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  • jkabtech 8:17 pm on August 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brain, Hooked, Kid's, Slime, Surprise,   

    Why Your Kid's Brain Is Hooked on Surprise Egg and Slime Videos   

    Photo: YouTube

    My four-year-old daughter enjoys watching some great kids’ shows including Noddy Toyland Detective, Ruby’s Studio, Julie’s Greenroom, and so much Daniel Tiger, but once in a while, she’ll ask to watch YouTube on the iPad or phone, and when I oblige, she smiles and gets this sneaky-looking glimmer in her eye. Uh oh, I’ll think. Where is this going today?

    The world of YouTube content for kids is like a bizarro abyss

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  • jkabtech 2:17 am on March 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brain, , ,   

    Scientists find brain cells that know which end is up 

    People are intuitive physicists, knowing from birth how objects under the influence of gravity are likely to fall, topple or roll. In a new study, scientists have found the brain cells apparently responsible for this innate wisdom.

    In a part of the brain responsible for recognizing color, texture and shape, Johns Hopkins University researchers found neurons that used large-scale environmental cues to infer the direction of gravity. The findings, forthcoming this month in the journal Current Biology, and just posted online, suggest these cells help humans orient themselves and predict how objects will behave.

    “Gravity is a strong ubiquitous force in our world,” said senior author Charles E. Connor, a professor of neuroscience and director of the university’s Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute. “Our results show how the direction of gravity can be derived from visual cues, providing critical information about object physics as well as additional cues for maintaining posture and balance.”

    Connor, along with lead author Siavash Vaziri, a former Johns Hopkins postdoctoral fellow, studied individual cells in the object area of the rhesus monkey brain, a remarkably close model for the organization and function of human vision. They measured responses of each cell to about 500 abstract three-dimensional shapes presented on a computer monitor. The shapes ranged from small objects to large landscapes and interiors.

    They found that a given cell would respond to many different stimuli, especially large planes and sharp, extended edges. What tied these stimuli together was their alignment in the same tilted rectilinear reference frame. These cells, sensitive to different tilts, could provide a continuous signal for the direction of gravity, even as a person constantly moves.

    In other words, Connor said, these neurons could help people understand which way is up.

    “The world does not appear to rotate when the head tilts left or right or gaze tilts up or down, even though the visual image changes dramatically,” he said. “That perceptual stability must depend on signals like these that provide a constant sense of how the visual environment is oriented.”

    The researchers’ initial discovery of cells sensitive to large-scale shape, reported in Neuron in 2014, was surprising because they found them in a brain region long regarded as dedicated exclusively to object vision. The new findings make sense of this anatomical juxtaposition, since knowing the gravitational reference frame is critical for predicting how objects will behave.

    “When we dive after a ball in tennis, the whole visual world tilts, but we maintain our sense of how the ball will fall and how to aim our next shot,” Connor said. “The visual cortex generates an incredibly rich understanding of object structure, materials, strength, elasticity, balance, and movement potential. These are the things that make us such expert intuitive physicists.”

    View the original article here

     
  • jkabtech 1:53 am on March 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brain,   

    What makes the brain tick so fast? 

    Surprisingly complex interactions between neurotransmitter receptors and other key proteins help explain the brain’s ability to process information with lightning speed, according to a new study.

    Scientists at McGill University, working with collaborators at the universities of Oxford and Liverpool, combined experimental techniques to examine fast-acting protein macromolecules, known as AMPA receptors, which are a major player in brain signaling. Their findings are reported online in the journal Neuron.

    Understanding how the brain signals information is a major focus of neuroscientists, since it is crucial to deciphering the nature of many brain disorders, from autism to Alzheimer’s disease. A stubborn problem, however, has been the challenge of studying brain activity that switches on and off on the millisecond time scale.

    To tackle this challenge, the research teams in Canada and the U.K. combined multiple techniques to examine the atomic structure of the AMPA receptor and how it interacts with its partner or auxiliary proteins.

    “The findings reveal that the interplay between AMPA receptors and their protein partners that modulate them is much more complex than previously thought,” says lead researcher Derek Bowie, a professor of pharmacology at McGill and Director of GÉPROM, a Quebec interuniversity research group that studies the function and role of membrane proteins in health and disease.

    “A computational method called molecular dynamics has been key to understanding what controls these interactions,” says Philip Biggin, an Associate Professor at the University of Oxford and one of the senior authors. “These simulations are effectively a computational microscope that allow us to examine the motions of these proteins in very high detail.”

    “A key aspect of this work has been the way that the three groups have used a mix of experimental and theoretical approaches to answer these questions,” says Tim Green, a Senior Lecturer who headed the team working at the University of Liverpool. “Our work, using X-ray crystallography, allowed us to confirm many of the study’s findings by looking at the atomic structure of AMPA receptors.”

    Through the three labs’ combined efforts, “we’ve been able to achieve an important breakthrough in understanding how the brain transmits information so rapidly,” Bowie adds. “Our next steps will be to understand if these rapid interactions can be targeted for the development of novel therapeutic compounds.”

    Story Source:

    The above post is reprinted from materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

    View the original article here

     
  • jkabtech 12:10 pm on March 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: abilities, brain, , individual, Mental, shaped   

    Mental abilities are shaped by individual differences in the brain 

    Everyone has a different mixture of personality traits: some are outgoing, some are tough and some are anxious. A new study suggests that brains also have different traits that affect both anatomical and cognitive factors, such as intelligence and memory.

    The results are published in the journal NeuroImage.

    “A major focus of research in cognitive neuroscience is understanding how intelligence is shaped by individual differences in brain structure and function,” said study leader Aron K. Barbey, University of Illinois neuroscience professor and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology affiliate.

    For years, cognitive neuroscientists have tried to find relationships between specific areas of the brain and mental processes such as general intelligence or memory. Until now, researchers have been unable to successfully integrate comprehensive measures of brain structure and function in one analysis.

    Barbey and his team measured the size and shape of features all over the brain.

    “We were able to look at nerve fiber bundles, white-matter tracts, volume, cortical thickness and blood flow,” said Patrick Watson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Beckman Institute and first author of the paper. “We also were able to look at cognitive variables like executive function and working memory all at once.”

    Using a statistical technique called independent component analysis, the researchers grouped measures that were related to each other into four unique traits. Together, these four traits explained most of the differences in the anatomy of individuals’ brains. The traits were mostly driven by differences in brain biology, including brain size and shape, as well as the individual’s age. The factors failed to explain differences in cognitive abilities between people. The researchers then examined the brain differences that were unexplained by the four traits. These remaining differences accounted for the individual differences in intelligence and memory.

    “We were able to identify cognitive-anatomical characteristics that predict general intelligence and account for individual differences in a specific brain network that is critical to intelligence, the fronto-parietal network,” Barbey said.

    The four traits reported in this study are a unique way to examine how brains differ between people. This knowledge can help researchers study subtle differences linked to cognitive abilities, Watson said.

    “Brains are as different as faces, and this study helped us understand what a ‘normal’ brain looks like,” Watson said. “By looking for unexpected brain differences, we were able to home in on parts of the brain related to things like memory and intelligence.”

    The researchers released their data to the public through an online platform called Open Science Framework to encourage comprehensive studies of brain structure and function.

    View the original article here

     
  • jkabtech 4:30 am on January 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brain, discovered, disorders, Newly, plasticity, stressrelated,   

    Newly discovered windows of brain plasticity may help stress-related disorders 

    Chronic stress can lead to changes in neural circuitry that leave the brain trapped in states of anxiety and depression. But even under repeated stress, brief opportunities for recovery can open up, according to new research at The Rockefeller University.

    “Even after a long period of chronic stress, the brain retains the ability to change and adapt. In experiments with mice, we discovered the mechanism that alters expression of key glutamate-controlling genes to make windows of stress-related neuroplasticity–and potential recovery–possible,” says senior author Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor, and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology. Glutamate is a chemical signal implicated in stress-related disorders, including depression.

    “This sensitive window could provide an opportunity for treatment, when the brain is most responsive to efforts to restore neural circuitry in the affected areas,” he adds.

    The team, including McEwen and first author Carla Nasca, wanted to know how a history of stress could alter the brain’s response to further stress. To find out, they accustomed mice to a daily experience they dislike, confinement in a small space for a short period. On the 22nd day, they introduced some of those mice to a new stressor; others received the now-familiar confinement.

    Then, the researchers tested both groups for anxiety- or depression-like behaviors. A telling split emerged: Mice tested shortly after the receiving the familiar stressor showed fewer of those behaviors; meanwhile those given the unfamiliar stressor, displayed more. The difference was transitory, however; by 24 hours after the final stressor, the behavioral improvements seen in half of the mice had disappeared.

    Molecular analyses revealed a parallel fluctuation in a part of the hippocampus, a brain region involved in the stress response. A key molecule, mGlu2, which tamps down the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate, increased temporarily in mice subjected to the familiar confinement stress. Meanwhile, a molecular glutamate booster, NMDA, increased in other mice that experienced the unfamiliar stressor. In stress-related disorders, excessive glutamate causes harmful structural changes in the brain.

    The researchers also identified the molecule regulating the regulator, an enzyme called P300. By adding chemical groups to proteins known as histones, which give support and structure to DNA, P300 increases expression of mGlu2, they found.

    In other experiments, they looked at mice genetically engineered to carry a genetic variant associated with development of depression and other stress-related disorders in humans, and present in 33 percent of the population.

    “Here again, in experiments relevant to humans, we saw the same window of plasticity, with the same up-then-down fluctuations in mGlu2 and P300 in the hippocampus,” Nasca says. “This result suggests we can take advantage of these windows of plasticity through treatments, including the next generation of drugs, such as acetyl carnitine, that target mGlu2–not to ‘roll back the clock’ but rather to change the trajectory of such brain plasticity toward more positive directions.”

    View the original article here

     
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