• Brain Benefits of Mindfulness – PART 1

    Hippie-MeditationI used to think that the practice of “mindful meditation” was exclusively the preserve of yogis, Buddhists and New Age hippies fresh back from an extended voyage of self-discovery around Asia. If you’ve ever found yourself caught up in a conversation with an over-enthusiastic traveler fresh back from their adventures you’ll know what I mean. Such folk have usually undergone a wholesale transformation from fairly conventional individuals into barefoot, sandalwood-scented, Thai-dyed, hemp shirt and trousers wearing, bead bracelet bedecked eccentrics who preach the stupidity of capitalism and the supremacy of the compassionate mind-set at any and all available opportunities. My attitude has changed fundamentally in recent months.

    A recent review paper (in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, no less) evaluating the flurry of scientific investigations into the possible benefits of practicing mindfulness that have accumulated over the past ten years or so, has given me a fresh perspective. To my surprise it turns out that there is plenty of early evidence attesting to “beneficial effects on physical and mental health; and cognitive performance.”


    Cluttered MindMindfulness is actually a very simple concept to grasp, if only we’d give it a half chance. From the moment we wake to the moment we go back to sleep our minds are cluttered with innumerable thoughts.

    These thoughts tend to focus on the past and the future: conversations, experiences and interactions that occurred in the past and hopes, ambitions, fears and other concerns regarding the future. Mindfulness encourages the development of attention directing and emotional regulating capacities that enable us to focus on the present moment. Ultimately, by getting in the habit of focusing on what we target with our conscious awareness, rather than just allowing ourselves to be buffeted by whatever stimuli, thoughts or feelings happen to flicker through our minds, we can achieve a greater self-awareness.


    Mindful-Happiness_Breath-Meditation-Practices-BreathingPaintingThere are many different ways of achieving a mindful brain state but typically the beginner is encouraged to start by focusing on their breath. They are asked to breath deeply, in and out, right into the belly to ensure their diaphragm is being used to full effect. Whilst performing these simple actions they are regularly reminded to bring their attention back to their breath whenever the mind wanders elsewhere, to notice the cool air passing in through the nostrils on the inhale and the warm air passing out again on the exhale. After a few minutes of this, you are usually instructed to re-direct the focus of your attention on different body parts, moving systematically around the body. Notice the feeling of clothing on skin, upward pressure of the floor (or the chair) on your buttocks – move your mind’s eye from your toes, gradually up through the legs, into hips, up your back, across your shoulders and down your arms to your finger tips.


    When thoughts pop into your head, as they invariably will, the idea is not to block them or force them out, but simply to acknowledge them without engaging too deeply; focusing attention back on your breath, or touch sensations in a certain body part.

    FocusIt sounds extremely simple (too straightforward to result in any meaningful benefits surely?!) but most of us are ingrained with deeply entrenched habits of thought such as worrying about events in the past or future or perpetually seeking some form of stimulation that it can take a while to achieve the goal of quiet contemplation of bodily sensations for more than 20 or 30 seconds at a time. But for those who stick at it – regularly, intensively and consistently over many weeks and months – and gradually build their ability to stay in this mindful state for 5, 15, 30, 60 mins at a time, a wide variety of benefits are achievable. And the latest neuroscience studies into mindfulness are homing in on what it going on inside the brain as a result of all this practice.

    To find out about how mindfulness changes the brain please click here.

    If you love science geekery then my weekly science podcast Geek Chic’s Weird Science may well be right up your alley. It’s available on iTunes, audioboom, libsyn and podbay, with the delectable Lliana Bird who presents every Fri and Sat nights on Radio X.

    I also regularly share the best of the day’s neuroscience breakthroughs on Twitter so if you’d like to follow me, please click here –> @drjacklewis

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  • Brain Benefits of Mindfulness – PART 2

    In part 1 of this blog I broadly described the benefits of mindfulness and what it involves. Here I dig into the detail, outlining the parts of the brain that appear, on the basis of a recent review of many brain scanning studies, to be most consistently impacted by the regular practice of mindfulness.




    Using MRI scanning to focus on differences in the physical structure of brains has revealed that the anterior cingulate cortex (highlighted in yellow in the below image), often implicated in studies of attention, is physically thicker and the underlying white matter denser in practitioners of mindfulness who are highly experienced as opposed to those who are relatively inexperienced.


    Emotional Regulation

    Moderate to severe stress is associated with high levels of circulating cortisol (a “stress” hormone). This is associated with increased density in the amygdala (highlighted in red in the below image) – a structure deep within the tips of the left and right temporal lobes and vital for orchestrating rapid responses to perceived danger. Decreased tissue density is observed within several prefrontal regions and the hippocampus – which also resides within the core of the temporal lobes – serving several memory-related functions and vital for many aspects of cognition. Regular practice of mindfulness appears to reverse this. Cognitive impairment is reduced and presumably an increase in synaptic connectivity accounts for the increase in tissue density within the hippocampal / prefrontal cortex. The enlarged amygdala shrink – presumably due to reductions in the number of synaptic connections between neurons in this region – which is also associated with a reduction in anxious feelings /  the attenuation of heightened perception of threat, back down to normal levels.



    The default mode network (DMN) describes a group of brain areas that are activated in MRI brain scanning studies when participants are “in between tasks”. At first these activations were thought to reflect the brain at “rest” or in “default mode.” After a few more years of research, during which this same set of activations cropped up under circumstances that couldn’t reasonably be described as “restful” the original conclusion was revised. Considering all the studies in which the DMN kicked into action it seemed much more likely that it relates instead to “mind-wandering.”

    GhostbustersMarshmallowmanIn the original studies, when the participant was instructed to “rest” they would invariably use this period to self-reflect or daydream about something completely unrelated to the experimental task (I certainly did when I volunteered for various MRI studies – it’s impossible not to – anyone that’s seen Ghostbusters should know that).

    A couple of years ago when I conducted a series of interviews (British Neuroscience Conversations) with various big hitting neuroscientists at the British Neuroscience Association’s conference, neuropsychopharmacologist Prof David Nutt pointed out that, if our “ego” or the “self” lives anywhere in the brain the Default Mode Network is the best candidate.

    DMN in meditationThe medial prefrontal cortex (labelled DMPFC for the dorsal/upper part and VMPFC for the ventral/lower part) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), i.e. the core DMN regions, were less active in experienced versus inexperienced mindfulness practitioners. As one of the primary aims of many mediation practices is to selflessly accept thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental, compassionate way – the reduction in these neural correlates of “ego” may well reflect a degree of success in this endeavour.

    So inspired have I been by these revelations of fairly solid early evidence attesting to a likely neuroplastic impact of regular practice of mindful meditation on brain areas involved in modulating attention, emotional responses and perhaps even ego that earlier in the year I went to Mykonos for a retreat to immerse myself properly (opening the invitation to anyone who faniced coming along).

    Since then I’ve gone on to develop a #brainboost campaign for Weight Watchers in order to help tackle the obesity epidemic by getting people’s brains ready for healthier eating by practising mindful eating, performing a bit of daily brain training to boost their working memory and learning some simple brain hacks, all with a view to eating more strategically.

    slider-eating-mindfully-bookDuring my research for this project I came across a nice little book on mindful eating that I would highly recommend: it’s called Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers. Personally I find a lot of books on this topic extremely cringeworthy, but Susan Albers describes the practical tips on how to avoid mindless / emotional eating through mindfulness in a very straightforward manner.

    My own book “Sort Your Brain Out” includes a chapter on the kind of foods and eating habits that are good and bad for the brain. In addition, I do a weekly science podcast available on iTunes, audioboom, libsyn and podbay, with the delectable Lliana Bird who presents every Fri and Sat nights on Radio X. And I regularly share the best of the day’s neuroscience breakthroughs on twitter (@drjacklewis).

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  • Adverts Encouraging Use of Tech to Subdue Kids Could End In Tears

    A new Vodaphone advert hit our screens recently and I hate it with a passion. My gym seems to have it on a loop at the moment and every time I see it I progress through a variety of emotions ranging from mild disappointment to abject rage. It starts innocently enough, depicting a bus weaving it’s way across a patchwork quilt of luscious fields. England’s green and pleasant lands, we might assume. The driver is keeping a kindly eye on his customers through the rear view mirror, a young woman is dozing on her man’s shoulder, a suited middle-aged businessman is reading his newspaper and a teenage girl is listening to music on her headphones. One row in front of our lovers a mum finds herself unable to pacify her crying toddler. We’ve all been there. It’s not a pleasant experience when the calm and tranquility is pierced by the ululations of an irate infant child. One-by-one the cast make faces betraying their discontent over the bawling nipper. In such situations – what can you do? Other than grin and bear it?

    VodaphoneAdOn this particular bus, in this particular locale, a hero is at hand. In a bid to bravely defend his belle from her rude awakening, that self same man (one row behind the squalling squib) unsheathes his smartphone. And using the “Power of 4G” summons a cartoon to his screen with which to mesmerise and thus pacify the aforementioned disconsolate child. Miraculously the tears dry up immediately, the sobbing quickly replaced by smiles and giggles of joy. Peace reigns over the bus once more and glances of appreciation ensue.

    The boyfriend/man/husband presumably earns himself a family-sized haul of brownie points from girlfriend having demonstrating not just a strong capacity for empathy but a clear aptitude for child wrangling (what a great dad he could be!). Mum is palpably relieved that the blight to everyone’s day has been appropriately dealt with by this marvellous stroke of genius (so embarrassing when he plays up like that!). Even the stressed out businessman seems to have gone a few shades of purple lighter. The teenage girl goes as far as taking off her headphones, momentarily, to revel in the delicious, unexpected peace and quiet before breaking into a private smile. In the estimation of these fine bus passengers, the holder of the phone is clearly nothing less than an absolute legend.

    Dora_The_ExplorerDora the Explorer is the chosen cartoon and it’s a good choice (a much better choice than Teletubbies, for example). Inexplicably, the language she utters in this British version of the ad is Spanish. I may be showing my ignorance here. Perhaps Dora the Explorer is always aired in it’s original tongue. But it occurred to me that just maybe the ad was cheekily alluding to possibility that the kid might even start to pick up a new language as a fortuitous side effect of this timely intervention. Such is the “Power of 4G”. It’s just a shame that the evidence from several studies indicates that too much screen time spent goggling at idle entertainment displaces valuable time doing other things in the real world that really facilitate a child’s neurodevelopment. Surely encouraging the habit of endlessly distracting kids with smartphones, tablets and laptops throughout their entire childhood is only going to perpetuate this problem, not to mention fueling a boom in short-sightedness.

    It’s not just Vodaphone who are at it. Nissan have also released a TV ad recently for the Pulsar. Excitingly it has automatic braking. For those unfortunate circumstances where the driver’s brain is distracted away from the road at precisely the moment the vehicle in front decides to slam on the brakes without warning. The vital milliseconds saved by circumventing the pesky human can make the critical difference between a dangerous fender bender and safely completed journey.

    Nissan Ad Zombie ChildrenThe key message throughout is that the car is carefully built around the driver and therefore every conceivable problem has been anticipated and addressed. In the closing scene two children appear in the back seat fidgeting, shouting and generally being… well… children. In the blink of an eye technology has magically teleported into their midst – the rowdy boys instantly transformed into well-behaved, docile and, most importantly, silent little angels: one absorbed by a tablet, the other gazing out of the window listening to something on a pair of expensive looking headphones (let’s hope it’s my podcast). That’s right kids. Do not interact with each other. That would just cause a disturbance to your father, or whoever he is. Communication must be discouraged when in ear shot of your elders and betters. And remember: silence is golden!

    My issue with these ads is not Susan Greenfield-esque. I don’t believe that technology is good or bad. But I do think that to unquestioningly consume limitless hours of screen entertainment at the expense of all other activities would have negative consequences for brain development across childhood. My objection to these ads revolves around that fact that they are normalising, if not positively encouraging, child-rearing behaviours that are likely to be deleterious to the best interests of the next generation.

    Study after study has demonstrated that what kids really need if their brains are to develop optimally throughout childhood is lots of interaction with other people. Ideally in the context of unstructured play. Keeping them perpetually spell-bound by computer games, films or cartoons is very much against their best interests.

    telly tubbiesInfants plonked in front of Teletubbies for hours on end are measurably retarded in their language development and verbal expression in comparison to those rarely exposed to screens in their first 2 years of life. This is ironic given that, allegedly, a large team of child psychologists were assembled by the BBC to consult on what elements should be included in order to optimise neurodevelopment.

    Admittedly endless hours of interacting with young kids are shattering. And undoubtedly the most effective method of conjuring some much needed peace and quiet from the endless barrage of questions, perpetual motion, mess, mood swings and tears are screen-based innovations designed specifically to captivate young minds. But the easiest route is rarely the best path and whilst this approach may well be very convenient for frazzled parents it is demonstrably not best for the child.

    Advertisers will jump on any scenario that their intended market might be able to relate to so the theme of pacifying noisy kids with tech is not surprising. Yet it supports the proliferation of lazy, unhelpful parenting tricks that ultimately work against the best interests of a whole generation of humans. Whether or not this amounts to a whole hill of beans in the long run is yet to be seen. Yet from what is known with any certainty so far, there are clear indications that screen time should be monitored and possibly limited, or else it will displace the human face-to-face interactions that so beautifully sculpt young brains in preparation for a long life of interacting with other humans.

    buggy phoneIf you want a child’s neurodevelopment to proceed optimally you should, in my humble opinion, forego the lure of using technological paraphernalia to distract them – unless you are carefully restricting its use at other times – and instead encourage them to engage in some form of play in the real world. And whilst we’re at it you should ensure that as much as possible you give them your full attention. Having your eyes on your smartphone whilst talking to your child is a terrible example to set. So much of communication happens via eye contact and active (as opposed to partially distracted) listening, so if you rob your children of valuable experience with this mode of interaction then their communication skills and social dexterity will suffer.

    I’m not saying people should consign their tablets to the rubbish, nor permanently ban children from using all tech. I’m merely encouraging parents to avoid using these tactics habitually. Save it for when you really need it and you will help your kid to develop the full range of skills, both hard and soft, to give them the best possible start in life.

    And if you think I’m a luddite after this rant you’d be wrong. If you explore my blog further you’ll find plenty of articles relating to the brain benefits of various computer games. Everything in moderation I say (unless we’re talking about working memory training using the Dual N-Back task or reading books in which case I see no harm in overdoing it so long as combined with a healthy social life :-))

    As well as these monthly blogs I do a weekly podcast – Geek Chic’s Weird Science – and daily tweets about breakthroughs in neuroscience and beyond – @drjacklewis.

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  • Dr Jack Lewis – Motivational Speaking Update

    DrJackLewisKeynoteSpeakerI’ve now been on the motivational speaking circuit for over 5 years. I’ve traveled the length and breadth of the country to perform at speaking engagements in schools, science conferences and a wide variety of businesses. As of this year, on the business speaking front, I’ve been very happy to find myself in great demand not just in the U.K. but all over Europe. In light of this I thought I’d write a quick update to describe which topics have been most popular with my clients.

    There is a huge amount of insight that neuroscience can provide on a wide variety of topics. It’s always satisfying to find that, in tailoring my talks to the specific needs of a client, I’m constantly stumbling upon new areas of neuroscientific endeavour with which I wasn’t previously familiar . No matter what the organisation’s priorities have been in terms of what they want their staff to take away from my talk, a few days of digging around in the neuroscience literature ALWAYS yields some inspiration; shedding an interesting new perspective on virtually any topic. Do get in touch if you have a new challenge for me!


    Talks for Schools

    Over the past five years I’ve been invited to speak at several different schools across the UK. The aim is to engage young learners, usually in the build up to their big exams, with an upbeat neuroscience narrative that brings to life what exactly is going on inside their brains as they learn. Once students grasp that all their efforts are leading directly to huge changes in the wiring of their brains, adaptations that support the new skills that they are developing through trial and error, their motivation levels invariably rise accordingly.

    I give them insights into straight-forward techniques to get brains working better: whether memorising information more thoroughly, managing exam stress more effectively and simply encouraging them to see school as the only viable way (currently) of sculpting young brains in preparation for dealing with whatever adult life might throw at them. The 2015-2016 school year will be my fifth consecutive year of doing my Brain Coach talk at two of the schools I regularly speak at.


    Talks For Business: Neuroscience of Decision Making

    In the last few of years I’ve been working more and more with senior management teams across Europe to help them understand insights from neuroscience that are relevant to their specific business needs. For example, I helped one of Europe’s “Big Four” auditors win a highly lucrative new business contract by sharing with them my Neuroscience of Decision Making talk in the context of reverse engineering the pitch process in light of the flaws in how the human brain evaluates information when making important choices. By exploiting a large corpus of knowledge generated over the past decade or so from neuroeconomic investigations the realities of how risk, uncertainty and benefit are evaluated in the human brain can be explored in order to concoct strategies that improve the likelihood of developing a successful pitch.


    Talks for Business: Neuroscience of Creativity

    Since the first outing of my Neuroscience of Creativity talk in 2013 it has evolved into a half-day workshop experience. I’ve been rolling this Innovation Workshop out over the course of 2015 with various members of the Senior Leadership Team at one of the world’s biggest broadcasters by sharing with them everything that science has to offer in terms of techniques that work and those that sound good but ultimately don’t. By assisting them to create an environment that genuinely promotes innovative thinking right at the very top of the organisation and convincing them of the worth of approaches in an evidence-based fashion, the idea is to reduce resistance to some of the seemingly unorthodox strategies in order that they might be allowed to permeate freely throughout the rest of the company.


    Sort Your Brain Out

    Sadly many people proclaim that their busy lives simply leave no time to read books. So Adrian Webster and I have turned our book Sort Your Brain Out into a live event. Since our first booking late last year we have been enjoying a steady increase in demand for our motivational speaking duet over the past few months and very much hope that this trend continues in the years to come. We are both represented by Gordon Poole Agency and our speaking agent James Poole is always on hand to discuss booking enquiries.

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  • BOOK REVIEW: “The Chimp Paradox”

    ChimpParadoxOver the past few years I’ve been reading copious amounts of popular science. My bookshelves are quite literally overflowing with books about the brain. Yet despite the fierce competition, when it comes to dreaming up metaphors to cut through the complexities of the mind in order to help people understand what drives human behaviour The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters is king of the jungle.


    The main reason it is so brilliant is the elegant manner in which over a century of insights from the fields of psychology and psychiatry is effortlessly translated into a practical user guide to mind management. With The Chimp Paradox to hand, everyone can grasp what drives the internal conflicts that take place in our minds no a daily basis, not to mention the strategies they can employ to diffuse the tensions that inevitably arise as a consequence of being in possession of a piece of neural apparatus that evolved in leaps and bounds over millions of years. There is a delicate balance between simplifying complex concepts and dumbing them down to the point of being condescending. Steve Peters judges this to perfection.


    JourneyWe all have moments in life that we look back on only to find ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief when we recall what we said, how we felt or what we wrote in the heat of the moment. Actions or comments that seem entirely justified on one day often lead to wholehearted regret soon after, yet we make the same mistakes over and over again. By developing an easy to grasp and simple to use model of our mind in which two individuals co-exist: the erratic, primal, emotional CHIMP brain on the one hand and the calm, highly-evolved, rational HUMAN brain on the other – it enables us to understand our own behaviours and, perhaps more importantly, those of the people that we encounter each day.


    By thoroughly understanding what drives the decisions and conduct of not just ourselves but also other people, we can start to develop good habits of thought and action (or “Autopilots” as Prof Peters calls them) in place of bad habits of thought and action (dubbed by Prof Peters as “Gremlins”) that cause so much suffering and discomfort in the world. It also throws into sharp relief the times when it’s best to let others vent their frustrations (when their CHIMP is in the drivers seat) without taking any personal offense and saving what you really think of them for a later time when they might have achieved a more reasonable state of mind (when their HUMAN is in control) in which they might actually be capable of grasping the wisdom in your words.


    chimp brainI genuinely believe that if this book were to be put on every school curriculum, the world would be a better place. A truly excellent, fast-paced and invaluable read.


    In addition to these monthly blogs you can subscribe to @drjacklewis on Twitter where I share at least three good brain news related articles every day and if you love podcast you can catch Geek Chic’s Weird Science (on iTunes, audioboom, libsyn, podbay) which comes out each and every Friday.

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  • The Runner’s High by Dr Jack

    In previous articles on this blog I’ve described some of the many long-term brain benefits of regular exercise. These have mainly focused on the benefits that regular exercise offers to older people in terms of reducing the rate of age-related cognitive decline. But the brain benefits of taking regular exercise are applicable to everyone, young and old.

    Do It For Your Brain’s Sake

    runners-highPeople who exercise regularly have lower rates of anxiety and depression. They even boast greater cortical thickness in parts of the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe. Specifically brain scanning studies have demonstrated that the left and right hippocampus, fundamental both to creating memories and knowing where we are in space, are a little larger than in sedentary people. This increase in tissue thickness is thought to be indicative of a denser meshwork of synaptic connections reflecting a greater complexity of neuronal network. In other words several brain areas fundamentally involved in memory and cognition are able to perform better. What’s more regular exercise leads to improvements in mood and even helps you sleep better. And there is little better than a good night’s sleep for helping brains to reach peak performance.

    Exercise leads to increased levels of nerve growth factors like BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) that promote the birth and survival of new brain cells, synapses and development of new blood vessels. So this is thought to a likely mechanism for the changes in the thickness of various brain regions in people who take regular exercise and quite possible the long term benefits in cognitive ability and mental health.

    In my talks, workshops and first book (Sort Your Brain Out) I urge people to move away from thinking about exercise as a pastime motivated by the desire to improve the appearance of our bodies and more as something we should get in the habit of doing regular exercise to manage our mood / productivity in the short term and brain health in the long term. When people are feeling stressed out their motivation to hit the gym is often at rock bottom levels. A huge shame because exercise is exactly what would make them feel much, much better almost immediately.

    endocannabinoidsWhat Causes the Runner’s High?

    Athletes often talk of the “runner’s high.” This has long been explained as a result of endorphins released in the brain in response to moderate to intense exercise. It makes good theoretical sense because endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates, have the twin effect of numbing pain and making us feel good. The trouble is that up until 2008 there was little if any hard evidence to back this notion up. Yet further doubt was cast on the whole endorphin hypothesis when a study demonstrated that the runner’s high still occurred even when the effect of any released endorphins was blocked with a drug called naxalone.

    Looking elsewhere for a mechanism through which the runner’s high might be achieved researchers started to focus on a possible role for endocannabinoids. Similar in structure to the hundreds of cannabinoid chemicals found in the Cannabis sativa plant smoked recreationally in pursuit of a mood-enhancing effect, endocannabinoids are naturally produced throughout the brain.

    Subsequently, elevated endorphin levels were observed in a brain scanning study that compared brains that had recently completed a 2-hour endurance run compared to other brains that hadn’t (Boecker et al, 2008). So consensus now is that the anxiolytic effects of exercise are mediated by a combination of endocannabinoid and endorphin release in the brain.

    EndorphinsWhat Purpose Might the Runner’s High Serve?

    From an evolutionary perspective pain signals clearly should be switch on and off-able because they can be helpful or disabling depending on the context. Pain signals from damaged body parts helps us to avoid worsening the injury when at rest or engaging in gentle exercise, clearly an advantage when the priority is to allow a twisted ankle, strained knee or inflamed muscle to heal properly. But in the context of evading a predator or attempting to catch prey, such pain signals could lead to the huge potential disadvantage should it lead to getting caught and killed by the predator, or failing to catch the very food that might keep us, and our dependents, alive. The benefit of the analgesic / hedonic effect is that if a person is running to save their skin, then switching off the pain signal and inducing a light high to further compensate for any residual pain resulting in an unimpeded getaway makes perfect sense. Better to endure minor tissue damage if it is the only way to ensure you’ll live to see another day.

    runLittle and Often

    There is a huge amount of evidence to support the concept that regular exercise is extremely good for body and brain. The trouble is, we all know this but few actually get around to taking regular exercise. In my view the main reason for this is partly feeling overwhelmed by their busy lives but also probably involves exercising in the wrong way: when people do finally get around to exercising they often overdo it. Spending the whole of the next day aching all over will do little to incentivise them to take the trouble to exercising again any time soon.

    I would argue that little and often is the best policy. Even at the frantic pace of modern life everyone can fit in 20-30mins of exercise a day. That way, even if some weeks you only hit 50% of your target, you’ll still be getting your heart rate and breathing rate up, flooding the brain with highly oxygenated blood, endorphins, endocannabinoids and BDNF, 3-4 times per week – exactly the recommended dose!

    In addition to these monthly blogs you can catch my weekly podcast Geek Chic’s Weird Science (on iTunes, audioboom, libsyn, podbay) and subscribe to @drjacklewis on Twitter where I share at least three good brain news related articles every day.

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  • Sort Your Brain Out Retreats

    Feeling stressed? Need a break? Fancy spending a few days in paradise to learn how to meditate?
    Better still would you like to learn more about how your brain works AND simple things you can do every day to be more creative, make better decisions, manage your mood?
    The SYBO retreats might be just the thing for you!!
    The venue is the beautiful Greek Island of Mykonos.
    Your hosts are the beautifully-bendy Jasmyn (see photos) & yours truly: the brain-besotted Dr Jack Lewis
    We are now offering a fantastic, luxurious, Stress-Busting, Yoga & Meditation Retreat by day with a selection of intellectually-stimulating Brain Talks just before lunch each time, freeing up the afternoons for exploration of the island’s many beaches.
    Meditation is clinically-proven to reduce stress. So if you’re feeling washed out after a particularly tough start to the year this really will help you to Sort Your Brain Out. It might just change your life. Jasmyn talks everyone through the various yoga moves, in a mixed group of beginners and advanced practitioners, and then concludes with a guided meditation session. These dawn and dusk sessions are complemented with several talks that explain, amongst many other things the science of meditation and why it’s so good for brains. Once a person truly grasps why mindfulness meditation is so good for health of body and brain they naturally become motivated to incorporate it into their daily routine back in the “real world.
    What to expect from the Neuro-Infused Art of Peaceful Living Retreats this spring / summer?
    The villas are in a very private neighborhood in Mykonos, Greece.
    The properties have 4-5 rooms each, sleeping maximum 10 per house.
    These neuroscience-infused Art of Peaceful Living™ programs lasts 5 days and includes:
    • 21-25th May (now fully booked)
    • Airport Transfers
    • Luxury accommodation
    • Vegetarian breakfast and lunch
    • Twice daily yoga and meditation practices
    • Either a treatment at a local day-spa or an in-room massage
    • Daily brain talks from Dr Jack on:
      • Changing Your Brain
      • Neuroscience of Creativity
      • Neuroscience of Meditation
      • Neuroscience of Temptation
    All for £1,550 (€2,120) for the Spring retreat during 21st-25th May (SOLD OUT)
    Did I mention there is a pool?
    Also please bear in mind that if you want to arrive a few days early or leave a few days later we may be able to arrange accommodation for you at the villa during this time.
    The rooms each have a queen bed and most have private bathrooms.
    Every morning, as the host (Jasmyn) prepares your breakfast and lunch, she gives instruction on how to prepare these “plant-based” meals in your kitchen at home as part of the included Look Alive™ Nutrition workshops. These workshops will have recipes, and detailed explanations about why eating a plant-based is beneficial to brain-function and chemistry, physical performance, treatment of psychological disturbances and disorders, as well as a know-how to have your kitchen prepped and ready for easy to make and quick recipes.
    Yoga classes are all multi-level and while the morning classes can be vigorous exercise, the evening classes are relaxing and recuperative. The morning Vinyassa Yoga classes are more dynamic for beginners to advanced practitioners, and are immediately followed by a meditation class to settle the minds before the day’s activities. And of course there is no obligation to attend classes, so whether you just fancy a lie in or want to go off one afternoon for a wander, that’s totally up to you!
    Activities include additional excursions on the island, lounging by the on-property pool, or venturing to any of the island’s other many delights.
    Yoga-Nidra sessions are given at sunset following a gentle Yin-Yoga Flow class incorporating techniques of thai-massage, to restore you and prepare you for the next day’s Vinyassa Yoga sessions or for going out that night! Dinners are not usually included to give attendees freedom to roam in the evenings (unless you request to have a special dinner prepared instead of lunch).
    Sort Your Brain Out Retreats are 5 days of true luxury living. Treating the body and brain to wholesome, delicious food, body balancing exercise and gentle meditations, all in the privacy of the Maera Villas – with the endless view of the Mediterranean from each of the properties.
    Bespoke Corporate Retreats for groups of 5 or more people can also be discussed.
    For enquiries about availability please feel free to drop Jack an email: dr.lewis@neuroformed.com
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  • Green Tea – a “smart” drug? by Dr Jack

    SYBO 1 year oldRoom For One More?

    In the Smart Drugs chapter of the book I wrote with Adrian Webster “Sort Your Brain Out” we argued that of the various nootropics available in this day and age it makes sense to give preference to substances that have been around for eons rather than the new kids on the block. This really is the only way you can enjoy the benefits without having to worry about the potential unknown long term problems and side effects.

    The brain benefits of regular coffee drinking were described, but due to space limitations we were only able to discuss a few other substances. This month’s blog highlights some of the many published studies that have indicated a wide variety of health benefits associated with regularly imbibing green tea – something that people have indeed been doing for hundreds of years.

    Green & Black

    Tea_grade_of_fermentationCamellia sinensis is the name of the plant that gives us white, yellow, green, black and oolong teas. Black tea has more than twice the amount of caffeine as green tea, whilst green tea has more polyphenols (the very antioxidant substances that mop up all those dangerous free radicals). The difference in concentrations of these substances can be accounted for by the fact that black tea requires fermentation before preparation – which increases the caffeine content and decreases the polyphenol content – whilst green tea is prepared from unfermented leaves.

    All The Tea In China

    GreenTeaPotGreen Tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years where it has been exploited for it’s stimulant, diuretic and astringent properties; not to mention improving heart health, flatulence and body temperature regulation. The stimulant effects are thanks to the alkaloids contained within the tea leaf including caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. As green tea contains about half the caffeine of black tea and MUCH less than a cup of coffee, dosing yourself with green tea throughout the day is much less likely to disrupt your sleep come bedtime than the other options.

    Typing “green tea” into an internet search engine yields a huge number of websites dedicated to promoting the ubiquitous benefits of regular green tea ingestion to improve the effectiveness of exercise, improving weight loss and even helping to manage diabetes. Of course its always difficult to know which sources you can and can’t trust. Hard data is required to establish whether green tea really does help to ameliorate symptoms of the various complaints for which it has been traditionally recommended.

    Is Green Tea Really Good For You?

    Yes! When individual research studies are published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal they can provide evidence to support or reject any particular scientific hypothesis, but a single study cannot “prove” or “disprove” any given theory. Meta-analyses are much more powerful in this regard because they look at many different studies all investigating similar hypotheses. If, despite being conducted on a completely different group of subjects, often in a completely different location and undertaken by a different group of researchers, they all point towards the same conclusion this provides for a much more powerful argument to support, or refute, any given claim when the consensus points to a benefit. Just looking at the meta-analysis data it has been confirmed that green tea is effective at lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of several different cancers and improving cardiovascular/metabolic health, to name but a few.

    Any Brain Benefits of Green Tea?

    keep-calm-and-drink-green-teaDrinking green tea has long been associated with relaxation and, indeed, scientific investigation has now backed this up. Epigallocatechine-3-gallate, the most active of the tea polyphenols (known collectively as “catechins”) is found in much higher quantities in green tea than other teas and is known to inhibit an enzyme that converts cortisone to cortisol. Cortisol is a so-called stress hormone and cortisone the inactive form. By preventing the enzyme in question – 11 beta-hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 – from doing its job, the active ingredient of green tea is able to reduce levels of the stress hormone. (In case you were wondering, the other 5 catechins are: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin and epicatechin gallate).

    Can Green Tea Can Improve Cognition?

    Yes! Anecdotal accounts of the brain benefits of regular tea drinking in the elderly inspired research to establish whether green tea really could improve cognition. Over the last ten years huge amounts of data have been generated on this topic. The more green tea a person consumes, the lower prevalence of cognitive impairment (Full article available for free). Early research trying to ascertain the mechanism by which such benefits are realised demonstrated that spatial cognition was improved in rats that drank water infused with polyphenols from green tea (full article available for free).

    In the last few years experiments dosing healthy, younger humans with green tea versus placebo have demonstrated an increase in functional connectivity between frontal and parietal brain areas during a working memory task (Full article available for free). Bearing in mind that improvements in working memory can translate into better fluid intelligence and therefore a higher score in the IQ test – swapping green tea into your daily hot drink regime might make sense for your brain’s sake as well as your body’s.

    As well as these monthly blogs you can follow me on twitter by clicking here. It’s always great to hear your suggestions on topics for my brain blogs, so please do get in touch by clicking here.

    I also do a weekly science podcast called Geek Chic’s Weird Science which you can download for free from iTunes or alternatively, if you’re not an iPhone or iPad user, you can download/stream it from a variety of online sources such as Podbay, Libsyn, and PodcastChart, amongst others!

    Read more »
  • Review: “Do No Harm” by Henry Marsh

    Do No Harm by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh is a truly magical read.

    do-no-harmThis candid, blunt and often painfully amusing collection of tales about neurosurgical procedures that went well against the odds, that went catastrophically wrong when it really should have been plain sailing, drives home how tough being a neurosurgeon really is. Several passages describe what it’s like to carefully navigate the nervous tissue packed tightly inside a person’s skull so beautifully that it verged on the poetic. Others, conveying the profound guilt associated with the realisation that an inadvertently nicked blood vessel would ultimately leave the patient permanently paralysed for the rest of their life, were so honest as to be emotionally brutalising. And as for the how the changes in the NHS have impacted on the profession of neurosurgery, not to mention the Catch 22 of how do develop surgical skills when no one wants to be operated on by a novice, it generates tremendous empathy for those brave young souls embarking from scratch on this hugely challenging career path in a totally new era.

    Do No Harm really struck a chord with me on a personal level. During my teens I was always torn between a career in medicine and my scientific calling. Friends’ parents often commented that I would make a brilliant doctor and my best friend’s father, who spent most of his career as head of immunology at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, urged me on numerous occasions to take the medical route and then branch out into research later. Deep down however I lacked the courage to accept the inevitable mistakes that might lead to catastrophe for my patients. I had watched far too many episodes of the 90’s medical drama series Casualty. This excellent series may well have inspired thousands of Brits to pursue careers in medicine, but for me, it instead made me acutely aware that unnecessary deaths were an unavoidable consequence of practicing medicine. I realised that errors of judgement could spell disaster at any moment and I knew deep down that these would inevitably weigh heavily on my conscience. So I chose to pursue neuroscience instead of medicine.

    The first few chapters of Do No Harm brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion because the tales being told were not works of fiction, but instead the autobiographical real-life experiences of an extraordinarily honest man, brave enough not only to build a career in surgery but also to give equal voice to both his successes and failures.

    This is an excellent book. Not only will you find it very rewarding but it might just make you realise how lucky we Brits are to have people like Henry Marsh in our beloved National Health Service.

    In addition to these monthly blog postings I tweet about interesting brain-related articles in the press on a daily basis. You can follow me by clicking here.

    I also do a weekly science podcast called Geek Chic’s Weird Science which you can download for free from iTunes or alternatively, if you’re not an iPhone or iPad user, you can download/stream it from a variety of online sources such as Podbay, Libsyn, and PodcastChart, amongst others!

    Read more »
  • Hot Topics in Neuroscience by Dr Jack

    PrisonerOfConscienceTurnedHumanRightsLawyerOn an annual basis I copy a year’s worth of Tweets and paste them into a blog post to preserve them for posterity. Turns out I’m going to have to start doing this biannually. Why? Because Twitter now only seems to allow access only to the last 6 months worth.

    Where all those tweets from earlier years have gone I may never know. But assuming that they’ve all been deleted then I’m relieved that I’ve been archiving them myself. This is because, for me, Twitter serves a valuable role in terms of enticing me to find and flag the three most interesting brain research stories from that day. I’d have been very sad to have lost my chronology of favourite breakthroughs and curiosities from the world of neuroscience because I find it useful resource for several reasons (and you might too):

    1) Whenever I’m reminded of something I’ve read in the past I often want to go back to the original article to refresh my memory with the details. The re-visiting process helps me consolidate my knowledge and integrate it with other evidence that I’ve come across during the intervening period. I find that internet search engines are pretty useless in this regard. Any particular search term will invariably return huge amounts of relevant information. Far too much to wade through to be genuinely useful when the goal is to track down a specific, but perhaps obscure, article.

    2) Having a separate record of the articles that I thought were interesting, insightful and/or useful enough to bother the Twitter-sphere with also enables me to keep track of which areas of neuroscience are making the greatest strides forward. So this year I finally took the time to categorize and tally as many of my recent Brain Tweets as I could get my hands on to clarify what topics have been the hottest in recent times.

    2014TweetAnalysisChartThis chart features only those blog categories that contained 10 items or more. Unsurprisingly given that it’s a weekly podcast tweets relating to Geek Chic’s Weird Science topped the bill with nearly 50 (click here if you’d like to download all episodes, for free!).

    In 2nd place came the Brain Tech category which includes anything relating to augmenting sick or healthy brains with some kind of man-made technology. Implanted electrodes, direct brain-to-brain intercontinental communication, zapping brains with electrical currents, stem cell therapies and so on.

    In 3rd place came the Brain Illness category. This encompasses tweets about developments in all neurological and psychiatric maladies excluding brain injuries and dementia. These each have their own category due to the large numbers of articles I tweeted about on these topics.

    In 4th place with 30 tweets came the Drugs category meaning articles that I thought were of broad interest relating to psychoactive drugs (i.e. those that can get into and affect the brain).

    Many neuroscientists have been getting their knickers in a twist about the rise of Brain Training games despite scant evidence to back up most of the developers claims so it comes as no surprise that this topic should have stolen 5th place. Neuroplasticity was just two places behind and is a category that I reserve for articles relating to behaviour-induced changes in brain structure and function that are unrelated to commercial Brain Training. I’m not going to bore you by explaining every single category but I should point out that Bad Journo is a category for articles that I thought were misleading / poorly written or articles written to correct / clarify misleading journalistic communications.

    So now you have a sense of what each of these categories mean you can now navigate this half year’s worth of brain tweets accordingly and hopefully find what your interested in more easily. Categories in order of most to least often tweeted about are:

    Geek Chic, Brain Tech, Brain Illness, Drugs, Brain Train, Brain Imaging, Neuroplasticity, Sleep, Creativity, Neuroscientists, Brain Injury, Senses, Dementia, Neuroanatomy, Bad Journo, Brain Art, Eating, Events, Brain Food, Emotion, Young Brains, Brain Health, Memory, Other Brains, Quotes, Holding Onto Marbles, Neurodevelopment, Evolution, Music, Sex, Altruism, Brain Ageing, Brain Hacks, Gut bacteria, Language, Books, Fun, Learning, Neurosurgery, Reward Pathways, Addiction, Artificial Intelligence, Gaming, Optical illusions, Talks, Vision, Brain Education, Coding, Decisions, Heuristics, Mind over Matter, Navigation, Neuromarketing, Pain, Parenting, Stress, Brain-Gender, Consciousness, Exercise, Habits, History, Intelligence, Morality, Personality, Politics, Reviews, TV, Window to the Soul, Body Language, Film, Free will, Hallucination, Immunity, Impulses, Interview, Meditation, Neuromyths, Poverty, Religion

    Listed below, in alphabetic order, for your convenience:


    Quitting smoking leads2release of hormone at heart of stress response (CRF) in key part of brain reward pathway (VTA) http://bit.ly/1xiXeXU

    The cycle of addiction – this simple but beautiful animation says it all

    Use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among US adolescents @JAMAPeds

    Workaholism: The Addiction of this Century — via #Neuroscience News – http://bit.ly/1oRkfbY



    “necessary role for prefrontal control in generating honest behavior by overriding our tendencies2be self-interested” http://bit.ly/1qf7Nsc

    Extraordinary altruists and their oversized amygdalae – would you give a kidney to a stranger for nothing in return? http://n.pr/1C45T1e

    People give more generously when the advertising focuses on a needy individual rather than the masses: http://n.pr/13H2Jok

    Amazing role reversal in altruistic behaviour (homeless man giving taxi money2damsel) inspires many acts of kindness http://huff.to/1wTEgpv

    How the environment impacts childrens’ tendency to be altruistic http://stanford.io/17D7d1h

    Kindling altruism in kids is not just for Christmas – “best way2teach generosity is to show it in your own behaviour” http://bit.ly/1Gw03b1


    Artificial Intelligence

    It finally happened: A robot beat the Turing Test (@qz) http://bit.ly/1kaeiEO

    Google #Brain -snapping up every deep learning expert / business they can get their hands on: http://wrd.cm/1r3Mole

    “New landmark in..history of brain-inspired computing” Super-fast processing/low power consumption: http://bit.ly/1lH2Pyw

    System uses information on internet2teach robots how2interact with world using Markov models: http://tcrn.ch/1qcATqs


    Bad Journo

    Part of brain responsible for hangover guilt – is an “intriguing hypothesis” with “no direct implications for humans” http://bit.ly/1pGyt6s

    FAIL: “..cause for this behaviour may lie in the “anterior insular cortex”, located behind the forehead.” http://bit.ly/VTK3h2

    “Wire your brain for gratitude” – this Forbes article is horrible, it actually made me gag… http://onforb.es/1uASaIw

    “Brain GPS” is NOT an “exciting NEW part of.. jigsaw of our brain. O’Keefe’s 1st paper was published in 1971!! http://bit.ly/ZAXRP4

    Gambling Addiction Related To Brain Reward System – BBC News I’m ashamed of you – that headline is not “news” http://bbc.in/1CL9n7l

    Great example of why people who have only the vaguest understanding of neuroscience shouldn’t write about the brain: http://bit.ly/1k3isUv

    ‘Sci-Fi or Sci-Fact?’- separating the science fiction from the science fact in the media. http://thescifact.wordpress.com

    Humans only use 10% of their #brain, right? Wrong! This myth still lurks, e.g. in new movies like LUCY: http://bit.ly/1rwvtXH   #neuroscience

    Piece by @m_wall on @TheConversation on ‘cargo cult neuroscience’ in business and education: http://bit.ly/1tAR5Eg

    Watson/Crick did not discover DNA. That was Miescher 84yrs earlier. W/C worked out its structure. cc @TheAtlanticTECH


    Body Language

    Body language – how it works, where to look and why it evolved in the fist place



    Reading http://bit.ly/1oBHTtY which resonates with the ‘Gone Fishing’ principle of @polarbearpirate and @DrJackLewis #SortYourBrainOut

    Memoirs of a neurosurgeon, essential reading, methinks: http://bbc.in/1qqkvq7

    NYT book review covers recent tomes that consider impacts of the internet / related technologies on our minds: http://nyti.ms/1uFoZZK #SYBO

    Sort your brain out is @AmazonUK’s Kindle Daily Deal! http://ow.ly/GjrS4 @DrJackLewis @polarbearpirate Get it NOW!

    I’m reading Do No Harm by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh – it is without doubt the best book I’ve read this year: http://bit.ly/1eRYZ1K #xmaslist


    Brain Ageing

    Psychology news Why the Elderly Can Die from a Broken Heart http://ow.ly/2NRdjS

    In Men, Long-Term Unemployment May Speed Aging – http://psych.ly/I9JfO6 #mentalhealth #health

    Older people find it harder to filter out irrelevant info – but retain the mental flexibility of their former selves: http://bit.ly/1z28tT6

    2015 looms large and 2014 has flown by, why our perception of time changes as we get older http://buff.ly/1xkMLwV

    Older brains work better early: http://bit.ly/1vf4nJy So elders,plan more cognitively demanding chores for the A.M.


    Brain Art

    GeekChicWeirdJewleryDo you want to showcase your artwork or film? Is it about the brain? Show us and feature in our magazine! #NeuroArt http://youtu.be/7mM_8XbhXOo

    Cake brains! #MoreBrainz http://bit.ly/1qOVEFL

    Can the arts and humanities contribute significantly to the study of the brain? http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627314008368 … by Semir Zeki, so the answer is, of course, yes!

    Science graphic of the week – depicting how psilocybin (magic mushrooms) change the brain’s (functional) connectivity http://wrd.cm/1rDv6HZ

    Warner Bros style public service announcement re: The Perils of Porn Brain = quite amusing:http://huff.to/1wCqlmu

    Nice brain collage BBC news – top notch effort: http://bit.ly/1HEb0c0

    One for you @DrJackLewis – Artists and neuroscientists join forces: Art Neuro @theragfactory http://bit.ly/1xdBF90

    Beautiful complexity “@andyextance: The ‘brainbow’: Cells tagged with fluorescent proteins”

    I WANT ONE!! RT @vaughanbell: 3D-printed Christmas tree decorations of own brain http://3dprint.com/31522/3d-printed-brain-ornaments/ … via @Radiolab

    Anyone for a helmet studded with crystals that change colour according to #brain state? No? http://huff.to/1qQMH0o #BCI meets #fashion

    Micrograph, created by Spike Walker, depicting dopamine crystals illuminated by polarised light | #WellcomeImages | http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2014/08/01/image-of-the-week-dopamine/


    Brain Education

    Neurobiology for dummies courtesy of the brain science podcast #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO #brain http://bit.ly/XfdKtG

    I heard about MOOCs long ago (Massively Open Online Courses) – now I’ve actually enrolled in 1! At Yale; on morality: http://tinyurl.com/lnmhrl5

    Hands up who wants to learn how the brain deals with space? (space around us, not outer space!) Here’s a free course: http://bit.ly/1uMESvv


    Brain Nutrition

    Study suggests higher levels of omega-3 in diet are associated with better sleep: http://www.psypost.org/?p=23550

    Brain Food: Superfoods for ultimate brain power and what to avoid … good video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KlMxriH4Cg&sns=tw

    I love the idea of actively training people to become addicted to healthy food: http://bbc.in/1ur22qB

    Fruit and vegetable consumption could be as good for your mental as your physical health http://ow.ly/C035A

    vmPFC activity (above bridge of ur nose!) upon viewing different foods is positively correlated with calorie content: http://bit.ly/1rpPyvW

    Scientific American made a film which explains why a turkey dinner makes us sleepy. win/fail?  http://bit.ly/1xUCkQp

    Space-aged brain food put to the test by amusing Guardian blogger: http://bit.ly/1uqnPO1

    Recently published paper indicates there are more anti-oxidants in organic than non-organic foods: http://bit.ly/1rf3j49

    Eat fish on a weekly basis (don’t stress to much about which type) for your #brain’s sake: http://ti.me/1mh7YgV

    Weight loss probiotics? http://bit.ly/1mTl4Ak Does this just allow people2continue keep eating badly;w/out getting fat?

    I wonder if cold weather increases glucokinase activity in hypothalamus? I ate a whole pack of Matchmakers last night http://reut.rs/12IcilH


    Brain Hacks

    “How to debug your brain..”is 1 of the strangest blog posts I’ve ever read. Can’t work out whether that’s good or bad:  http://bit.ly/1t7z8ch

    How the #brain makes and breaks habits via @SciAmMIND http://bit.ly/1oeyU3H

    Exercise may leave you feeling less anxious because you perceive your environments as less threatening http://on.apa.org/1rWHF6O

    Some of those “old chestnuts” that reduce cognitive burden in a world of info overload: http://bit.ly/1qLRD6zThe power of the green office: Having plants around increases productivity by 15% http://ow.ly/AWqPz


    Brain Health

    Power of tumeric @bbchealth: Curry spice ‘helps brain self-heal’ http://bbc.in/1vkvlfG

    Novel approach to treating brain cancer boosted by new UK system of extra support for Promising Innovative Medicines: http://bit.ly/1qYbkLB

    Former Surgeon General for US also has #SortYourBrainOut message – he advises weekly saunas to sweat off the toxins! http://bit.ly/1qhQR5O

    Has anyone out there ever tried Prof Bartlett’s Brain Vitality Index? Interesting? Motivating? http://bit.ly/WJElzb

    Ever wondered if small blood vessels in your brain are getting clogged up? Try standing on 1 leg: http://bit.ly/1wKKcCG

    If you do this Brain Health check over the Christmas break -consider your booze levels before getting too concerned! http://onforb.es/1CWtWzg

    Get out in that glorious sunshine! Even mild Vit D deficiency is assoc with increase risk of dementia: http://bit.ly/1r0RhZW   #skin+sun=vitD

    Imagine: in the not-too-distant future school kids might be asked2donate blood2help rejuvenate grandparents’ #brains! http://bit.ly/1ADTmAO

    Shed some fat to #SortYourBrainOut by reducing its inflammatory impact on #brain tissue (which promotes #Alzheimer’s) http://ti.me/1vSSJk4

    Crafts like knitting work the brain to produce flow which can help to ease symptoms in people w/ PTSD,depression etc: http://cnn.it/1uWAxnb

    Keeping your heart & blood vessels in good nick leads to better #brain function http://bit.ly/1olanqU   #SortYourBrainOut #neuroscience #SYBO

    Physical fitness in childhood improves white matter in the brain – Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/281269.php#.U_tGfu9i1bY.twitter

    Pre-natal exposure to phthalates (commonly found in many consumer products) associated with reduced IQ aged 7: http://bit.ly/1Gg2zSL


    Brain Illness

    Tell-tale signs that you might have a brain tumour (hypochondriacs – do not click here)

    Brain tumour pressing against temporal lobe causes uncontrollable laughter (gelastic epilepsy) in girl

    Wii Balance Board Induces Changes in the Brains of MS Patients

    Autism appears2involve insufficient synaptic pruning resulting in “too many” connection points between brain wires

    Disorganised patches of #brain tissue in frontal & temporal lobes may disrupt high level social function in #autism

    From lab to real life – environmental enrichment seems to be very helpful for kids with #autism: http://bit.ly/1ltCkSU

    Brain degeneracy (it’s good for you!) and people with bits missing from / creatures burrowing through their brains: http://bbc.in/1sJ1X5C

    Brains get sick too – teaching kids about mental illness: http://ind.pn/1spdG8S

    Default Mode Network (your ego/where you daydream) connections appear to mature more slowly in kids who develop ADHD: http://n.pr/1qXAjx9

    Interesting case of a man born with disconnected brain hemispheres

    Living With Schizophrenia: The Importance of Routine | NYT

    “Alzheimer’s in a Dish” will hopefully accelerate the process of screening new drugs 2treat this devastating illness: http://nyti.ms/ZWyOXv

    Autism re-conceived as a disorder of being able to make predictions about what is going to happen next: http://bit.ly/ZdB2AF

    Smoking and mental health, what’s the connection? http://www.theguardian.com/science/sifting-the-evidence/2014/jul/15/smoking-and-mental-health-whats-the-connection … Important @soozaphone piece

    Take two books and call me in the morning, pediatricians say Great column on prescribing books http://ti.me/1pu7db8 from @anniemurphypaul

    Talk about a controversial science topic: paedophile #brain processes child faces differently2others..   http://ind.pn/1oRyDWZ

    Tale of discovering that, despite seemingly being a well-adjusted person, you are in fact a psychopath http://bit.ly/1osg9sx

    Reduced temporal lobe volumes in #brains of homocidal youth offenders http://bit.ly/1khCUB7

    I had no idea that the rate of suicide is much higher amongst men than women – interesting speculations here re: why? http://bit.ly/1xRvq9F

    Gene implicated in schizophrenia produces too much protein that prevents dendrites (brain cell “antennae”) from branching out http://fxn.ws/1tq3ruY

    Bedside EEG uses graph theory maths to establish whether “anybody’s home?” with patients in vegetative state: http://bit.ly/1CrZnj0

    Tumour on pituitary gland causes release of too much growth hormone Can you imagine growing 20cm in just 12 months?! http://dailym.ai/1wIpNLv

    Exercise Counteracts Genetic Risk for Alzheimer’s – Scientific American http://buff.ly/1rftlAK

    I remember when people were mocked for having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, now neuroscience defines its brain hallmarks: http://stanford.io/1xEj1Hj

    Inspiring story of brain machine interfaces helping people with locked in syndrome communicate with the outside world: http://n.pr/1rINUqk

    Might many -‘ve symptoms of schizophrenia (left over after +’ve ones coshed with drugs) boil down to working memory?

    New Multiple Sclerosis research – make local environment of damaged nerve wrappers more conducive to re-myelination: http://tinyurl.com/prfjvmf

    Treating depression w/ implants, tricky given brains are like “a hundred billion people all singing at the same time”

    Turning anecdotes of antidepressants killing brain cancers into clinical trials is good e.g. of “no profit, no dice”

    When dementia comes early: http://bbc.in/1DThNvO

    This piece on face blindness by @KateSzell won the @wellcometrust science writing prize http://gu.com/p/43cta/stw

    Tongues are connected directly to the brain stem – electrical stimulation in people with MS can improve their gait! http://bit.ly/1uwXjb9

    Oxytocin…attenuates hyperactive amygdalas in social anxiety disorder…explored as a potential treatment for PTSD”

    Are you genetically predisposed to antisocial behaviour?

    PTSD can develop even without memory of the trauma: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814123844.htm


    Brain Imaging

    A major drawback of MRI is that the machines are big, expensive & immovable – enter DOT: http://bit.ly/1hJsni6

    “Sounds create visual imagery, mental images, and automatic projections…” Pattern classifier fMRI experiment: http://bit.ly/1inpfTD

    Free will emerges from brain “noise” #neuroscience #EEG http://bit.ly/1l2xbyo

    The good, the bad and the ugly of fMRI #brain imaging experiments: http://bit.ly/1lq0DOB

    “solid evidence that neural measurement can be useful for..prediction of mass preference” #neuroscience http://bit.ly/1rR9oCr

    Using MRI2track human brain white matter volume changes from 7-85 show rainbow-like pattern of expansion&contraction: http://bit.ly/1tDz60c

    “decreased #brain activation seen with fMRI may help explain why many chemotherapy patients complain of #chemobrain” http://reut.rs/1nC88D1

    Discovery of brain’s Default Mode Network is 1 of best examples of key finding that starts with “huh? That’s weird..” http://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2014-10-brain-mind-rest.html

    Reduced blood flow2certain brain areas (posterior cingulate) detected with MRI (ASL) warns of dementia risk early on: http://tinyurl.com/MRIdetectsARCD

    How to get disproportionate press coverage of your neuroscience study? Get folks2read Harry Potter in an MRI scanner: http://abcn.ws/1HI8dyF

    Heard the 1 about where jokes come from? MRI on 22 improv comedians whilst dreaming up amusing captions for cartoons: http://bit.ly/1ydfwbf

    NHS Choices doing what they do so well..this time clarifying news articles on MRI studies of chronic fatigue syndrome http://bit.ly/10NVwl4

    “Scientists generate tons of data..nobody uses it. We are building the technology to bring all..that together” http://nyti.ms/1kL9yqA #brain

    New #brain imaging technique tracks tau tangles of #Alzheimer’s plus new Alz protein identified: http://abcn.ws/Uc70ec #neuroscience

    “#brain scans revealed that..amygdala responded differently to subliminal images of trustworthy &untrustworthy faces” http://bit.ly/1y64NOL

    DOT – new way to scan brains. Diffuse Optical Tomography shines light into #brain through scalp/skull: http://bit.ly/1sYQZ95 #neuroscience

    Using fMRI to capture transition from counting on fingers to just “knowing” the answer to a sum: http://fxn.ws/1rizTou #SYKBO #neuroscience

    Neuroscience Study Finds Brain Can Take Quick Call On Trustworthiness http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/neuroscience-study-finds-brain-can-take-quick-call-trustworthiness-1459915 #neuroscience


    Brain Injury

    Any #brain aneurysm you might have in your noggin=much more likely to burst (haemorrhage) if you smoke  http://bit.ly/1tFpKQf

    Wide awake man being fitted with Deep Brain Stimulation Electrodes4Parkinson’s – can’t believe they missed 1st time!! http://ab.co/1wd27Ci

    Would Neymar be Neymar if he’d followed recommendations for under14’s to “not head the ball in soccer”? http://bit.ly/1poRGtb

    Brain Disorders Might Arise from Starving Neurons: http://bit.ly/1qrxdQe

    6 yrs of living w/ flashbacks, strange smells, headaches – caused by parasitic worm, living in brain, captured on MRI: http://bit.ly/1t9bSf7

    Progress towards new use for MRI in detecting free radicals to assess severity of #brain injuries #neuroscience http://bit.ly/1tL573h

    Could American Football Pro’s brain injuries explain violent behaviour off pitch? Is it even above national average? http://nbcnews.to/1wHl541

    “Helicopter view” on EEG data allows spreading depolarisation assoc w/ Traumatic Brain Injury2come into sharp relief: http://bit.ly/1ozhcGK

    A single season of American Football can damage a kid’s #brain even if they don’t suffer a concussion: http://onforb.es/1l9JPsf #neuroscience

    FIFA’s Dazed and Dated Attitude to Head Injuries http://nyti.ms/1nvxYUV – should player with head injury stay on when 3 subs have been used?

    Giving erythropoeitin (EPO) to babies born prematurely protects them from #brain damage: http://bbc.in/VN3rfo #neuroscience #SYKBO

    How to help babies deprived of oxygen during birth avoid #brain damage? Cool them to 33 degrees C asap: http://bbc.in/1wa99TL #neuroscience

    Don’t forget to breathe! Who ever heard of screen apnoea? http://bit.ly/1r00UwN

    Inspiring account of woman adapting 2 new life after traumatic #brain injury: http://bbc.in/1ooCRpj #DiaryOfAHeadcase – her title not mine!

    Stimulating #brain cells in the motor cortex improves recovery from stroke (in mice using optogenetics) http://bbc.in/YsP15E


    Brain Tech

    Interesting paper about potential4hackers to access personal data via consumer-grade #brain computer interfaces #BCI http://bit.ly/1lv8QNn

    Don’t dabble in DIY-tDCS until you at least know the real risks (watch out for those known unknowns): http://bit.ly/1giqOXw

    Chip implanted in paralysed man’s brain (eventually) enables him to move his hand again: http://bit.ly/1q8JvAt

    US military to invest in research into brain implant to monitor/remedy psychiatric problems of veterans: http://bit.ly/1rcvt1X

    What social media tech does2brains 1st bit very similar to Cyber Heads chapter in #SortYourBrainOut http://bit.ly/1utTCQb

    Mind boggling that severe #OCD is treated w/ deep #brain stimulation despite noone really knowing how/why it works: http://cnn.it/UFdPpm

    “beginning of a future in which people with paralysis will be able to leave the wheelchair & literally walk again” http://nbcnews.to/1oZ66eZ

    Love of Johnny Cash induced when #OCD man’s Deep #Brain Stimulation electrodes tickle his Nucleus Accumbens, but why? http://wapo.st/1neiB9X

    “Telepathy or a Painstaking Conversation in Morse Code?” Pierre Mégevand goes beyond the media hype: http://bit.ly/1qHg9ax

    “West Virginia Uni…won a $539,000 grant to engineer a wearable scanner to image activities of the brain in motion” http://tinyurl.com/oo3y5xy

    How science of social pressure is being leveraged by wearable tech companies to make getting fit a battle with others http://bit.ly/WGO1db

    Look mum no hands! Flying a plane using the power of thought alone: http://bit.ly/1CbdH1b News clip of an EEG-manipulated flight simulator

    Advanced prosthesis restores sense of touch to amputees http://bbc.in/1vSTD1J

    Even Just the Presence of a Smartphone Lowers the Quality of In-Person Conversations #psychology #communication http://www.psmag.com/navigation/nature-and-technology/presence-smart-phone-lowers-quality-person-conversations-85805/

    AMAZING: “decoder was able to reconstruct which words several..volunteers were thinking, using neural activity alone” http://bit.ly/1p65zNp

    During my NeuroBSc I wrote a theoretical essay about wiring a prosthetic hand into neurons of the arm. We are now one step closer… http://bit.ly/1uAjqeT

    Electrodes in to human hippocampus via cheek using bendy,MRI-compatible,robot-controlled needles http://bit.ly/1ocoN3u

    People who meditate are better at controlling machines via brain-computer interfaces (BCI) than those who don’t: http://tinyurl.com/ku9m9ww

    Can you imagine having ur brain wired into a robotic arm and controlling it just by thinking? From the horse’s mouth: http://bit.ly/1x27NNu

    I might get one of these thought-controlled brain chips to squirt dopamine into my reward pathways when I daydream: http://bit.ly/1v3EMDF

    Neuromorphic chips take flight enabling miniature drones to learn on the fly (literally): http://bit.ly/1phOMXM

    Scary that these brain-to-brain studies essentially treat 2nd person as an inert, arm-twitching, zombie: http://bit.ly/110D4VY #neuroethics

    This puts the Q “are you a man or a mouse?” into a new light/brave new world http://bit.ly/1yaywL3 Human astrocytes take over mouse brain..

    DIY Brain Zapping Meets the World of Internet Marketing http://bit.ly/1nROJ16

    Does controlling the cursor by moving your tongue around in your mouth sound futuristic? Yes? Well – future is here: http://bit.ly/1o5ZWXI

    For those who missed this on XFM’s #GeekChic last Sun – wearable robot providing 2extra fingers 4tricky manual tasks: http://bit.ly/1sJLmg6

    Progress & stumbling blocks in the development of an implantable chip that might one day boost #memory: http://bit.ly/1wE62Uv #neuroscience

    Wearable robotics will really catch on when they produce force illusions to pull hand towards destination, like this: http://bit.ly/1jSZKzZ

    “High-tech shower cap” controls glioblastomas 4 longer by disrupting cancer division via local electromagnetic fields http://bit.ly/1EuUgVD

    Deaf tech transformation: #GoogleGlass could help deaf communicate @BBCNews http://bbc.in/1qXJbRP

    EEG from person1 imagining moving hands/feet (in India) used2induce visual experience via TMS in person2 (in France) http://bit.ly/1tSLqsh

    The wisdom in exercising caution with DIY attempts2enhance #brain function w/ TDCS,via the delicious http://bit.ly/1tSLqsh

    Deep brain stimulation is big business. Dutch firm Sapiens acquired by Medtronic for $200,000,000 http://on.wsj.com/1q1j92r #DBS #neurosurgery

    Navy Uses Exoskeletons for Shipyard Maintenance | Defense Tech http://ow.ly/AGyi1

    One for you, @DrJackLewis “@sweatscience: brain stimulation on elite endurance athletes: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/bodywork/the-fit-list/Inside-Red-Bulls-Project-Endurance.html?c=n

    Philips & Accenture IT team up to develop brain computer interfaces for people with #ALS: http://fxn.ws/1qVyK1c

    I’ve banged on a lot this year about not buying into the electrical brain stimulation fad – turns out it can do harm: http://bit.ly/1ujtVyN

    IBM’s bee brain capacity SyNAPSE chip soon to be released into the hands of universities, next stop – Skynet? http://bit.ly/1AZOs0O

    The man who grew eyes’ fascinating piece by @mocost for @guardian http://ow.ly/ALBrX


    Brain Training 

    Old skool Dr Kawashima’s Brain Age re-launched on the Wii U Virtual Console: http://aol.it/1uy3Pch

    Brain training package LearningRX claims new data shows transfer of benefits beyond trained skills: http://bit.ly/1j59rUY

    Remarkable documentary detailing Navy SEAL training that enables recruits to control their brain’s fear response: http://bit.ly/1pEgs48

    Lumosity brain training (which my parents are now hooked on) tries2expand its 60M users thru android: http://bit.ly/1qVNFci

    Top ten #brain training apps courtesy of Huffington Post: http://huff.to/1kN3r3G

    Most people “know it is possible to maintain a healthy brain, but more than half of respondents admit they don’t know how” http://huff.to/VdC26n

    Excellent summary of the issues surrounding Brain Training by @dana_fdn http://dana.org/Cerebrum/2014/The_Brain-Games_Conundrum__Does_Cognitive_Training_Really_Sharpen_the_Mind_/

    “Can you really teach people to be mentally tougher?” http://bbc.in/1qK2t0U

    Brain training games must play second fiddle to regular exercise & social engagement if you want to #sortyourbrainout http://ti.me/1DxtiKc

    Latest brain training app on the block, Berlin cash-backed Memorado, raises $1.3M in seed funding: http://tcrn.ch/1tZOSCz

    Brain training is not a new fad, Pelmanists were at it in the UK 100 years ago: http://bit.ly/1r4fTna

    Meditation suggests that happiness is…a skill, something you can train just [like training] your body in the gym” http://bit.ly/1qmw9B9

    Could a Video Game Be the Key to Stroke Recovery? http://ow.ly/C9BSE

    Forget brain training games; spend your lunchtime trying to wrap your noggin around these classic mind benders: http://bbc.in/ZLxwh4 #SYBO

    If Brain Fit Clubs crossed the pond & popped up in the UK – would anyone go for it? Or could it only work in the USA? http://bit.ly/1shD1PW

    Regular exercise helps kids brains,improving ability2 “block out irrelevant information&concentrate on..task at hand” http://tinyurl.com/Play4urBrain

    Sort Your Brain Out! @DrJackLewis & @polarbearpirate share their top tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS857UVWqPQ&list=UUAvEpbsRFKYkc7zgCU6IHyw (thanks @fifthframe) #SYBO #Brainpower

    Time “spent doing solo software drills..not spent hiking, learning Italian..playing w/ ur grandchildren”=not worth it http://bit.ly/1xcSFfj

    MUST READ-> Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success http://go.shr.lc/1zwSV8I

    Expanding working memory boosts fluid intelligence This free game will help you do just that! http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa     #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    1 hour after waking up from general anaesthetic my spatial working memory has plummeted from ~12 items to ~8.

    16hrs after waking from general anaesthetic not only did spatial working memory return2normal but I smashed my Go-NoGo record

    BBC article on first results from The Great Brain Experiment @CitizenBrains http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28447177

    All the best scientists experiment on themselves 😉 http://bit.ly/1kWicID I’m studying my working memory, are you? #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    I’m going to master this dual 3-back task if it kills me: http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #braintraining #workingmemory #fluidintelligence #SYBO

    If, like me, you’ve really struggled with transition from Dual 2-Back to Dual 3-Back.. soldier on!! http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #SortYourBrainOut

    Took me 50 trials 2 reach Dual 4-Back! If @ first you don’t succeed.. http://bit.ly/1nZO4Xa #braintraining #workingmemory #SortYourBrainOut

    Brain train gaming for sporting prowess, anyone? http://bit.ly/1uv2EcK #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    RE https://twitter.com/sciammind/status/539760126714855424 … Brain Training Doesn’t Make You [Much] Smarter via @sciammind


    Computer Coding

    Want to help your kids code? Ages 5+ in England will be learning – we’ve got tips for parents: http://ow.ly/B5QfK

    If I was 13 I would KILL to do this MT @alomshaha: London parents: UCL are running FREE coding tuition for 13-18yo http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-coding-club/

    East London Kids To Be Offered Training Loans To Learn Coding http://tcrn.ch/1ybcAh



    The claustrum – brain area that appears to be the ON/OFF switch for conscious awareness: http://bit.ly/1pXbUWH

    Has team of Max Planck neuroscientists affectionately referred to as “The Greek Mafia” finally cracked consciousness? http://bit.ly/1u2NRtE



    Extremely thorough account of investigations into links between creative genius and mental illness: http://bit.ly/1qdzWAt

    “Creativity is a perversely difficult thing to study” Steven Pinker on fMRI exp on creative writing: http://nyti.ms/1pwI5Ow

    Can epilepsy fuel creativity? http://bit.ly/1uU9dIY

    http://bit.ly/1oBHTtY is very relevant to Gone Fishing (For Great Ideas) chapter in our book #SortYourBrainOut by @polarbearpirate & myself

    Link between creativity & subclinical levels of madness (colloq.) has always rung true to me. Finally some hard data: http://bit.ly/1wm5G6u

    Magic of a powerful narrative – a neuro perspective: http://bit.ly/1nMzTf2 Great article from the Mack Daddy of oxytocin – Paul Zak #SYBO

    Innovation MYTHS: open-office plans decrease productivity, group brainstorming -> fewer & worse ideas than solo http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118815/innovation-districts-are-oversold-you-cant-engineer-creativity

    Why we all need to make time to play: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/05/why-play-is-important-to-us-all-lauren-lavern

    Imagination and Reality Flow in Opposite Directions in the Brain: http://neurosciencenews.com/eeg-neural-circuit-reality-imagination-1560/

    #creativity in decline amongst youngsters despite broadly accepted importance in achieving success: http://onforb.es/1k3HwvE

    How do ideas happen? And how do we feed our brains to have more of them? @mattfutureproof gives it some thought: http://futureproof.co.uk/no-idea-about-ideas/

    Finding inspiration in your sleep: http://bit.ly/1B8MpsT #SortYourBrainOut #creativity #innovation #SYBO

    Robin Williams, 2010 in the Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/20/robin-williams-worlds-greatest-dad-alcohol-drugs

    The relationship between mental illness & creativity is not straightforward: http://bit.ly/1r7dr1s #psychology #genius #madness #brain

    The War on Fun: How Modern Culture is Killing Creativity http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/the-war-on-fun-how-modern-culture-is-killing-creativity/

    Why You Should Doodle More. #creativity http://zite.to/1qUI0Y8



    Not acting fast enough to save Earth from climate change/not saving enough for retirement -caused by same brain flaw? http://bit.ly/1zeU5r6

    Excitement and anxiety battling it out in #brain during a decision where you win either way (WIN-WIN): http://bit.ly/1ldofmO   #neuroscience

    Our “gut feelings” are messages that simplify life decisions for us by guiding our attention toward smarter options.. http://lnkd.in/d3jze79



    36-pronged approach simultaneously targeting diet, exercise, sleep, brain stimulation improves memory in mild Alz: http://bit.ly/1nJvgm9

    Investigating links between mental illnesses / immune system; particularly depression and Alzheimer’s: http://bit.ly/16IzIKo #thankyouHenry

    “Puzzles and crosswords could be best way to beat dementia” http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/488869/Puzzles-and-crosswords-could-be-best-way-to-beat-dementia

    Dose of curcumin (in turmeric) enables eye test4 Alz to catch it early enough4development of new drugs: http://bit.ly/1q9KDou

    In 2011, I blogged about potential for arthritis drug to halt Alz: http://bit.ly/Wq88MT Now more new data: http://bit.ly/Wq7W08

    Study reveals how gardens could help dementia care http://bit.ly/1l1xGoR

    Testing people’s sense of smell may provide clues to accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s: http://bit.ly/1zBSQ6O

    Everyone back to bed! Research on how sleep relates to onset of #dementia: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701091458.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain%2Falzheimers+%28Alzheimer%27s+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

    On the connection btw Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cinnamon — @Alzheimersnet via @APlaceForMom http://bit.ly/1mJWfGw

    The value of Exercise: being physically active in middle age may reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in old age http://bit.ly/1uGHRVS



    In case you missed the chat about chemical Brain Enhancement the first time round: http://bit.ly/1rTaSj9

    New study suggests magic mushroom therapy much more effective than nicotine replacement for smoking cessation: http://bit.ly/ZjidMU

    Didn’t even realise methamphetamine caused #brain damage, let alone this finding that THC protects against it: http://ti.me/1pmZ8nj

    Popular anti-depressant drug (SSRIs), long thought to take weeks to take effect, changes healthy brains in just 3hrs: http://ti.me/Yyrnyt

    Antipodean link between cannabis & suicide risk is tenuous. Correlation does not mean causation, explained here: http://bit.ly/XnwGGh

    Fantastic article in this month’s The Psychologist by @ProfDavidNutt on therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs: http://bit.ly/W34JCJ

    Finally homing in on truth behind the proposed link between childhood cannabis use & psychosis in later life? http://bit.ly/XFxtCv

    In the Q&A after my brain talks one topic consistently seems to pique curiosity: CAFFEINE -so I wrote a blog on it.. http://bit.ly/1ry3qZx

    Worth further study? Of 446 adults treated 4 head trauma, lower incidence of death among those testing +’ve for THC: http://bit.ly/1uapOW4

    “1 transcendent trip can alter people’s personalities on a long-term basis..making them more open..more appreciative“ http://bit.ly/1zJd0yg

    If this wasn’t the NYT/well-written I’d never have retweeted yet another piece entitled “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” http://bitly.com/1thHVvC

    Cannabis is orexigenic (i.e. smoking weed gives you the munchies) now we have a better understanding of the mechanism http://bit.ly/1ouaI1s

    If your nightly cup of cocoa has a whopping dose of flavanols – it might just improve your memory: http://bit.ly/1wBPorI   #SortYourBrainOut

    Microbubbles + ultrasound = ferrying drugs across the blood brain barrier: http://bit.ly/1DADhNL

    This type of article usually makes me cringe. This 1 didn’t! Brain benefits of green tea etc: http://bit.ly/1t3HINJ   #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    Does cannabis really shrink your brain and compensate by increasing connectivity? NHS Choices set the record straight http://bit.ly/10XXoY5

    Electrical brain stimulation 2 – Caffeine 1 http://bit.ly/1vpJb3o

    Update on therapeutic uses of MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin (mushrooms): http://bit.ly/1p1UmGV #brain #neuroscience

    Smart drugs like modafinil don’t make your brain work better if you’re a bright spark: http://bit.ly/1BJoaUN   #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    A little bit of booze improves your sense of smell: http://bit.ly/1np1FLV #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    Supplementing radiation therapy with cannabinoid drugs slows down the progression of brain cancers even more in mice: http://ind.pn/1vcf9Rj

    The bonding hormone oxytocin inhibits the fear center in the brain – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/285441.php

    Finally a proper nootropic on the horizon! Keep an eye on Ana Pereira’s clinical trial of riluzole in mild Alz. http://bit.ly/13tDDIG #SYBO

    The American Academy of Neurology calls for more long term studies into therapeutic use of medical marijuana: http://bit.ly/1vBWLfv

    #marijuana &your #brain -does it REALLY do significant damage? http://bit.ly/1uwNau1 #neuroscience #hippocampus #amygdala #SortYourBrainOut

    Drugs in space and sleepless in the shuttle http://wp.me/ptsTD-7RJ

    More on impact of #cannabis use on the adolescent #brain, courtesy of Nature: http://bit.ly/1sz41LV #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    Great news for drunks! New compound seems to mitigate against the brain damage that results from binge drinking: http://bit.ly/1FKLmRf

    Laughing gas shows therapeutic promise in treatment-resistant clinical depression: http://bit.ly/1zHjJ9Z

    Smokers have tougher time quitting menthol cigs – menthol alone increases nicotinic receptors in pleasure pathways! http://bit.ly/1IJ86TS

    Time for another cuppa? Nice animation from @AsapSCIENCE about caffeine & how it affects your brain http://bit.ly/1qbq7Cd



    “Eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both #brain structure and function”: http://bit.ly/1pMHgAk

    2.1Bn people on Earth are obese/overweight; that’s a lot of narrowed #brain blood vessels : http://bbc.in/1lSW6Rl

    People w/ “binge eating disorder..lower grey matter volumes..in OFC&striatum” which help keep track of goals/rewards: http://bit.ly/1ktGBDd

    After eating – leptin travels up to #brain – reducing hunger – via astrocytes not just neurons: http://bit.ly/1rGQvpN

    “mother’s high-fat diet triggers brain inflam in..developing fetus leading2anxiety&hyperactivity in offspring” [mice] http://fxn.ws/1C5UxNG

    “trans fats increase the shelf life of foods..reduce the shelf life of people” +it makes you stupid: http://onforb.es/1xS2oZT

    Another reason to stay in – Home cooking a main ingredient in healthier diet: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141117084711.htm

    Obesity=chronic low-grade inflammatory state, influencing neuropsychiatric status thru’ effects of inflammation on brain (Castanon et al, 2014)

    Cell hub within amygdala (renowned for it’s role in fear response) switches off urge to feed: http://bbc.in/1uy92G6     #neuroscience #brain

    “Signals in the #brain that tell us to stop eating function less efficiently as we approach mid-life” http://bit.ly/1BdT8BD     #thankyouHenry

    Forget the gastric band, to reduce obesity we may some day just crank up the juice on our vagus nerve stimulator: http://bit.ly/1o65u9E

    Weight gain/obesity from high fat/high sugar diet prevented when receptor is blocked – but where do the calories go? http://bit.ly/1uf9V2F

    More mindless eating of high calorie food when brain area implicated in resisting impulses is experimentally zapped: http://bit.ly/1r7rtyv



    Doh, why did I do that? How could I be so stupid!! (Rat regret) http://bit.ly/1oGdPQE

    Longest running study homes in on what really makes men happy: http://bit.ly/1jvAuME

    “aggressive men’s blood pressure went down..non-aggressive men..blood pressure [rose,whilst watching violent scenes]” http://bit.ly/1uyW5Jf

    “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” Habenula #brain region activated when viewing images assoc w/ nasty consequences http://bbc.in/1pzAATn

    Changing flavour of a mouse’s emotional associations w/ a specific environment thru’ #optogenetic #brain stimulation: http://bbc.in/1qLM9Yl

    “fine-grained patterns of neural activity w/in orbitofrontal…code that captures an individual’s subjective feeling” http://bit.ly/1wb9pSy

    “Chewing gum, surprisingly, improved mood, possibly because chewing seems to increase blood flow to brain” http://bbc.in/1DANoAg

    “What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.” http://bit.ly/ZBYW9P

    As days get shorter “production of a transporter protein ramps up in S.A.D., lowering available serotonin” http://bbc.in/1ye9RlH

    Ever noticed that musclebound gym freaks seem particularly moody? Appears that stronger men are quicker to anger: http://bit.ly/1qvZE0Y

    Exercise protects against depression – but how? – The rise of PGC-1a1 as a possible mechanism http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283057.php



    Today=Big Day. When that paralysed person kicks off the World Cup they’ll feel underfoot via their arm: http://bit.ly/1iqKGU4

    #Brain play at Young Vic, London: “The Valley of Astonishment” until 12th July http://bit.ly/1peny3J

    Fancy trying some EEG Pong? Just head down to the Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition starting 1st July http://bit.ly/1q9txWN

    If anyone over there in the US lives near the Franklin Institute this Your Brain exhibition sounds ace! http://bit.ly/1xTJUc3

    Birdies for brains – golfing 100 holes in 1 day to raise money for brain charity http://kare11.tv/1kY0Fh0

    You’ve been quoted in my #Storify story “The App-othecary: Is the future of medicine calling?” http://sfy.co/a00Pk

    #Today is #World #Brain #Day !! Love your brain http://www.wfneurology.org/world-brain-day#

    If I was in Philadelphia right now I would go, immediately, to the Franklin Institute’s Neural Climb: http://bit.ly/1zA2ozO Sounds awesome!

    Read ’em and sleep: how one tweet led to a literary lock-in http://gu.com/p/42nvn/tw via @guardian

    Very much looking forward 2 speaking at the London Business Forum event with @polarbearpirate tomorrow morning: http://bit.ly/11iQKMr

    The App-othecary: Is the future of medicine calling? is hosted by @DrJackLewis at @acmedsci on 18th in London http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-app-othecary-is-the-future-of-medicine-calling-tickets-13850500219



    Did #brains of pre-human ancestors thrive on bug diet / the challenge of making #tools to get at them? http://bit.ly/1qJPVDZ

    Brawn v brain: During human evolution, the brain got stronger and our muscles weaker


    Protective buttressing of the hominin face #sexualdimorphism #evolution

    http://goo.gl/Eva1MU  http://goo.gl/19SfmN


    Did Standing Up Change Our Brains? http://neurosciencenews.com/bidepal-walking-cognitive-brain-change-1045

    huh, interesting…Non-dominant hand vital to the evolution of the thumb http://bit.ly/1ulHl15

    8,000 yr old (prob. human) brain found preserved in skull during archaeological dig in Norway: http://bit.ly/1nCc1si

    Neanderthal trait found in archaic early human skull http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/07/2014/neanderthal-trait-found-in-archaic-early-human-skull



    Having been bored all week by Luc Besson’s Lucy inspired resurgence of articles on 10% #brain myth, this tickled me: http://bit.ly/1nB8NVD


    Free Will

    Free will emerges from brain “noise” http://bit.ly/1l2xbyo #neuroscience #EEG #freewill #noise #brain #SortYourBrainOut via @DrJackLewis



    BrainJellyCroppedThere comes a time in every neuroscientist’s life when the urge2make a human brain out of jelly becomes irresistible

    X-ray GIFS of the human body in action http://bit.ly/1A4LrfB

    Mathematical proof that hipsters all look alike http://wapo.st/1zk0otu


    PNIS, it’s like The Onion for science: http://pnis.co/index.html



    Immersive virtual reality gaming is now so good it might be game over for reality, new blog just posted http://bit.ly/1lNOLYr

    Video gaming in kids might not have adverse impact on cognition but “displacement threat” should not be trivialised http://bit.ly/1nKeKx9

    Anyone want to make a game with me? http://www.tiga.org/repository/documents/editorfiles/onlinesubscribers/tiga_sources_of_finance_document.pdf

    “Throw Trucks With Your Mind..ultra-violent meditative competitive game” – anyone? http://lat.ms/1oQ7HpM


    Geek Chic

    Nearly lunchtime (in Europe at least) Perfect opportunity to listen to ep1 of our brand new podcast!: http://bit.ly/1lwfx8E

    New improved #GeekChicPodcast – out now!! Getting people hooked on healthy food, brain-to-brain comms & titanosaurs http://bit.ly/1qH2K2i

    Saving lives with crisp packets, Xe memory erasers & @AsapSCIENCE animations on internet brains #geekchicpodcast ep4: http://bit.ly/1rinZJl

    A True and Complete Account of the Neuroscience of Zombies – Scientific American http://ift.tt/1HeHLfT

    Amazing Rosetta images show Philae bouncing 1km off comet: http://po.st/N8Im3Q by @jtemperton

    New #GeekChic popscience podcast from me & @Xfm_Lliana. This week: pandas who fake it & lesbians who don’t need to http://tinyurl.com/mhvyt6x

    Do we actually dream in slow motion? Find out in @DrJackLewis and my geek chic Podcast here: https://itun.es/gb/MYC82.c

    Ever heard of coloured icebergs? Read about this natural phenomenon here: http://bit.ly/terranostra #travel #nature

    #geekchicpodcast episode 4: http://bit.ly/1rinZJl

    Cockroach biobots have caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy: http://bit.ly/1ui1Lbi

    Geek Chic Science Weekly podcast will be available for download from today onwards #geekchicpodcast https://itun.es/gb/MYC82.c

    Geek Chic Podcast Episode2 – Out Now!! How to get hooked on healthy food, vulcan-esque communication &huge dinosaurs: http://bit.ly/1qH2K2i

    Geek Chic Weird Science Podcast is finally on iTunes!!! Pls download all episodes for FREE & share :) x https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/geek-chics-weird-science/id921816230?mt=2

    Geek Chic Weird Science podcast, download, for free, from iTunes & listen anytime you like: https://itun.es/gb/MYC82.c

    In Jan 2014 @Xfm_Lliana invited me2chat weird&wonderful science stories on XFM every Sun. Now we have a podcast! Ep1: http://bit.ly/1lwfx8E

    Looking for some Fri distraction? #geekchicpodcast Ep3 Jack The Ripper Special -has science finally cracked the case? http://bit.ly/1qXEIBC

    #geekchicweirdscience podcast ep9 Nobel Special is OUT NOW!! http://tinyurl.com/pw9w77a Catching up on new approaches to investigating Brain GPS

    Abolishing arachnaphobia by taking a scalpel to the brain;very halloweeny article from New Scientist http://bit.ly/1089Cg7   @GCweirdscience

    Anchoring the brain’s compass: http://bit.ly/1vzVYzV   Little amuse bouche ahead of this week’s #geekchicweirdscience podcast @GCweirdscience

    Curious about teleportation? Baffled by quantum entanglement? Prof Gisin explains all in our latest GCWS podcast: http://tinyurl.com/GCweirdscience

    DidUcatch new ep of #geekchicweirdscience podcast? Killer whales speaking dolphin, transplanting sexual organs&more! http://tinyurl.com/pw9w77a

    Geek Chic Weird Science ep10 – miracle spinal surgery, hoverboards, re-heated pasta, tractor beams & birds on Prozac: http://tinyurl.com/pw9w77a

    Dolphins can detect magnetic fields and might well use this ability to help them navigate the oceans: http://bit.ly/1vbV1tO

    Geek Chic Weird Science podcast ep7: “Teleportation Special” OUT NOW!!  @Xfm_Lliana & I interview a quantum genius…

    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/geek-chics-weird-science/id921816230?mt=2 … – ep6 – Out now! Cunningly cultured chimps, (potentially) calamitous comets & [gasp] a coffee crisis on the horizon

    Rosetta Mission selfie http://wrd.cm/1wjGa3c

    Thanks @DrJackLewis & @Xfm_Lliana for the fun interview abt the hippocampus, place cells & Nobel prize https://itun.es/i6B33FT

    This one’s also very #geekchicweird science: http://echinoblog.blogspot.ca/2014/10/five-points-about-fossil-history-of.html

    Being Halloween ’n’ all presumably someone out there fancies making a zombie..here’s a 1-stop-shop from @SciencePunk: http://amzn.to/1udf2V2

    Bounce baby bounce: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2014/11171502-rosetta-imaged-philae-during.html … #philae bounce data

    Ever wondered how “homing” ravens in Game of Thrones reach their destination? Brain gyroscope+gravity detectors: http://bit.ly/1EG6iYQ

    Geek Chic’s Weird Science podcast ep14 http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh Will we Clone Wooly Mammoths? Is Brain Electrocution better than Coffee? Et al

    Spider brain, spider brain, does whatever a spider brain does… Delving into the jumping spider brain: http://nyti.ms/1yTGZQ7   @GCweirdscience

    PODCAST: ep15 @GCweirdscience Do we dream in slow motion? Could you live a life aquatic? How to make a digital animal http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    When Philae/Rosetta were first launched from French Guiana ten years ago..Twitter had yet to be invented via @RogerHighfield @GCweirdscience

    “whales,dolphins&elephants share our ability2learn new vocalisations/3groups of birds:songbirds,parrots&hummingbirds” http://bit.ly/1AcRtdw

    Print a personalised virus to kill your specific cancer and for a fraction of a price http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429990.200-i-want-to-print-personalised-cancer-drugs-in-a-day.html … – amazingly beautiful idea

    Very Blade Runner, this: extracting images from corneal reflections http://ow.ly/GwUSZ

    Lego robot with a worm brain: http://nydn.us/1ITmrgE OpenWorm project seems to be capturing imaginations all over the world @GCweirdscience

    JanisCarter lived in cage onGambian river in effort2reintroduce domesticated chimp2wild: http://bit.ly/1B94mYi @Radiolab #SelfExpHeroes

    New #GeekChic popscience podcast from me & @DrJackLewis. This week: pandas who fake it & lesbians who don’t need to http://tinyurl.com/mhvyt6x

    PODCAST: we look back on the best weird science stories from 2014 in our 17th episode of @GCweirdscience http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh   @Xfm_Lliana

    Which is better: http://brainsciencepodcast.com/   or @GCweirdscience (paranormal science special will be released tomorrow!!) #battleofthepodcasts

    No but seriously this is great – Swiss / Ukranian collaboration on homing pigeons, study required huge meteor crater: http://bit.ly/1EG6iYQ


    Gut Bacteria

    This account of human evolution sees us merely as puppets dangling on the strings of our gut bacterial puppeteers! http://theatln.tc/1mIVtAV

    Balanced, well-written account of story-so-far re science taking influence of gut on brain more & more seriously: http://bit.ly/ZSBh5g

    Nice update on the latest research investigating the link between gut bacteria and brain function from Nature http://bit.ly/1v5thvr #SYBO

    “armies of bacteria living in our guts can pull the strings in our #brains to get what they want” http://onforb.es/1riA8jh   #neuroscience #SYBO

    Daily microbiome tracking – I wish I could have done this for my connectome!

    Gut bacteria may influence food cravings2get what they want by sending message2 #brain via vagus nerve: http://bit.ly/1tLIhtA   #weirdscience



    How cultures influence content of hallucinations/delusions



    Brains go to great lengths to preserve personal narratives -only getting labelled “confabulation” once at the extreme http://bit.ly/1nXJB8P

    I don’t have a stock portfolio… but if I did I’d certainly keep these psychological biases in mind: http://onforb.es/1ou2oP6   #SortYourBrainOut

    Attractive people are often assumed to be “good” but does being “good” bias people to rate them as more attractive? http://bit.ly/1rk7lEt



    “Aldini zapped the #brain of a decapitated criminal by placing a metal wire into each ear & then flicking the switch” http://wrd.cm/1nUd5VT

    Mosso machine 1882: get person balanced on plank, play them a sound, blood rushes to #brain, tipping the balance! http://n.pr/VzEyDu


    Holding Onto Marbles

    “Less time sitting down” = better way of helping older people keep their white matter in good nick: http://bit.ly/1ucWqQi   #SortYourBrainOut

    “cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles” …but not “brain games” http://stanford.io/1rXY05B

    Brain Age test for middle aged people to slam the brakes on our descent into cognitive decline – NICE! http://bit.ly/10OrbTA   #RetirementDNA

    Brain function can improve as you age: http://bit.ly/1yR3sgs – great to hear given that I’ve spent all day thinking about #RetirementDNA !!

    I did a little piece in the Independent Online on Holding Onto Your Marbles to promote #SortYourBrainOut http://ind.pn/143Scnb #SYBO

    You are what you..do for a living: http://yhoo.it/1ATx54x Daily mental activity induced by your job can help u build cognitive reserve #SYBO

    The big message for #brain health to aid the battle against dementia in 2015? “Use It Or Lose It” http://ind.pn/1zN8dIY   #SortYourBrainOut

    “parts of the brain that were the last to develop were also the first to show signs of age-related decline” http://bbc.in/1ALZhX8



    After decades of slowly increasing IQ it looks like we might now be going backwards. But why? http://bit.ly/1toL8JA   #SortYourBrainOut

    Outgamed by a chimp – in your face Homo sapiens! http://bit.ly/1nSsRj4



    What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Neuroscience w/ @DrJackLewis



    Time to learn a new language? “those who spoke2or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities” http://bbc.in/1tAAZYi

    “Listening effort and accented speech”. http://feedly.com/e/Scjtk42b The case for NOT outsourcing call centers?

    This is unbelievably amazingly awesome – Star-Trek style instant voice translation

    “people who speak more than 1 language fluently have better memories..more cognitively creative & mentally flexible” http://bit.ly/1rODTNM

    If you get someone to say a word out loud, but tweak the sound of their own voice, you can make them talk nonsense: http://bit.ly/1xEGBT1

    Mandarin speaking nanny for your infant child,perhaps? Adult brains recognise language features from infancy exposure: http://ti.me/1zDi8jV



    “..striatum learns the pieces of the puzzle and then the prefrontal cortex puts the pieces.. together.” http://bit.ly/1lUHip6 via @PsyBlog

    What goes on inside the brain as we learn from our mistakes http://ti.me/1qBjfwJ

    Don’t Dismiss MOOCs – We’re Just Starting To Understand Their True Value: http://www.science20.com/the_conversation/dont_dismiss_moocs_we_are_just_starting_to_understand_their_true_value-144160

    Dopamine helps with math rules as well as mood: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141205093831.htm

    Utilise the “dead time”: Essential health info,distilled into small chunks,offered not force fed -perfect!



    Laughter puts #brain in2state similar to that of deep meditation



    Nice short video with distinguished neuroscientists explaining basics of #memory: http://bit.ly/1nuJPcC

    Bring unpleasant memory to mind, inhale Xenon, goodbye emotional pain – future of recovery from heartbreak / trauma? http://bit.ly/1rinZJl

    Incredibly intricate interplay between hippocampus and septum enables us to create chunks of memory: http://stanford.io/1qct5GK   #neuroscience

    Default mode network, usually associated with daydreaming/mindwandering, very much involved in certain memory tasks: http://bit.ly/1sh2Hrk

    Obama dishes out: $810k MIT – determining which exact brain circuits are involved in generating short-term memories that influence decisions

    fMRI: CA3 overlap in #hippocampus may explain when we find it “difficult2differentiate between similar past memories” http://bbc.in/1mfkjGb

    “frontoparietal network plays key role in analysis,memory retrieval,abstract thinking&problem-solving/fluidity2adapt” http://bit.ly/1A8dEBm

    NEWSFLASH: memory may not be in synapses http://bit.ly/1DUXmSH Next they’ll say action potentials are just there 2 generate electric fields

    On the topic of TMS.. 20mins of daily magnetic stimulation for just 5 days improved memory in study of 16 volunteers: http://bit.ly/1qlNN5w

    Shedding New Light on the Formation of Emotional Fear Memories: http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-formation-hebbian-plasticity-1605/ #neuroscience #memory


    Mind Over Matter

    Cool! RT @mrianleslie: This is amazing: the neuroscience behind Bruce Lee’s “one-inch punch” http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/nueroscience/the-science-of-bruce-lees-one-inch-punch-16814527

    Mind over matter – Wim Hof can withstand freezing swims/hikes in bare skin – 3 tricks to control his body & #brain: http://bit.ly/VQBVNS

    These incredible robot exoskeletons used in Korean shipyards remind us of something… More: http://ow.ly/zVJ54



    Possible neurobiological basis for tradeoff between honesty and self-interest http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140902114230.htm

    Morality pills: reality or science fiction? http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/jun/03/morality-pills-reality-or-science-fiction



    Musical training improves various aspects of executive #brain function in old & young alike http://bit.ly/1p9jaCR

    Speaking of Default Mode Network: activity ramps up when you hear song you like -is this losing yourself in the tune? http://huff.to/XvXxQA

    Numerous benefits of providing music lessons to underprivileged kids includes improved language processing http://n.pr/1nMzbZL

    Music saved my voice: http://bit.ly/1v0ApGZ     Brain aneurysm robs music teacher of ability to speak, melodic intonation therapy wins it back

    Been wondering when a band would jump on the binaural beat bandwagon – headphones on – relaxing?: http://bit.ly/1k9Dcv8 #SortYourBrainOut

    What Wired thinks about a music neuroscience app that helps you increase focus by many hundred % http://wrd.cm/1j8VSu9     #neuroscience #music

    Why is melody in the high notes and rhythm in the bass: http://bit.ly/1A5RsJO #neuroscience #music #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO



    Fascinating research from @hugospiers throws more light on #brain navigation systems http://bit.ly/1nWhMTx

    Bat Nav http://bbc.in/124L3lb @GCweirdscience

    Your brain’s internal compass – the stronger the signal it produces, the better your sense of direction: http://bbc.in/1r5IY48 @hugospiers



    If your brain was size of planet Earth..this infographic shows size of its nuts&bolts http://bit.ly/1jUrCTq

    The Neuromythology of Einstein’s Brain http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2014/05/24/myth-einsteins-brain/

    Leonardo Da Vinci with his neuroscientist hat on: http://bit.ly/1Afvwfz #neuroscience

    If I get hold of a cow brain would anyone be interested in bringing their kids2see a live dissection? http://bit.ly/1yjsFTz   @GCweirdscience

    Convention Defying Brain Cell: new neuronal “short-circuiting” feature spotted in brain’s memory bank: http://bit.ly/ZknTqq

    Brain’s glial cells – long thought2be *just* passive support cells – increasingly recognised to play important roles: http://bit.ly/1qwK2Y5

    Prodding around inside human brains during neuroanatomy practicals I always wondered what the choroid plexus was for: http://bit.ly/1rF1LQL

    From physics to neuroscience: “Single neurons, he said, are fairly well understood, as are small circuits of neurons” http://nyti.ms/1xq0gbL

    Bizarre Human Brain With No Wrinkles Discovered http://www.iflscience.com/brain/lost-and-found-smooth-human-brain

    Major brain pathway rediscovered http://gu.com/p/43cmm/stw

    100 missing brains: http://bit.ly/1zmmRpD   If you are entrusted with Einstein’s brain you really should take more care.. @GCweirdscience

    Regions of the brain strengthen with age http://medx.cc/334222167 #neuroscience

    Astrocytes:always the bridesmaid,never the bride in discussions about #brain function;’til now? http://bit.ly/1qKqxBt #neuroscience #memory

    Investigating factors that cause the #brain surface to fold up forming the distinctive peaks & valleys: http://bit.ly/1o9ih6A   #neuroscience



    Ultra-fine particles found in air pollution seem to play havoc with early brain development

    Consumption of highly-sweetened drinks throughout adolescence leads to cognitive impairment (in rats, so far) http://bit.ly/1s4q0rm

    Great advice re: how best to stretch a child’s #brain described at 3m40s in this lovely interview: http://bit.ly/1mDK2r6   #SortYourBrainOut

    Baby’s brain rehearse speech five months before they talk http://bit.ly/1ne4HUC @ScienceDaily #babytalk #SYKBO via @perked_brain

    “..newborn #brains grew at an average rate of 1%/day” Cerebellum doubles in size over 1st 90days http://bbc.in/1pMeC2q   #neuroscience #SYKBO

    “When it comes to #brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground” http://n.pr/1p9PMdK #SYKBO

    On topic of importance of play4children.. Nils Norman compared adventure playgrounds across globe, book only £85!!: http://amzn.to/1oqSlDh

    The Case for Packing Libraries Full of Toys and Games – http://www.citylab.com/work/2014/08/the-case-for-packing-libraries-full-of-toys-and-games/375530/ … #creativity

    Young humans grow up much slower than our primate cousins because our #brain is so “energy expensive”: http://bit.ly/1p9Jpsb #neuroscience



    Interesting thoughts on using insights from neuroscience in #advertising / #marketing: http://bit.ly/1pZqMIt via @stromilof #neuroformed

    So good it needed tweeting twice: http://bit.ly/1rR9oCr Shared brain activity in few predicts audience preferences at large #neuroformed

    Happy shoppers come in many varieties: run-of-the-mill happy, happy-excited. happy-aroused & (beware) happy-frenzied! http://n.pr/11vQjxY



     Neuromyths are hampering education

    Christian Jarrett is worried about the impact of neuromyths on society

    Exploding the 10k hrs of deliberate practice #myth – it’s no guarantee for greatness

    Beware fake brain science in schools: http://slate.me/1yjtsEg



    NHS Choices continue to marshal the dubious fringes of science journalism – multi-tasking shrinks your brain, huh? http://bit.ly/1CrolB3

    “30mins..daily training for 1 month..improvement in..ability to understand speech in noisy..conditions” http://bit.ly/1pAFh20

    This is the most accurate description of our study: Media multitasking ‘brain shrink’ claims unproven NHS Choices – http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/09September/Pages/Claims-media-multitasking-shrinks-brain-unproven.aspx

    Bats are the only creature that can see using echolocation, right? Wrong! This amazing young blind lad can do it too: http://youtu.be/TeFRkAYb1uk

    Brain Scans Reveal Gray Matter Differences in Media Multitaskers: http://neurosciencenews.com/gray-matter-acc-multitasking-1358/ … #neuroscience

    Brainy processing at your fingertips http://gu.com/p/4xbpk/tw #neuroscience

    Football “is a triumphant display of the incredible plasticity of the human brain http://bit.ly/1lkr3RP

    How Culture Shapes Our Senses – NYT http://nyti.ms/1oUsT9S @tanyaluhrmann Ht @somatosphere

    Making it to 24 years old without realising your whole cerebellum is missing is a true testament to neuroplasticity: http://bit.ly/1rXP3ja

    My PhD supervisor used2say painters were visual scientists. Here @wiredscience effectively suggests same4film editors http://wrd.cm/1pMHIS0

    When it comes to changes in brain thickness… Bigger is not always better: http://wrd.cm/1taWfr8   #geekchicweirdscience @GCweirdscience

    Coaxing brain support cells (glia) to convert into electrical brain wires (neurons) to fix damaged parts of the brain http://bit.ly/1yY0aYd

    Zoe Kourtzi leads Adaptive Brain Computations project in Cambridge; aiming to understand & test how learning happens: http://bit.ly/1t9XoM8

    “Vagus nerve stimulation takes advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity” to cure tinnitus: http://bit.ly/1rcV1bm   #neuroscience #tinnitus

    Well read? How digital reading is changing (hurting) comprehension. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/mariakonnikova/2014/07/being-a-better-online-reader.html

    Intensive smartphone use causes your brain’s territory for processing thumb sensations2enlarge: http://fxn.ws/1xqnpOz   169articles in 4days!

    Neuroplasticity in action – how your touch screen devices are changing your brain: http://bbc.in/1zTWzvY   #SortYourBrainOut @polarbearpirate

    The Tortured Brain – Insightful article that pulls together info on CIA torture practices, neuroplasticity & PTSD: http://bit.ly/1whLEax

    Something special about neuronal gamma activity (40Hz)-making mouse #brain supersensitive2gentle touch: http://bit.ly/1pvFLIk #neuroscience

    Sleep-Dependent Neuroplastic Changes during Auditory Perceptual Learning http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074742714002111



    If I was Miguel Nicolelis I’d B getting really nervous about 2morro’s brain-controlled exoskeleton world cup kick off http://bit.ly/1kKhxI6

    Here’s a short film I edited & animated of interviews with top scientists at last year’s BNA conference http://bit.ly/1mNF2hl

    Here’s a taste of 10 interviews I filmed w/ top neuroscientists at the British Neuroscience Association conference http://bit.ly/1mNF2hl

    Trouble at t’mill: KCL scientists facing mass redundancy. Sounds brutal. My heart goes out… http://bit.ly/T32nlT

    Did I mention I interviewed some of world’s top neuroscientists &cut a short animated film? :) http://bitly.com/1mNF2hm

    On subject of @hugospiers, here he describes role of #hippocampus in imagining future scenarios http://bitly.com/1mNF2hm

    How to Criticize with Kindness: Daniel Dennett on the 4 Steps to Arguing Intelligently http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/03/28/daniel-dennett-rapoport-rules-criticism/ … via @timetit

    Nice interview with Charles Spence in CB. Even manages to diss post-pub peer review on the way :-) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096098221400387X

    Charles Limb – head & neck surgeon, improv pianist & rapper exploring brain mechanisms of creativity: http://bit.ly/ZMAAKo @GCweirdscience

    Future of the Brain, anyone? Collection of essays from some of the world’s leading thinkers in neuroscience: http://bit.ly/1DGxTMy

    Coming soon ‘The Para-Academic Handbook’ http://hammeronpress.net/page19.htm <you don’t have to be in academia to do good research or innovative practice

    Meet the mother and father of cognitive neuroscience @utafrith & @cdfrith | @mocost http://gu.com/p/4x56x/tw via @guardian

    Fascinating article: http://bit.ly/1vblwDw by @hugospiers – who we interviewed for next week’s #geekchicweirdscience Nobel Special podcast

    John O’Keefe is a living legend anyway & now his scientific genius has been recognised with a Nobel prize! http://tinyurl.com/johnokeefenobel #brainGPS

    My favorite professor of behavioral economics, @danariely recommends MOOC by @paulbloomatyale, so I’ll be tuning in. http://ow.ly/C8DcK

    One of my favourite personalities in #neuroscience defending Europe’s Human Brain Project from a broadside attack: http://bit.ly/1t3imgF



    Successful trepanation on Mongolia/China border 2,300 years ago – what was the motive for this hole-in-head surgery? http://dailym.ai/1p2g7XI

    Genius! Neurosurgeon predicts diagnosis of brain area impacted by stroke – asking patient to speak a 5 word sentence: http://n.pr/1mG9COM

    Fantastic description of how surgical treatment of epilepsy helps us do phenomenal #brain research: http://nyti.ms/1kDsAz2   #SortYourBrainOut

    Can’t get enough of the concept of playing the violin whilst surgeons operate on your #brain: http://cnet.co/1tjWnCd   #neuroscience #SYBO

    The Fascinating Reason This Man Is Playing Violin During His Own Brain Surgery by @erbrod http://mic.cm/1sRlj5s via @MicNews


    Optical Illusions

    Here You can change some visual attributes to increase or decrease the café wall illusion. http://joyfulcoder.net/cafewall/

    This is definitely one for @GCweirdscience Spinning chocolate cake illusion: http://youtu.be/HxSN1FkcZ64 Stunning #GeekChicWeirdScience

    Optical illusions anyone? Go on, you know you wanna spend your lunch break tying your occipital lobe in knots: http://wrd.cm/1vlRIV1


    Other Creatures’ Brains

    Devil rays have “sponge-like mesh of large&small arteries” to warm their #brains during 2km deep dives http://bbc.in/1qR5fyV #neuroscience

    39,000 year old Wooly Mammoth brain (with a well preserved “tough mother”): http://bit.ly/1sscZVX  @GCweirdscience

    “humble nematode worm has..its neural connections hot-wired,changing the way it responds 2 salt&smells” http://bit.ly/1rcXJxt #neuroscience

    Elephant’s nose best: African elephants have twice as many olfactory genes as any other mammal. http://feedly.com/e/r_rCUv8d

    Giant prawn fossil discovered in China has perfectly preserved 520Million year old #brain: http://bit.ly/1nO2f6m #archaeology #neuroscience

    RT @mocost: 80,000 neurons firing in zebrafish http://bit.ly/UIaXHv http://wrd.cm/1qaCTOg http://bit.ly/UIaXHw

    Dolphins & Beluga whales squeal with delight when they know a prize is coming their way: http://bit.ly/1twlbbV #brain #reward #weirdscience

    Lethal aggression in Chimpanzees is better explained by adaptive strategies rather than human impacts http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7518/full/nature13727.html

    If crayfish can convert blood cells2brain cells2replace damaged ones-why cant we? http://bit.ly/1nLlKYV   #neuroscience #transdifferentiation

    In other news today, scientists have taught fish how to walk http://bit.ly/1qDaoM9   http://youtu.be/mKxRe0hAQmg?list=UU7c8mE90qCtu11z47U0KErg



    Swearing when you hurt yourself actually makes it feel better. http://DiscoverMagazine.com   Cursing & #hypoalgesia.

    Chronic back pain? Maybe it’s time to quit smoking http://bit.ly/1s1vu3d I find the explanation hard to believe; make of it what you will !

    The benefits of psychological treatment for chronic back pain http://blog.backpainrelief.net/the-benefits-of-psychological-treatment-for-chr



    Fascinating! Gay dad #brain responds to new parenting role (adoption) just like both straight parents: http://ti.me/1jWeNbd

    Many pregnant women are slightly iodine deficient which can have knock on effect on their baby’s #brain development: http://bit.ly/1k952k6

    Supportive parenting is neuroprotective: http://bit.ly/1pGUuxm

    Amazingly, fatherhood actually changes a man’s #brain: http://wrd.cm/1qKEoDw #neuroplasticity #neuroscience #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    For those archaic types that still believe a good spanking is good for your kids – not true, read this: http://cnn.it/1x0ORN7   #neuroscience

    As women leave childbirth later,will this: http://tinyurl.com/pptt85y (mitochondrial problems) lead 2 more of this? http://tinyurl.com/nh73ek6 (IVF)



    What is introversion? What REALLY defines an introvert? Or an extravert for that matter http://bit.ly/1oJ0qaw

    Why The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Misleading, Inaccurate, And Unscientific via @bi_strategy http://www.businessinsider.com/myers-briggs-personality-test-is-misleading-2014-6



    Negative correlation discovered between pornography consumption&volume of striatum (drive, reward etc) #neuroscience http://reut.rs/1tT54Ej

    “increasing numbers of young men…cannot maintain an erection because they’ve wrecked their appetite w/ pornography” http://bbc.in/1jlZ8lW

    Pornography ” is an addictive, disruptive drug in visual form.” http://ow.ly/FbTqM h/t @EduardoZugasti



    Poverty can be so cognitively demanding – little mental energy left for anything else



    Sports psychology perspectives on Luis Suarez’s propensity to bite people http://bit.ly/VqvGB9

    Nice example of using knowledge of the #brain to underpin habits of thinking that help you get what you want http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/07/brain-science-get-what-you-want_n_5455366.html?ir=Healthy+Living

    Psychology is weird, child psychology is much weirder. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/06/developmental_psychology_s_weird_problem_children_from_rich_educated_families.html By @jane_c_hu via @le_feufollet



    “Science does not know it’s debt to imagination”

    “There is a road from eye to heart that does not go through the intellect” #SortYourBrainOut

    Levi Roots’ reggae reggae message: Be yourself Believe in yourself If you fail in 1 passion – merge it with another 1

    “I have decided to be #happy, because it’s good for my health.” -Voltaire

    “ If you were a plant…you would think of a drug as this: ‘Something I use to make animals do what I want’ ” @zoecormier SexDrugsRock (2014)

    “Any fool can know. The point is to understand” ― Albert Einstein

    If you don’t know where you are going, any path will get you there. ~ Lewis Carroll

    “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain” – Santiago Ramón y Cajal

    “The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn” ― Bertrand Russell



    Bit of light Fri reading on “Neurotheology – neurological study of religious & spiritual experiences”



    Wow – that’s 3/3 book reviews so far suggesting Susan Greenfield’s new book is more “Mind Cringe” than “Mind Change”: http://econ.st/1thls49

    1st thought: ‘TV series called “Hack My Brain” – why didn’t I think of that?’ then I actually read the review – Ouch! http://nyti.ms/1saEZ6B


    Reward Pathways

    “the striatum shows more activity to monetary rewards when the reward was judged to be fair” http://bit.ly/1sGyh5x     #SortYourBrainOut

    Doing it with someone else makes it feel more intense: http://tinyurl.com/Do1tTogether     …whatever “it” may be!

    How to create an addictive gaming experience? Hijack the reward system. Unfortunately, it really is as easy as this.. http://n.pr/1oUcljA

    Study investigating curiosity highlights the importance of dopamine in learning… not just pleasure and drive: http://bit.ly/1vyhlyk

    Stimulation of the “pleasure hub” (VTA) whilst mouse dreams of a certain place in space makes it prefer it when awake http://n.pr/1BQwDp6


    Science Communication

    Learning about #science through #comedy: http://bit.ly/1uWMiju

    Loving animations like this that illustrate our #brains in action..even with the inevitable corner-cutting: http://bit.ly/1cKa7An #SYBO

    This truly is a thing of beauty: http://bit.ly/1pLYoUe Immaculate narrated-animation depicting 2000yrs of human migration via @tomstafford



    “Stem cells in the tongue produce new taste cells every fortnight” http://bbc.in/1xbDiY2

    Olfactory Reveille: it’s now possible to purchase an alarm clock that emits the smell of bacon at “wakey-wakey” time! http://bit.ly/1BxT0MK

    New study: Neurons in your skin perform advanced calculations http://ow.ly/3pNMcr

    Newsweek Interview: Digitising Smell: The Third Sense Is Coming to Your Phone – interview with @adriancheok http://www.newsweek.com/2014/09/19/digitising-humanity-about-take-another-huge-step-forward-smell-269729.html

    Every cloud… silver lining of #dyslexia is a #brain that is more adept at certain visual abilities: http://bit.ly/1z4IQQq   #neuroscience

    Reaching for object of unknown size in cluttered environment people grasp correctly anyway – spooky! http://bit.ly/1GHHmiV   @GCweirdscience

    Bee brains – with only a million neurons (we have 86 Bn!) – can still see the big picture: http://bit.ly/1w4zKp8

    Cunning study: how brain makes vision feel Hi-Def despite fovea only covering area size of thumbnail at arm’s length: http://bit.ly/1waUDxo

    Why we don’t (usually) notice stunt doubles: http://bit.ly/1sQle3S Brain design “feature” not “flaw” #SYBO #SortYouBrainOut @GCweirdscience

    Can humans really distinguish 1 trillion different odours? Or just 10? http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.0165 via @ewencallaway

    Neuroscience of Taste: Chef’s Creations Delight the Senses – Live Science http://ift.tt/1EZ3PJs

    It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas: The neuroscience of our nostalgia. http://ow.ly/GplSt #science

    The taste of music – courtesy of the crown prince of multisensory interactions: Prof Charles Spence http://bit.ly/1yz5H69   #SortYourBrainOut

    If it was 1st April there’s no way I would post this – ‘average’ person can guess ur car from ur face: http://bit.ly/1tLDzfl     #weirdscience

    How #brain sees shape that isn’t really there. Less activity required when illusory contours perceived http://bit.ly/1sR6QZw

    Insights into vision from people blind from birth but given back the gift of sight in adulthood by science/medicine: http://nyr.kr/1qkNeZT

    Where Hollywood movies and #neuroscience converge: http://wrd.cm/YWb1WU #brain #vision



    How I Rebuilt Tinder And Discovered The Shameful Secret Of Attraction http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/we-are-all-classists?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#18dhj72 … oh, this is quite interesting!

    Easy Access Internet Porn: “..worries &frightens people..creates anxieties about their bodies &sexual performance…” http://bit.ly/1xtwqVZ

    The headline we’ve all been waiting for: Sex is good for your brain http://huff.to/1neOpMc … it was only a matter of time

    Lesbians have more orgasms than straight women – so should straight men ask lesbian friends 4 some tips? http://bit.ly/1vFhK2k   #sexhospital



    I’ve compiled clips from TV series I’ve presented http://bitly.com/1u10k21 Please watch&let me know which clips are best #crowdsourcedshowreel

    Thank you @jjunno for your selections: “TM05-SH04-HT01 and you had at HT 03 :)” #crowdsourcedshowreel

    Using Wisdom of Crowds to make perfect showreel, pls pick favourite clips: http://bit.ly/1u10k20 #neuroscience #brain #crowdsourcedshowreel



    “Working antisocial hours can prematurely age the brain&dull intellectual ability” #SortYourBrainOut – get a new job? http://bbc.in/1x28EyH

    Not just too little (<6hrs) but also too much (>8hrs) sleep is linked2poorer cognitive function in older people http://bit.ly/1rFrgjK

    “The less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age” http://bit.ly/1sTSrvQ

    ASMR for #insomnia? Soothing/tingling sensation travels over scalp in response2specific types of sensory stimulation http://nyti.ms/1tyjv2T

    I often bang on about importance of good night sleep 4 #brain health -so it’s good to see evidence accumulating http://reut.rs/TcTHKv

    Lack of sleep linked to negative thinking http://bit.ly/1vzjM1t (and neurodegeneration http://bit.ly/1lnf07j)

    Doesn’t surprise me one little bit: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29166466 … I often find myself continuing daytime tasks in my sleep (even debugging code!)

    Earlier I admitted2solving computer programming bugs in my sleep.According2 @sciammind it’s been going on since 60’s! http://bit.ly/1oBHTtY

    Implanting designer gene into certain region of brainstem makes deep sleep switch-on-and-offable: http://bit.ly/1s6gE1T

    In #SortYourBrainOut @polarbearpirate & I stress importance of sleep for brain health,here’s why + ways2improve sleep http://bit.ly/1BdicI6

    It’s not big, it’s not clever… going without sleep is deleterious to brain function: http://theatln.tc/1wfaM7n   #SortYourBrainOut #SYBO

    Love how cunning yet simple this experiment is: http://bbc.in/1r9SN1a – establishing whether or not we dream in slow motion via @BBC_Future

    To Sleep, Perchance To Learn: why memory suffers when we’re sleep deprived & the chemical injection that can boost it http://n.pr/1BQwDp6

    “#memory distortion is greater after #sleep deprivation..people are getting less sleep each night than..ever” http://bit.ly/1ne7M68   #SYBO

    #Meditate While Lying in Bed For More Restful #Sleep http://ow.ly/Gebe6 #SortYourBrainOut

    Get a new iPad for Christmas? Don’t use it just before bedtime or it will screw up your sleep: http://bit.ly/1xrLuEA   #SortYourBrainOut

    ‘Sleep drunkenness’ more common than thought, new study finds – Health – http://TODAY.com http://ow.ly/AMb6q

    The chicken and egg of sleep problems / beta amyloid deposition in the brain of elderly people: http://bit.ly/1vzkuf8   #SortYourBrainOut

    Why we yawn: http://bit.ly/1H7se0c   @GCweirdscience @Xfm_Lliana #behindthepaywall



    #Stress, can provide benefits IF you don’t let it hang around too long | p129 http://ow.ly/AIcqk @drJackLewis

    How #stress hormones promote #brain’s building of negative memories (@ScienceDaily) http://bit.ly/UvhoO2   #trauma

    Impact of stress on body and #brain is a core part of #SortYourBrainOut philosophy. Brilliantly described here: http://n.pr/UdECbJ #SYBO



    Last week i did a talk on #bodylanguage @MiddlesexUni & promised i’d write a blog up about it. I’m a man of my word: http://bit.ly/1mzlKw9

    Confirmed panellists for “The future of self-hacking”: @DrJackLewis, @StuartCalimport, and Andrew Vladimirov http://www.meetup.com/London-Futurists/events/190686472/


    My Most Unexpected Telly MomentTV

    Insight into how NatGeo decides what kind of series to fund – stumble on something that works, copy it: http://fxn.ws/1oNHHKp   #scienceTV

    Could viewers hear me mutter, under my breath, right at the end: “ethically dubious.. but lovely” – I wonder? #ThisMorning #miniWinnie



    Virtual Reality

    Fascinating! People more comfortable sharing secrets w/ #virtual human (computer controlled) than real 1 http://bit.ly/1oFjCCT #psychiatry


    Window to the Soul

    “pupil dilation correlated more closely with perceived effort than actual effort” – for both physical & mental effort http://bit.ly/1udmkWt

    Catching undiagnosed glaucoma before it damages vision – simply by analysing eye movements whilst people watch telly: http://bit.ly/110f99a


    Young Brains

    In low-income neighborhoods, 1 book is available for every 300 kids. In richer areas the ratio is 13 books per child http://anniemurphypaul.com/2014/06/why-pediatricians-are-prescribing-books

    What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades: http://nyti.ms/1kqAhfj

    What happens in a teenager’s brain when they are criticised by their mother (what it means is another matter) http://wrd.cm/1uOM5by #SYKBO

    Analysis of 5-HT receptors in brainstems of babies who died of SIDS (a.k.a. cot death) reveal new subtypes/functions: http://bit.ly/16IzIKo

    A Vaccine for Childhood Anxiety: Effort-Based Praise http://ift.tt/1rUTZTK #psychology

    Baby brains – how you curate their environments & choreograph their social interactions sculpts their personality: http://huff.to/1xz0O21

    Newborns spend about 16-17 hours sleeping a day. But about 80% of neonatal and newborn sleep time is actually REM (‘dreaming’) sleep.

    Read more »
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