Friday, October 30, 2015

Men’s brains don’t make our memories worse than women’s.  It’s simply that… what was I saying?

Differences Between Male and Female Brain Area? Big Data Says Not Really

A research study at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science has debunked the widely-held belief that the hippocampus, a crucial part of the brain that consolidates new memories and helps connect emotions to the senses, is larger in females than in males.

Lise Eliot, PhD, associate professor of neuroscienceat the university’s medical school, headed a team of students in a meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes that found no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women. Meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows researchers to combine the findings from many independent studies into a comprehensive review. The team examined findings from 76 published papers, involving more than 6,000 healthy individuals.

Source: Differences Between Male and Female Brain Area? Big Data Says Not Really | Neuroscience News

Monday, October 26, 2015

Virtual Hair Cut (Amazing sound effect) – YouTube

Believe or not this is also a delightful example and explanation of how brains handle sounds.

#Neuroplasticity and Training the Older Brain #neuroscience #seniorsrock

Neuroplasticity is the brain and nervous systems ability to evolve and to repair deficits.
At a basic level it represents the ability to learn and develop a structural and functional system to interact with the environment.
The brain’s neuroplasticity is maximized during childhood and adolescence. This adaptability wanes with age. However, some neuroplasticity ability persists in the older brain.
This persistence was highlighted in a study from Hong Kong recently published in the journal Neural Plasticity.
Natalie Leung and colleagues studied a group of older adults with an average age of 70 years. Two hundred nine older adults were randomized to a cognitive training protocol or a control video education intervention.
The cognitive training protocol involved three one-hour training sessions for 13 weeks (39 hours total cognitive training). The training in this protocol was adapted from the Brain Fitness Program of Posit Science. Elements including tasks focusing on reaction time, visual discrimination, verbal memory, attention and working memory. All subjects completed neuropsychological assessment at baseline and at the end of the 13-week trial.
The active training groups demonstrated significant improvement in a variety of cognitive domains compared to the control group including:
  • Higher sustained attention scores on the Seashore Rhythm Test
  • Better performance on working memory digit span tasks
  • Better performance on visual-spatial cognition 
This study did not include a brain imaging component. However, the author’s note their findings suggest sensitive imaging tools might complement their results and provide better understanding of structural and functional elements of neuroplasticity in the older brain.
The role of brain training in modifying the effects of aging on the brain is still in early stages of research. However, the current study supports the ability of elderly individuals to respond to cognitive training interventions.
Individuals with more interest in this study can access the full free-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link below.
Screenshot of frontal lobes in brain is from the iPad Brain Tutor app.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Can You Get Smarter? – The New York Times

YOU can increase the size of your muscles by pumping iron and improve your stamina with aerobic training. Can you get smarter by exercising — or altering — your brain?

This is hardly an idle question considering that cognitive decline is a nearly universal feature of aging. Starting at age 55, our hippocampus, a brain region critical to memory,shrinks 1 to 2 percent every year, to say nothing of the fact that over 40 percent of Americans age 74 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. The number afflicted is expected to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation ages. Given these grim statistics, it’s no wonder that Americans are a captive market for anything, from supposed smart drugs and supplements to brain training, that promises to boost normal mental functioning or to stem its all-too-common decline… read more: Can You Get Smarter? – The New York Times

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#Neuroscience of #Chicago #Cubs Fans – YouTube

C2ST Artist in Residence Aaron Freeman pretends to interview Stanford University Neurobiology professor Robert Sapolsky on the difference between the brains of Chicago Cubs fans and those of lesser beings.  According to Sapolsky part of the difference may have  to do with higher sustained levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.