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Posts Tagged ‘video’

Do older adults benefit from videogames?

Brain training games claim to boost your mental skills. But while practicing a game might make you better at it, research in young people has shown it doesn’t improve how well you perform other cognitive tasks in everyday life. Now a new study suggests the case may be different for adults above the age of 60. Researchers at the University of California have designed a driving game called NeuroRacer. In this Nature Video, we see how the game can improve an older player’s short-term memory and attention, skills which decline with age.

Read the original research paper here:http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12486 (from Nature)

LOL cats and Neuroscience?

31/01/2013 1 comment

I never expected to see this. Using LOL cats to describe a new study? The result is surprisingly good. Maybe I’m slightly biased because I love cats.

Here’s the abstract of the newly published (31/01) Nature paper in case you want to learn more:

Stroking of the skin produces pleasant sensations that can occur during social interactions with conspecifics, such as grooming1. Despite numerous physiological studies (reviewed in ref. 2), molecularly defined sensory neurons that detect pleasant stroking of hairy skin3, 4 in vivo have not been reported. Previously, we identified a rare population of unmyelinated sensory neurons in mice that express the G-protein-coupled receptor MRGPRB4 (refs 5, 6). These neurons exclusively innervate hairy skin with large terminal arborizations7 that resemble the receptive fields of C-tactile (CT) afferents in humans8. Unlike other molecularly defined mechanosensory C-fibre subtypes9, 10, MRGPRB4+ neurons could not be detectably activated by sensory stimulation of the skin ex vivo. Therefore, we developed a preparation for calcium imaging in the spinal projections of these neurons during stimulation of the periphery in intact mice. Here we show that MRGPRB4+ neurons are activated by massage-like stroking of hairy skin, but not by noxious punctate mechanical stimulation. By contrast, a different population of C fibres expressing MRGPRD11 was activated by pinching but not by stroking, consistent with previous physiological and behavioural data10, 12. Pharmacogenetic activation of Mrgprb4-expressing neurons in freely behaving mice promoted conditioned place preference13, indicating that such activation is positively reinforcing and/or anxiolytic. These data open the way to understanding the function of MRGPRB4 neurons during natural behaviours, and provide a general approach to the functional characterization of genetically identified subsets of somatosensory neurons in vivo.

You can read the paper here (paywall alert).

PS: LOL cats seem to be popular in academia lately. Remember the LOLcat dissertation?

Joshua Walters: On being just crazy enough

A spectrum approach in mental illness is very appealing and could possibly explain why some disorders are still in the gene pool. Of course, it’s all speculative at this point but very interesting. I will try to write a bit more about this in a future blog post. For now, here is a relevant TED talk by Joshua Walters, a comedian diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Maybe no one’s really crazy. Everyone is just a little bit mad. How much depends on where you fall in the spectrum. How much depends on how lucky you are.” (Joshua Walters)

 

 

Ode To The Brain

03/12/2011 1 comment

The Symphony of Science is a musical project of John D Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. The project owes its existence in large measure to the classic PBS Series Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals. Continuation of the videos relies on generous support from fans and followers.

Read more about the project here.

Here’s one of my favourites, “Ode To The Brain”.

Your brain on improv

08/01/2011 3 comments

Charles Limb is a surgeon and musician who is investigating the neural correlates of musical creativity. You might remember his very cool fMRI study of jazz improvisation. You can read it here. He talks about this and other projects he’s working on in his recent TED talk. We need more studies like these!

The “Singing” Mouse?

22/12/2010 1 comment

A tweeting mouse?

A Japanese group led by Arikuni Uchimura managed to create a genetically-engineered mouse that tweets like a bird! The “singing” mouse is part of the team’s “Evolved Mouse Project”, in which they use genetically modified mice that are prone to mutations.

The “singing” mouse was born by chance but this particular trait will be passed on to future generations. Uchimura who dreams of creating a real life version of Mickey Mouse (!) hopes that this creation could provide clues on how human language evolved…

You can hear the talented animal here. Sounds a bit like squeaking to be honest…

Moreover, a case of a “singing” mouse was reported much earlier – in 1936. You can read the Times article here. More recently, another group had identified patterns of singing in male mice. You can read the article here.

Decoding Mental States

Internet is a wonderful place.. During a google search, I came across these very interesting videos on information-based analysis and decoding mental states and processes:




Decoding mental states from human brain activity

John-Dylan Haynes




Overview of decoding of mental states and processes

Tom Mitchell




Exploring human object-vision with hi-res fMRI and information-based analysis

Nikolaus Kriegeskorte

The riddle of experience vs. memory: Daniel Kahneman Talk (TED)

Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness. (Recorded at TED2010, February 2010 in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 20:07) from TED

Rebecca Saxe: “How we read each other’s minds”

07/02/2010 1 comment

Rebecca Saxe is a neuroscientist at MIT. If you want to know more about her work, visit the page of her lab. There’s also a list of her publications in pdf format.

Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples’ thoughts — and judges their actions.
(from TED)

Uta Frith: “Autism and Theory of Mind” (Talk)

19/01/2010 1 comment

Here’s a very interesting talk by Uta Frith, one of the pioneers in autism research:

A few relevant ASD studies:

Baron-Cohen, S, Leslie, A.M., & Frith, U, (1985) Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind?” Cognition, 21, 37-46. (pdf)

Frith, U. & Frith, U (2010). The social brain: allowing humans to boldly go where no other species has been. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2010, 365, 165-176 (pdf)

Fletcher, P. C., Happé, F., Frith, U., Baker, S. C., Dolan, R. J., Frackowiak, R. S., and Frith, C. D. (1995). Other minds in the brain: a functional imaging study of “theory of mind” in story comprehension. Cognition, 57(2):109-128.

Castelli, F., Frith, C., Happe, F., and Frith, U. (2002). Autism, asperger syndrome and brain mechanisms for the attribution of mental states to animated shapes. Brain, 125(8):1839-1849.

Gilbert, S. J., Bird, G., Brindley, R., Frith, C. D., and Burgess, P. W. (2008). Atypical recruitment of medial prefrontal cortex in autism spectrum disorders: An fmri study of two executive function tasks. Neuropsychologia, 46(9):2281-2291.

White, S., Hill, E., Happé, F. 7 Frith, U. (2009) The Strange Stories: Revealing Mentalizing Impairments in Autism. Child Development, vol 80(4), 1097-1117 ‎

Bird, G., Catmur, C., Silani, G., Frith, C., and Frith, U. (2006). Attention does not modulate neural responses to social stimuli in autism spectrum disorders. NeuroImage, 31(4):1614-1624.

Channon, S. (2004). Frontal lobe dysfunction and everyday problem-solving: Social and non-social contributions. Acta Psychologica, 115(2-3):235-254.

Silani, G., Bird, G., Brindley, R., Singer, T., Frith, C., Frith, U. (2008) Levels of emotional awareness and autism: an fMRI study, Social Neuroscience, 3(2), 97-112‎

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