||Last Updated: Nov 17th, 2006 - 22:35:04
Mice learn set shifting tasks to help treat human psychiatric disorders
Mice that couldn't be dissuaded from the object of their attention by a piece of sweet, crunchy cereal may help researchers find new treatments and cures for human disorders like autism and Parkinson's disease. For the first time, a psychiatric test for monitoring many human mental abnormalities has been adapted for use in mice, according to researchers at Purdue University, University of California-Davis and Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. The test involves the ability to switch attention from one task to another, a skill often impaired in people with autism and similar illnesses.
Aug 2, 2006, 11:48
Broca's area also organizes behavioral hierarchies
Researchers have discovered that Broca's area in the brain--best known as the region that evolved to manage speech production--is a major "executive" center in the brain for organizing hierarchies of behaviors. Such planning ability, from cooking a meal to organizing a space mission, is considered one of the hallmarks of human intelligence. The researchers found that Broca's area--which lies on the left side of the brain about in the temple region--and its counterpart on the right side activate when people are asked to organize plans of action. They said their finding of the general executive function of Broca's area could explain its key role in language production. Importantly, the researchers found that this executive function of these cortical regions was distinct from the organization of temporal sequences of actions.
Jun 15, 2006, 12:03
Erotic images elicit strong response from brain
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis measured brainwave activity of 264 women as they viewed a series of 55 color slides that contained various scenes from water skiers to snarling dogs to partially-clad couples in sensual poses.
Jun 15, 2006, 11:36
Prosopagnosia may affect 2 percent of population
Researchers at Harvard University and University College London have developed diagnostic tests for prosopagnosia, a socially disabling inability to recognize or distinguish faces. They've already used the new test and a related web site (www.faceblind.org) to identify hundreds of "face-blind" individuals, far more than scientists had identified previously.
Jun 1, 2006, 12:47
Nerve cells in brain decide between apples and oranges
When you are in the supermarket pondering over whether to buy apples or oranges a special group of nerve cells in the brain is at work categorising the fruit according to their value, a study conducted at the Harvard Medical School in Boston showed.
May 11, 2006, 13:37
How Visual Stimulation Turns Up Bdnf Genes to Shape the Brain
Scientists have long known that brains need neural activity to mature and that sensory input is most important during a specific window of time called the "critical period" when the brain is primed for aggressive learning. Vision, hearing and touch all develop during such critical periods, while other senses, such as the olfactory system, maintain lifelong plasticity.
May 7, 2006, 15:37
Humans perceive more than they think they do
Faces tell the stories in UC Riverside Professor Larry Rosenblum's ecological listening lab, as volunteer test subjects show that they can "read" unheard speech -- not just from lips, but from the simple movements of dots placed on lips, teeth and tongue. They can also recognize people's voices just from seeing their faces, and vice versa, and seem to be able to distinguish among a variety of rooms on campus just from their echoes.
Apr 15, 2006, 18:22
Specific Mechanisms May Not Exist For Facial Recognition
Although the human brain is skilled at facial recognition and discrimination, new research from Georgetown University Medical Center suggests that the brain may not have developed a specific ability for “understanding faces” but instead uses the same kind of pattern recognition techniques to distinguish between people as it uses to search for differences between other groups of objects, such as plants, animals and cars.
Apr 7, 2006, 03:59
Scent of fear impacts cognitive performance
The chemical warning signals produced by fear improve cognitive performance, according to a study at Rice University in Houston.
Apr 3, 2006, 06:50
Older people with stronger cognitive skills walk at a safer pace
Psychologists wanting to help old people safely cross the street and otherwise ambulate around this busy world have found that from age 70 and up, safe walking may require solid "executive control" (which includes attention) and memory skills. For the old, slow gait is a significant risk factor for falls, many of which result in disabling fractures, loss of independence or even death. The finding may help explain why cognitive problems in old age, including dementia, are associated with falls. Cognitive tests could help doctors assess risk for falls; conversely, slow gait could alert them to check for cognitive impairment. The findings are in the March issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Mar 27, 2006, 16:39
How the brain makes a whole out of parts
When a human looks at a number, letter or other shape, neurons in various areas of the brain's visual center respond to different components of that shape, almost instantaneously fitting them together like a puzzle to create an image that the individual then "sees" and understands, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University report.
Jan 19, 2006, 17:57
Link in brain between sight and sound perception
Just imagine listening to someone talk and also hearing the buzz of the overhead lights, the hum of your computer and the muffled conversation down the hallway. To focus on the person speaking to you, your brain clearly can't give equal weight to all incoming sensory information. It has to attend to what is important and ignore the rest.
Jan 19, 2006, 15:57
The cognitive cost of being a twin
Social and economic circumstances do not explain why twins have significantly lower IQ in childhood than single-born children, according to a study in this week's BMJ.
Nov 21, 2005, 20:15
Researchers Identified Fear Factor Protein
Researchers have identified a fear factor - a protein the brain uses to generate one of the most powerful emotions in humans and animals. The molecule is essential for triggering both the innate fears that animals are born with - such as the shadow of an approaching predator - as well as fears that arise later in life due to individual experiences. Eliminating the gene that encodes this factor makes a fearful mouse courageous. The finding, the researchers say, suggests new approaches for drugs designed to treat conditions such as phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety.
Nov 19, 2005, 15:13
We do not feel with our sensory cortices
Perceiving a simple touch may depend as much on memory, attention, and expectation as on the stimulus itself, according to new research from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholar Ranulfo Romo and his colleague Victor de Lafuente. The scientists found that monkeys' perceptions of touch match brain activity in the frontal lobe, an area that assimilates many types of neural information.
Nov 8, 2005, 21:43
Choice Blindness Experiment Sheds More Light On Decision Making Processes
When evaluating facial attractiveness, participants may fail to notice a radical change to the outcome of their choice, according to a study by researchers at Lund University, Sweden, and New York University. Equally surprising, the study shows that participants may produce confabulatory reports when asked to describe the reasons behind their choices.
Oct 9, 2005, 00:17
Male and female voices affect brain differently
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have explained the differences in the way the male brain interprets male and female voices, explaining why people who hallucinate and hear false voices almost always hear a man. It also sheds new light on the way the brain processes voices to produce an `auditory face´ that allows people to determine aspects of someone´s physical appearance based solely on the way they sound.
Sep 4, 2005, 09:23
Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to slower cognitive reaction times and poorer attention
Decades of research have left little doubt that prenatal alcohol exposure has adverse effects on intellectual and neurobehavioral development. A recent study of the effects of moderate to heavy prenatal alcohol exposure on cognitive function confirms earlier findings of slower processing speed and efficiency, particularly when cognitive tasks involve working memory. Results are published in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Aug 15, 2005, 20:39
Brain networks change according to cognitive task
Using a newly released method to analyze functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Northwestern University researchers have demonstrated that the interconnections between different parts of the brain are dynamic and not static. This and other findings answer longstanding debates about how brain networks operate to solve different cognitive tasks. They are presented in the current (June 1) issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
Jun 2, 2005, 16:10
Different styles of mother-infant interaction affect different aspects of infant cognition
Although the quality of mother-child interaction and its effect on general IQ and later schooling is a widely researched topic, it has never been studied using the same infants over a period of time across several cognitive domains.
Apr 8, 2005, 04:16
Different paths lead to similar Cognitive Abilities
Despite the divergent evolutionary paths of dolphins and primates -- and their vastly different brains -- both have developed similar high-level cognitive abilities, says Emory University neuroscientist and behavioral biologist Lori Marino.
Apr 6, 2005, 19:11
New Research into Human Ability to recognize Faces
Recognizing faces is effortless for most people, and it's an ability that provides great evolutionary and social advantages. But this ability is impaired in people who have suffered brain damage or in those with a rare congenital condition, and research by Carnegie Mellon University psychologists reveals startling insights into how the brains of those individuals operate.
Apr 5, 2005, 17:39