Neuroscience

We've all had an Asian person say, 'All you Americans look alike' - but they aren't being racist, there may be some biology at work.

The brain works differently when memorizing the face of a person from one's own race, according to a study which used EEG recordings to measure brain activity and which may shed light on one of the most replicated psychology findings - that people are less likely to remember a face from a racial group different from their own.
How easy is it to falsify memory?  Perhaps as easy as a little bit of social pressure, according to research at the Weizmann Institute.

In a forthcoming Science study, they show a unique pattern of brain activity when false memories are formed – one that hints at a surprising connection between our social selves and memory.

The experiment took place in four stages. In the first, volunteers watched a documentary film in small groups. Three days later, they returned to the lab individually to take a memory test, answering questions about the film. They were also asked how confident they were in their answers. 
In the immortal Richard Donner classic "Scrooged", the following exchange takes place between Frank, the president of the network, and his boss, Preston:

Preston: Do you know how many cats there are in this country?
Frank: No, ummmm...I don't have...no.
Preston: Twenty-seven million. Do you know how many dogs?
Frank: ...in America?
Preston:  Forty-eight million. We spend four billion on pet food alone.
Frank: Four...?!
Songbirds have been used in the past to examine the precursor functions to human language in our neural circuitry, but they may be capable of much more than being animal models. 

A new study shows the Bengalese finch (Lonchura striata var. domestica) can learn the rules of an artificial grammar system - hierarchical language structure has been previously thought to be specific only to humans.
It's rare that you will find me arguing for gender quotas.   Obviously I am not for discrimination but, at least in science, mandating representation - which is discrimination against the qualified in the interests of sex organs - does not lead to better science, it leads to equality at the expense of excellence.

Economics, however, is not science and some mandated equality might help.  Science says so.
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and Helsinki University are reporting that DCDC2, a gene linked to dyslexia, has a surprising biological function: it controls cilia, the antenna-like projections that cells use to communicate. 
Phantom Words

Phantom Words

Jun 20 2011 | 2 comment(s)

Diana Deutsch, professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego (see webpage), is well-known for her work on perception and memory for sounds. She has discovered numerous auditory illusions, one of them know as 'phantom words', a sequence of repeating words or phrases that arise simultaneously from different regions of space, which leads listeners to hear words and phrases that are not really there.

It's difficult to know what you are thinking -- or what is happening in your own brain -- as you loose consciousness. There are many instances where this loss might happen, including getting whacked up side the head, inhaling a large volume of non-medically-inspired drugs, or, to the preference of many, falling into a deep sleep during anesthesia before an invasive operation.

Lady Gaga is a marketing-fueled pop music phenomenon.   If you exclude her music, she can do no wrong, and every appearance, even a walk through an airport, is carefully choreographed.   She knows her audience.

But a Little Monster could help create the next Lady Gaga in a more direct way.  A new study suggests that the brain activity of teens while they are listening to new songs may help predict the popularity of those songs.
A cap that literally cools the brain during sleep may be an effective insomnia treatment, according to new research.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that chronic insomnia, symptoms that last for at least a month, affects about 10 percent of adults.  Most often insomnia is a "comorbid" disorder, occurring with another medical illness, mental disorder or sleep disorder, or associated with certain medications or substances. Fewer people with insomnia are considered to have primary insomnia, which is defined as a difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep in the absence of coexisting conditions.