Category: Uncategorized

Happy Holidays!

December 18th, 2012 in Uncategorized 1 comment


Pretty music with pretty pictures: all of our brains love that (nothing new to neuroscience there)! Have a fantastic holiday season everyone!

 

 

 

 

The Soundtrack of the Human Brain

December 8th, 2012 in Article, Arts + Media, Uncategorized 0 comments


Neuroscience researchers in China have created a method of transforming brainwaves into music by combining EEG and fMRI scans into sounds that are recognizable to human beings. The EEG adjusts the pitch and duration of a note, while the fMRI controls the intensity of the music.  According to Jing Lu and his associated colleagues from the University of Electronic Science and Technology in China,  this brain music, “embodies the workings of the brain as art, providing a platform for scientists and artists to work together to better understand the links between music and the human brain.”

Applying EEG and fMRI data to make better music represents the limitless opportunities of the brain, potentially leading to improvements useful for research, clinical diagnosis or biofeedback therapy. In fact, researchers at the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate have already looked at a form of neuro-training called ‘Brain Music’, which uses music created from an individual’s brain waves to help the individual move from an anxious state to a relaxed state.

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“No Brain? No Problem!”

November 19th, 2012 in Uncategorized 0 comments


 

 

 

 

 

 

…Says the slime mold before the zombie ate its brain centuries ago, forcing the whole species to adapt into its present state: brainless yet smart.

Slime molds avoid bright light. In A, there was none, so molds grew to food (yellow puncta) freely while in B and C there were differing shades of light to influence its growth, which is surprisingly comparable to the real Tokyo rail network in D. E and F show minimum spanning trees (see third source below).

Okay, the zombie part isn’t entirely accurate, BUT, these slime molds (the gelatinous amoebae also known as the protist, Physarum polycephalum) do seem to have no problem functioning without a brain. They can navigate complex mazes for food, choose healthy over less nutritious food, and determine the shortest route between points of interest – a feat that takes humans years when designing complex transportation systems. How could this be? More

Fire and the Evolution of the Brain

November 15th, 2012 in Uncategorized 0 comments


Behold – our recent ancestor, the gorilla, and ourselves, the human:

There are many characteristics that separate us from our monkey fathers. Most notably, factors that mark the evolution are the use of fire, use of tools, and a bigger brain. A recent study suggests that it is actually the onset of the use of fire that explains the ability to begin to grow a larger brain. According to a timeline of human history, the earliest Homo Sapiens appeared shortly after beginning to use fire to cook food:

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Out of Madness Comes Life: Are The Arts Crazy?

November 12th, 2012 in Article, News, Opinion, Uncategorized 0 comments


Sometimes, writing is tough. The passion isn’t there, and every word is a struggle. We’ve all had those moments when forced to do something artistic or creative, whether it be writing or drawing or playing an instrument (or anything really). We’re just not into it, we don’t feel the pulse of the art pounding in our blood. Yet at other times, it’s like our blood rushes in a massive torrential pour, as if it had been held back by a massive dam for a thousand years. Whether its a subject that makes you jump for joy, a song you can head-bang to, or some other Picasso, some things just burst forth in a sudden and fervent explosion of productivity and creativity.

Fox Art

A Tongue Twister: Are Artists' Artistry Artful?

I think we’ve all had those moments when the pieces all click together, and a piece of work flows from us as easily as a hot knife through butter. During those moments, we feel alive, throbbing with a vibrant energy as our whole being is focused onto a single task. It’s an exhilarating feeling, yet at the same time, when you finally come down out of this strange natural high, it feels as though there was something slightly wrong about that, as if those who are capable of reaching that level often must have something wrong with them.
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How Should a Person Vote?

November 5th, 2012 in Uncategorized 0 comments



Election Day is almost here! Many people will have their minds already made up when they walk into their local voting station on Tuesday, confident in their choice for President. This is exciting, even if simply that Election Season will finally be over and we can all move on with our lives, as this disgruntled 4-year old girl so desperately wants.

History in the making, for realsies

And yet, there will still be some undecided voters who will make their choice on the way to the voting booth. I’m willing to bet that some of these people, especially those who will cast those critical swing-state votes, will enter their preferred candidate’s name with seemingly no sense of the democratic responsibility and power their vote yields, as evidenced by this political cartoon.
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The Present State of Brain-Machine Interfaces

November 3rd, 2012 in Arts + Media, News, Uncategorized 0 comments

We live in an era where the rapid advances in technology are constantly changing how we perceive and interact with the world around us. The question on everyone’s mind is always “what’s next?” The answer: brain-machine interfaces. For the average consumer, brain-computer interfaces are becoming increasingly available on the mass market and their current uses offer a wide range of fascinating opportunities.

A company that’s been in the news a lot lately is NeuroVigil. Their product known as the iBrain has been used to help world-renowned astrophysicist Steven Hawking communicate with a computer simply by thinking. Hawking, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, developed his own solution to allow him to speak by twitching his cheek to select words from a computer. In its current state, the iBrain is still slower than Hawking’s solution, but NeuroVigil’s founder MD Philip Low hopes that it will eventually be possible to read thoughts aloud. NeuroVigil also made the news by signing a contract with Roche, a major Swiss pharmaceutical company, to use the iBrain in clinical studies for evaluating drugs for neurological diseases.

Philip Low with the iBrain

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Depression and a Rave Drug: A Tale of Lost Brain Connections

October 27th, 2012 in Uncategorized 1 comment


We’ve all felt down on our luck sometimes. Maybe we didn’t do as well on a test as we would have liked, or we argued with one of our close friends, or we didn’t get that job we wanted. Maybe all we wanted to do at that moment was climb into bed and wish the world wasn’t there.

Yet those moments are fleeting sadness, a minor blip in the grand scheme of things. There’s no major brain chemistry changes occurring, unlike in medical depression (major depressive disorder). Despite years of study and investigation, the underlying cause of MDD is still puzzling to many researchers. Nearly all antidepressive medication is based on research done dozens of years ago. Furthermore, most of those drugs take weeks to months to take effect, if they ever take effect at all, making depression one of the most disabling conditions in modern society. More

What are you afraid of? The Neuroscience of Fear

October 19th, 2012 in Pop Culture, Uncategorized 0 comments


Sorry kid, you're doin' it wrong (source: http://shechive.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/halloween-babies-3.jpg?w=500&h=500)

With Halloween fast approaching, people are going to get scared. Zombies, ghosts, and werewolves will soon be stalking the streets of Boston, frightening innocent college students. Yet, when we are jumping back in fright from costumed pranksters, what is really happening inside of our brains? For years, it was considered fact that the amygdala, a part of the limbic system in our brain that processes components of emotion, was solely responsible for this reaction. Yet, this simplistic explanation doesn’t truly explain was happens inside our brains every time we feel fear. To investigate what really happens, we need to first talk about anxiety.

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Are We Born With Knowledge?

February 22nd, 2012 in Uncategorized 2 comments


One thing I have always struggled with in reading philosophy is the doctrine of Innatism, which holds that the human mind is born with ideas or knowledge. This belief, put forth most notably by Plato as his Theory of Forms and later by Descartes in his Meditations, is currently gaining neuroscientific evidence that could validate the belief that we are born with innate knowledge of our world.

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