Social Neuroscience Advances
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Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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The rise and fall of cognitive skills – different parts of the brain work best at different ages

The rise and fall of cognitive skills – different parts of the brain work best at different ages | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline. However, more recent findings, including a new study from neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suggest that the real picture is much more complex.

The study, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, finds that different components of fluid intelligence peak at different ages, some as late as age 40.

 

“At any given age, you’re getting better at some things, you’re getting worse at some other things, and you’re at a plateau at some other things. There’s probably not one age at which you’re peak on most things, much less all of them,” says Joshua Hartshorne, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and one of the paper’s authors.

 

“It paints a different picture of the way we change over the lifespan than psychology and neuroscience have traditionally painted,” adds Laura Germine, a postdoc in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental genetics at MGH and the paper’s other author.

 

Through the websites gameswithwords.org and testmybrain.org, Hartshorne and Germine were able to harness the power of the Internet to run a large-scale study with participants across a broad age range. They examined four different cognitive tasks, as well as a task that measured participants’ ability to perceive others’ emotional state.

 

Together, test data from nearly 50,000 subjects provided a very clear picture that showed each cognitive skill peaking at a different age. For example, the speed with which participants processed information appeared to peak early, around age 18 or 19, and then immediately started to decline. Short-term memory seemed to improve until around age 25, level off for several years, and then begin to drop around age 35. The ability to evaluate other people’s emotional states, on the other hand, peaked much later, when participants were in their 40s or 50s.

 

It’s not yet clear why these skills tend to peak at different ages, but previous research suggests that it may have to do with changes in gene expression or brain structure as we age.

 

The researchers also included a vocabulary test, which serves as a measure of what is known as crystallized intelligence — the accumulation of facts and knowledge. While the results confirmed that crystallized intelligence peaks later in life, the new data indicated that the peak occurred when participants were in their late 60s or early 70s, even later than previously thought.

 

The researchers believe this could be explained by today’s adults having higher levels of education, jobs that require a lot of reading, and more opportunities for intellectual stimulation in comparison to previous generations.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Miloš Bajčetić, Lynnette Van Dyke
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Brain Teasers: Cracking the minds toughest riddles | UChicago Discovery Series | The University of Chicago

Brain Teasers: Cracking the minds toughest riddles | UChicago Discovery Series | The University of Chicago | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The human brain is just three pounds of biological tissue. Yet it is the source of every word spoken, every invention realized, every touchdown scored. Questions remain about virtually all its structures and functions—and why sometimes things go awry. Join neuroscientists from the University of Chicago’s new Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology, and Human Behavior for a series of short talks that explore the fascinating and profoundly mysterious human brain.

Giving TED-style talks, speakers will answer the following questions:

Can we determine who is at risk for developing a neurodegenerative brain disorder like Alzheimer’s? What can be done to prevent such disorders from developing?
Why do we often choke under pressure—and how can we perform our best instead? 
Might those who have lost limbs ever touch, feel, or manipulate objects again? 
What can rats teach us—both about the human condition and why the brain is so cool?
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Gene Therapy for Inherited Blindness Succeeds in Patients' Other Eye

Gene Therapy for Inherited Blindness Succeeds in Patients' Other Eye | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Gene therapy for congenital blindness took another step forward, as researchers further improved vision in three adult patients previously treated in one eye. The patients were better able to see in dim light, with no adverse effects.
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Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior | The University of Chicago

Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior | The University of Chicago | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior is a new Institute designed to establish a group of scholars working at the intersection of quantitative biology, neuroscience, and the study of social and individual behaviors. The Institute will build upon existing strengths in these fields to address fundamental questions about the biological, social, and environmental factors that shape social behaviors and inter-individual variation in model organisms and humans.
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When the Brain Is Under Stress, It Gets Excited Thanks to GABA

When the Brain Is Under Stress, It Gets Excited Thanks to GABA | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
I've written previously about the dual excitatory-inhibitory roles GABA plays during development and adulthood. Interestingly, when it comes to many neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism a...
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Smell the glove

Smell the glove | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
GRIP firmly, maintain eye contact. What you do during a handshake is clear. But after? Research published this week suggests that humans, like other animals, use...

Via Rob Duke
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Oxytocin may enhance social function in psychiatric disorders

Oxytocin may enhance social function in psychiatric disorders | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown inducing the release of brain oxytocin may be a viable therapeutic option for enhancing social function in psychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. The study results are published ...
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Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut

Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The microbiome may yield a new class of psychobiotics for the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders
-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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Ralph Adolphs | www.bbe.caltech.edu

Ralph Adolphs | www.bbe.caltech.edu | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Professor of Biology
B.S., Stanford University, 1986; M.S., 1986; Ph.D., Caltech, 1992. Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, 2004-05; Bren Professor, 2005-; Professor of Biology, 2005-; Director, Caltech Brain Imaging Center, 2008-13.
Neuroscience
Psychological and neurological investigations of human emotion and social cognition

How do our brains process information about other people? How, for instance, do we look at other people's faces, how do we allocate attention to them, and how do we make inferences about their internal states from their observed behavior? When you see someone cry, you infer that they feel sad (and you may empathetically feel sad yourself)—what processes mediate these inferences, and what brain structures implement them?

To investigate these questions, we are conducting neuroimaging experiments in people that reveal which regions of the brain are activated during social cognition. We are also conducting studies in neurological individuals with focal brain lesions to reveal behavioral impairments on social cognition tasks, as well as intracranial electrophysiology in neurosurgical patients with implanted depth electrodes. Our focus concerns the amygdala, a structure known to be involved in social behavior.

Additional studies use neuroimaging of the fractional anisotropy of water movement in axons to construct probabilistic maps of the structural connectivity in the human brain, again with an emphasis on connections of the amygdala, behavioral and imaging studies of people with autism, and studies in people with agenesis of the corpus callosum.
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Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech

Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech | Social Neuroscience Advances | 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.

Via Sharrock, Sandeep Gautam
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Sharrock's curator insight, March 1, 2015 4:49 PM

"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."


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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Image-guided treatment shown to break the migraine cycle

Image-guided treatment shown to break the migraine cycle | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
An innovative interventional radiology treatment has been found to offer chronic migraine sufferers sustained relief of their headaches, according to research being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Annual Scientific Meeting.
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Frontiers | Non-verbal emotion communication training induces specific changes in brain function and structure | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

The perception of emotional cues from voice and face is essential for social interaction. However, this process is altered in various psychiatric conditions along with impaired social functioning. Emotion communication trainings have been demonstrated to improve social interaction in healthy individuals and to reduce emotional communication deficits in psychiatric patients. Here, we investigated the impact of a nonverbal emotion communication training (NECT) on cerebral activation and brain structure in a controlled and combined functional magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry study. NECT-specific reductions in brain activity occurred in a distributed set of brain regions including face- and voice processing regions as well as emotion processing- and motor-related regions presumably reflecting training-induced familiarization with the evaluation of face/voice stimuli. Training-induced changes in nonverbal emotion sensitivity at the behavioral level and the respective cerebral activation patterns were correlated in the face-selective cortical areas in the posterior superior temporal sulcus and fusiform gyrus for valence ratings and in the temporal pole, lateral prefrontal cortex and midbrain/thalamus for the response times. A NECT-induced increase in grey matter volume was observed in the fusiform face area. Thus, NECT induces both functional and structural plasticity in the face processing system as well as functional plasticity in the emotion perception and evaluation system. We propose that functional alterations are presumably related to changes in sensory tuning in the decoding of emotional expressions. Taken together, these findings highlight that the present experimental design may serve as a valuable tool to investigate the altered behavioral and neuronal processing of emotional cues in psychiatric disorders as well as the impact of therapeutic interventions on brain function and structure.
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Researchers Identify Brain Regions That Encode Words, Grammar and Story

Researchers Identify Brain Regions That Encode Words, Grammar and Story | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Brain scans of Harry Potter readers yields computational model of reading.

Some people say that reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” taught them the importance of friends, or that easy decisions are seldom right. Carnegie Mellon University scientists used a chapter of that book to learn a different lesson: identifying what different regions of the brain are doing when people read.

Researchers from CMU’s Machine Learning Department performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of eight people as they read a chapter of that Potter book. They then analyzed the scans, cubic millimeter by cubic millimeter, for every four-word segment of that chapter. The result was the first integrated computational model of reading, identifying which parts of the brain are responsible for such subprocesses as parsing sentences, determining the meaning of words and understanding relationships between characters.
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How Attention Can Create Synaptic Tags for the Learning of Working Memories in Sequential Tasks

How Attention Can Create Synaptic Tags for the Learning of Working Memories in Sequential Tasks | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Intelligence is our ability to learn appropriate responses to new stimuli and situations. Neurons in association cortex are thought to be essential for this ability. During learning these neurons become tuned to relevant features and start to represent them with persistent activity during memory delays. This learning process is not well understood. Here we develop a biologically plausible learning scheme that explains how trial-and-error learning induces neuronal selectivity and working memory representations for task-relevant information. We propose that the response selection stage sends attentional feedback signals to earlier processing levels, forming synaptic tags at those connections responsible for the stimulus-response mapping. Globally released neuromodulators then interact with tagged synapses to determine their plasticity. The resulting learning rule endows neural networks with the capacity to create new working memory representations of task relevant information as persistent activity. It is remarkably generic: it explains how association neurons learn to store task-relevant information for linear as well as non-linear stimulus-response mappings, how they become tuned to category boundaries or analog variables, depending on the task demands, and how they learn to integrate probabilistic evidence for perceptual decisions.

Via Ashish Umre
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CNS Spectrums: Love and Attachment: The Psychobiology of Social Bonding

CNS Spectrums: Love and Attachment: The Psychobiology of Social Bonding | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
CNS Spectrums: Bridging the clinical information needs of psychiatrists and neurologists. Featuring content on: addictive disorders, anxiety disorders, ADHD, autism, bipolar, eating disorders, neurological disorders.
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Cocktail Party Physics: all you need is....

Cocktail Party Physics: all you need is.... | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
It's Valentine's Day again, which means it's time for various media outlets to turn an analytical science-y eye on that most magical-seeming human emotion: love. The inevitable tension is best captured in the romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, where various...
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UChicago neuroscience experts to give TED-style talks on latest breakthroughs | UChicago News

UChicago neuroscience experts to give TED-style talks on latest breakthroughs | UChicago News | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
What treatments are on the horizon for people with brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia? Might people with tetraplegia or lost limbs ever touch, feel or manipulate objects again? Why do you sometimes choke under pressure even when you’re well prepared for a tough exam, big game or important speech? Why would a free rat help a trapped fellow rat rather than devour a piece of proffered chocolate?

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John Maunsell appointed director of Grossman Institute
These questions and more will be answered by University of Chicago neuroscience experts during “Brain Teasers: Cracking the Mind’s Toughest Riddles,” the latest installment of the UChicago Discovery Series, a public speaker series at the University of Chicago that features the latest research from the University as well as talks and discussions of major scientific advances.
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The dark side of cosmology: Dark matter and dark energy

A simple model with only six parameters (the age of the universe, the density of atoms, the density of matter, the amplitude of the initial fluctuations, the scale dependence of this amplitude, and the epoch of first star formation) fits all of our cosmological data . Although simple, this standard model is strange. The model implies that most of the matter in our Galaxy is in the form of “dark matter,” a new type of particle not yet detected in the laboratory, and most of the energy in the universe is in the form of “dark energy,” energy associated with empty space. Both dark matter and dark energy require extensions to our current understanding of particle physics or point toward a breakdown of general relativity on cosmological scales.


The dark side of cosmology: Dark matter and dark energy
David N. Spergel

Science 6 March 2015:
Vol. 347 no. 6226 pp. 1100-1102
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa0980


Via Complexity Digest
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The Fantastic Array of Neuroplasticity Mechanisms

The Fantastic Array of Neuroplasticity Mechanisms | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

"...Neuroplasticity, triggered by mental events, occurs in large circuits connected through many brain regions. In milliseconds, each region simultaneously uses many different neuroplasticity mechanisms. Different types of learning utilize different brain connections and very different neuroplasticity circuits and mechanisms.

 

The same neuron that is part of one circuit, can be part of a different circuit a millisecond later, using different synapses from the 10,000 available to that one cell. Each synapse can be part of different neuroplasticity circuits with varied mechanisms.

 

Neuroplasticity takes charge in situations where one type of sensory input or motor function is altered. What is the force that demands that other regions of the brain change their focus in order to be used for another purpose? What is the force and where is the direction for the woman without a cerebellum to use other brain regions as if they were a cerebellum?

 

Where is the center of this neuroplasticity activity? Where is the direction for these far-flung mechanisms in wide circuits all through out the brain? Thus far no brain region has been found to bring all of this activity together. Is this coordinating function the mind interacting with the brain?"

[click on the title for the full article]

 

 


Via Dimitris Tsantaris
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The origins of polarized nervous systems

The origins of polarized nervous systems | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
(Phys.org)—There is no mistaking the first action potential you ever fired. It was the one that blocked all the other sperm from stealing your egg. After that, your spikes only got more interesting.
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The unsexy truth about dopamine

The unsexy truth about dopamine | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Dopamine might be the media's neurotransmitter of choice for scare stories about addiction, but the reality is rather more nuanced, writes Vaughan Bell
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Focusing on Faces | Caltech

Focusing on Faces | Caltech | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A group of researchers led by Caltech neuroscientist Ralph Adolphs has made the first recordings of the firings of single neurons in the brains of autistic individuals, and has found specific neurons in a region called the amygdala that show reduced processing of the eye region of faces.
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Vision and Light-Induced Molecular Changes

Vision and Light-Induced Molecular Changes | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The eyes receive the light and contain the molecules that undergo a chemical change upon absorbing light, but it is the brain that actually makes sense of the visual information to create an image. Hence, the visual process requires the intricate coordination of the eyes and the brain. How do these organs work together in order to allow us to see the light-reflecting objects around us as a visual image?
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Helmet add-ons may not lower concussion risk in athletes

Helmet add-ons may not lower concussion risk in athletes | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Football helmet add-ons such as outer soft-shell layers, spray treatments, helmet pads and fiber sheets may not significantly help lower the risk of concussions in athletes, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American...
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Study Challenges Theory on Unconscious Memory System in the Brain

Study Challenges Theory on Unconscious Memory System in the Brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
New research using EEG technology explores the role the hippocampus plays in unconscious memory.
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