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— Science

New study suggests aging has little impact on brain function

By - March 9, 2015 1 Picture
When we get older, communication between neurons slows down and certain regions of the brain see reduced function. At least, that's the current understanding. But a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit shows that the difference between older brains and younger ones may not be so great. The researchers demonstrated that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is commonly used to study brain activity, is susceptible to signal noise from changing vascular (blood vessel) activity. Read More
— Science

A good book can change your life ... and your brain

By - January 5, 2014 2 Pictures
Stories, whether fact or fiction, are at the heart of human culture. A strong narrative can resonate with your personality and experiences, and help set a framework for your future. "That book changed my life" is a cherished maxim. So can a book change your brain too? A recent study led by Emory University's Gregory Berns has demonstrated that reading a novel produces physical changes in the brain similar to those that would result from living as one or more of the characters. Read More
— Science

Maps provide "most detailed look ever" at how the brain organizes visual information

By - December 27, 2012 2 Pictures
How does our brain organize the visual information that our eyes capture? Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, used computational models of brain imaging data to answer this question and arrived at what they call “continuous semantic space” – a notion which serves as the basis for the first interactive maps showing how the brain categorizes what we see. Read More
— Science

Real-time, brain-scanning speller gives the silent a voice

By - June 29, 2012 1 Picture
Researchers at Maastricht University in The Netherlands have developed a device that gives a voice to those who are completely unable to speak or move at all. Building on previous work using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) technology, which allowed individuals to give yes/no responses or answer multiple-choice questions, the new approach allows for full, unscripted back-and-forth conversations. Read More
— Science

Matrix-style instant learning could be one step closer

By - December 14, 2011 1 Picture
How would you like to have the ability to play the piano downloaded into your brain? You might not end up with the same sense of achievement, but it sure would be a lot quicker and easier than years of lessons and practicing. Well, we're not there yet (and perhaps we never should be), but that sort of scenario is now a little closer to reality, thanks to research conducted at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Love as pain relief

By - March 1, 2011 1 Picture
As science continues to unravel the mysteries of ourselves and the world around us at a furious pace, it can sometimes feel like the boffins are proving things that many of us feel we already know or take for granted. This interesting example comes from the Stanford University School of Medicine, where scientists have found that intense feelings of love are as effective at relieving pain as painkillers or even illicit drugs. Read More
— Good Thinking

If you want to solve a problem - forget about it

By - May 14, 2009 3 Pictures
If you think letting your mind wander is unproductive then you may be in for a big surprise. A recent study at the University of British Columbia found that our brains are much more active when we daydream than previously thought. What is surprising is that the study also found that brain areas associated with complex problem-solving – previously thought to go dormant when we daydream – are actually more active than when we focus on routine tasks. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

The most insidious invention in history?

By - February 15, 2009 1 Picture
Further irrefutable proof that the slot machine is one of the most insidious inventions in history came from the 800 year old University of Cambridge this week. Researchers used fMRI brain-imaging to find that near misses (two identical fruits on the pay line and another just above or below) activate the same reward pathways in a gambler's brain as a win. What's more, slot machine manufacturers seem aware of this, as machines are programmed to deliver near misses almost one in three, enticing losers to keep gambling. Hardly seems fair does it? Read More
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