the human mind

We are magic – Your brain and what we know

“Your brain is being disassembled and reassembled every day,”

said Don Arnold, associate professor of molecular and computational biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and corresponding author of an article about the research that appeared in Cell Reports on July 26.

“One week from today, your brain will be made up of completely different proteins than it is today,”

Arnold said. “This video shows the process. We’ve known that it was happening, but now we can watch it happen.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822154656.htm  or visit http://www.usc.edu/  by Robert Perkins

And within days of eachother I found an article about this study on how intense preperation for law school admission test alters the brain structure! Its just marvelous, we are just magnificent, along with every other organism/energy on this vibrant planet and beyond!

Intensive preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) actually changes the microscopic structure of the brain, physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning.

This is according to neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley. ” The results suggest that training people in reasoning skills can reinforce the brain’s circuits involved in thinking and reasoning and could even up people’s IQ scores.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822125222.htm or visit http://www.berkeley.edu/ by Robert Sanders.

In another story a research team led by the University of Iowa has challenged our common theory/understanding of what self awareness consists of/which areas of the brain by showing that self-awareness is more a product of a diffuse patchwork of pathways in the brain rather than confined to specific areas.

“In all likelihood, self-awareness emerges from much more distributed interactions among networks of brain regions.”

It is a great story about patient “R” whom had specific brain damage and whom today is still alive and well and quite self aware 🙂  Here is the sciencedaily article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822181228.htm otherwise look at the original source: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038413

In another unrelated article about a study done on people who play video games showed this:

“We tested how the skills learned from video game experience can transfer over to new tasks, rather than just looking at brain activity while the subject plays a video game.”

The study found that during the tasks the less experienced gamers were relying most on the parietal cortex (the brain area typically involved in hand-eye coordination), whereas the experienced gamers showed increased activity in the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain.

The finding that using visuomotor skills can reorganize how the brain works offers hope for future research into the problems experienced by Alzheimer’s patients, who struggle to complete the simplest visuomotor tasks.

It almost seems that whatever the body-system (an individual) favours as being important (due to time used on it) gets extra resources and more areas of the brain will assist with that specific task!  I wonder what it would look like if you studied people’s braind who were really good at something and been doing it for many years, and compare an activity like doing a design for example – and see how much more of the brain is being used to complete the activity, I bet the results will be facinating.

I really wish more people knew that old belief about using only 10% of our brains is a myth!  Take from it what you want, but I think we are capable of allot more than we sometimes think and we know it because we are able to continiously learn.

Now if you really want to get your brain thinking, look at this picture that shows the effects of MDMA (drug, extacy) on the brain of a monkey:


Image source: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

“…the drug damaged cells that release the neurotransmitter called serotonin. Using an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET), Ricaurte noted a 20-60% reduction in healthy serotonin cells in the drug users. Damage to these cells could affect a person’s abilities to remember and to learn.”

Source: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/mdma.html

I think ALL we consume – the drugs, supplements, food, images, words, thoughts, experiences etc – make physical changes to our system because  everything is changing and interacting all the time, our body is not able to NOT be influenced by what it comes in contact with!

Brainwave Training Boosts Network for Cognitive Control and Affects Mind-Wandering

“A breakthrough study conducted in Canada has found that training of the well-known brainwave in humans, the alpha rhythm, enhances a brain network responsible for cognitive-control. The training technique, termed neurofeedback, is being considered as a promising new method for restoring brain function in mental disorders. Using several neuroimaging methods, a team of researchers at the Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute have now uncovered that functional changes within a key brain network occur directly after a 30-minute session of noninvasive, neural-based training. Dysfunction of this cognitive-control network has previously been implicated in a range of brain disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Journal Reference: Tomas Ros, Jean Théberge, Paul A. Frewen, Rosemarie Kluetsch, Maria Densmore, Vince D. Calhoun, Ruth A. Lanius. Mind over chatter: Plastic up-regulation of the fMRI salience network directly after EEG neurofeedback. NeuroImage, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.09.046

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024124741.htm

Rest Is Not Idleness

Implications of the Brain’s Default Mode for Human Development and Education

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Joanna A. Christodoulou, and Vanessa Singh
While moments for reflection may be hard to come by, some research suggests that the long-lost art of introspection — from mind wandering to focused reflection — may be an increasingly valuable part of life. In this article, psychological scientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and colleagues survey the existing scientific literature from neuroscience and psychological science, exploring what it means when our brains are ‘at rest.’ Immordino-Yang and her colleagues believe that research on the brain at rest can yield important insights into the importance of reflection and quiet time for learning.  Published in the July 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.  Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011162148.htm

Meditation Makes You More Creative

Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. This is the outcome of a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and her fellow researchers at Leiden University, published 19 April 2012 in Frontiers in Cognition.  This study indicates that the advantages of particular types of meditation extend much further than simply relaxation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we think and how we experience events.

Journal Reference: Lorenza S. Colzato, Ayca Ozturk, Bernhard Hommel.Meditate to Create: The Impact of Focused-Attention and Open-Monitoring Training on Convergent and Divergent Thinking. Frontiers in Psychology, 2012; 3 DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00116.  Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419102317.htm

Evidence Builds That Meditation Strengthens the Brain

Earlier evidence out of UCLA suggested that meditating for years thickens the brain (in a good way) and strengthens the connections between brain cells. Now a further report by UCLA researchers from March 2012 suggests yet another benefit.  They found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (“folding” of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Further, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing further proof of the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to environmental changes.

Journal Reference: Eileen Luders, Florian Kurth, Emeran A. Mayer, Arthur W. Toga, Katherine L. Narr, Christian Gaser. The Unique Brain Anatomy of Meditation Practitioners: Alterations in Cortical Gyrification. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00034.  Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314170647.htm

Demystifying Meditation: Brain Imaging Illustrates How Meditation Reduces Pain

According to new research published in the April 6, 2011 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience Meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain.  “We found a big effect — about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25 percent.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405174835.htm

Stimulating Brain Cells With Light

From Oct. 26, 2012: “Introducing a light-sensitive protein in transgenic nerve cells … transplanting nerve cells into the brains of laboratory animals … inserting an optic fibre in the brain and using it to light up the nerve cells and stimulate them into releasing more dopamine to combat Parkinson’s disease. These things may sound like science fiction, but they are soon to become a reality in a research laboratory at Lund University in Sweden.”

“Optogenetics allows scientists to control certain cells in the brain using light, leaving other cells unaffected. In order to do this, the relevant cells are equipped with genes for a special light-sensitive protein. The protein makes the cells react when they are illuminated with light from a thin optic fibre which is also implanted in the brain. The cells can then be ‘switched on’ when they are illuminated.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026084356.htm

More Than Good Vibes: Researchers Propose the Science Behind Mindfulness

From ScienceDaily Oct. 29, 2012 — “Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Those who have reaped the benefits of mindfulness know that it works. But how exactly does it work?”

“Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.”

“The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice. These cognitive functions help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) which make up the transformative framework for the mindfulness process.”  “The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.”

Journal Reference: David R. Vago, David A. Silbersweig. Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00296

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121029161452.htm

Modern Parenting May Hinder Brain Development, Research Suggests

From January 7, 2013, Social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing healthy brain and emotional development in children, according to an interdisciplinary body of research presented recently at a symposium at the University of Notre Dame.

The studies show that responding to a baby’s needs has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy.

“This new research links certain early, nurturing parenting practices — the kind common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies — to specific, healthy emotional outcomes in adulthood, and has many experts rethinking some of our modern, cultural child-rearing “norms.  Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development,” says Narvaez.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107110538.htm

Brain Waves Make Waves

Naturally, our brain activity waxes and wanes. When listening, this oscillation synchronizes to the sounds we are hearing. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have found that this influences the way we listen. Hearing abilities also oscillate and depend on the exact timing of one’s brain rhythms. They believe that this discovery that sound, brain, and behaviour are so intimately connected will allow them to learn more about hearing loss.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121114113320.htm

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