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Mind and Brain


Cornell University: Brain Scan Can Decode Whom You Are Thinking About

Tetris Shown to Lessen PTSD and Flashbacks

The Biology of Forgetting

Scans Show Psychopaths Have Brain Abnormalities

How the Brain Routes Traffic for Maximum Alertness

Vitamin K2: New Hope for Parkinson's Patients?

Feeling Tired? 'Social Jetlag' Poses Obesity Health Hazard, Study Shows



avoiding distraction



Scientists Discover Brain's Anti-Distraction System


April 17, 2014—Two Simon Fraser University psychologists have made a brain-related discovery that could revolutionize doctors’ perception and treatment of attention-deficit disorders.

This discovery opens up the possibility that environmental and/or genetic factors may hinder or suppress a specific brain activity that the researchers have identified as helping us prevent distraction.

The Journal of Neuroscience has just published a paper about the discovery by John McDonald, an associate professor of psychology and his doctoral student John Gaspar, who made the discovery during his master’s thesis research.

This is the first study to reveal our brains rely on an active suppression mechanism to avoid being distracted by salient irrelevant information when we want to focus on a particular item or task.
(Full story . . . )

New Evidence Confirms IQ Is Not Static: Change is Linked to Brain Cortex Thickness


Montreal scientists play key role in long-term international study

March 4, 2014—Rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries including researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and HospitalMcGill University and the McGill University Health Centre. The study has potentially wide-ranging implications for the pedagogical world and for judicial cases in which the defendant’s IQ score could play a role in determining the severity of the sentence.
(Full story . . . )

'Beautiful but Sad' Music Can Help People Feel Better

February 19, 2014—New research from psychologists at the universities of Kent and Limerickhas found that music that is felt to be 'beautiful but sad' can help people feel better when they're feeling blue.
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Study Reveals Workings of Working Memory

PROVIDENCE, RI; February 19, 2014—Keep this in mind: Scientists say they've learned how your brain plucks information out of working memory when you decide to act.
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Mindfulness Meditation May Improve Decision Making

February 12, 2014—One 15-minute focused-breathing meditation may help people make smarter choices, according to new research from researchers at INSEAD and The Wharton School. The findings are published in the February issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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“False" Memories: the Hidden Side of Our Good Memory

February 5, 2014—Justice blindly trusts human memory. Every year throughout the world hundreds of thousands of court cases are heard based solely on the testimony of somebody who swears that they are reproducing exactly an event that they witnessed in a more or less not too distant past. Nevertheless, various recent studies in cognitive neuroscience indicate both the strengths and weaknesses in this ability of recall of the human brain.
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For Athletes, There's No Place like Home


But it's not all good news . . .

February 4, 2014—The pomp. The pageantry. The exciting wins and devastating losses. Unbelievable feats of athleticism and sheer determination. That's right—it's time for the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Everyone has their picks for who will take gold medals and we're likely to see some unexpected upsets. But there are certain athletes that may have a leg up on everyone else: the Russians. Unless, of course, they succumb to some of the disadvantages of being on home turf.
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Your Brain Is Fine-Tuning Its Wiring throughout Your Life


Researchers evaluate white matter across the life span

Philadelphia, PA, February 3, 2014—The white matter microstructure, the communication pathways of the brain, continues to develop/mature as one ages. Studies link age-related differences in white matter microstructure to specific cognitive abilities in childhood and adulthood.
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Altruistic Acts More Common in States With High Well-Being

January 29, 2014—People are much more likely to decide to donate a kidney to a stranger—an extraordinarily altruistic act—in areas of the United States where levels of well-being are high, according to a new study.
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Psychologists Document the Age Our Earliest Memories Fade

January 24, 2014—Although infants use their memories to learn new information, few adults can remember events in their lives that happened prior to the age of three. Psychologists at Emory University have now documented that age seven is when these earliest memories tend to fade into oblivion, a phenomenon known as “childhood amnesia.”
(Full story . . .)

Fast Eye Movements: A Possible Indicator Of More Impulsive Decision-Making

January 21, 2014—Using a simple study of eye movements, Johns Hopkins scientists report evidence that people who are less patient tend to move their eyes with greater speed. The findings, the researchers say, suggest that the weight people give to the passage of time may be a trait consistently used throughout their brains, affecting the speed with which they make movements, as well as the way they make certain decisions.
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Older Brains Slow Due to Greater Experience, Rather than Cognitive Decline

January 21, 2014—What happens to our cognitive abilities as we age? Traditionally it is thought that age leads to a steady deterioration of brain function, but new research in Topics in Cognitive Science argues that older brains may take longer to process ever increasing amounts of knowledge, and this has often been misidentified as declining capacity.
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Brain Structure Shows Who Is Most Sensitive to Pain

WINSTON-SALEM, NC; January 14, 2014—Everybody feels pain differently, and brain structure may hold the clue to these differences. In a study published in the current online issue of the journal Pain, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have shown that the brain's structure is related to how intensely people perceive pain.
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It's All Coming Back to Me Now: Researchers Find Caffeine Enhances Memory

January 12, 2014—For some, it's the tradition of steeping tea leaves to brew the perfect cup of tea. For others, it's the morning shuffle to a coffee maker for a hot jolt of java. Then there are those who like their wake up with the kind of snap and a fizz usually found in a carbonated beverage.
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Some Brain Regions Retain Enhanced Ability to Make New Connections

January 7, 2014—In adults, some brain regions retain a "childlike" ability to establish new connections, potentially contributing to our ability to learn new skills and form new memories as we age, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.
(Full story . . . )

Epigenetics Enigma Resolved


First structure of enzyme that removes methylation

December 25, 2013—Scientists have obtained the first detailed molecular structure of a member of the Tet family of enzymes. The finding is important for the field of epigenetics because Tet enzymes chemically modify DNA, changing signposts that tell the cell's machinery "this gene is shut off" into other signs that say "ready for a change."
(Full story . . . )

Do Patients in a Vegetative State Recognize Loved Ones?


TAU researchers find unresponsive patients' brains may recognize photographs of their family and friends

December 16, 2013—Patients in a vegetative state are awake, breathe on their own, and seem to go in and out of sleep. But they do not respond to what is happening around them and exhibit no signs of conscious awareness. With communication impossible, friends and family are left wondering if the patients even know they are there. Now, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Dr. Haggai Sharon and Dr. Yotam Pasternak of Tel Aviv University's Functional Brain Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center have shown that the brains of patients in a vegetative state emotionally react to photographs of people they know personally as though they recognize them.
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Money May Corrupt, but Thinking about Time Can Strengthen Morality

December 10, 2013—Priming people to think about money makes them more likely to cheat, but priming them to think about time seems to strengthen their moral compass, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS).
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No Pictures, Please: Taking Photos May Impede Memory of Museum Tour

December 9, 2013—Visit a museum these days and you'll see people using their smartphones and cameras to take pictures of works of art, archeological finds, historical artifacts, and any other object that strikes their fancy. While taking a picture might seem like a good way to preserve the moment, new research suggests that museum-goers may want to put their cameras down.
(Full story . . . )

Study Reveals Gene Expression Changes with Meditation

Dec. 6, 2013—With evidence growing that meditation can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body.
(Full story . . . )


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