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Brain Activity

SCIENCE
June 27, 2012 | By Jon Bardin, Los Angeles Times / For the Science Now blog
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.
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NEWS
December 30, 2010 | By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
Anesthesia doesn't put patients to "sleep," as they're often told. Rather, anesthesia puts the brain into a state of unconsciousness that's more like being in a reversible coma than being asleep, a new study says. The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday looked at how the brain behaves while asleep, in a coma and under general anesthesia. The brain activity of an anesthetized patient, for example, was more like a deeply unconscious coma patient than someone sleeping.
NEWS
April 19, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
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.
SCIENCE
September 14, 2012 | By Jon Bardin, Los Angeles Times
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.
SCIENCE
June 22, 2012 | By Jon Bardin, Los Angeles Times
Does depth perception develop in humans as a result of nature or nurture? It's a question scientists have wondered about. And a new study comes to a surprising conclusion: Babies acquire binocular vision as a result of viewing the world around them, not merely thanks to genetic programming. "My guess was that it was going to be something in between nature and nurture," said study leader Ilona Kovacs, a psychologist at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary.
SCIENCE
April 24, 2013 | By Monte Morin
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.
SCIENCE
November 5, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
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.
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