stufftoblowyourmind:

Decide to watch this video from Julie. Then dive into the science of that decision…

(Source: stufftoblowyourmind.com)

stufftoblowyourmind:

What is consciousness? Can we test for it? And how to we rectify the seemingly disparate realities of physical brain and immaterial mind? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie consider the hard problem of human consciousness and the philosophic warnings of the New Mysterians.

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Neural Pixie Dust (podcast)

Poking Einstein’s Brain (podcast)

This is Your Brain on Meditation (podcast)

Change Your Mind the Hard Way (podcast)

jtotheizzoe:

pbsdigitalstudios:

This week It’s Okay to be Smart and BrainCraft have teamed up to teach us about our brains!

Watch “Why Your Brain Is In Your Head” on Joe’s channel here: http://youtu.be/qdNE4WygyAk

Watch “This Is How Your Brain Grows” on Vanessa’s channel here: http://youtu.be/aucscX191vQ

Check out this week’s It’s Okay To Be Smart!!!

I teamed up with the awesome neuroscience channel BrainCraft this week to bring you two awesome brain stories!! And while you’re at it, enjoy these GIF(t)s!

stufftoblowyourmind:

Step into the information elevator with Holly Frey from History Stuff and learn about proprioception — how your brain knows where your body is and what happens when there’s a kink in the brain circuitry. Hint: Woo-woo stuff.

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I hope that you’ll join me on the elevator and hurl through time and space as we explore themes like atomic collapse and humans smelling humans, all while accompanied by delicious HowStuffWorks staff members. Yes, that’s right. Delicious. - Julie

brainstuffshow:

Remember our article about erasing & restoring memory? Jonathan’s delves further in this week’s Fw: Thinking!

How Amnesia Works

Those movies where someone gets hit on the head and can’t remember who they are anymore? They’re actually not too far off from the reality of amnesia. Learn everything about this bizarre and life-robbing condition with Josh and Chuck in this Stuff You Should Know podcast.

And there’s still time to cast your vote for the SYSK podcast to win a Webby Award! Vote here.

stufftoblowyourmind:

The Shadow People: Do strange shadow people haunt the corners of our existence, or is there a scientific answer within the human brain? Join Robert and guests Ben and Matt of Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know as they discuss the answers.

(Source: stufftoblowyourmind.com)

neurosciencestuff:

New ideas change your brain cells
A new University of British Columbia study identifies an important molecular change that occurs in the brain when we learn and remember.
Published this month in Nature Neuroscience, the research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells in a manner that causes a small fatty acid to attach to delta-catenin, a protein in the brain. This biochemical modification is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning, the study finds.
In animal models, the scientists found almost twice the amount of modified delta-catenin in the brain after learning about new environments. While delta-catenin has previously been linked to learning, this study is the first to describe the protein’s role in the molecular mechanism behind memory formation.
“More work is needed, but this discovery gives us a much better understanding of the tools our brains use to learn and remember, and provides insight into how these processes become disrupted in neurological diseases,” says co-author Shernaz Bamji, an associate professor in UBC’s Life Sciences Institute.
It may also provide an explanation for some mental disabilities, the researchers say. People born without the gene have a severe form of mental retardation called Cri-du-chat syndrome, a rare genetic disorder named for the high-pitched cat-like cry of affected infants. Disruption of the delta-catenin gene has also been observed in some patients with schizophrenia.
“Brain activity can change both the structure of this protein, as well as its function,” says Stefano Brigidi, first author of the article and a PhD candidate Bamji’s laboratory. “When we introduced a mutation that blocked the biochemical modification that occurs in healthy subjects, we abolished the structural changes in brain’s cells that are known to be important for memory formation.”
Background 
According to the researchers, more work is needed to fully establish the importance of delta-catenin in building the brain connectivity behind learning and memory. Disruptions to these nerve cell connections are also believed to cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington disease. Understanding the biochemical processes that are important for maintaining these connections may help address the abnormalities in nerve cells that occur in these disease states.
(Image: Shutterstock)

neurosciencestuff:

New ideas change your brain cells

A new University of British Columbia study identifies an important molecular change that occurs in the brain when we learn and remember.

Published this month in Nature Neuroscience, the research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells in a manner that causes a small fatty acid to attach to delta-catenin, a protein in the brain. This biochemical modification is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning, the study finds.

In animal models, the scientists found almost twice the amount of modified delta-catenin in the brain after learning about new environments. While delta-catenin has previously been linked to learning, this study is the first to describe the protein’s role in the molecular mechanism behind memory formation.

“More work is needed, but this discovery gives us a much better understanding of the tools our brains use to learn and remember, and provides insight into how these processes become disrupted in neurological diseases,” says co-author Shernaz Bamji, an associate professor in UBC’s Life Sciences Institute.

It may also provide an explanation for some mental disabilities, the researchers say. People born without the gene have a severe form of mental retardation called Cri-du-chat syndrome, a rare genetic disorder named for the high-pitched cat-like cry of affected infants. Disruption of the delta-catenin gene has also been observed in some patients with schizophrenia.

“Brain activity can change both the structure of this protein, as well as its function,” says Stefano Brigidi, first author of the article and a PhD candidate Bamji’s laboratory. “When we introduced a mutation that blocked the biochemical modification that occurs in healthy subjects, we abolished the structural changes in brain’s cells that are known to be important for memory formation.”

Background

According to the researchers, more work is needed to fully establish the importance of delta-catenin in building the brain connectivity behind learning and memory. Disruptions to these nerve cell connections are also believed to cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington disease. Understanding the biochemical processes that are important for maintaining these connections may help address the abnormalities in nerve cells that occur in these disease states.

(Image: Shutterstock)

stufftoblowyourmind:

The Night Janitors of the Brain: Do you think other species ever look at humans and raise an eyebrow at the amount of sleep we need? Do cockroaches and eyelash mites leave messages on our foreheads in microscopic Sharpies? Perhaps “I just popped on an apex predator’s head.” We may be the most successful species in existence, but that doesn’t mean sleep is just another one of our “choices” as a human being. It is a necessity for survival, even though it requires immobility and vulnerability. Prepare to meet the night janitors of the human brain.

(Source: stufftoblowyourmind.com)

stufftoblowyourmind:

Fig. 131 - Method of removing the brain after it is severed from the body.

(Source: vtomilk)

neuromorphogenesis:

Your brain sees things you don’t

A doctoral candidate in the UA’s Department of Psychology in the College of Science, Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the white spaces on the outsides. Saguinetti worked with his adviser Mary Peterson, a professor of psychology and director of the UA’s Cognitive Science Program, and with John Allen, a UA Distinguished Professor of psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, to monitor subjects’ brainwaves with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, while they viewed the objects.

"We were asking the question of whether the brain was processing the meaning of the objects that are on the outside of these silhouettes," Sanguinetti said. "The specific question was, ‘Does the brain process those hidden shapes to the level of meaning, even when the subject doesn’t consciously see them?"

The answer, Sanguinetti’s data indicates, is yes.

Study participants’ brainwaves indicated that even if a person never consciously recognized the shapes on the outside of the image, their brains still processed those shapes to the level of understanding their meaning.

"There’s a brain signature for meaningful processing," Sanguinetti said. A peak in the averaged brainwaves called N400 indicates that the brain has recognized an object and associated it with a particular meaning.

"It happens about 400 milliseconds after the image is shown, less than a half a second," said Peterson. "As one looks at brainwaves, they’re undulating above a baseline axis and below that axis. The negative ones below the axis are called N and positive ones above the axis are called P, so N400 means it’s a negative waveform that happens approximately 400 milliseconds after the image is shown."

The presence of the N400 peak indicates that subjects’ brains recognize the meaning of the shapes on the outside of the figure.

"The participants in our experiments don’t see those shapes on the outside; nonetheless, the brain signature tells us that they have processed the meaning of those shapes," said Peterson. "But the brain rejects them as interpretations, and if it rejects the shapes from conscious perception, then you won’t have any awareness of them."

"We also have novel silhouettes as experimental controls," Sanguinetti said. "These are novel black shapes in the middle and nothing meaningful on the outside."

The N400 waveform does not appear on the EEG of subjects when they are seeing truly novel silhouettes, without images of any real-world objects, indicating that the brain does not recognize a meaningful object in the image.

"This is huge," Peterson said. "We have neural evidence that the brain is processing the shape and its meaning of the hidden images in the silhouettes we showed to participants in our study."

The finding leads to the question of why the brain would process the meaning of a shape when a person is ultimately not going to perceive it, Sanguinetti said.

"The traditional opinion in vision research is that this would be wasteful in terms of resources," he explained. "If you’re not going to ultimately see the object on the outside why would the brain waste all these processing resources and process that image up to the level of meaning?"

"Many, many theorists assume that because it takes a lot of energy for brain processing, that the brain is only going to spend time processing what you’re ultimately going to perceive," added Peterson. "But in fact the brain is deciding what you’re going to perceive, and it’s processing all of the information and then it’s determining what’s the best interpretation."

"This is a window into what the brain is doing all the time," Peterson said. "It’s always sifting through a variety of possibilities and finding the best interpretation for what’s out there. And the best interpretation may vary with the situation."

Our brains may have evolved to sift through the barrage of visual input in our eyes and identify those things that are most important for us to consciously perceive, such as a threat or resources such as food, Peterson suggested.

In the future, Peterson and Sanguinetti plan to look for the specific regions in the brain where the processing of meaning occurs.

"We’re trying to look at exactly what brain regions are involved," said Peterson. "The EEG tells us this processing is happening and it tells us when it’s happening, but it doesn’t tell us where it’s occurring in the brain."

"We want to look inside the brain to understand where and how this meaning is processed," said Peterson.

Images were shown to Sanguinetti’s study participants for only 170 milliseconds, yet their brains were able to complete the complex processes necessary to interpret the meaning of the hidden objects.

"There are a lot of processes that happen in the brain to help us interpret all the complexity that hits our eyeballs," Sanguinetti said. "The brain is able to process and interpret this information very quickly."

Sanguinetti’s study indicates that in our everyday life, as we walk down the street, for example, our brains may recognize many meaningful objects in the visual scene, but ultimately we are aware of only a handful of those objects. The brain is working to provide us with the best, most useful possible interpretation of the visual world, Sanguinetti said, an interpretation that does not necessarily include all the information in the visual input.

(Source: uanews.org)