Neuroscience

Bacon and Eggs are delicious. And most people probably wouldn't mind having more of both in their diets for that reason alone. Pregnant women, however, may have a real reason to eat bacon and eggs: research published in the January 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal shows that choline, found in pork as well as chicken eggs, plays a critical role in helping fetal brains develop regions associated with memory. 
Many illusions are like spherically curved space. Below on the left (fig. 1 ) is a geometrical illusion, and on the right is a ball with some great arcs drawn on it.

Notice the similarities: the distortions in the illusion are qualitatively similar to the non-Euclidean nature of the contours on the ball.

Why? Is there something in perception that’s like curved space?

figure 1

The potentially damaging effects of marijuana on young brains may be even worse than previously thought, according to new research conducted by scientists from McGill University. Their new study, published in Neurobiology of Disease, suggests that teenagers who consume marijuana daily face a higher risk of depression and anxiety, and may suffer irreversible neurological effects.

"We wanted to know what happens in the brains of teenagers when they use cannabis and whether they are more susceptible to its neurological effects than adults," explained McGill University researcher Gabriella Gobbi.
Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant and author of the recent book Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind (Free Press). You may have heard of him. For example, most people first became aware of the existence of Iceland upon hearing that Tammet learned Icelandic in a week.

This is also the fellow that rattled off the first 22,514 digits of pi in five hours, enough for even the most exacting civil engineer, and far more accurate than the 19th century Texas town that passed an ordinance that pi would be approximated as 4. If ever there were a real human with superpowers, then Tammet fits the bill. Although stricken with adversity, his brain nevertheless is in certain respects blessed with something extra, smarter, almost magical.
In 1989, the Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov easily defeated the computer Deep Thought (name drawn from the Douglas Adams book). In 1997 Deep Blue kicked his ass, spawning accusations of cheating (which IBM denied). In a million-dollar rematch in 2003, Kasparov fought Deep Junior to a draw.

If, as Marcel Duchamp said, chess has “all the beauty of art and more,” do Kasparov’s break-even results mean that computers have drawn abreast of human creation, soon to overtake our brain’s ability to interpret, create and learn?

Researchers and developers of Artificial Intelligence say yes—yes, it does. Soon, they say, humans will be at best slaves and more likely relegated to distant, digitally archived memory (for better or for worse).
The next time you have a little too much to drink and need to sober up, researchers say you should avoid caffeine because it doesn't counter the effects of alcohol intoxication and may lead to some less than brilliant choices, like driving.

The reason? People who consume caffeine and alcohol are likely to feel awake and competent and may have a harder time recognizing that they're drunk as a result.
Our ability to learn new information and retain lifelong memories appears to lie in the minute junctions where nerve cells communicate, according to a new study conducted by NYU Langone Medicine Center researchers and published online this week in the journal Nature.

The scientists, led by Wen-Biao Gan, PhD, associate professor of physiology and neuroscience at NYU School of Medicine, discovered that a delicate balancing act occurs in the brain where neuronal connections are continually being formed, eliminated, and maintained. This feat allows the brain to integrate new information without jeopardizing already established memories.

Our neurological structures are made mainly for survival; curiosity (a main tool for living) and its satisfaction are deeply inserted, by evolutionary genetics, into our central nervous system because of the need to find solutions to make sure survival. You can react in a rush moment like you never thought before, in order of the life maintenance, and until later think about the efficacy of your instinctive reaction. So our brain works to find solutions to the daily challenges of life, like most of the living species do so.


 According to a new study soon to appear in NeuroImage, active cocaine abusers were, on average, able to suppress activity in brain regions linked to drug cravings when asked to inhibit their response to a "cocaine-cues" video.

The findings suggest that clinical interventions designed to strengthen these inhibitory responses could help cocaine abusers stop using drugs and avoid relapse.

Scientists used a brain-scanning technique called positron emission tomography (PET) and a radioactively "tagged" form of glucose — the brain's main fuel — to measure brain activity in 24 active cocaine abusers during three different conditions: 1) while subjects simply lay
Around 5% of people are claustrophobic, fearing tight spaces and restricted movements. One of the major sources of fear by claustrophobics is the fear of suffocating. As it turns out, suffocating is downright terrifying all by itself, and it's not just the overall fear of death kicking in: according to new research published in Cell, increases in CO2 can actually induce fear via pH levels in our brains.