Chapter 2. Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 1 - 20 of 1073

David Cyranoski Neuroscientists who painstakingly map the twists and turns of neural circuitry through the brain are about to see their field expand to an industrial scale. A huge facility set to open in Suzhou, China, next month should transform high-resolution brain mapping, its developers say. Where typical laboratories might use one or two brain-imaging systems, the new facility boasts 50 automated machines that can rapidly slice up a mouse brain, snap high-definition pictures of each slice and reconstruct those into a 3D picture. This factory-like scale will “dramatically accelerate progress”, says Hongkui Zeng, a molecular biologist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington, which is partnering with the centre. “Large-scale, standardized data generation in an industrial manner will change the way neuroscience is done,” she says. The institute, which will also image human brains, aims to be an international hub that will help researchers to map neural connectivity for everything from studies of Alzheimer’s disease to brain-inspired artificial-intelligence projects, says Qingming Luo, a researcher in biomedical imaging at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China. Luo leads the new facility, called the HUST-Suzhou Institute for Brainsmatics, which has a 5-year budget of 450 million yuan (US$67 million) and will employ some 120 scientists and technicians. Luo, who calls himself a “brainsmatician”, also built the institute’s high-speed brain-imaging systems. “There will be large demand, for sure,” says Josh Huang, a neuroscientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, which is also partnering with the Chinese institute. Access to high-throughput, rapid brain mapping could transform neuro-scientists’ understanding of how neurons are connected in the brain, he says — just as high-throughput sequencing helped geneticists to untangle the human genome in the 2000s. “This will have a major impact on building cell-resolution brain atlases in multiple species,” he says. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23965 - Posted: 08.16.2017

by Anika Burgess Art and science are often treated as distinct realms, but sometimes they overlap in unexpected ways. A neuroscientist, for example, creates a chart based on how an animal’s brain responds to rewards. The chart is informative to scientists who can interpret it—but it is also a compelling, monochrome image reminiscent of an iconic album cover. That neuroscientist is named Sean Cavanagh, of University College London, and his artwork based on the neural responses of rhesus macaques, called Unknown Variability, won the 2017 Art of Neuroscience competition. This competition has been held each year since 2011 by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN). NIN has existed in one form or another since the early 1900s and carries out research into brain function. Recently, the competition has opened up to include artists and their own interpretations of the brain. We know a great deal more about how the mind works than we did when NIN was founded, but there are still gaps in our understanding. Artificial intelligence is being taught to appreciate, and even create, art, for example, but the biological nature of creativity remains at the edge of our knowledge. This competition both provides scientists with the opportunity to tap into their inner Dalí, Miró, or Pollock, and offers a visual representation of research into the mysteries of thought and behavior. For the nonscientist, it might be difficult to understand “somato-dendritic morphology,” but it’s easy to appreciate its beauty when it is represented as a multicolored mosaic. © 2017 Atlas Obscura.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23946 - Posted: 08.11.2017

Kerri Smith Marta Zlatic owns what could be the most tedious film collection ever. In her laboratory at the Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, the neuroscientist has stored more than 20,000 hours of black-and-white video featuring fruit-fly (Drosophila) larvae. The stars of these films are doing mundane maggoty things, such as wriggling and crawling about, but the footage is helping to answer one of the biggest questions in modern neuroscience: how the circuitry of the brain creates behaviour. It's a major goal across the field: to work out how neurons wire up, how signals move through the networks and how these signals work together to pilot an animal around, to make decisions or — in humans — to express emotions and create consciousness. Even under the most humdrum conditions — “normal lighting; no sensory cues; they're not hungry”, says Zlatic — her fly larvae can be made to perform 30 different actions, including retracting or turning their heads, or rolling. The actions are generated by a brain comprising just 15,000 neurons. That is nothing compared with the 86 billion in a human brain, which is one of the reasons Zlatic and her teammates like the maggots so much. “At the moment, really, the Drosophila larva is the sweet spot,” says Albert Cardona, Zlatic's collaborator and husband, who is also at Janelia. “If you can get the wiring diagram, you have an excellent starting point for seeing how the central nervous system works.” © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23944 - Posted: 08.10.2017

(By Ashley Juavinett) We love talking about cortex. It’s bumpy, it’s got layers, and it’s probably the brain structure that makes us the very verbal, skilled primates that we are. We also love all of the different areas of cortex—there’s one for face recognition, another for motion detection, and many for decision-making. Often, labs stake claims on their cortical area of interest, diving deep into how that particular patch gets its job done. But how well can we really divvy up that important sheet of tissue that makes us human? Can we confidently say we’ve left one area, and moved into the next? And how well can we translate these borders to smaller animal models, such as mice? Tiny brains with big aspirations Mice are super important to neuroscientists. Sure, they’re quite small and not exactly the most brilliant animals, but we’ve been able to engineer them to mark specific cell types, express glowing proteins, and more. As a result of this powerful murine toolbox, mice have gained a lot of attention from scientists who want to understand circuits and cell types in the brain. In particular, the visual cortex of the mouse has been the site of a lot of discussion, with many researchers hoping that we could use our extensive knowledge about the coarse organization of the primate visual system to ask detailed questions in the mouse brain. However, if we want to use powerful genetic and recording tools in mice, we first need to understand how their cortex is organized. So, many neuroscientists have been working to combine textbook knowledge about primate brain organization with novel techniques designed for the tiny mouse brain.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23935 - Posted: 08.09.2017

Eojin Choi It seems simple enough: Your task is to trace lines with your computer mouse while listening to soothing music, drawing the branches of a neuron. You can rotate the block where the spidery neuron is embedded, and zoom in to see the details. It’s fascinating stuff, if you think about how you’re piecing together the parts and wires of your brain. But as you follow faint signals consisting of blurry white dots, you realize that this game is less connect-the-dots, more hide-and-seek -- it’s often about guessing where the branches lead and erasing mistakes in the process, wondering if your work is even remotely correct. Even if you feel like you’re failing, though, you keep trying for one heartening reason: you’re helping advance brain science. And you're at the forefront of a 21st century trend: "citizen science" initiatives that use data from game players to further ongoing research, including brain research. This neuron-tracing game is called "Mozak," the Serbo-Croatian word for brain, and is among the latest entries in this category. Created by the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Center for Game Science, the free online game has attracted around 2,500 players since its release last November. They're helping to fill a major scientific gap: We still don't really understand how neuron circuits in our brain are structured or how they work. From images of 3-D neurons inside living brain tissue, players can trace and reconstruct shapes of human and mouse neurons, which can then be classified and studied. This information may eventually help scientists understand and develop cures for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. © Copyright WBUR 2017

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23915 - Posted: 08.05.2017

By Leslie Nemo, Liz Tormes Gray, white and wet, an image of the brain by itself can repulse more often than inspire. But when researchers and artists look past its outward appearance, they can reveal thrilling images of the organ that the rest of us would otherwise never see. Though many of these images resulted from lab work and research into how our nervous system functions, they easily stand alone as art—clearly a neuroscience degree is not necessary to appreciate the brain’s intricacies. For the seventh year in a row, the Art of Neuroscience competition out of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam asked researchers and artists to submit their paintings, renderings, magnifications and videos of animal brains. The committee’s winning entry and honorable mentions are presented below, along with a selection of Scientific American editors’ favorites. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23899 - Posted: 08.01.2017

By Sharon Begley, STAT Lab mice whose brains were injected with cells from schizophrenia patients became afraid of strangers, slept fitfully, felt intense anxiety, struggled to remember new things, and showed other signs of the mental disorder, scientists reported on Thursday. The latest advance in “chimeras,” animals created by transplanting cells from one species into another, demonstrated the value of the technique, scientists not involved in the study said, but is likely to draw renewed attention to a controversial field that opponents see as deeply immoral and undermining the natural order. Under a 2015 moratorium, the National Institutes of Health does not fund research that transplants human stem cells into early embryos of other animals. When the NIH asked for public comment on lifting the moratorium, it received nearly 20,000 responses, almost all objecting to “grossly unethical research”; many mentioned Frankenstein. But the new study, in Cell Stem Cell, injected human cells into newborn mice, not embryos. It received funding from the NIH as well as private foundations, to unravel how brain development goes off the rails to cause schizophrenia. Although the prevailing idea has been that the devastating disease, which strikes some 1 percent of U.S. adults, is primarily caused by something going wrong with neurons, the scientists suspected the brain’s support cells, called glia. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Glia
Link ID: 23863 - Posted: 07.22.2017

Jon Hamilton Doctors use words like "aggressive" and "highly malignant" to describe the type of brain cancer discovered in Arizona Sen. John McCain. The cancer is a glioblastoma, the Mayo Clinic said in a statement Wednesday. It was diagnosed after doctors surgically removed a blood clot from above McCain's left eye. Doctors who were not involved in his care say the procedure likely removed much of the tumor as well. Glioblastomas, which are the most common malignant brain tumor, tend to be deadly. Each year in the U.S., about 12,000 people are diagnosed with the tumor. Most die within two years, though some survive more than a decade. "It's frustrating," says Nader Sanai, director of neurosurgical oncology at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Only "a very small number" of patients beat the disease, he says. And the odds are especially poor for older patients like McCain, who is 80. "The older you are, the worse your prognosis is," Sanai says, in part because older patients often aren't strong enough to tolerate aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. Arizona Sen. John McCain on Capitol Hill in April 2017, three months before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Glia
Link ID: 23857 - Posted: 07.21.2017

By Tara Bahrampour A significant portion of people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia who are taking medication for Alzheimer’s may not actually have the disease, according to interim results of a major study currently underway to see how PET scans could change the nature of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment. The findings, presented Wednesday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, come from a four-year study launched in 2016 that is testing over 18,000 Medicare beneficiaries with MCI or dementia to see if their brains contain the amyloid plaques that are one of the two hallmarks of the disease. So far, the results have been dramatic. Among 4,000 people tested so far in the Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) study, researchers from the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco found that just 54.3 percent of MCI patients and 70.5 percent of dementia patients had the plaques. A positive test for amyloid does not mean someone has Alzheimer’s, though its presence precedes the disease and increases the risk of progression. But a negative test definitively means a person does not have it. The findings could change the way doctors treat people in these hard-to-diagnose groups and save money currently being spent on inappropriate medication. “If someone had a putative diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, they might be on an Alzheimer’s drug like Aricept or Namenda,” said James Hendrix, the Alzheimer Association’s director of global science initiatives who co-presented the findings. “What if they had a PET scan and it showed that they didn’t have amyloid in their brain? Their physician would take them off that drug and look for something else.” © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Alzheimers; Brain imaging
Link ID: 23848 - Posted: 07.19.2017

By Ryan Cross Can you imagine watching 20,000 videos, 16 minutes apiece, of fruit flies walking, grooming, and chasing mates? Fortunately, you don’t have to, because scientists have designed a computer program that can do it faster. Aided by artificial intelligence, researchers have made 100 billion annotations of behavior from 400,000 flies to create a collection of maps linking fly mannerisms to their corresponding brain regions. Experts say the work is a significant step toward understanding how both simple and complex behaviors can be tied to specific circuits in the brain. “The scale of the study is unprecedented,” says Thomas Serre, a computer vision expert and computational neuroscientist at Brown University. “This is going to be a huge and valuable tool for the community,” adds Bing Zhang, a fly neurobiologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “I am sure that follow-up studies will show this is a gold mine.” At a mere 100,000 neurons—compared with our 86 billion—the small size of the fly brain makes it a good place to pick apart the inner workings of neurobiology. Yet scientists are still far from being able to understand a fly’s every move. To conduct the new research, computer scientist Kristin Branson of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and colleagues acquired 2204 different genetically modified fruit fly strains (Drosophila melanogaster). Each enables the researchers to control different, but sometimes overlapping, subsets of the brain by simply raising the temperature to activate the neurons. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23834 - Posted: 07.14.2017

Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent The world's most detailed scan of the brain's internal wiring has been produced by scientists at Cardiff University. The MRI machine reveals the fibres which carry all the brain's thought processes. It's been done in Cardiff, Nottingham, Cambridge and Stockport, as well as London England and London Ontario. Doctors hope it will help increase understanding of a range of neurological disorders and could be used instead of invasive biopsies. I volunteered for the project - not the first time my brain has been scanned. Computer games In 2006, it was a particular honour to be scanned by the late Sir Peter Mansfield, who shared a Nobel prize for his work on developing Magnetic Resonance Imaging, one of the most important breakthroughs in medicine. He scanned me using Nottingham University's powerful new 7 Tesla scanner. When we looked at the crisp, high resolution images, he told me: "I'm a physicist, so don't ask me to tell you to whether there's anything amiss with your brain - you'd need a neurologist for that." I was the first UK Biobank volunteer to have their brain and other organs imaged as part of the world's biggest scanning project. More recently, I had my brain scanned while playing computer games, as part of research into the effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. So my visit to the Cardiff University's Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) held no particular concerns. The scan took around 45 minutes and seemed unremarkable. A neurologist was on hand to reassure me my brain looked normal. My family quipped that they were happy that a brain had been found inside my thick skull. But nothing could have prepared me for the spectacular images produced by the team at Cardiff, along with engineers from Siemens in Germany and the United States. © 2017 BBC.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23801 - Posted: 07.04.2017

By Debra W. Soh If there was a way of telling who in our society is sexually attracted to children, are we entitled to know? A recent study from Georg-August-University Göttingen in Germany suggests that we may need to grapple with this question. Phallometric testing, also known as penile plethysmography, is considered the gold standard in measuring male sexual arousal, and particularly, deviant sexual interests such as pedophilia, which is the sexual interest in prepubescent children, roughly aged 3 to 10. The test involves measuring the volume of blood in the test-taker’s penis using an airtight glass tube (or conversely, measuring penile circumference with a mercury strain gauge) while he is presented with a series of images of children and adults, and audio stories describing a corresponding sexual encounter. Phallometry is commonly used in forensic settings to assess the sexual interests of sex offenders, in order to determine their risk of re-offending. As one can imagine, sex offenders tend not to be forthright about their sexual preferences, which makes phallometry all the more important. It has, however, been criticized because the test can become easier for individuals to fool with each successive assessment. Brain scanning using fMRI holds much promise as a diagnostic tool in evaluating sexual interests, as research has documented a reliable network of brain regions involved in sexual arousal. The current study took this another step by testing whether brain functional activation could be used to infer what someone finds sexually interesting without them knowing. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Brain imaging
Link ID: 23783 - Posted: 06.28.2017

By Diana Kwon Glioblastomas, highly aggressive malignant brain tumors, have a high propensity for recurrence and are associated with low survival rates. Even when surgeons remove these tumors, deeply infiltrated cancer cells often remain and contribute to relapse. By harnessing neutrophils, a critical player in the innate immune response, scientists have devised a way to deliver drugs to kill these residual cells, according to a study published today (June 19) in Nature Nanotechnology. Neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell, home in to areas of injury and inflammation to fight infections. Prior studies in both animals and humans have reported that neutrophils can cross the blood-brain barrier, and although these cells are not typically attracted to glioblastomas, they are recruited at sites of tumor removal in response to post-operative inflammation. To take advantage of the characteristics of these innate immune cells, researchers at China Pharmaceutical University encased paclitaxel, a traditional chemotherapy drug, with lipids. These liposome capsules were loaded into neutrophils and injected in the blood of three mouse models of glioblastoma. When the treatment was applied following surgical removal of the main tumor mass, the neutrophil-carrying drugs were able to cross the blood-brain barrier, destroy residual cancer cells, and slow the growth of new tumors. Overall, mice receiving treatment lived significantly longer than controls. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Brain imaging; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 23756 - Posted: 06.21.2017

Kathryn Hess can’t tell the difference between a coffee mug and a bagel. That’s the old joke anyway. Hess, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, is one of the world’s leading thinkers in the field of algebraic topology—in super simplified terms, the mathematics of rubbery shapes. It uses algebra to attack the following question: If given two geometric objects, can you deform one to another without making any cuts? The answer, when it comes to bagels and coffee mugs, is yes, yes you can. (They only have one hole apiece, lol.) If that all sounds annoyingly abstract, well, it kind of is. Algebraic topologists have lived almost exclusively in multidimensional universes of their own calculation for decades. It’s only recently that pure mathematicians like Hess have begun applying their way of seeing the world to more applied, real-world problems. If you can call understanding the dynamics of a virtual rat brain a real-world problem. In a multimillion-dollar supercomputer in a building on the same campus where Hess has spent 25 years stretching and shrinking geometric objects in her mind, lives one of the most detailed digital reconstructions of brain tissue ever built. Representing 55 distinct types of neurons and 36 million synapses all firing in a space the size of pinhead, the simulation is the brainchild of Henry Markram. Markram and Hess met through a mutual researcher friend 12 years ago, right around the time Markram was launching Blue Brain—the Swiss institute’s ambitious bid to build a complete, simulated brain, starting with the rat. Over the next decade, as Markram began feeding terabytes of data into an IBM supercomputer and reconstructing a collection of neurons in the sensory cortex, he and Hess continued to meet and discuss how they might use her specialized knowledge to understand what he was creating. “It became clearer and clearer algebraic topology could help you see things you just can’t see with flat mathematics,” says Markram. But Hess didn’t officially join the project until 2015, when it met (and some would say failed) its first big public test.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23741 - Posted: 06.14.2017

By Hannah Osborne Scientists studying the brain have discovered that the organ operates on up to 11 different dimensions, creating multiverse-like structures that are “a world we had never imagined.” By using an advanced mathematical system, researchers were able to uncover architectural structures that appears when the brain has to process information, before they disintegrate into nothing. Their findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, reveals the hugely complicated processes involved in the creation of neural structures, potentially helping explain why the brain is so difficult to understand and tying together its structure with its function. The team, led by scientists at the EPFL, Switzerland, were carrying out research as part of the Blue Brain Project—an initiative to create a biologically detailed reconstruction of the human brain. Working initially on rodent brains, the team used supercomputer simulations to study the complex interactions within different regions. In the latest study, researchers honed in on the neural network structures within the brain using algebraic topology—a system used to describe networks with constantly changing spaces and structures. This is the first time this branch of math has been applied to neuroscience. "Algebraic topology is like a telescope and microscope at the same time. It can zoom into networks to find hidden structures—the trees in the forest—and see the empty spaces—the clearings—all at the same time," study author Kathryn Hess said in a statement.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23739 - Posted: 06.14.2017

By Ashley Yeager A database of electron microscopy images reveals the connections of the entire female fruit fly brain. In this image, types of Kenyon cells (KC) in the mushroom body main calyx are labeled by color: αβc-KCs are green, αβs-KCs are yellowish brown, and gamma-KCs are blue. The white arrows point to visible presynaptic release sites.ZHENG ET AL. 2017A 21-million-image dataset of the female fruit fly brain is offering an unprecedented view of the cells and their connections that underlie the animal’s behavior. The full-brain survey, taken by electron microscopy, allowed researchers to describe all of the neural inputs into a region of the fly’s brain linked to learning, examine how tightly neurons are clustered in the area, and identify a new cell type. “This is the biggest whole brain imaged at high resolution,” Davi Bock of the Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA, tells The Scientist. He and his colleagues published a preprint of their results on bioRxiv this month (May 22). Past studies have produced electron microscopy images with resolution high enough to reveal the wiring of the entire brain of smaller organisms, such as a nematode or a fruit fly larva, or sections from larger animals, including parts of the fly brain or a cat’s thalamus. Imaging the complete fruit fly brain “is nearly two orders of magnitude larger than the next-largest complete brain imaged at sufficient resolution to trace synaptic connectivity,” Bock and colleagues wrote in their report. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23696 - Posted: 06.02.2017

By Alex Hickson This totally unique mash-up between neuroscience and art shows the stunningly complex beauty of the human brain. Your brain is terrifyingly complicated and is made up of approximately 86 billion neurons which work together as a biological machine to create who you are. But it takes some real cranium contortion to get your head around what those billions of signals and connected web of cells look like. Artist and neuroscientist Dr Greg Dunn combined talents with artist and physicist Dr Brian Edwards to produce this unprecedented work of wonder. But the shimmering never-before-achieved works of art are not as they appear. They are not brain scans but have been painstakingly created using a combination of neuroscience research, hand drawing, computer simulations and all finished off with glistening gold leaf. Both the artists say they wanted the work to remind people that the most marvelous machine in the universe is in our own heads and hope that the brilliant display will reveal the root of our shared humanity. ‘Self Reflected was created not to simplify the brain’s functionality for easier consumption, but to depict it as close to its native complexity as possible so that the viewer comes away with a visceral and emotional understanding of its beauty,’ they write.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23673 - Posted: 05.29.2017

Claude Messier, Alexandria Béland-Millar, The short answer is yes: certain brain regions do indeed consume more energy when engaged in particular tasks. Yet the specific regions involved and the amount of energy each consumes depend on the person’s experiences as well as each brain’s individual properties. Before we delve into the answer, it is important to understand how we measure a brain’s energy expenditure. Picture the colorful brain images researchers use to display neural activity. The colors typically represent the amount of oxygen or glucose various brain regions use during a task. Our brain is always active on some level—even when we are not engaged in a task—but it requires more energy to accomplish something that demands concentration such as moving, seeing or thinking. A simple example is that our primary visual cortex lights up more in brain scans—consuming more energy—when our eyes are open than when they are closed. Similarly, our primary motor cortex uses more energy if we move our hands than if we keep them still. Say you are learning a new skill—how to juggle or speak Spanish. Neuroscientists have made the fascinating observation that when we do something completely novel, a broad range of brain areas becomes active. As we become more skilled at the task, however, our brain becomes more focused: we require only the essential brain regions and need increasingly less energy to perform that task. Once we have mastered a skill—we become fluent in Spanish—only the brain areas directly involved remain active. Thus, learning a new skill requires more brainpower than a well-practiced activity. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 23647 - Posted: 05.23.2017

Ian Sample Science editor A landmark project to map the wiring of the human brain from womb to birth has released thousands of images that will help scientists unravel how conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorders arise in the brain. The first tranche of images come from 40 newborn babies who were scanned in their sleep to produce stunning high-resolution pictures of early brain anatomy and the intricate neural wiring that ferries some of the earliest signals around the organ. The initial batch of brain scans are intended to give researchers a first chance to analyse the data and provide feedback to the senior scientists at King’s College London, Oxford University and Imperial College London who are leading the Developing Human Connectome Project, which is funded by €15m (£12.5m) from the EU. The images show the intricate neural wiring that ferries some of the earliest signals around the brain. Hundreds of thousands more images will be released in the coming months and years. Most will come from a thousand sleeping babies, but another 500 have had their brains scanned while still in the womb. “The challenge is that you are imaging one person inside another person and both of them move,” said Jo Hajnal, professor of imaging science at King’s College London, who developed new MRI technology for the project. Taking brain scans of sleeping babies is hard enough. At the start of the project in 2013, more than 10% of the scans failed when babies woke up in the middle of the two to three hour procedure. Now the babies are fed and prepared for their scans at their mother’s side before they are carried to the scanner. To cut the odds of the babies waking, scientists tweaked the scanner software to stop it making sudden noises.

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Brain imaging
Link ID: 23599 - Posted: 05.10.2017

Shelby Putt How did humans get to be so smart, and when did this happen? To untangle this question, we need to know more about the intelligence of our human ancestors who lived 1.8 million years ago. It was at this point in time that a new type of stone tool hit the scene and the human brain nearly doubled in size. Some researchers have suggested that this more advanced technology, coupled with a bigger brain, implies a higher degree of intelligence and perhaps even the first signs of language. But all that remains from these ancient humans are fossils and stone tools. Without access to a time machine, it’s difficult to know just what cognitive features these early humans possessed, or if they were capable of language. Difficult – but not impossible. Now, thanks to cutting-edge brain imaging technology, my interdisciplinary research team is learning just how intelligent our early tool-making ancestors were. By scanning the brains of modern humans today as they make the same kinds of tools that our very distant ancestors did, we are zeroing in on what kind of brainpower is necessary to complete these tool-making tasks. The stone tools that have survived in the archaeological record can tell us something about the intelligence of the people who made them. Even our earliest human ancestors were no dummies; there is evidence for stone tools as early as 3.3 million years ago, though they were probably making tools from perishable items even earlier. © 2010–2017, The Conversation US, Inc.

Keyword: Evolution; Brain imaging
Link ID: 23594 - Posted: 05.09.2017