Neuroscience

Brain fatigue

Brain fatigue

Oct 18 2011 | 2 comment(s)

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times entitled

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?


which presents neurological work showing contrary effects in people trying to exercise will power:
more activity in the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s reward center, and a corresponding decrease in the amygdala, which ordinarily helps control impulses.
Glucose levels in the different parts of the brain are implicated here.  This is particularly bad for dieters, because
1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.
With the recent report that iPhone users may literally be in love with their iPhone, it got me thinking.
Why do people spend so much time plugged into their electronic devices and the Internet?

Human beings don't do things repeatedly for no reason. If trained to expect chocolate every time after going on Facebook (FB), then the mere sight of our computer or the FB symbol might having us drooling more than Pavlov's dog. 

But of course there is no chocolate reward for FB so why do tens of millions of people go on FB so often?

I'd wager that it is a case of love.
"[W]ho you are depends on the sum total of your neurobiology." --David Eagleman


Modern neuroscience is making advances in knowledge that our society is not keeping up with, may not be able to keep up with. David Eagleman explores these new inroads in what we know about the brain, the conscious mind, and free will in the interesting (and at times frustrating) Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.

Rhythmic activity of nerve cells supports spatial navigation, say a group of researchers who recently showed that cells in the entorhinal cortex, important for spatial navigation, oscillate with individual frequencies. These frequencies depend on the position of the cells within the entorhinal cortex.

Good news for migraine sufferers.  Your treatment may have gotten a little cheaper.  Exercise is often prescribed as a treatment for migraine, though without sufficient scientific evidence that it really works, but research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg shows that exercise is just as good as drugs at preventing migraines. And so are relaxation techniques.

Laser Worms!

Laser Worms!

Oct 10 2011 | 2 comment(s)

I'm back, after an extended hiatus due to my big move to Chicago to begin grad school.  I’ve been pummeled by work for the past month, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet.
This weekend is the first episode in a three-part "Brain Games" series on the National Geographic channel.  Since National Geographic does not have a show on the 'science' of ghost hunting, and since statistics show 97% of Internet readers never finish an article, if you are not a regular Science 2.0 reader I am okay endorsing this and telling you in the first paragraph you will enjoy it, so you can set your DVR and move on to reading about the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor.   

It's "Second Life"...for monkeys.  And a lot more real.   Scientists have demonstrated a two-way interaction between a primate brain and a virtual body - they learned to employ brain activity alone to move an avatar hand and even identify the texture of virtual objects. 

Musical cartoons can boost verbal intelligence?  We'll hiatus Science 2.0 and start watching "Phineas&Ferb" right now.

Researchers writing in Psychological Science say pre-schoolers improved their skill after only 20 days of classroom instruction using their interactive, music-based cognitive training cartoons.