gene. The researchers suspected that if it was responsible for a bigger pool of brain stem cells in humans and thereby for an expanded cerebrum, then this human-specific gene should trigger a similar development in the smaller brain of a mouse. They introduced the gene into mice embryos and indeed: Under the influence of the human-specific gene, the mice produced significantly more brain stem cells and in half of all cases even a folding of the neocortex, which is typical for human brains. All these results suggest that the gene ARHGAP11B plays a key role in the evolutionary expansion of the human neocortex.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The Science of Changing Behavior with Compassionate Coaching

The Science of Changing Behavior with Compassionate Coaching | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Coaching with Compassion Activates the PEA
Now you know what these modes mean for your mood and your body – what do they mean for coaching someone?

Dr. Anthony Jack, the principal investigator of the Brain, Mind, and Consciousness Lab at CWRU, collaborated with Dr. Boyatzis on a coaching study using functional MRI (fMRI) technology.¹ In this study, they divided student volunteers into two groups. Group one experienced traditional coaching for compliance. In other words, the coaches asked volunteers to focus on the challenges they face in their academic performance and used problem-solving techniques. Group two experienced coaching with compassion.


When being coached with compassion, volunteers are asked questions to help them imagine a positive vision of their future.


by:Jessica Worny Janicki



Via Edwin Rutsch
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Brain makes decisions with same method used to break WW2 Enigma code (w/ Video)

Brain makes decisions with same method used to break WW2 Enigma code (w/ Video) | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
When making simple decisions, neurons in the brain apply the same statistical trick used by Alan Turing to help break Germany's Enigma code during World War II, according to a new study in animals by researchers at Columbia University's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and Department ...
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Study shows how the brain can trigger a deep sleep

Study shows how the brain can trigger a deep sleep | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Scientists have discovered that switching on one area of the brain chemically can trigger a deep sleep.
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Effect of kindness-based meditation on health and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

OBJECTIVE: Kindness-based meditation (KBM) is a rubric covering meditation techniques developed to elicit kindness in a conscious way. Some techniques, for example, loving-kindness meditation and compassion meditation, have been included in programs aimed at improving health and well-being. Our aim was to systematically review and meta-analyze the evidence available from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the effects of KBM on health and well-being against passive and active control groups in patients and the general population. METHOD: Searches were completed in March 2013. Two reviewers applied predetermined eligibility criteria (RCTs, peer-reviewed publications, theses or conference proceedings, adult participants, KBM interventions) and extracted the data. Meta-analyses used random-effects models. RESULTS: Twenty-two studies were included. KBM was moderately effective in decreasing self-reported depression (standard mean difference [Hedges's g] = -0.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] [-1.08, -0.14]) and increasing mindfulness (Hedges's g = 0.63, 95% CI [0.22, 1.05]), compassion (Hedges's g = 0.61, 95% CI [0.24, 0.99]) and self-compassion (Hedges's g = 0.45, 95% CI [0.15, 0.75]) against passive controls. Positive emotions were increased (Hedges's g = 0.42, 95% CI [0.10, 0.75]) against progressive relaxation. Exposure to KBM may initially be challenging for some people. RESULTS were inconclusive for some outcomes, in particular against active controls. The methodological quality of the reports was low to moderate. RESULTS suffered from imprecision due to wide CIs deriving from small studies. CONCLUSIONS: KBM showed evidence of benefits for the health of individuals and communities through its effects on well-being and social interaction. Further research including well-conducted large RCTs is warranted. 


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Dr James Hawkins's curator insight, December 31, 2014 5:01 AM

Encouraging but we do need better research.

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Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Mental State Attribution and Empathizing

Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Mental State Attribution and Empathizing | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

(Free full text available)The ability to infer and understand the mental states of others (i.e., Theory of Mind) is a cornerstone of human interaction. While considerable efforts have focused on explicating when, why and for whom this fundamental psychological ability can go awry, considerably less is known about factors that may enhance theory of mind. Accordingly, the current study explored the possibility that mindfulness-based meditation may improve people’s mindreading skills. Following a 5-minute mindfulness induction, participants with no prior meditation experience completed tests that assessed mindreading and empathic understanding. The results revealed that brief mindfulness meditation enhanced both mental state attribution and empathic concern, compared to participants in the control group. These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a powerful technique for facilitating core aspects of social-cognitive functioning.


Via Dr James Hawkins
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Dr James Hawkins's curator insight, February 24, 1:29 AM

Great stuff ... short "breathing space" mindfulness exercises can be useful in so many ways ... including between clients as a psychotherapist, at the start of groups, and so on.

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Is an Optimistic Mind Associated with a Healthy Heart?

Is an Optimistic Mind Associated with a Healthy Heart? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” — World Health Organization (1946) Many poets,...
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Big-brained mice engineered using human DNA

Big-brained mice engineered using human DNA | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
In the quest to understand what are the crucial differences between human and chimpanzee brains, scientists have isolated a stretch of DNA, once thought to be “junk”, near a gene that regulates brain development in mice.
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Deconstructing mental illness through ultradian rhythms

Deconstructing mental illness through ultradian rhythms | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Might living a structured life with regularly established meal times and early bedtimes lead to a better life and perhaps even prevent the onset of mental illness?
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Your Last Moments May Be Imprinted on Your Brain After Death — NOVA Next | PBS

Your Last Moments May Be Imprinted on Your Brain After Death — NOVA Next | PBS | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Studies of mouse brains after they die reveal the chemical traces of their last encounters.
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Pain Really Is All In Your Head And Emotion Controls Intensity

Pain Really Is All In Your Head And Emotion Controls Intensity | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Humiliation, fear and unpredictability all turn up the volume on pain, research shows. And meditation can turn down pain's intensity, according to scientists who are starting to figure out why.
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Deric's MindBlog: Training the mind not to wander with brain feedback.

Deric's MindBlog: Training the mind not to wander with brain feedback. | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
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