September 13, 2012 |
Inside the human skull lies a 3-pound mystery. The brain - a command center composed of tens of billions of branching neurons - controls who we are, what we do and how we feel. "It's the most amazing information structure anybody has ever been able to imagine," says Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. For centuries, the brain's inner workings remained largely unexplored. But all that is changing.
November 15, 2012 |
In an unlikely pairing, two professional rappers have teamed up with researchers from the National Institutes of Health to study what happens in the brain during freestyle rapping. The results, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports , suggest that the process is similar to that of other spontaneous creative acts, including jazz improvisation. The study was initiated by the Los Angeles-based rappers Daniel Rizik-Baer and Michael Eagle and carried out by Allen Braun and Siyuan Liu of the NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
June 27, 2012 |
How does the formidable human brain organize its memories? A new study used electrical activity of the brain to investigate. The resulting report shows that when people think of words that are linked by their meanings -- "apple" and "orange," for example -- the brain often exhibits similar patterns of activity. There's a futuristic, Big Brother-ish dimension to the work: The authors argue that down the road, their results might be useful in mind-reading approaches that rely on connecting measurements of brain activity to what a person is thinking.
September 14, 2012 |
A group of scientists created a novel brain implant that improves cognitive performance and decision-making in a monkey. The device, developed in part by researchers at USC, manipulates ongoing brain activity to guide the animal away from mistakes and toward a correct decision. The study, published this week in the Journal of Neural Engineering, marks an important step toward implantable devices that could one day help people with brain injuries better perform basic tasks. The field of "brain prosthetics" has been dominated by efforts to restore physical abilities, like devices that use brain activity to move a robotic arm or a cursor across a screen.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 7, 1991
A UC Irvine scientist has won a $165,000 grant to help develop a revolutionary technique for mapping brain activity, university officials announced. Ron Frostig, an assistant professor of psychobiology at UCI, received the award recently from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. He plans to use the funds to continue research into the way various parts of the brain reflect light.
April 24, 2013 |
Want a better grip on your memory? A study suggests clenching a fist could play a role in how well you recall information. The study , published Tuesday in the journal PLOS ONE, was funded partially by the U.S. Army. It examined whether clenching the right or left fist could stimulate brain regions possibly connected to memory. Researchers recruited 51 right-handed individuals for the experiment, and asked them to squeeze a pink rubber ball for 90 seconds before they were shown a list of 36 words.
April 19, 2012 |
In some ways, parties seem like the worst possible places to socialize. A cacophony of voices -- not to mention a blaring stereo system -- make for a noisy environment in which to hear what a friend is saying. Hence the term "the cocktail-party effect," which refers to people's ability to focus on one speaker and tune out another. Now Nima Mesgarani and Edward F. Chang of UC San Francisco have figured out how the brain accomplishes this feat of selective hearing: The auditory cortex, which processes sounds, favors the voice that it needs or wants to hear.
November 5, 2012 |
Researchers have moved one step closer to understanding how anesthesia drugs work by identifying a component of brain activity that could explain why we lose consciousness under the influence of the drugs, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Though "going under" is an extremely common part of many medical procedures, the mechanism by which it works remains a mystery. This fact has practical ramifications: Some studies have shown that anesthesia can lead to loss of memory and other side effects, something researchers might be able to alleviate if they understand exactly what the drugs do in the body.