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We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “memory

Concentrating on the social billions

social media

social media

Using online social media does not lead to long-term problems with our ability to concentrate, according to new research. We are social animals, so it is really no surprise that billions of us now use online tools to communicate, educate and inform each other. The advent of social media and social networking has nevertheless been phenomenally rapid.

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How new experiences boost memory formation

forming memories

forming memories

Most people remember where they were when the twin towers collapsed in New York … new research reveals why that may be the case. The study has shed new light on the biological mechanisms that drive the process, known as flashbulb memory.

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Parents’ math skills ‘rub off’ on their children

children in math

children in math

Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child. The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission–the concept of parental influence on an offspring’s behavior or psychology–in mathematical capabilities.

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A visual nudge can disrupt recall of what things look like

learning colors

learning colors

Interfering with your vision makes it harder to describe what you know about the appearance of even common objects, according to researchers. This connection between visual knowledge and visual perception challenges widely held theories that visual information about the world — that alligators are green and have long tails, for example — is stored abstractly, as a list of facts, divorced from the visual experience of seeing an alligator.

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Too much activity in certain areas of the brain is bad for memory and attention

attention span of human

attention span of human

Neurons in the brain interact by sending each other chemical messages, so-called neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is important to restrain neural activity, preventing neurons from getting too trigger-happy and from firing too much or responding to irrelevant stimuli.

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Want a better memory? Try eating a Mediterranean diet

mediterranean diet

mediterranean diet

It’s not a fad diet, it is an actual diet — as in the way a person eats normally — and it may do more than just help your waistline.  The Mediterranean diet can improve your mind, as well your heart.

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Erasing unpleasant memories with a genetic switch

erasing memories

erasing memories

Researchers have managed to erase unpleasant memories in mice using a ‘genetic switch’.  Dementia, accidents, or traumatic events can make us lose the memories formed before the injury or the onset of the disease. Researchers have now shown that some memories can also be erased when one particular gene is switched off.

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Digital media may be changing how you think

digital media

digital media

Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.

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How the brain consolidates memory during deep sleep

little girl sleeping

little girl sleeping

Research strongly suggests that sleep, which constitutes about a third of our lives, is crucial for learning and forming long-term memories. But exactly how such memory is formed is not well understood and remains, a central question of inquiry in neuroscience. Neuroscientists say they now may have an answer to this question in a new study that provides for the first time a mechanistic explanation for how deep sleep (also called slow-wave sleep) may be promoting the consolidation of recent memories.

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Imagery enhances memory and reduces false memories

memory palace

memory palace

Using imagery is an effective way to improve memory and decrease certain types of false memories. The study examined how creating images affected the ability to accurately recall conceptually related word lists as well as rhyming word lists. People who were instructed to create images of the list words in their head were able to recall more words than people who didn’t create images, and they didn’t recall false memories as often. False memories occur when a person recalls something that didn’t happen or remembers something inaccurately.

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Sleep suppresses brain rebalancing

sleeping

sleeping

Why humans and other animals sleep is one of the remaining deep mysteries of physiology. One prominent theory in neuroscience is that sleep is when the brain replays memories “offline” to better encode them (“memory consolidation“). A prominent and competing theory is that sleep is important for rebalancing activity in brain networks that have been perturbed during learning while awake.

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How is a developing brain assembled?

NIH 3-D software tracks worm embryo's brain development

A new, open-source software that can help track the embryonic development and movement of neuronal cells throughout the body of the worm, is now available to scientists.

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Blood clotting protein triggers immune attack on the brain

Blood clotting protein triggers immune attack on the brain

A new study from the Gladstone Institutes shows that a single drop of blood in the brain is sufficient to activate an autoimmune response akin to multiple sclerosis (MS). This is the first demonstration that introduction of blood in the healthy brain is sufficient to cause peripheral immune cells to enter the brain, which then go on to cause brain damage.

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Brain networking: behind the cognitive control of thoughts

Brain networking

The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control over thoughts and actions.

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Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories

Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories

Researchers at USC and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a brain prosthesis that is designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss. The prosthesis, which includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients.

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Don’t I know that guy? Neuroscientists pinpoint part of the brain that deciphers memory from new experience

Don't I know that guy? Neuroscientists pinpoint part of the brain that deciphers memory from new experience
Don't I know that guy? Neuroscientists pinpoint part of the brain that deciphers memory from new experience

Research assistant Jeremy Johnson feeds a rat on the behavioral track used to determine where the brain decides what is new and what is familiar.
Image credit goes to: Johns Hopkins University

You see a man at the grocery store. Is that the fellow you went to college with or just a guy who looks like him? One tiny spot in the brain has the answer. Neuroscientists have identified the part of the hippocampus that creates and processes this type of memory, furthering our understanding of how the mind works, and what’s going wrong when it doesn’t.

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Where memory is encoded and retrieved

Where memory is encoded and retrieved

Are the same regions and even the same cells of the brain area called hippocampus involved in encoding and retrieving memories or are different areas of this structure engaged? This question has kept neuroscientists busy for a long time. Researchers at the Mercator Research Group “Structure of Memory” at RUB have now found out that the same brain cells exhibit activity in both processes.

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REM sleep critical for young brain development; medication interferes

REM sleep and dreaming

Rapid eye movement or REM sleep actively converts waking experiences into lasting memories and abilities in young brains reports a new study. The finding broadens the understanding of children’s sleep needs and calls into question the increasing use of REM-disrupting medications such as stimulants and antidepressants.

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DNA breakage underlies both learning, age-related damage

memory breaking

The process that allows our brains to learn and generate new memories also leads to degeneration as we age, according to a new study. The finding could ultimately help researchers develop new approaches to preventing cognitive decline in disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Each time we learn something new, our brain cells break their DNA, creating damage that the neurons must immediately repair.

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This is your brain, on video games

Kids playing video games

A new study shows that while video game players (VGPs) exhibit more efficient visual attention abilities, they are also much more likely to use navigation strategies that rely on the brain’s reward system (the caudate nucleus) and not the brain’s spatial memory system (the hippocampus). Past research has shown that people who use caudate nucleus-dependent navigation strategies have decreased grey matter and lower functional brain activity in the hippocampus.

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Kids with ADHD must squirm to learn

Cats with adhd

For decades, frustrated parents and teachers have barked at fidgety children with ADHD to “Sit still and concentrate!” But new research shows that if you want ADHD kids to learn, you have to let them squirm. The foot-tapping, leg-swinging and chair-scooting movements of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are actually vital to how they remember information and work out complex cognitive tasks.

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Master protein enhances learning, memory and fitness?!

Estrogen-Related Receptor gamma protein

In this image, ERRγ is shown (stained red) in the hippocampus, the area of the brain largely responsible for memory. The new work could point to a way to enhance learning.
Image credit goes to: Salk Institute

You’re supposed to stay fit, the key to successful aging is to be active. Science doesn’t quite understand why, but staying fit helps keep our brain in shape as we get older. I hate to run, hate it, but I exercise my brain often. Truthfully, some people seem built to run marathons and have an easier time going for miles without tiring. Other individuals might be born with a knack for memorizing things, from times tables to trivia facts. These two skills―running and memorizing―are not so different as it turns out.

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Music played by professionals activates genes for learning and memory

music professional musician

Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).

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Brain waves help memory formation

brain waves

Our brains generate a constant hum of activity: As neurons fire, they produce brain waves that oscillate at different frequencies. Long thought to be merely a byproduct of neuron activity, recent studies suggest that these waves may play a critical role in communication between different parts of the brain.

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Music may reduce your ability to remember!

Music memory

Sometimes just turning on some background music really helps a person get things done. While music may help some people relax when they’re trying to concentrate, new research suggests that it doesn’t help them remember what they’re focusing on, especially as they get older.

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Humans keep the memories accurate by forgetting

forget memory

Your brain is a memory powerhouse, constantly recording experiences in long-term memory. Those memories help you find your way through the world: Who works the counter each morning at your favorite coffee shop? How do you turn on the headlights of your car? What color is your best friend’s house? But then your barista leaves for law school, you finally buy a new car and your buddy spends the summer with a paint brush in hand. Suddenly, your memories are out of date. So what do you do, forget about it.

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Limitless: The science behind remembering everything

limitless remembering everything

limitless

If you could remember everything, you saw, learned, or did, would it be a blessing or a curse? Well an even better question would be, it even possible to upgrade the storage capabilities of the brain? The answer is strangely enough, maybe, according to a new study we might just be able to remember quite literally everything.

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Using Genes to Boost Brain Power: Live Longer, Think Better

Memory

Memory

Does your family have a history of living to a ripe old age? That may bode well for you! Not only does a gene linked to longevity seem to help you live longer, it also makes you smarter. The study I am referring to was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health and offers a new way to boost brain power.

So what genes are we talking about– well right now it seems that people with the gene KLOTHO have improved brain skills such as thinking, learning and memory regardless of their age, sex, or whether they have a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Here is where it gets even more interesting though, increasing KLOTHO gene levels in mice made them smarter, possibly by increasing the strength of connections between nerve cells in the brain.

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