Tag Archives | Neurology

Scientists Create Artificial Brain With 12-Second Memory

Petri-dish-brain-650The saddest thought ever: if you say ‘I love you’ to the tiny Cheerio-shaped brain in a petri dish, twelve seconds later it won’t remember. PopSci reports:

The technicolor ring is an artificial microbrain, derived from rat brain cells–just 40 to 60 neurons in total–that is capable of about 12 seconds of short-term memory.

Developed by a team at the University of Pittsburgh, the brain was created in an attempt to artificially nurture a working brain into existence so that researchers could study neural networks and how our brains transmit electrical signals and store data so efficiently. The did so by attaching a layer of proteins to a silicon disk and adding brain cells from embryonic rats that attached themselves to the proteins and grew to connect with one another in the ring.

But as if the growing of a tiny, functioning, donut-shaped brain in a petri dish wasn’t enough, the team found that when they stimulate the neurons with electricity, the pulse would circulate the microbrain for a full 12 seconds.

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Brain Scans Show Apple Products Triggering The Same Parts Of The Brain As Religion

1816630067_c70cddc78fGo figure — scans taken when Apple devotees were shown the company’s logo and products demonstrate that we literally worship our favorite brands. Digital Trends writes:

UK neuroscientists suggest that the brains of Apple devotees are stimulated by Apple imagery in the same way that the brains of religious people are stimulated by religious imagery.

Alex Riley contacted the editor of World of Apple, Alex Brooks, an Apple worshipper who claims to think about Apple 24 hours a day, which is possibly 23 hours too many for most regular people. A team of neuroscientists studied Brooks’ brain while undergoing an MRI scan, to see how it reacted to images of Apple products and (heaven forbid) non-Apple products.

According to the neuroscientists, the scan revealed that there were marked differences in Brooks’ reactions to the different products. Previously, the scientists had studied the brains of those of religious faith, and they found that, as Riley puts it: “The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks'] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith.”

This suggests that the big tech brands have harnessed, or exploit, the brain areas that have evolved to process religion,” one of the scientists says.

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Woman Awakens From Surgery With British Accent

110501_karen_butlerAnother baffling case as foreign accent syndrome (an actual medical condition) strikes again. When will a cure emerge? I prescribe being wrapped tightly in an American flag for two days, followed by 10 cc’s of apple pie. Spokane, WA’s Spokesman-Review reports:

Over the next few days, the swelling subsided and the pain vanished, but Butler’s newly acquired accent did not. Though it has softened over time, she’s never again spoken like a native Oregonian from Madras. To most people, she sounds British.

It took months to find an explanation: foreign accent syndrome, a disorder so rare that only about 60 cases have been documented worldwide since the early 1900s.

Foreign accent syndrome is usually caused by a stroke, though it also has been associated with multiple sclerosis, head injuries and migraines.

One of the first cases was reported at the turn of the last century by a French neurologist. But the best known case, documented by Norwegian neurologist Georg Herman Monrad-Krohn, was a 30-year-old woman who was hit by shrapnel from a German air raid over Oslo in 1941.

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Brain Development May Begin With Faulty Wiring

Photo: Ranveig

Via Live Science:

Very early in life, neurons in the brain begin forming connections with one another. But it turns out that during normal development, a startling number can link up to the wrong cells and must be pushed back in the right direction, according to a new study on baby mice.

The finding, detailed Feb. 8 in the journal PLoS Biology, could shed light on brain disorders such as autism, according to one researcher. Mice are often used as a model for human biology, and the researchers think a similar phenomenon occurs in humans.

An international research team made their discovery by observing the development of the cerebellum – a region of the brain responsible for motor control and also linked with attention, language and emotion in humans. During the first three weeks after a mouse is born, the neurons of the cerebellum connect to one another by forming synapses.

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Brain Scan Can Tell If A Smoker Will Quit

If your New Years resolution is to quit smoking every year, there may be scientific proof as to why you never seem to be able to follow through with it. Or you can keep telling yourself, “I’ll quit tomorrow.” The Vancouver Sun reports:

U.S. researchers have found a way to predict how successful a smoker will be at quitting by using an MRI scan to look for activity in a region of the brain associated with behaviour change.

The scans were performed on 28 heavy smokers who had joined an anti-smoking program, according to the study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Health Psychology.

Participants were asked to watch a series of commercials about quitting smoking while a magnetic resonance imaging machine scanned their brains for activity.

[Continues at The Vancouver Sun]

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Did Literacy Steal Brain Power From Other Functions?

Warning: Reading this may cause parts of your brain to become powerless. From Ars Technica:

The human brain contains many regions that are specialized for processing specific decisions and sensory inputs. Many of these are shared with our fellow mammals (and, in some cases, all vertebrates), suggesting that they are evolutionarily ancient specializations. But innovations like writing have only been around for a few thousand years, a time span that’s too short relative to human generations to allow for this sort of large evolutionary change. In the absence of specialized capabilities, how has it become possible for such large portions of the population to become literate?

The authors of a paper that will be released by Science today suggest two possible alternatives to explain this widespread literacy. Either reading is similar enough to something that our brains could already do that it’s processed by existing structures, or literacy has “stolen” areas of the brain that used to be involved in other functions.

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