A decision is a fact of life. Both the good and the bad, the wrong and the right, one seemingly unjust turn waiting to happen amid the uncertain crossroads of life. Lets be honest, making a decision will always provide the answer, that is the ideal outcome, nothing goes wrong, everything is perfect, happily ever after. On the contrary, there is the undesirable result, which you would rather keep trapped in a cage and have thrown into a river in order to prevent ‘it’ from ruining your party. Now with making a decision comes the possibility for his arch-nemesis “regret” to appear in the equation. Lets look at it this way, if your friend ‘decision’ calls and asks if you want to see this movie which you assume is going to be terrible, you’d probably say “No,” thereby rejecting ‘decision.’ A week later ‘regret’ sends you a letter saying ‘decision’ went to the movie that day, saw your partner, they both hit it off, ‘decision’ slept with them, and now your partner never wants to see you again. See why you should have gone to the movie! That my friends is exactly, to a tee, the comic strip you will see when you look up decision in the dictionary. More
Researchers have developed a technique that reconstructs the words patients are thinking of that could help locked-in or comatose patients communicate.
A newly developed computer model reconstructs the sounds of words that patients think of. Over the past few years, scientists have been coming closer to being able to listen in to our thoughts. This study achieved that goal by implanting electrodes directly into patients’ brains. In an earlier 2011 study, test subjects with electrodes in their brains were able to move a cursor around a screen just by thinking of different vowel sounds. Another study, conducted in September of that year by Jack Gallant at the University of California, Berkeley, was able to guess images being thought of through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
The field of neuroscience has undoubtedly expanded over the past two decades, and the explosion of all this cutting-edge discovery has inevitably lead to its proliferation in our culture. However, the spread of interest to the general population has begun to instigate the problematic phenomenon of what some scientists deem “neurobabble”. It refers to the overly simplified and misinterpreted information that many contemporary writers use to appeal to the public. Neurobabble in recent pop-science books and articles often engenders false conclusions and denies proper understanding about how the brain really works. More
Paul Zak, the director of The Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at the Claremont Graduate University, for years has been searching for what makes us moral, and he thinks he has the answer. In this short talk Zak explains why massage, dance and prayer may increase donation to charity up to 50%, and how morals from a Californian high schooler to a primative Papua New Guinea subsistence farmer may have an identical physiological basis. The answer he claims, is Oxytocin. Here is the talk (via Youtube):
Trust, morality — and oxytocin – Ted.com
According to a recent study, there are at least two neural correlates for decision-making in the brain.
If you’re the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz who yearns for a brain, you have neither of these correlates. However, if you are someone who has frontal lobe damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), you have one functional neural correlate: for action value comparisons. You can make optimal decisions about how to get a brain (…although you obviously would already have one). Alternatively, you could have suffered damage to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) - in which case you would be able to make stimulus value comparisons and choose which objects are optimal, such as the wittiest or the most creative brain, but not how to get the chosen object. More
Ever wonder why people still “talk with their hands” when they’re on the telephone? We often use hand gestures while speaking even at times when the listener cannot see them. Gestures are processed in the same areas of the brain as speech (think sign language): the left inferior frontal gyrus (Broca’s) and the posterior middle temporal gyrus (Wenicke’s area). Hand movements help us to communicate more efficiently and emphasize certain points of the message we are trying to convey to our conversational partners. They’re an indication of our thought process throughout the discussion. Evolutionary insight proposes that the language brain regions, which originally supported the pairing of body language and meaning, have been adapted in humans for spoken language; however, we still don’t know precisely the reason why people gesture, and more interestingly, why some people use gestures more often than others. More
We all know that we should hit the gym so we can look good, marry a rich dude, and not need to do science anymore. But can dragging yourself to the gym improve your cognitive assets as well?
Recent studies show that even in normal, healthy brains, that forced exercise has effects. Rats who ran voluntarily on a wheel placed on a cage were compared with those who forced to run on a treadmill. Even though the rats who ran voluntarily ran faster, those who were forced to run on a treadmill showed more proliferation in the dentate gyrus and performed better on cognitive tests. More
At Universitat Tel Aviv in Israel, scientists have successfully engineered and implanted an artificial cerebellum into the brain of a rat. Designed by Dr. Matti Mintz, it is a microchip attached to the rat’s head that receives sensory information from the brain stem and sends it to other parts of the brain. The artificial cerebellum has successfully restored lost brain function in rats. More
How often do you eat lemons whole? Would you eat them more often if they tasted like lemonade? An increasing trend in the past three years has been “flavor tripping” by means of the miracle fruit. The fruit is used mainly at parties and events specifically to eat it and taste other foods that are normally sour, sweet, and/or salty, and is not part of a normal diet.
Richardella dulfica, known as “miracle fruit” or “miracle berry,” has the power to make sour foods taste sweet and other foods transform their flavor into a candy-like saccharinity. These magical berries have long been somewhat of a culinary and scientific mystery. A team of researches from Japan and France, led by University of Tokyo’s Keiko Abe, believe that they have discovered the fruit’s sweetening secret. More
Ahh the Apple iPhone: sleek, sexy, and successful–monopolizing the mobile phone industry since its 2007 release. What is it about the iPhone in particular that sets it apart from its competitors, allowing it garner over 60 million followers worldwide? According to “neuromarketer” and consumer advocate Martin Lindstrom, iPhone users should not be considered addicts but rather amorous devotees who literally “love” their device. Now, I understand the dependency characteristic of an avid cell-phone user, whether Apple or otherwise. But as a neuro-nerd, I am obligated to ask: “Where’s the science behind this?” More