Links for Keyword: Learning & Memory

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by Sari Harrar, AARP Bulletin, At 99 years old Brenda Milner continues to explore the mind and its relationship to people’'s behavior. You'’re a preeminent neuroscientist, and a professor at Canada's prestigious McGill University. At age 99, what motivates you to keep up your research at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital? I am very curious. Human quirks attract my interest. If you’'re a theoretical person, you can sit and dream up beautiful theories, but my approach is, “What would happen if …”or, “Why is this person doing [that] …”and then, “How can I measure it?” I wouldn't still be working if I didn't find it exciting. AARP Membership: Join or Renew for Just $16 a Year Are you curious in real life, too? Yes. I'm a good "noticer—" of behavior as much as the kind of furniture people have! In the 1950s, you made a revolutionary discovery— that memories are formed in a brain area called the hippocampus, which is now getting lots of attention for its role in memory loss and dementia. Has brain research gotten easier? Nowadays, everyone has functional magnetic resonance imaging. Anybody with access to a medical school can get a good look at the patients' brain while they're alive and young, but it wasn't like that [then]. Psychologists were studying patients who were much older and beginning to show memory impairment. Then they had to wait for their patients to die.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24196 - Posted: 10.16.2017

Laura Sanders The brain’s mapmakers don’t get a break, even for sleep. Grid cells, specialized nerve cells that help keep people and other animals oriented, stay on the clock 24/7, two preliminary studies on rats suggest. Results from the studies, both posted October 5 at bioRxiv.org, highlight the stability of the brain’s ‘inner GPS’ system. Nestled in a part of the brain called the medial entorhinal cortex, grid cells fire off regularly spaced signals as a rat moves through the world, marking a rat’s various locations. Individual grid cells work together to create a mental map of the environment. But scientists didn’t know what happens to this map when an animal no longer needs it, such as during sleep. Grid cells, it turns out, maintain their mapmaking relationships even in sleeping rats, report two teams of researchers, one from the University of Texas at Austin and one from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. (The Norway group includes the researchers who won a Nobel Prize in 2014 for discovering grid cells (SN Online: 10/6/14).) By eavesdropping on pairs of grid cells, researchers found that the cells maintain similar relationships to each other during sleep as they do during active exploration. For instance, two grid cells that fired off signals nearly in tandem while the rat was awake kept that same pattern during sleep, a sign that the map is intact. The results provide insights into how grid cells work together to create durable mental maps. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24186 - Posted: 10.13.2017

By Giorgia Guglielmi This mantis shrimp (Gonodactylus smithii) might have a much more elaborate brain than previously thought. That’s the conclusion of the first study to peer into the head of more than 200 crustaceans, including crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. Researchers discovered that the brain of mantis shrimp contains memory and learning centers, called mushroom bodies, which so far have been seen only in insects. The team also found similar structures in close relatives of these sea creatures: cleaner shrimp, pistol shrimp, and hermit crabs. This may not be a coincidence, the researchers say, because mantis shrimp and their brethren are the only crustaceans that hunt over long distances and might have to remember where to get food. But the finding, reported in eLife, is likely to stir debate: Scientists agree that mushroom bodies evolved after the insect lineage split off from the crustacean lineage about 480 million years ago; finding these learning centers in mantis shrimp means that either mushroom bodies are much more ancient than scientists realized and were lost in all crustaceans but mantis shrimp, or that these structures are similar to their counterparts in insects but have evolved independently. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24158 - Posted: 10.07.2017

By Claudia Wallis, A funny thing happened in the Dutch city of Maastricht in the fall of 2011. A policy went into effect banning the sale of marijuana at the city’s 13 legal cannabis shops to visitors from most other countries. The goal was to discourage disruptive drug tourism in a city close to several international borders. The policy had its intended effect, but also a remarkable unintended one: foreign students attending Maastricht University starting getting better grades. According to an analysis published earlier this year in Review of Economic Studies, students who had been passing their courses at a rate of 73.9% when they could legally buy weed were now passing at a rate of 77.9% — a sizeable jump. The effect, which was based on data from 336 undergraduates in more than 4,000 courses, was most dramatic for weaker students, women, and in classes that required more math. Some of this falls in line with past research: marijuana use has been linked to inferior academic achievement (and vice versa), so it makes sense that poorer students might benefit most from a ban, and the drug is known to have immediate effects on cognitive performance, including in math. But what’s really unusual about the study, notes one of its authors, economist Ulf Zoelitz of the Briq Institute on Behavior and Inequality, is that rather than merely correlating academic performance with cannabis use, as much past research has done, “we could cleanly identify the causal impact of a drug policy.” Zoelitz co-authored the study with Olivier Marie of Erasmus University Rotterdam. © 2017 KQED Inc.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24139 - Posted: 10.03.2017

By Matthew Hutson Studying the human mind is tough. You can ask people how they think, but they often don’t know. You can scan their brains, but the tools are blunt. You can damage their brains and watch what happens, but they don’t take kindly to that. So even a task as supposedly simple as the first step in reading—recognizing letters on a page—keeps scientists guessing. Now, psychologists are using artificial intelligence (AI) to probe how our minds actually work. Marco Zorzi, a psychologist at the University of Padua in Italy, used artificial neural networks to show how the brain might “hijack” existing connections in the visual cortex to recognize the letters of the alphabet, he and colleagues reported last month in Nature Human Behaviour. Zorzi spoke with Science about the study and about his other work. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Q: What did you learn in your study of letter perception? A: We first trained the model on patches of natural images, of trees and mountains, and then this knowledge becomes a vocabulary of basic visual features the network uses to learn about letter shapes. This idea of “neural recycling” has been around for some time, but as far as I know this is the first demonstration where you actually gained in performance: We saw better letter recognition in a model that trained on natural images than one that didn’t. Recycling makes learning letters much faster compared to the same network without recycling. It gives the network a head start. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24130 - Posted: 09.30.2017

By Gary Stix Donald Hebb was a famed Canadian scientist who produced key findings that ranged across the field of psychology, providing insights into perception, intelligence and emotion. He is perhaps best known, though, for his theory of learning and memory, which appears as an entry in most basic texts on neuroscience. But now an alternative theory—along with accompanying experimental evidence—fundamentally challenges some central tenets of Hebb’s thinking. It provides a detailed account of how cells and the electrical and molecular signals that activate them are involved in forming memories of a series of related events. Put forward in 1949, Hebb’s theory holds that when electrical activity in one neuron—perhaps triggered by observing one’s surroundings—repeatedly induces a neighboring “target cell” to fire electrical impulses, a process of conditioning occurs and strengthens the connection between the two neurons. This is a bit like doing arm curls with a weight; after repeated lifts the arm muscle grows stronger and the barbell gets easier to hoist. At the cellular level, repeated stimulation of one neuron by another enables the target cell to respond more readily the next time it is activated. In basic textbooks, this boils down to a simple adage to describe the physiology of learning and memory: “Cells that fire together, wire together.” Every theory requires experimental evidence, and scientists have toiled for years to validate Hebb’s idea in the laboratory. Many research findings have showed that when a neuron repeatedly fires off an electrical impulse (called an “action potential”) at virtually the same time as an adjacent neuron, their connection does indeed grow more efficient. The target cell fires more easily, and the signal transmitted is stronger. This process—known as long-term potentiation (LTP)—apparently induces physiological change or “plasticity” in target cells. LTP is routinely cited as a possible explanation for how the brain learns and forms memories at the cellular level. © 2017 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24093 - Posted: 09.21.2017

by Emilie Reas Paranoia. Munchies. Giggles. Sleepiness. Memory loss. Although the effects of cannabinoids–the active components of marijuana–are familiar to many, their neurobiological substrates are poorly characterized. Perhaps the effect of greatest interest to both neuroscientists and to cannabis users hoping to preserve their cognitive function, is short-term memory impairment that often accompanies marijuana use. Our partial understanding of its physiological and behavioral effects is not for want of studies into its neural effects. Ample research has shown a range of changes to neurotransmission, receptors, ion channels and mitochondria following cannabinoid exposure. However, knowledge of its cellular and molecular properties alone cannot offer a complete picture of its system-wide effects leading to cognitive and behavioral changes. A recent study published in PLOS Computational Biology took a novel approach to address this issue, combining computational modeling with electrophysiological brain recordings from rats performing a memory task, to unravel the dynamics of neural circuits under the influence of cannabinoids. To assess memory changes induced by cannabinoids, the scientists injected tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, into rats before they performed a “delayed-nonmatch-to-sample” working memory task. In this task, rats are cued with one of two levers, and after a delay, are required to select the opposite lever. Compared to sober sessions, performance under THC was impaired by 12%, confirming the all-too-familiar memory impairment associated with cannabis use. THC alters hippocampal activity

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24087 - Posted: 09.21.2017

Laura Sanders Peer inside the brain of someone learning. You might be lucky enough to spy a synapse pop into existence. That physical bridge between two nerve cells seals new knowledge into the brain. As new information arrives, synapses form and strengthen, while others weaken, making way for new connections. You might see more subtle changes, too, like fluctuations in the levels of signaling molecules, or even slight boosts in nerve cell activity. Over the last few decades, scientists have zoomed in on these microscopic changes that happen as the brain learns. And while that detailed scrutiny has revealed a lot about the synapses that wire our brains, it isn’t enough. Neuroscientists still lack a complete picture of how the brain learns. They may have been looking too closely. When it comes to the neuroscience of learning, zeroing in on synapse action misses the forest for the trees. A new, zoomed-out approach attempts to make sense of the large-scale changes that enable learning. By studying the shifting interactions between many different brain regions over time, scientists are beginning to grasp how the brain takes in new information and holds onto it. These kinds of studies rely on powerful math. Brain scientists are co-opting approaches developed in other network-based sciences, borrowing tools that reveal in precise, numerical terms the shape and function of the neural pathways that shift as human brains learn. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24041 - Posted: 09.06.2017

By The Scientist Staff Researchers demonstrated that the mouse subiculum, a brain region associated with the hippocampus, is important for recalling certain types of memories, but it doesn’t appear to play a role in forming them. When they optogenetically turned off neurons within the subiculum, mice’s abilities to retrieve a memory they had previously formed was disrupted. Some scientists think that brain circuits responsible for forming memories are the same as those necessary for retrieving them, write the authors in their report. These data, however, offer evidence to the contrary. See D.S. Roy et al., “Distinct neural circuits for the formation and retrieval of episodic memories,” Cell, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.07.013, 2017. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 24014 - Posted: 08.31.2017

By DAVID DeSTENO, CYNTHIA BREAZEAL and PAUL HARRIS Why is educational technology such a disappointment? In recent years, parents and schools have been exposing children to a range of computer-mediated instruction, and adults have been turning to “brain training” apps to sharpen their minds, but the results have not been encouraging. A six-year research project commissioned by the Department of Education examined different cybertechnology programs across thousands of students in hundreds of schools and found little to no evidence that they improved academic performance. Unfortunately, it appears the same goes for cognitive-training programs. Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, one of the leading programs in this area, agreed to pay $2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that it misled customers with claims that Lumosity improved people’s performance in school and at work. In our view, the problem stems partly from the fact that the designers of these technologies rely on an erroneous set of assumptions about how the mind learns. Yes, the human brain is an amazing information processor, but it evolved to take in, analyze and store information in a specific way: through social interaction. For millenniums, the environs in which we learned best were social ones. It was through other people’s testimony or through interactive discourse and exploration with them that we learned facts about our world and new ways of solving problems. And it’s precisely because of this history that we can expect the mind to be socially tuned, meaning that it should rely on and incorporate social cues to facilitate learning. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24007 - Posted: 08.29.2017

By WILLIAM GRIMES Marian C. Diamond, a neuroscientist who overturned long-held beliefs by showing that environmental factors can change the structure of the brain and that the brain continues to develop throughout one’s life, died on July 25 at her home in Oakland, Calif. She was 90. Her son Richard Diamond confirmed the death. Dr. Diamond’s most celebrated study was of the preserved brain of Albert Einstein, in the 1980s, but it was her work two decades earlier, at the University of California, Berkeley, that had the most lasting impact. Dr. Diamond was an instructor at Cornell University in the late 1950s when she read a paper in Science magazine showing that rats who navigated mazes quickly had a different brain chemistry than slower rats. They showed much higher levels of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that accelerates the transmission of neural signals. “What a thrill I had when my mind jumped immediately to the question, ‘I wonder if the anatomy of these brains would also show a difference in learning ability?’ ” Dr. Diamond wrote in an autobiographical essay for the Society for Neuroscience. She was able to test her theory after joining a team at Berkeley led by Mark R. Rosenzweig, one of the authors of the Science paper. To gauge the effects of environment on performance, Dr. Rosenzweig and his colleagues had begun raising rats in so-called enriched cages, outfitted with ladders and wheels, in the company of other rats. The rats in a control group were raised alone in bare cages. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 23966 - Posted: 08.17.2017

By Stephen Smith, Playing first-person shooter video games causes some users to lose grey matter in a part of their brain associated with the memory of past events and experiences, a new study by two Montreal researchers concludes. Gregory West, an associate professor of psychology at the Université de Montréal, says the neuroimaging study, published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, is the first to find conclusive evidence of grey matter loss in a key part of the brain as a direct result of computer interaction. "A few studies have been published that show video games could have a positive impact on the brain, namely positive associations between action video games, first-person shooter games, and visual attention and motor control skills," West told CBC News. "To date, no one has shown that human-computer interactions could have negative impacts on the brain — in this case the hippocampal memory system." The four-year study by West and Véronique Bohbot, an associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University, looked at the impact of action video games on the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays a critical role in spatial memory and the ability to recollect past events and experiences. The neuroimaging study's participants were all healthy 18- to 30-year-olds with no history of playing video games. Brain scans conducted on the participants before and after the experiment looked for differences in the hippocampus between players who favour spatial memory strategies and so-called response learners — that is, players whose way of navigating a game favours a part of the brain called the caudate nucleus, which helps us to form habits. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23938 - Posted: 08.09.2017

By JOHN SCHWARTZ The studio for what is arguably the world’s most successful online course is tucked into a corner of Barb and Phil Oakley’s basement, a converted TV room that smells faintly of cat urine. (At the end of every video session, the Oakleys pin up the green fabric that serves as the backdrop so Fluffy doesn’t ruin it.) This is where they put together “Learning How to Learn,” taken by more than 1.8 million students from 200 countries, the most ever on Coursera. The course provides practical advice on tackling daunting subjects and on beating procrastination, and the lessons engagingly blend neuroscience and common sense. Dr. Oakley, an engineering professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., created the class with Terrence Sejnowski, a neuroscientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and with the University of California, San Diego. Prestigious universities have spent millions and employ hundreds of professionally trained videographers, editors and producers to create their massive open online courses, known as MOOCs. The Oakleys put together their studio with equipment that cost $5,000. They figured out what to buy by Googling “how to set up a green screen studio” and “how to set up studio lighting.” Mr. Oakley runs the camera and teleprompter. She does most of the editing. The course is free ($49 for a certificate of completion — Coursera won’t divulge how many finish). “It’s actually not rocket science,” said Dr. Oakley — but she’s careful where she says that these days. When she spoke at Harvard in 2015, she said, “the hackles went up”; she crossed her arms sternly by way of grim illustration. This is home-brew, not Harvard. And it has worked. Spectacularly. The Oakleys never could have predicted their success. Many of the early sessions had to be trashed. “I looked like a deer in the headlights,” Dr. Oakley said. She would flub her lines and moan, “I just can’t do this.” Her husband would say, “Come on. We’re going to have lunch, and we’re going to come right back to this.” But he confessed to having had doubts, too. “We were in the basement, worrying, ‘Is anybody even going to look at this?’” © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23917 - Posted: 08.05.2017

By Stefania De Vito, Sergio Della Sala On Saturday, December 4, 1926, a green Morris Cowley stood abandoned in a roadside ditch near the city of Guildford, England. The car belonged to the renowned author Agatha Christie, who had apparently disappeared without a trace. But 11 days later she turned up in a hotel in Harrogate, a spa town in Yorkshire about 240 miles north of Guildford. Christie was unable to explain what had transpired during the intervening time period; nor is this mysterious episode mentioned in her autobiography. Unlike those in her many books, this mystery remains unsolved. Is it possible that Christie suffered from what is called retrograde amnesia as a result of an automobile accident, and was no longer capable of remembering the event? Was she, by disappearing, perhaps exacting revenge on her unfaithful husband? Or was this just a clever public relations ploy aimed at promoting her latest novel? The drama began in April 1926, when Christie’s mother died. According to Christie’s biographer Janet Morgan, the death hit her very hard. At the time her husband, Col. Archibald Christie, known as Archie, was on a business trip to Spain. On returning, he informed his psychologically fragile wife that he had fallen in love with a woman named Nancy Neele. For awhile the Christies stayed together for their daughter’s sake, even moving together to Styles, her house in Sunningdale, Berkshire. All the while, however, Archie maintained his affair with Nancy. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23911 - Posted: 08.03.2017

By Harrison Smith Marian Diamond, a pathbreaking neuroscientist whose research — including a study of Albert Einstein’s preserved brain — showed that the body’s three-pound seat of consciousness was a dynamic structure of beautiful complexity, capable of development even in old age, died July 25 at an assisted-living community in Oakland, Calif. She was 90. A daughter, Ann Diamond, confirmed her death but did not know the cause. Dr. Diamond, a professor emerita of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley, was for decades known on campus as the woman with the hat box. Inside the container, decorated on the outside with a floral print and carried by a bright blue string, was a preserved human brain. It was the crucial prop for a lesson she spent a half century teaching: that the brain was, as she once wrote, “the most complex mass of protoplasm on this earth and, perhaps, in our galaxy.” Dr. Diamond was considered a foundational figure in modern neuroscience. Crucially, she provided the first hard evidence demonstrating the brain’s plasticity — its ability to develop, to grow, even in adulthood. “In doing so,” her colleague George Brooks said in a statement, “she shattered the old paradigm of understanding the brain as a static and unchangeable entity that simply degenerated as we age.” Her breakthrough occurred in the early 1960s, when — building on the work of psychologist Donald O. Hebb — she began studying the brains of lab rats. Rats that were raised alone, in small and desolate cages, had more trouble navigating a maze than did rats that were raised in “enriched” cages, with toys and rat playmates. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23898 - Posted: 08.01.2017

By CADE METZ SAN FRANCISCO — Dawn Jewell recently treated a patient haunted by a car crash. The patient had developed acute anxiety over the cross streets where the crash occurred, unable to drive a route that carried so many painful memories. So Dr. Jewell, a psychologist in Colorado, treated the patient through a technique called exposure therapy, providing emotional guidance as they revisited the intersection together. But they did not physically return to the site. They revisited it through virtual reality. Dr. Jewell is among a handful of psychologists testing a new service from a Silicon Valley start-up called Limbix that offers exposure therapy through Daydream View, the Google headset that works in tandem with a smartphone. “It provides exposure in a way that patients feel safe,” she said. “We can go to a location together, and the patient can tell me what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking.” The service recreates outdoor locations by tapping into another Google product, Street View, a vast online database of photos that delivers panoramic scenes of roadways and other locations around the world. Using these virtual street scenes, Dr. Jewell has treated a second patient who struggled with anxiety after being injured by another person outside a local building. The service is also designed to provide treatment in other ways, like taking patients to the top of a virtual skyscraper so they can face a fear of heights or to a virtual bar so they can address an alcohol addiction. Backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Limbix is less than a year old. The creators of its new service, including its chief executive and co-founder, Benjamin Lewis, worked in the seminal virtual reality efforts at Google and Facebook. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23897 - Posted: 07.31.2017

By Robert Sanders, Media relations Marian Cleeves Diamond, one of the founders of modern neuroscience who was the first to show that the brain can change with experience and improve with enrichment, and who discovered evidence of this in the brain of Albert Einstein, died July 25 at the age of 90 in Oakland. A professor emerita of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Diamond achieved celebrity in 1984 when she examined preserved slices of Einstein’s brain, finding that he had more support cells in the brain than average. Her main claim to fame, however, came from work on rats, in which she showed that an enriched environment — toys and companions — changed the anatomy of the brain. The implication was that the brains of all animals, including humans, benefit from an enriched environment, and that impoverished environments can lower the capacity to learn. “Her research demonstrated the impact of enrichment on brain development — a simple but powerful new understanding that has literally changed the world, from how we think about ourselves to how we raise our children,” said UC Berkeley colleague George Brooks, a professor of integrative biology. “Dr. Diamond showed anatomically, for the first time, what we now call plasticity of the brain. In doing so she shattered the old paradigm of understanding the brain as a static and unchangeable entity that simply degenerated as we age. ” Her results were initially resisted by some neuroscientists. At one meeting, she later recalled, a man stood up after her talk and said loudly, “Young lady, that brain cannot change!” © 2017 UC Regents

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23896 - Posted: 07.31.2017

Jon Hamilton The human brain knows what it knows. And so, it appears, does a rat brain. Rats have shown that they have the ability to monitor the strength of their own memories, researchers from Providence College reported this month in the journal Animal Cognition. Brain scientists call this sort of ability metacognition. It's a concept that became famous in 2002, when then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explained to reporters: There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. Rumsfeld wasn't talking about rats. But he could have been, says Michael Beran, a comparative psychologist and associate professor at Georgia State University who was not part of the research. The new study of rats offers "consistent and clear evidence that they have these glimmerings of metacognitive monitoring," Beran says. The finding suggests an ancient evolutionary path that eventually led to humans' highly developed ability to monitor their own thoughts. It also suggests that rats could be valuable animal models for studying diseases like Alzheimer's, which erode metacognition. The study focused on a type of metacognition called metamemory. It's something we depend on to get through the day, says Victoria Templer, the study's lead author and an assistant professor in the psychology department at Providence College. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23895 - Posted: 07.29.2017

By Ryan Cross Whether caused by a car accident that slams your head into the dashboard or repeated blows to your cranium from high-contact sports, traumatic brain injury can be permanent. There are no drugs to reverse the cognitive decline and memory loss, and any surgical interventions must be carried out within hours to be effective, according to the current medical wisdom. But a compound previously used to enhance memory in mice may offer hope: Rodents who took it up to a month after a concussion had memory capabilities similar to those that had never been injured. The study “offers a glimmer of hope for our traumatic brain injury patients,” says Cesario Borlongan, a neuroscientist who studies brain aging and repair at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Borlongan, who reviewed the new paper, notes that its findings are especially important in the clinic, where most rehabilitation focuses on improving motor—not cognitive—function. Traumatic brain injuries, which cause cell death and inflammation in the brain, affect 2 million Americans each year. But the condition is difficult to study, in part because every fall, concussion, or blow to the head is different. Some result in bleeding and swelling, which must be treated immediately by drilling into the skull to relieve pressure. But under the microscope, even less severe cases appear to trigger an “integrated stress response,” which throws protein synthesis in neurons out of whack and may make long-term memory formation difficult. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23825 - Posted: 07.11.2017

By Jennifer Oullette Are brain-training games any better at improving your ability to think, remember and focus than regular computer games? Possibly not, if the latest study is anything to go by. Joseph Kable at the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues have tested the popular Luminosity brain-training program from Lumos Labs in San Francisco, California, against other computer games and found no evidence that it is any better at improving your thinking skills. Brain-training is a booming market. It’s based on the premise that our brains change in response to learning challenges. Unlike computer games designed purely for entertainment, brain-training games are meant to be adaptive, adjusting challenge levels in response to a player’s changing performance. The thinking is that this should improve a player’s memory, attention, focus and multitasking skills. But there are questions over whether brain-training platforms can enhance cognitive function in a way that is meaningful for wider life. Last year, Lumos Labs paid $2 million to settle a charge from the US Federal Trade Commission for false advertising. Advertising campaigns had claimed that the company’s memory and attention games could reduce the effects of age-related dementia, and stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Most studies on the effects of brain-training games have been small and had mixed results. For this study, Kable and his colleagues recruited 128 young healthy adults for a randomised controlled trial. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23821 - Posted: 07.11.2017