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Brain Experts Now Follow the Money

June 17, 2003

Neuroscientists are developing a new field of study, called neuroeconomics, to provide a theory of how people decide in economic and strategic situations.

To explore economic decision making, researchers are scanning the brains of people as they engage in a variety of games designed by experimental economists.
Some findings:

  • In making short-term predictions, neural systems tap into gut feelings and emotions.
  • The brain relies on
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    Brain ‘entanglement’ could explain memories

    January 13, 2010

    Unique patterns of electrical signals (“coherence potentials”) are “cloned” or spread to neurons in different areas of the brain, National Institute of Mental Health researchers have found.

    They used arrays of electrodes implanted in the brains of two awake macaque monkeys and embedded in dish-grown neuron cultures.

    The purpose of coherence potentials may be to trigger activity in the various parts of the brain that store aspects of… read more

    Brain Enhancement Is Wrong, Right?

    March 10, 2008

    Debates in Nature magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education have focused attention on the ethics of the use of cognitive enhancers.

    Brain electrodes fix depression long term

    January 5, 2012

    Deep depression that fails to respond to any other form of therapy can be moderated or reversed by deep brain stimulation (DBS) of areas deep inside the brain. Now the first placebo-controlled study of this procedure shows that these responses can be maintained in the long term.

    Neurologist Helen Mayberg at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, followed ten patients with major depressive disorder and seven with bipolar disorder, or… read more

    Brain doesn’t need vision to ‘read’ material

    February 23, 2011

    The portion of the brain responsible for visual reading doesn’t require vision at all, according to a new study by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and France.

    Brain imaging studies of blind people as they read words in Braille show activity in precisely the same part of the brain that lights up when sighted readers read. The findings challenge the textbook notion that the brain is divided… read more

    Brain DNA ‘remodeled’ in alcoholism

    April 3, 2008

    University of Illinois at Chicago researchers and colleagues have found that alcoholism changes the DNA scaffolding that supports and controls gene expression in the brain.

    These epigenetic changes (DNA functional changes not caused by sequence changes) relate to how DNA and histones are wound together, and may cause anxiety and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

    Brain Disease Blocker

    August 25, 2004

    Genetics researchers are reporting some exciting progress in the search for a cure for genetic brain-wasting diseases like Huntington’s disease, using RNA interference, a gene therapy.

    Brain Device Moves Objects by Thought

    June 24, 2007

    A new technology developed by Hitachi Inc. could let you control electronic devices simply by reading brain activity.

    The “brain-machine interface” uses optical topography, which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain’s surface to map out changes in blood flow.

    Brain develops motor memory for prosthetics, study finds

    July 22, 2009
    (John Blanchard)

    The brain can establish a stable, neural map of a motor task to make control of an artificial limb more intuitive, University of California, Berkeley researchers have found, offering hope that physically disabled people can one day master control of artificial limbs with greater ease.

    Signals from the brain’s motor cortex were translated by a decoder into deliberate movements of a computer cursor. The task involved moving… read more

    Brain creates ‘new’ nerve cells

    February 15, 2007

    Researchers have discovered a type of brain stem cell that continuously regenerates in humans.

    “Resting cells” migrate to create new nerve cells in the part of the brain that deals with smell.

    Experts said the findings could be important for future research into brain cell repair in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

    Brain could adapt well to cyborg enhancements

    June 23, 2009

    The human brain may be able to include cyborg implants in its representation of the body. When we use tools, our brains incorporate them into the mental body map, researchers at University of Claude Bernard in France have found.

    Brain Coprocessors

    September 23, 2010

    “We are entering a neurotechnology renaissance, in which the toolbox for understanding the brain and engineering its functions is expanding in both scope and power at an unprecedented rate,” says Ed Boyden, an Assistant Professor, Biological Engineering, and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab..

    “Consider a system that reads out activity from a brain circuit, computes a strategy for controlling the circuit so it enters a… read more

    Brain connectivity predicts reading skills

    Children could benefit from personalized lessons based on brain scans
    October 10, 2012


    The growth pattern of long-range connections in the brain predicts how a child’s reading skills will develop, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature News reports.

    Literacy requires the integration of activity in brain areas involved in vision, hearing and language. These areas are distributed throughout the brain, so efficient communication between them is essential for proficient reading.

    Jason Yeatman,… read more

    Brain circuit that controls anxiety levels discovered

    Research could help find better drugs to treat anxiety.
    August 23, 2013

    The tips of long neuronal extensions from the amygdala (green) contact neurons of the hippocampus (blue). This communication pathway helps to modulate anxiety. (Credit: Ada Felix-Ortiz)

    Researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory  have discovered a communication pathway between two brain structures — the amygdala and the ventral hippocampus — that appears to control anxiety levels.

    By turning the volume of this communication up and down in mice, the researchers were able to boost and reduce anxiety levels. The research could help find better drugs to treat… read more

    Brain chemical helps us tolerate foul play

    June 6, 2008

    University of Cambridge researchers have found that decreased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin increases emotional response to a perceived unjust or unfair situation.

    Volunteers who had their serotonin levels temporarily lowered were much more likely to reject unfair offers in the Ultimatum Game (one player divides the money, the other decides to reject or accept the money for both players). A less emotional response would accept something rather than… read more

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