• Fighting Dementia with Sea Hero Quest

    shq-logoAs we move around in the world we develop a sense of how to get from A to B. This relies heavily on the hippocampus, a brain structure nestled deep within each of the temporal lobes, responsible for many functions vital to cognition such as memory and navigation. This is the brain structure famed for becoming physically larger as a result of all the practice driving around London that the drivers of London’s famous Black Cabs have to accrue before they can pass “The Knowledge.” Whilst their memory for the 25,000 roads and 20,000 major landmarks that enable them to instantly reel off the route they’d take to get from one place to another is extraordinary, for the 33% of those born in 2015 will live long enough to develop dementia at some point in their lives this situation is reversed. Difficulties with navigation, even familiar routes between places visited many times before, is one of the problems in daily life that can herald the approach of full-blown dementia. Understanding the normal trajectory of changes in navigational ability over the lifetime of a health brain is a vital first step. With or without dementia our abilities to memories complex routes becomes slowly but surely compromised by the normal processes of age-related cognitive decline. We need to know what is normal for each age group before we could be in a position to use a steeper than normal decline in navigational ability as an early warning signal, ideally before any memory deficits have had a chance to rear their ugly heads. As our understanding of the metabolic processes that lead to various forms of dementia improve, this early warning could prove to be a vital mechanism in triggering prophylactic treatments early enough to slow down disease progression.

    memoriseHugo Spiers, a memory researcher and neuroscientist at University College London, launched a smartphone game in 2016 called Sea Hero Quest, which aims to do just this. Over 2.5 million people have played this surprisingly fun, engaging and challenging game so far, generating the equivalent of an astonishing 9,400 years worth of lab data. The game involves memorising a map of waterways around which a series of numbered buoys have been distributed. Once you’ve planned the journey you’re going to make and tucked it away in your working memory, the map is then taken  away and your job is then to steer your little fishing boat (increasingly customisable as you progress through the game) by tapping the left or right side of the touch screen. The terrain varies from idyllic sandy paradises to rainy, foggy, bumpy rides across perpetually undulating swell. Thanks to the funding from Deutsche Telekom and Glitchers – the tech-gurus who actually created the game – the graphics are beautifully rendered, the gameplay is smooth and unlike most games designed to answer important scientific questions, every aspect of the user experience is highly polished. As was the delivery of the first results announced at SfN 2016 and summarised below by the man himself…

     

     

    buoyPersonally I was surprised by how hard some of the levels were. I play a lot of brain training games (e.g. PEAK Review, BRAIN AGE 2 Review ), just to keep myself up to date on the latest offerings, and am now accustomed to finding myself able to get maximal scores on most categories of games pretty quickly through daily play. Not Sea Hero Quest. Once I got past the easier earlier levels, I often found myself getting lost in the mist, or going round and round in circles having forgotten how to get from buoy 3 to buoy 4. As a consequence, not only did I help scientists like Hugo Spiers and colleagues from the University of East Anglia and Alzheimers Research UK to generate data (anonymously, you only have to give your age) but I also got an insight into what the future might have in store for me should I become one of the unfortunate 1 in 3 that get clobbered by dementia in my post-retirement years. As you progress from level to level you periodically get to chase down one of a large variety of sea monsters. Having dodged innumerable obstacles along the way the monster in question eventually leaps out of the water at you and your task, is to resist the temptation to hit the button on your camera to take a photo of the rare and exotic sea beast in question, until the very last second when the captured image is at its most aesthetically pleasing.

    Overall, I found playing this game great fun, very challenging at times and doubly satisfying knowing that it would, in some small but meaningful way, help science to get some much needed answers about how the human brain keeps track of where it is and where it’s going in health, so we can better understand when this system breaks down in disease.

    img_1517I would just like to take a moment to applaud @HugoSpiers and collaborators for finding a way to genuinely enable people to #gameforgood. Hats off to you all… your Cannes Lion was thoroughly well deserved!

    In addition to these monthly blogs you can get daily brain tweets about other amazing developments in the world of neuroscience by following me on Twitter (@DrJackLewis). And for a fortnightly appraisal of the latest quirkly stories from the wonderful world of science on general there’s always the totally free Geek Chic Weird Science podcast available from iTunes, Podbay, Libsyn and many others.

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  • Another Year of Brain Tweets

    It’s that time of year again!

    Every day I trawl the internet for fascinating, illuminating pearls of brain wisdom to leak out of neuroscience laboratories across the planet.

    So each year I look back on a year’s worth of brain tweets to see what’s been trending recently.

    This year the topic I appear to have been tweeting about the most, with over 50 separate articles shared on this topic via the social networking site Twitter, is brain technology.

    In second spot are the tweets drawing attention to the science podcast I’ve been doing with RadioX’s Lliana Bird for the past 18 months. Incidentally we’re currently turning this into a book. We’re literally writing it right now. She’s sat right opposite me as I type. We’re 50,000 words down and have just 30,000 to go. It’ll be in all good book shops and online repositories in time for Christmas 2016. We’re tremendously excited.

    In third place with just over 40 citations is the topic Youth Brains – which is what I label any cool science that is of relevance to baby brains, infant brains, teenage brains and brain development in general.

    Anyway, I could go on – but a glance at the following histogram should tell you everything you need to know about the topics contained in this digest of my tweets from Feb 2015 to Jan 2016. Enjoy…

    2015 Tweets

    BRAIN TECH

    “implant-free means2provide brain stimulation&mapping” magnetic iron oxide particles (22nm diameter)injected in2brain http://bit.ly/1x0TBsq

    Deep brain stimulation of PFC triggers increased growth of new hippocampal neurons – hope is this will help dementia: http://bit.ly/1Jk8Deh

    Digital bee brain flies quadcopter drone (rather well by all accounts) Check out this video clip from BBC news: http://bbc.in/1DLhFSF

    Dissolvable wireless sensors to monitor head injuries http://bit.ly/1RxzdrB

    EEG-controlled telepresence robot for the disabled http://bit.ly/1PVr2EA

    Fantastic interview w/ Karl Deisseroth – psychiatrist, vagus nerve stimulation dabbler, inventor of optogenetics etc: http://nyr.kr/1cI6xu

    Finally a tech innovation that results in fewer rather than more distractions. If your brain’s busy, all alerts off: http://bit.ly/1W5CQoT

    For the proper geeks amongst you – a potted history of the neuromorphic chip; past, present and future: http://tcrn.ch/1DtyCwq

    Forget that article on tiny brain made from skin cells..no evidence. Until we see some..pretend it never happened: http://bit.ly/1Ky91Vg

    Futuristic “rolled up mesh” electrodes inserted into brain frozen don’t cause scarring as very flexible when thawed: http://rsc.li/1RtB39N

    Good Grief:unwinding w/ electrical brain stimulation http://huff.to/1IOm75M “wouldn’t describe the feeling as zen so much as vaguely stoned”

    Hacking the nervous system http://bit.ly/1SA7dC8 New @mosaicscience feature about vagus nerve stimulation by @WanderingGaia

    Human brain + Computing power = better, faster processing of visual intelligence than the sum of their parts: http://bit.ly/1PFsQjk Scary!

    If spiderman was a neuroscientist he’d be using this new injectable electrode webbing from Harvard to wire up brains: http://bit.ly/1GuVLoj

    Imagine knowing what someone else is thinking simply by seeing splashes of light in your mind’s eye: http://bit.ly/1R2LdxD #usetheforceluke

    Making sense of MEG: a different type of brain scan helping us understand how top-down & the bottom-up fit together! http://bit.ly/1P1LOxr

    manipulating the “gatekeeper protein” p53 can ramp up conversion of skin cells into dopamine neurons: http://bit.ly/1N6Be9E

    Memory-boosting devices tested in humans http://ow.ly/UcroE

    Motion sickness may soon be remedied by applying weak electrical current to scalp via wire plugged into mobile phone: http://bit.ly/1KSb0rN

    Neural dust & injectable brain webbing should help circumvent problems associated with conventional brain electrodes: http://bit.ly/1FZhrTM

    neurosurgeon practises surgery on 3D printed patient’s brain: http://bit.ly/1SulGhH ..but without blood vessels,how useful is this really?

    Neurotech overview – (nearly) everything you need to know about the past, present and future of brain augmentation: http://tcrn.ch/1FjvQz9

    Now the parents are at it!! Using DIY brain zapping in the hope it will improve their kids grades: http://ab.co/1D76FNs #sgonnaendintears

    Remote control neurons implanted with gold/iron nanoparticles heated up by infrared/magnetic fields, respectively: http://bit.ly/1Bqb1K5

    SpaceX for the brain: http://bit.ly/1QqAqgy

    Surgically implanted chip translates thoughts into words at average rate of 6 words/minute – MUCH faster than before: http://bit.ly/1N4cBgd

    The tone in this article may be a bit cheesy but some of this neuroscience future-casting gives food for thought: http://huff.to/1tRe4IY

    This book on DARPA’s research over decades into augmenting human brain function with technology looks tantalising: http://fus.in/1PJ4tiJ

    2015, the year a student used EEG to drive a cyborg cockroach along an S-shaped path http://bit.ly/1Pktodi

    7T MRI brain imaging can now identify in which layers of the cortex activations & suppressions are happening: http://bit.ly/1RqHSJb

    A big step closer to communication for those with locked-in syndrome – speech decoded directly from brain activity: http://bit.ly/1J1Ntom

    A paralysed man learns to walk again with the help of a robotic exoskeleton http://bit.ly/1IN2bK3

    addicted2the quick fix..tasty junk food..electronic cocaine of the Internet..painless ease of a credit card purchase http://on.wsj.com/1PdB445

    Blind people in bionic eye trial have “‘ceramic tiles’ the size of a small fingernail implanted into…visual cortex” http://bit.ly/1KJeUAI

    Brain balls: http://wrd.cm/1F6yUs2

    Brain dipstick: http://bit.ly/1M2Twc1

    Brain implants to help” criminals behave better instead of death penalty? Discuss… http://bit.ly/1MrVPXA

    Brain implants to improve memory no longer preserve of films like Jonny Mnemonic – testing in real humans right now!! http://bit.ly/1LvVw8Q

    Brain stimulation in kids holds great promise for those with learning disabilities but could end in tears for others: http://bit.ly/1gNmFM9

    BRAIN ZAP / Transcranial direct current stimulation – who would you rather wire your brain up? Oxford uni or DIY man? http://bit.ly/1OJcDZD

    Brain-controlled computer cursor getting better&better: http://bit.ly/1Re40GC But how long before we find ourselves chucking out the mouse?

    Brain-controlled smart home. I for one have had quite enough of having to manually flick light switches on/off: http://bit.ly/1QIy2SB

    Brain-powered prosthetics: http://tcrn.ch/1R3r6zO

    Cerebellum – involved in fine motor control&balance – may be good target for developing new brain-machine interfaces: http://bit.ly/1uUNG19

    Christof Koch discusses machine intelligence in the cinema, including a review of Ex Machina: http://bit.ly/1BpqRG8

    Computer hackers & neuroscientists join forces in an effort to create algorithms that automatically spot sick neurons http://n.pr/1OWGuxG

    Consumer device “zaps” your brain – this time to change your mood. Reeks of codswallop… http://ind.pn/1BHuGGV

    One day we’ll log onto our computers using super-secure Brainprints http://tcrn.ch/1AQGTht Unique/unfakeable EEG responses to visual stimuli

    Paralyzed Rats Walk Again With Flexible Spinal Implant http://bit.ly/1C279Dr #science

    Pencil-eraser-sized brain, equivalent to 5wk old foetus,engineered from adult human skin cells (no blood vessels yet) http://bit.ly/1EAXNwX

    GEEK CHIC

    NASA alien predictions, pointless sport supplements + brontosaural revivals: Geek Chic’s Weird Science Podcast Ep28: http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    “@PopSci: Scientists are making chocolate tastier&more cancer-fighting http://pops.ci/P50bKk ” __@GCweirdscience @Xfm_Lliana @DrJackLewis

    #GeekChicPodcast Ep30 out now! Midnight feasts,defeating ear worms& 1/6 species to go extinct by 2100 http://bit.ly/1IVQg0M @GCweirdscience

    1st Geek Chic Weird Sci podcast of 2015 is a Superhuman Special courtesy of the lovely @heather_berlin Available now: http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    Check out the armor on this #FossilFriday! Panochthus frenzelianus is a giant glyptodont: http://trib.al/zHdKvF2

    Chimps Would “Cook” Food If They Could http://bit.ly/1BJerJp

    Dodging killer robots, reflections on magic mirrors, lego roads & pluto’s tail – all in @GCweirdscience ep40: http://apple.co/1KEJu22

    Don’t do Apple? All episodes of Geek Chic Weird Science podcast still available at the touch of a button: http://bit.ly/1E5JwJY @Xfm_Lliana

    Don’t lie to your dog – he might rumble you. Dogs know if you’re untrustworthy http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150220-dogs-know-if-youre-untrustworthy …

    EP 28: The return of the brontosaurus,possibilities of alien life & Is fast food actually good for you?Find out NOW! http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    Ep36 of our Geek Chic podcast covers “Seeing in Tongues, Dangers of Skinny Jeans & Hotties Getting Away With Murder”: http://bit.ly/1EZuvcw

    Finally – a flying car to get excited about – made in…. Slovakia: http://cnn.it/1BQoIpf

    Fluorescing #corals: nature’s glow sticks! Bask in their glow: http://mbayaq.co/1843aez

    For non-apple folks… Geek Chic podcast ep26 rainbow gravity, antibiotic mayhem & panning sewage for precious metals: http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    Geek Chic podcast ep37: http://apple.co/1rpMfIh

    Geek Chic podcast episode 26 OUT NOW – rainbow gravity, antibiotic mayhem and panning sewage for precious metals: http://apple.co/1rpMfIh

    Geek Chic podcast is back!! ep42 includes Johnny mnemonic brain chips, batband headphones and mice crooning for love: http://apple.co/1gDcwl2

    Geek chic podcast. Very cool range of topics, including this one on BioMusic 🙂 @DrJackLewis http://tinyurl.com/peprmmf

    Geek Chic’s Weird Science made it to iTunes best of 2014 (debut section): http://itunes.com/bestpodcasts2014 … This week: solar planes, robo-roaches et al

    Graphene spacecraft could fly on starlight http://wired.uk/itY6QO

    Have a listen to all the geek chic weird science podcasts by following us on @audioBoom https://audioboom.com/channel/geekchic …

    How creepy a robot seems is strongly influenced by it’s likeness to the human form: http://bit.ly/1OH2n6k

    I gotta get me one of these octopus-inspired marine robots: http://bit.ly/1I8zAoi @GCweirdscience @Xfm_Lliana

    In ep39 we discuss the search for ET, pink rhino horns & the latest from the moon on 46th moon landing anniversary: http://bit.ly/1IoavW3

    In ep51 of @GCweirdscience podcast we discuss our solar system’s newly discovered 9th planet. Ace vid explains more: http://bit.ly/1V8yxGX

    In the latest Geek Chic Weird Science podcast we discuss Pluto pics, a forthcoming mini-ice age & mini-hearts: http://bit.ly/1gK5bAZ

    In this week’s @GCweirdscience podcast we’ve got dogs holding grudges, internet rationing, boozy chimps & philae: http://bit.ly/1E5JwJY

    In this week’s DRUGS SPECIAL podcast we discuss origins & investigations into psychadelics & MDMA with @zoecormier: https://itun.es/i6Lb74f

    In this week’s GCSW podcast (released earlier in the week) we discuss – Should Dolphins Be Granted “Personhood”? http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    Is Eminem’s brain different from yours? Find out in ‘The Science of Rapping’ #GeekChicPodcast special – http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    Kick your week off with a bang (literally) as @gcweirdscience’s @DrJackLewis & @Xfm_Lliana talk the science of music: http://bit.ly/1F2wMkK

    Listen to our new #GeekChicPodcast NOW on iTunes and on http://geekchic.libsyn.com/ !

    Missed last weeks #GeekChicPodcast on ‘The Science of Sex’ have a listen here – https://audioboom.com/channel/geekchic @audioBoom

    Monkey ball transplantations, the discovery of clitoris&”posh wanks”… love the latest episode, @GCweirdscience _! @Xfm_Lliana @DrJackLewis

    New #GeekChicPodcast is UP! ‘The Science of Rapping’ explored w/ guests @heather_berlin & @BabaBrinkman. Listen here http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    New #GeekChicPodcast is UP!! Download here https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/geek-chics-weird-science/id921816230?mt=2 … OR listen here http://geekchic.libsyn.com/ @GCweirdscience @DrJackLewis

    NEW GC! This week we talk flying cars, powdered alcohol & how scientific accidents can help the battle against cancer http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    NEW GC! We look at why cats & classical music could make surgery safer,how to make chocolate healthier & robot birds http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    Not yet listened to this week’s @GCweirdscience podcast? Click here for our Marine Special w/ tales from @TheBlowfish http://apple.co/1rpMfIh

    Nursing a hangover? Geek Chic Weird Science podcast BOOOZE episode should sort that out: http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh @GCweirdscience @Xfm_Lliana

    On a more light-hearted note GeekChicWeirdScience podcast is back with memory boost chips, crooning mice & bat bands: http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    Our @GCweirdscience Marine Special = Jellyfish Apocalypse, Metal-Loving Sharks, Thieving Whales & Guff-Talking Fish: http://apple.co/1rpMfIh

    This week on Geek Chic’s Weird Science: sesame seed clitoris, monkey ball transplantations & more in our Sex Special: http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    This week’s @GCweirdscience in emojis gotta be ___, ___, ___, _! Exciting!_here –> http://geekchic.libsyn.com/

    This week’s @GCweirdscience podcast features Underwater Strawberries, Reversing Memory Loss & Heavy Metal Happiness: http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    This week’s edition of @GCweirdscience completes our Sex Drugs & RocknRoll trilogy with a Science of Music special: http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    This week’s geek chic podcast will enlighten you with weird science tales of dogs,kittens,chimps,satellites&asteroids http://bit.ly/1EZuvcw

    Today’s @GCweirdscience podcast take us from starlight-powered spacecraft to grow-your-own drug kits (using yeast): http://bit.ly/1rpMfIh

    We love this – why IS late-night snacking so tempting? Listen to @Xfm_Lliana & @DrJackLewis finding out why: http://bit.ly/1F6MBvC

    What happens when a neuroscientist marries a rapper & starts experimenting on his brain! Find out here http://geekchic.libsyn.com/ #GeekChic

    YOUNG BRAINS

    “..altering the electrical properties of these cells can dramatically change how the ensuing brain develops..” http://bit.ly/1EU4n4t

    babies’ brains are building connections at an incredible rate..particularly sensitive2changes in the last trimester” http://bit.ly/1bugB8K

    Boys raised in better-educated adopted family end up with higherIQ than brothers raised in lowerIQ biological family: http://bit.ly/1EFwLni

    Brain scanning study differentiates between raw talent (natural predisposition) versus hard graft (neuroplasticity): http://bit.ly/1LXQjvV

    Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore did a TED talk in 2012 on the adolescent brain. It’s now been viewed 1.5 million times! http://bit.ly/1fUgG6e

    RESPECT MY AUTONOMY!” Foster closer bonding by giving your 2yr old space OR How to make your offspring like you 😉 http://bit.ly/1zgzu6P

    Sadly, impacts of child abuse don’t just include damaging brains for life, it can even shorten life expectancy too: http://ab.co/1HFPjYC

    Scientists hope..findings will help to drive fresh interventions to boost brain growth in children who need it most http://bit.ly/1EVgY42

    The devastating impact of childhood neglect on the human brain emphasises the vital importance of emotional support: http://bit.ly/1JyukYt

    Two brain cannabinoids are critical for all aspects of brain function, differences in developing brain & adult http://bit.ly/1IDx3gP #brain

    When kids get outside more often, incidence of short-sightedness plummets. Gotta exercise those eyeball lens muscles! http://bit.ly/1NuYZZL

    Why I think it’s irresponsible for advertisers to encourage/normalise use of technology to silence kids: http://bit.ly/1FkJYIK

    “Malaria blocks brain blood flow, inducing inflammation, causing pressure build up on brainstem in infected children”: http://n.pr/1MLoEf5

    10am start at school for 16yr olds, 18yr olds at 11am – could explain why I never made it to morning lectures at uni! http://bit.ly/1UrqusX

    Brain imaging of 1-6 day old babies suggests they probably have better ability to perceive pain than we realised: http://ti.me/1HQhaqg

    Can you detect the signs that your child is cyberbullied? http://bit.ly/1bECeUv #bullying #cyberbully

    Childhood adversity linked2psychiatric disorders via cellular changes e.g. telomere shortening (also assoc w/ ageing) http://bit.ly/1EqMaJO

    correlation between weaker working memory&the likelihood that a teen would have..unprotected sex – at a younger age” http://n.pr/1FnvFMG

    Cunning analysis of very premature baby EEG data “correlated significantly w/ child’s cognitive development at age2”: http://bit.ly/1SAoDOY

    Differences between 1st-borns & “later-borns” are so small that they have no practical relevance to people’s lives”: http://bit.ly/1CIRNHa

    Do you routinely give your infant a smartphone or tablet to play with to keep them occupied? If so, think again: http://bit.ly/169vVF0

    Exciting to think that in the future teens at risk of psychosis might be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs: http://bit.ly/1yg4SSq

    first study suggesting that a mother’s education affects her child at cellular level from birth http://bit.ly/1jNA9Jo

    fMRI evidence suggests:“When kids are hearing stories,they’re imagining in their mind’s eye when they hear the story” http://nyti.ms/1IYUBx5

    From mother to daughter – emotional inheritance http://bit.ly/1NDdEOH

    Give kids more opportunities for unstructured play at school and it may well lead to all sorts of benefits: http://n.pr/1JSbeLE

    Given impacts on brains&impulsivity,might drinking booze whilst pregnant contribute to our overflowing prison system? http://bbc.in/1K92wwK

    Great resources to help teach kids about the human brain: http://bit.ly/1NBcIxV

    How to best build babies’ brains? http://bit.ly/1LTAdyk or just don’t worry too much / give them plenty of emotional support / stimulation

    I’d almost certainly have been diagnosed as ADHD (had it been invented when I was at school) so I love “Squirm2Learn” http://bit.ly/1O7JGso

    If more infants played regularly w/ building blocks,spatial cognition boost might bolster interest in STEM subjects! http://bit.ly/1v8XCtK

    In adolescents with bipolar disorder, key areas of the brain that help regulate emotions develop differently” http://bit.ly/1J8khvP

    Japanese rat study suggest that balance of omega-3 vs omega-6 is key to ensuring healthy foetal brain growth: http://bit.ly/1WmOWJf

    more you read to your child the more you help the neurons in this region to grow and connect: http://cnn.it/1g8PimZ

    Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide To Raising Adolescents and Young Children – sounds like a good read:   http://bit.ly/1AIf32V #SYKBO

    Persistent nightmares aged 2-9 predict higher incidence of psychotic episodes aged 18: http://bit.ly/1Pv6rY1

    Premature baby brains: “immature,fragile blood vessels struggle2provide tissue with enough oxygen4normal development” http://bit.ly/16ufGDA

    BRAIN HEALTH

    Pet lovers – this one’s for you… Having a pet is good for the health of your brain. Here are some reasons why: http://bit.ly/1DTONnt

    70yr study focuses on “how lifetime experiences interact w/ genetics2determine individual’s risk4developing dementia” http://bit.ly/1K4GPhC

    Air Polution / Shrinking Brains… discuss! http://bit.ly/1Owd9g5

    All that daily spinach probably kept Popeye’s brain in very good nick; holding dementia at bay well into old age: http://bit.ly/19vKbK5

    As far as heart disease is concerned “trans” fats (margarine) are more dangerous than saturated fats (meat, dairy..): http://bit.ly/1P7XKOS

    Certain brain cancers grow faster if they are in a region of high as opposed to low activity: http://n.pr/1FiFS1O

    Cheesy but true… The pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness”: http://youtu.be/GZZ0zpUQhBQ

    Cooling brains of head trauma patients might reduce blood pressure but leads to worse outcomes 6months after injury: http://bit.ly/1RvzsQB

    Craniotomy (trepanning) saves lives by reducing pressure on brain when people suffer brain injury – but is it safe? http://bit.ly/1zPSRSt

    Deep brain electrodes implanted in woman’s reward pathways in an effort to ameliorate her anorexia (oxford uni) http://bit.ly/1NyeajI

    Diabetes… Can play havoc with your brain: http://ti.me/1G7XGbo

    Does the National Academy of Sciences really call glioblastoma multiforme “the Terminator”? Anyway-now there is hope! http://bit.ly/1CGZDdf

    Does TV Rot Your Brain? – via Scientific American – http://bit.ly/1YVCsbk –

    From East to West diabetes is associated with increased cognitive impairment: http://bit.ly/1GwQRAI

    From the tiny Pacific Island of Guam to a potential treatment for neurodegeneration via cyanobacteria: http://bbc.in/1NmnQuL

    Get up&dance: “regular exercise, at least 5 days per week, is a way to sharpen our cognitive ability as young adults” http://bit.ly/1yJwAXR

    Great study investigates PTSD development in people required 2make serious decisions for relatives in intensive care: http://bit.ly/1JgtcKS

    Green Tea – fad or genuine “smart” drug? http://bit.ly/1CetNnX I’ve been reading up on green tea, so I wrote a blog about it.

    Have resisted posting this story cos I hate unnecessary scaremongering, but such white matter loss is worth noting: http://nyti.ms/1LuCg0h

    How much sugar is lurking in your cereal? Here are the top five worst offenders http://bit.ly/15OC3lZ #health

    Imagine being able to pack soldiers off to war with a vaccine that protects against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder..! http://bit.ly/1LepsI5

    Mugabe effect revisited. How proteins found in young blood might rejuvenate old bodies and brains: http://bit.ly/1M2hhkr #SortYourBrainOut

    Omega-3 Shown to Reduce Antisocial, Aggressive Behavior in Kids http://buff.ly/1JUtYuO #psychology #feedly

    Protect your brain: http://ind.pn/1KjnpFj . #SortYourBrainOut

    Scary how much time some people spend watching telly – time better spent interacting with people: http://on.wsj.com/1MMU5FC #SortYourBrainOut

    Several brain illnesses all involve reduced grey matter in same areas, but why are dACC/bilat. insula so vulnerable?: http://bit.ly/1DIJA17

    Sitting is the new smoking: http://bit.ly/1KHFWvf Sofa sloths and couch potatoes are slowly but surely killing themselves…

    some studies have linked a regular fish habit over a lifetime to..lower risk of cognitive decline” http://n.pr/1EsRKQk #SortYourBrainOut

    Synopsis of Vagus Nerve stimulation treatment for various illnesses plus a great illustration of its meandering path http://bit.ly/1QEzR4B

    The debate over whether or not drug treatments for ADHD can “normalise the brain” http://nyti.ms/1z8nxwC

    These are some of the surest ways to preserve your brainpower, says @d_a_robson http://bbc.in/1hJorPI

    Treadmill desks lead to health benefits overall but for highly demanding cognitive tasks – better to step off: http://bit.ly/1QiSsTa

    Vid on new philosophy on how to be strong and flexible has the ring of truth to it: http://bit.ly/1iCg6gU

    What high blood pressure does to the brain, as revealed by MRI scanning that focuses on white matter tracts (DTI): http://bit.ly/1LCg5Ay

    subgenual prefrontal cortex broodiness assuaged – easy as a walk in the park: http://nyti.ms/1JxCmyl

    The case against e-readers: Why #reading paper books is better for your mind. http://oxford.ly/1ywWPkn by @justbluffing @washingtonpost

    MISCELLANEOUS

    Sponge-filled syringe that plugs gunshot wounds in seconds to be used by US ambulance crews http://wired.uk/yoeWEd

    A repository of recent, useful, high quality, brain research news articles (categorised by theme) at your disposal: http://bit.ly/1zyk8Oq

    All have same mean, variance, correlation, & regression line. Lesson: Always Visualize Data http://bit.ly/1y3MMju

    Also explore @KnowledgeCiv’s website for loads vids & articles http://www.the-knowledge.org

    Although an enormous amount of research has been done on the HIV virus, much is still unknown. http://bit.ly/1AjT9jK

    BBC Radio 4’s Animated Short – No.9 Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths – narrated by Stephen Fry, is ace! http://itun.es/i6L77Ck @GCweirdscience

    Best medical images of the year: a mesmerising nano-world where science becomes art http://bit.ly/1Aa4hR5 #2015wia

    Brain surgery for beginners @GCweirdscience https://instagram.com/p/491ygGjLEN/

    Can you grow a human bone outside the human body? The answer may soon be yes! http://ow.ly/ONtem

    combined action of2naturally-occurring hormones can trigger..conversion of..white fat2brown..which is easier2burn off http://ab.co/1yrPiTZ

    Gastrophysics is changing the way we understand food http://wp.me/p5ozmk-q via @DomNicholls

    GIF (1987) and ZIP (1989) must be some of the oldest file formats that we use every day.

    Greenland is basically a great lie MT @flashboy: How map projections are weird http://thetruesize.com

    Huge prehistoric monument found near Stonehenge http://on.mash.to/1VItZIz

    I like memes – this one deserves particular attention due to it’s cultural multiplicity! (Spanish, Arabic & Ukranian) http://bbc.in/1LwUOOp

    If only there were always a dolphin to fetch your phone when you drop it into the lagoon http://on.mash.to/1FEzJ2z

    If viruses never existed, neither would you “8% of our genetic material is made up of absorbed forms of retroviruses” http://bit.ly/1KXJmZe

    Imagine how it would feel to discover that your embryonic twin had been hitching a ride in your brain for 26 years!!: http://huff.to/1Gik6wA

    Interesting that murderous neuroscience student chose2research topics that could shed light on his own brain errors: http://yhoo.it/1EexQ89

    It often occurred to me during my PhD that without excellent maths I’d never be a great neuro researcher – here’s why http://bit.ly/1h05PKl

    Just press play” to watch living standards rise around the world over time. http://buff.ly/1Mm2VYm #progress

    Nearly two-thirds of Earth’s minerals were created by life http://to.pbs.org/1W5f37d

    Neural waves: http://bit.ly/1ntn5ew

    Now I’ve heard it all! Ayahuasca (S.American psychedelic) may promote growth of pancreatic BetaCells (cure4diabetes?) http://bit.ly/1BxkeUe

    Offspring of Inside Out, this one imagines a brain’s inner stakeholder meeting as it struggles through a typical day: http://nyr.kr/1gPCi69

    Oslo will be completely car-free by 2019 http://wired.uk/aLSeZ3

    Podcasting is perfect for people with big ideas. Here’s how to do it http://gu.com/p/4fy7b/stw #HE #SciComms

    Protect Your Cat With a Suit of Armor – http://bit.ly/1BUDmgb

    This extreme slow motion of a paint-covered drill is mesmerising http://on.mash.to/20eepa4

    Understanding the human brain – the story so far… http://bit.ly/1Su85bN

    Wake up & smell the @Neuro_Skeptic – Is Your Brain Really Necessary? [revisited]: http://bit.ly/1U1O0ce

    Why do we hate waiting in some queues more than others… even if they’re the same length? http://bbc.in/1LOgHTF

    Why people leave their bodies to medical research – and what happens http://gu.com/p/466b3/stw

    Brain speedometer discovered: http://bit.ly/1K8WFVF

    Nobel Prizes in Science for 2015 done and dusted. Catch up on all three here: http://bit.ly/NobelSci2015

    Numbers processed in both brain hemisphere’s not just the right as previously thought: http://bit.ly/23u9DYm

    FOOD

    “obese teens are especially vulnerable to…brand seduction” http://onforb.es/1LBAx5P

    “overeating..partially a matter of our fullness meters being unknowingly broken by the abundance of fat in out diets” http://bit.ly/1NNYGqW

    “you eat to get rid of the unpleasant feeling of hunger” – relevant neurons to target for obesity therapy established http://nbcnews.to/1zg21gt

    Don’t usually post worm articles but this one on dopamine circuits for increasing appetite for risk is mind-boggling: http://bit.ly/1aQxg71

    Eat yourself happy: http://bit.ly/1OAgAjQ

    FOOD PORN – why do people obsess over taking beautiful photos of every single delicious meal that is set before them? http://theatln.tc/1HnJLCR

    Food provides less pleasure (less reward activation) when consumed late vs early -> eat more at night2feel satisfied http://bit.ly/1JtdVUm

    Food-related reward processing in obese brains assoc w/ “neural changes similar 2 those found in substance addiction” http://wb.md/1fUUgTM

    Great NYT blog concisely explaining the “effect of stress on food choices/brain responses” study: http://nyti.ms/1UUW2UO #SortYourBrainOut

    High fat and high sugar diets may lead to loss of cognitive flexibility: http://bit.ly/1Rss6Mb

    How does gastric bypass change people’s taste for sugary and fatty foods? #obesity #RYGB #WLS http://tinyurl.com/ppz748a via @BariatricNews

    Impact of food porn” on your poor defenceless brain by @Psych_Writer http://sciof.us/1jyKb1J

    individualised medicine coming soon? “same food would cause huge sugar spikes in some people…tiny blips in others” http://theatln.tc/1HbCsRJ

    infusion of oleic acid..in the brain ‘triggers’..signal from the hypothalamus 2 the liver 2 lower its fat secretion” http://bit.ly/1Bn2lVi

    Investigating how stimulating obese kids with scent of tasty food impacts brain areas associated with impulsiveness http://bit.ly/1OduYz0

    Keeping food visible throughout the house is linked to obesity: Low self-esteem also identif… http://bit.ly/1Et96t9 #psychology #news

    Knowing You’re Overweight May Lead to Further Weight Gain: http://neurosciencenews.com/obesity-weight-gain-psychology-2386/ … #psychology

    MILK+BRAINS: http://bit.ly/1BPzpVu It just makes me happy to know NHS Choices are always there to rain clarity down upon the sensationalism

    MSG/umami – is probably not too bad for us after all & it may even help stimulate a healthy appetite in the elderly: http://bit.ly/1ykIrrU

    New fMRI study examines brain mechanisms involved when control over impulse to eat tasty snacks is reduced by stress: http://reut.rs/1IYBdWe

    Our favourite foods are not the ticking time bomb we’ve been led to believe (even bacon) http://bbc.in/1GAKG5G

    Poor diet assoc. w/ accelerated shrinkage of hippocampus in humans for 1st time (animal studies showed this earlier): http://ab.co/1VRyDnS

    The basis of a “sweet tooth” is…… the liver! (and its FGF21 production) http://bit.ly/1OfLhet

    This guy thinks we could curb overeating by eating more delicious food. I’m skeptical, but…I volunteer anyway. 🙂 http://ow.ly/T6gxA

    Unravelling the mechanisms by which brains interact with body fat via hormones to generate stress-eating behaviours: http://yhoo.it/1eFYCgY

    Volunteers consume 6000 calories/day to induce insulin-resistance (in just 2days!) in study to investigate mechanisms http://bit.ly/1L3YANy

    Why does food taste different on planes? http://bbc.in/1EM6q8L

    Why is late night snacking so tempting? Find out NOW! #GeekChicPodcast http://bit.ly/1IoavW3

    Our #POSTnote on Novel Food Production http://bit.ly/1e8HnWr Insects for dinner anyone?

    DRUGS

    11 Odd Facts About ‘Magic’ Mushrooms http://www.livescience.com/48704-odd-facts-about-magic-mushrooms.html …

    2 for the price of 1: Could this be the drug breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for? Targeting mis-folded proteins.. http://bit.ly/1fhzZIi

    Aversive memories dependent on cannabinoid receptors in habenula – perhaps accounting for paranoia assoc w/ high THC? http://bit.ly/1P1k5QE

    Brain in a dish” technology could save time, money & millions of animal lives when it comes to screening new drugs: http://bit.ly/1LF1M2C

    Clever way of using anti-insomnia drugs so that they are effective for longer, w/ fewer side effects & less addiction http://bit.ly/1KVlVPL

    Contraceptive pill associated with thinning of specific brain areas possibly accounting for emotional side effects: http://ind.pn/1FS6qmE

    Death by deliberate caffeine overdose: 258 empty blister packs (200 mg/tablet) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337497/ … over 50 grams of caffeine!

    diabetes patients who took Viagra for erectile dysfunction had fewer symptoms of peripheral neuropathy”: http://bit.ly/1Cs3Doi

    Does a fry-up really help a hangover? @d_a_robson explores http://bbc.in/1OvQdb5

    doses required to achieve..same anesthetic state in older patients can be..half what is needed for younger patients http://bit.ly/1J8wPSV

    Drinking the pain away? Those who work longer hours tend to drink more booze: http://bit.ly/1yj9Pd3

    Good to try&account for effects tobacco separately from cannabis but a smaller hippo correlating with better memory?! http://bit.ly/1LlpoHw

    Have we reached peak coffee? Climate change is threatening the source of our caffeine fix http://bbc.in/1DOcFaT

    I’ve never ever heard MDMA referred to as “Molly”..so ..here’s an interesting article on the brain effects of “Mandy” http://bit.ly/1C4cnRA

    Insights into the experiences of the world’s only psychiatrist allowed to prescribe LSD for therapeutic purposes: http://bit.ly/1kXAZUN

    Lancet study evaluating 24yrs of data concludes that legalizing cannabis does NOT lead to increase use in teens: http://bit.ly/1R3KACq

    Medics do it, school kids do it, even educated silicon valley entrepreneurs do it… Nootropics are all over the place: http://bit.ly/1CvySzq

    More intrinsic brain connectivity means more anaesthetic required to knock you out: http://bbc.in/1RJMqhe

    Poorly thought through legislation will yet again hamper research into new therapeutic uses for psychoactive drugs: http://bit.ly/1HWjJGc

    Runners high more to do with endocannabinoids than endorphins: http://bit.ly/1NsVg0F (i.e. more cannabis-like than opium-like so to speak)

    Smoking lots of skunk (v strong weed) seems to knacker the bundle of cables that connects L/R halves of the brain: http://bit.ly/1jmrUne

    St John’s Wort -why you shouldn’t mix prescription drugs with alternative medicines willy nilly (ask your doctor 1st) http://bit.ly/1GO0jku

    Still drinking too much booze? Might be time to get married… http://bit.ly/1IDscLX

    The chemistry secrets behind the perfect cup of #coffee | Andy Brunning http://gu.com/p/4dh5q/stw

    The pleasure of sex, drugs AND rock n roll all seems to depend upon the old opiods: http://bit.ly/1OTxqI0

    Until cannabis is legalised, users will risk brain damage | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett http://gu.com/p/4etc2/stw

    Ultra detailed site for caffeine geeks http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ via @SamOltman @danielas_bot

    Are you a tea or a coffee person? What do you think it says about your philosophical outlook? http://bbc.in/1eaQ6XH

    NEUROANATOMY

    5 arguments backing the importance of complex carbs consumption in driving evolution of our over-sized brains: http://bit.ly/1IQToeG

    Ancient Ancestor of Humans With Tiny Brains http://dlvr.it/C6TspH

    Brain folding arises “not from subtle developmental processes.. but rather from the same simple physical process”: http://bit.ly/1RVUBSH

    Check out how dolphin brains compare to human brains in terms of the complexity of the ridges and folds of the cortex

    Choroid plexus cells are the center of activity between brain & immune – determining what enters the brain http://bit.ly/1iqZRTm #brain

    Forget 1.5T, Cardiff Uni to get 7T MRI scanner & world’s 2nd Connectom3T MRI to trace brain’s white matter highways: http://bbc.in/1DuntL7

    Functional anatomy of interhemispheric cortical connections in the human brain http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2100336/ …

    Glia are no longer considered to be “just” support cells; they’re critical in various aspects of neuroplasticity too http://bit.ly/1QpDUR0

    Human brain evolution with tennis ball scale to depict size – 8-balling ain’t bad – but neanderthals were 9-balling! http://bit.ly/1KIYqNh

    IBM neuroscientist proposes interesting hypothesis to explain why the human brain consumes so much energy at rest http://bit.ly/1Ph5LG1

    If injectable webbing isn’t futuristic enough for you, how about using 20 billion nanoparticles to measure the brain? http://bit.ly/1IrZZdR

    In the search for better measures of brain cell activity: “activated neurons swell due to the massive entry of water” http://bit.ly/1geMepy

    Injecting microbubbles into bloodstream enables 3D pic of rat brain to be constructed from 5000 coarse images / sec: http://bbc.in/1Nf76tT

    Is your brain a quantum orchestra? A question usually posed by crackpots. But this guy seems very cogent: http://huff.to/1LZ2GHB Just maybe…

    It is now possible to predict a person’s “genetic ancestry based on the geometry of their cerebral cortex” http://bit.ly/1SiEaA6

    Living without a cerebellum provides clues to what the cerebellum actually does: http://n.pr/1DrRGim

    Looking at brain circuitry in intimate fine detail reveals some surprises re: how one neuron is wired up to others.. http://bit.ly/1GbbtVu

    Micro-map of hippocampus lends big hand to brain research http://bit.ly/1leNeNj

    New maths helps unravel fundamental organisation of brain areas, even for neurons whose functions remain a mystery: http://bit.ly/1hQaXAQ

    New technique for preparing brain for study with electron microscopes reveals it’s not as squished as we 1st thought: http://bit.ly/1L2fLxk

    Project to find consensus on how many different types of neuron there are likely to get scientists’ axons in a twist: http://bit.ly/1CsjakT

    Protein imaging reveals detailed brain architecture: http://bit.ly/1NJEF9H

    Radio Thalamus – broadcasting to the rest of your brain on multiple frequencies: http://stan.md/1RdVzxM

    Retracing white matter pathways likely to have been severed in most famous cases of brain damage (HM, “Tan”, Phineas) http://bit.ly/1UwsDOA

    The Candy Anatomy project http://bit.ly/1HVfE7a

    World’s first deep brain microscope can magnify structures deep within a living brain: http://bit.ly/1IyGt09

    SLEEP

    19 patients’ medial temporal lobe recordings during REMsleep suggests eye movements = ‘moving onto..next dream frame’ http://bbc.in/1hx3nvw

    Analysis of Crocodile behaviour suggests that – like dolphins – they sleep half their brain at a time: http://bit.ly/1jVNPlY

    Brain scanning study identifies mechanism that could account for why we react more emotionally when sleep deprived: http://bit.ly/1Fv9pro

    Further from recent talk at #EphMRA in Amsterdam.. more on the relationship between work strain & sleep disturbances: http://bit.ly/1It3lPH

    Getting plenty of sleep in ur young-adult&middle-age yes..can actually boost mental health&lessen chance of disease http://fxn.ws/15ORyKN

    high spindle activity helps sleepers resist waking/low spindle activity predicts development of insomnia post-stress: http://bit.ly/1GsmZXW

    Histamine & GABA – two neurotransmitters fighting it out over how awake & energised you should feel: http://bit.ly/1MUyfQa

    Insomnia and the brain: http://bit.ly/1Trnn1L

    New research suggests that,when sleep deprived,little pockets of your brain really do go into slow wave “sleep” mode http://bit.ly/1PrwLAw

    Poor sleep quality in elderly people associated w/ hardening of brain’s arteries http://bit.ly/1RSamx3 (brains were examined after death)

    Short sleepers may catch more colds http://nyti.ms/1JQrQlQ @nytimes

    Side sleeping double bubble – not only does it prevent snoring but it even facilitates toxin removal from the brain: http://bit.ly/1KTB2fe

    SLEEP CLEANS YOUR BRAIN: http://bit.ly/1e3Khf8 If you want your brain to serve you well… give it the sleep it needs!! #SortYourBrainOut

    Sleep deprivation dulls our ability2accurately read facial expressions: http://bit.ly/1J02lCQ (should we encourage CU kids2get more sleep?)

    Sleep is incredibly important for your brain, so why don’t you stop (compulsively) using your smartphone at bedtime?! http://bit.ly/1FaGlFl

    Sleep is vital for memory; we all know that. The mechanisms at play,however,are only just unfolding http://bit.ly/1JPNdc7 #SortYourBrainOut

    Small study indicates that obstructive sleep apnoea (blocked airways during sleep) might damage blood brain barrier: http://bit.ly/1JJGMXl

    Study links healthy sleep duration to less sick time from work http://www.psypost.org/?p=27851

    The six strangest sleep studies ever performed at http://ift.tt/1UWkqnb

    Time to get nap happy: http://bit.ly/1ha3I7u Napping good for brains but don’t go over 20mins & try to do it on the regs #SortYourBrainOut

    What happens in your brain when you sleep and which bits see the greatest change: http://bit.ly/1GL3snR #SORTYOURBRAINOUT

    When it comes to sleeping we get an awful lot done in a comparatively short space of time http://bit.ly/1QN7eCb

    Why a good night’s sleep helps memory – Melvyn Bragg explores circadian rhythms #inourtime http://bbc.in/1T3rxdZ

    Why you shouldn’t wear “not needing much sleep” like a badge of honour: http://bit.ly/1MR29HO

    Your brain flushes out neurotoxins as you sleep: http://bit.ly/1dOb91R #SortYourBrainOut #GetMoreSleep @polarbearpirate

    SOCIAL

    “..predictions about how participants made social judgements by gauging activity in..dorsomedial prefrontal cortex” http://onforb.es/1BzZ7yR

    ~1yr old babies appear to have more sophisticated grasp of the rules of social interactions than previously thought: http://bit.ly/1D65PQz

    A Scientific Theory of Humour http://bit.ly/201hjSF

    An Invisible” Body Could Reduce Your Society Anxiety http://ift.tt/1EJHnYr

    Another “neurological footprint of gratitude” – this time with long term benefits: http://sciof.us/1Ry70iD

    BEWARE: Loneliness kills… http://bit.ly/1ByIDc4

    Brain areas involved in empathising with others’ pain are not activated when person in question has outclassed us: http://sciof.us/20yP3oc

    Brains and blame: http://bit.ly/1NBJXxG

    Excess serotonin in amygdala implicated in studies of social phobia (shame it’s been treating with SSRIs up ’til now) http://wb.md/1JZAWCe

    Feeling cold is contagious: http://bit.ly/1AYPD3H

    Friendships keep you healthy http://bit.ly/1O3ix7i

    How dark is your personality? Put your Machiavellianism to the test in our quiz http://bbc.in/1NrT7Bf

    Human brain area specifically sensitive to moving faces confirmed in non-human monkey using fMRI: http://bit.ly/1DtmWwO

    Humans are wired for cooperation as much as for competition. Via research @Stanford by primatologist Robert Sapolsky http://buff.ly/1Qg3qGZ

    I concur re: specific features of medium used to find a date fundamentally influences how people engage with them http://ow.ly/VmjAb

    I feel your pain (with the same brain networks that generate my own feelings of pain): http://bit.ly/1LZGnwY

    Importance of striking the right tone: “brain detects & assesses confidence in another’s voice in as littles as 0.2s” http://onforb.es/1yvGGts

    Octopi are misunderstood: They’re surprisingly social animals, study finds http://on.mash.to/1PF2AC1

    Researchers are still working out the nuances of #oxytocin in the brain, http://bit.ly/1LrNXDR

    When you move in synchrony with another person, your brain starts to blur its sense of self http://bbc.in/1Wd1a7i

    When You Think Your Brain Is Doing Nothing, It’s Really Getting You Ready To Socialize http://onforb.es/1JkByjQ

    ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY

    Prof Wang “created a camera that shoots at 100Bn frames/sec,fast enough2freeze an object traveling at speed of light” http://n.pr/1fz8tG4

    “..it looks like he & Jessie J are interacting & singing together this is not actually the case” http://bbc.in/1J8Lu1n #welcometothefuture

    21st Century Falconry; amazing autopilot camera drone hovers overhead to capture ultimate in action sports narcissism http://bit.ly/1EDKsTi

    A Visual Introduction to #MachineLearning, with examples: http://bit.ly/207c55s #abdsc #BigData #DataScience

    Acoustic levitation! – How cool is this?! http://youtu.be/669AcEBpdsY

    Designer brain circuits drawn in thin air using 3D pen with “ink” containing immature neurons PHENOMENAL: http://bit.ly/1EmFYBM via @mocost

    Disney’s robot car uses propellers to climb walls http://wired.uk/qHWz2C

    Ehang says it has built a drone you can ride inside #CES2016 http://wired.uk/mLgW8B

    Forget wires. You can use Wi-Fi to power your gadgets at home http://ow.ly/NKYXs

    Get ready for Li-Fi, a technology 100 times faster than Wi-Fi: http://on.mash.to/1IeBiVM

    In 1963, a French engineer built a hovercraft on rails. http://on.mash.to/20hxrfA

    Intelligent food factory robots perform dazzling movements and expert feats of coordination http://bbc.in/1CUmORI

    L’Oreal is 3D printing human skin tissue in order to test cosmetics http://wired.uk/wEKkEs

    Meet the neurosurgeon who uses a 3D printer before operating http://wired.uk/xneHZk

    Organ-On-Chip wins prestigious Design Museum award and could revolutionise future development of pharmaceutical drugs http://ind.pn/1LqZi89

    releases of a virtual reality film for Oculus and Samsung Gear VR http://on.mash.to/1MCjuzo

    Scrap over Onewheel/Surfing Electric Scooter patent infringement results in firm setting US marshals on rival at CES http://bbc.in/1O8kf7s

    Smart knife: http://bbc.in/1KvpH4k

    Smart shoe devices generate power from walking http://ow.ly/I4hyC

    The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is the drone you’re looking for: http://on.mash.to/1M43rAE

    This braille watch enables blind people to read their smartphones! http://bit.ly/1SJa6Ol

    KEEPING YOUR BRAIN FIT

    Twin study (males, mid-30’s) indicates that exercising more regularly increases grey matter volume (in PFC/striatum): http://huff.to/1c60ijl

    What is Cognitive #Enhancement? https://www.academia.edu/10090218/What_is_Cognitive_Enhancement … via @academia

    “We think leg strength is a marker of the kind of physical activity that is good for your brain” Claire Steves, KCL http://bbc.in/1Y1oLsx

    10 perfectly reasonable tips on how to improve your brain function: http://bit.ly/1AKmKEf #SortYourBrainOut @polarbearpirate

    15 mins daily mediation will keep those newly formed connections strong and those unhelpful ones of the past at bay” http://bit.ly/17Vlpmy

    5 (not-particularly-unique-but-nonetheless-relevant) ways to keep your brain in shape;for anyone keen2age gracefully http://huff.to/1NEY87d

    BBC reporter suspects brain training might work after being cognitively trounced by one of Kawashima’s octogenarians http://bbc.in/1JEfwqs

    Born to run – incentivised by hedonistic chemical release – if only we’d get up off our arses&find out for ourselves: http://bit.ly/1LTnVpy

    Brain training improves memory and performance of everyday tasks in older people: Playing on… http://bit.ly/1Hpg1TM #psychology #news

    Brain training studies are finally getting their act together… http://bit.ly/1PrgF9I

    Brain Twisters anyone? There are some classics in this selection: http://bit.ly/1KU9Z26

    Differences in MRI brain activations induced by talking a walk in the park vs along a busy road: http://wapo.st/1U3UVCU

    I wrote a blog about the Runner’s High & the brain benefits of regular exercise, hope you like it: http://bit.ly/1Lkrp5y #SortYourBrainOut

    If you can bare the lame title/slightly cheesy writing style – these 5 tips to “improve brain growth” are not untrue: http://bit.ly/1R2JlJd

    Immersive, exploratory, problem solving video games can boost memory beyond world of game itself: http://for.tn/1M2ZzJm #SortYourBrainOut

    Now that you’re all gonna have to ditch your rubbish brain drinks here’s some real brain foods that may benefit you: http://bit.ly/1BQU7d7

    Omega-3 can now be made from algae, not overfished sardines http://wired.uk/pXUC8z

    Reminder of some of the many simple lifestyle tweaks that can keep your brain in shape: http://entm.ag/1Nr23H2 #SortYourBrainOut

    We knew exercise increase rate at which new brain cells are born.Now it seems to have +’ve functional consequences:) http://bit.ly/1QKb7cp

    What goes on in the brains of generous, giving people? http://bit.ly/1N4PQJ2 #SortYourBrainOut

    ALZHEIMER’S

    AlzCycle? Ageing compromises Blood Brain Barrier – interfering w/ beta-amyloid removal which further compromises BBB: http://bit.ly/1Gpny4U

    Alzheimer’s spares brain’s music regions: http://bit.ly/1FWCDtA

    Amyloid plaques might be screwing with the brain’s blood supply in Alzheimer’s disease: http://bit.ly/1QFsLhf

    Beware of using over-the-counter anti-cholinergic drugs long term, it might accelerate brain decline into Alzheimer’s http://bit.ly/1CIJ2u3

    Chemicals plants make “to ward off pests stimulate nerve cells in ways that may protect..brain against..Alz’s&Park’s” http://bit.ly/1Lft1Qk

    Could proliferation of microglia really be the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms? http://bbc.in/1mHhZv9

    Detecting Alzheimer’s with computerised voice analysis is surprisingly accurate (82% hit rate) http://bit.ly/1ORZgpp

    Direct evidence linking brain injury from bangs-on-head to development of protein pre-cursor of Alz (misshapen tau): http://bit.ly/1O6ZQ0O

    Earlier this week Alzheimer’s from leaky brain blood vessels, now depression from overactive inflammatory response: http://bit.ly/1y9gx36

    Experimental treatment uses ultrasound to break up amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s: http://cbsn.ws/1BAaEBa – but will that improve anything??

    High iron levels in brain may accelerate development of Alzheimer’s (as 1st indicated in clinical trial decades ago) http://bit.ly/1KjjqZq

    How brain fires (fMRI) whilst navigating a virtual environment may predict risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease http://bit.ly/1W8gzJG

    Insulin nasal spray shows promise as treatment for adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s http://www.psypost.org/?p=30657

    Interesting Alzheimer’s blog on study that measured decrease in rate of beta-amyloid removal aged 80 vs those in 30’s http://bit.ly/1W11OFQ

    Might we become a little less cavalier with our eating habits if we accept insulin resistance speeds us towards AD? http://bit.ly/1MvV5kc

    One town in Columbia has the highest density of early onset Alzheimer’s in the world, now we know who’s to blame: http://bit.ly/1HcAssD

    Research trying to untangling the link between diabetes & dementia finds increased tau protein in those with type II: http://bit.ly/1N58aQv

    Traces of fungus discovered in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers raise the question of infectious origin http://bit.ly/1jrzC0f #brain

    Women appear to be more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s than men http://n.pr/1HPbLN0

    MEMORY

    Fascinating new clues about how brains integrate current experiences with memories of previous experiences: http://bit.ly/1Qs3FAh

    How does the brain’s memory system work?

    Humans file away trivial sights & sounds just in case they’re useful later. Who knew? http://nyti.ms/1CBJLdP @bencareynyt

    Imagine getting lost in your own house http://theatln.tc/1ESOXcN ..that’s what happens when the hippocampus & prefrontal cortex aren’t synch’ed

    Its mind-blowing to think that every human brain potentially has a memory capacity equivalent to the world wide web! http://onforb.es/1SLJpwF

    Keeping your memory banks organised, efficient & clutter free. Brain deletes memories that have low predictive power: http://bit.ly/1DPFftF

    Memory: “an adaptive process, continually updating itself according to what knowledge may be important in the future” http://nyti.ms/1CgE9rU

    Novel theory about how brains store long term memories (and why we recall so little of the first few months of life) http://bit.ly/1O2DZpR

    Phenomenal research in humans aims to bypass damaged areas of hippocampus to turn short-term memories into long-term: http://bit.ly/1h9coKk

    Repeated remembering now thought to *actively* wipe similar memories in effort to keep most recent ones clutter-free: http://bbc.in/1BQiAyy

    Resting brain connectivity differs according to how strong your autobiographical memory is http://bit.ly/1NfMIYz

    Short-term memory – like writing your name with a sparkler http://bit.ly/1YbsdSp

    Sniffing rosemary improves memory (&lavender makes it worse) Statistically significant results from Northumbria Uni: http://bbc.in/1K5WZ7E

    Some people can remember everything, says @d_a_robson, and it’s a blessing and a curse http://bbc.in/1lNxLTV

    The ability to forget is arguably as important as the ability to remember: http://bit.ly/1Rz5VaH

    The brain forgets in order to conserve energy http://bit.ly/208ylvL

    Watching the human hippocampus make new memories and perform pattern completion: http://bbc.in/1CiveJd #neuroscience

    What goes on in the brain of a super-memoriser versus untrained (mere mortal) brains like yours and mine? http://bit.ly/1MGuSjB

    Where did I put those 30kg dumbbells?” Anabolic steroid use among body builders is associated with memory problems: http://bit.ly/1HfzDLS

    MENTAL HEALTH

    ..depressed feelings & lots of time on Facebook & comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand” Steers M.-L.: http://bit.ly/1NQ6Eis

    “People hospitalised 4 anorexia [show greater activation of dorsal striatum] while making decisions between..foods” http://reut.rs/1Lnzmsc

    $217 million says time is right for Genetech neuro-heavyweights to branch off and tackle Alzheimer’s / Parkinson’s: http://onforb.es/1Fghc9V

    1/5 of the Chinese population suffers from a neurological disorder,” Nancy Ip – Hong Kong University of Sci&Tech: http://bit.ly/1Jvvsvq

    1st:new arthritis drug that could slow cognitive decline http://bit.ly/Wq88MT Now:similar hope 4 anti-asthma drug http://bit.ly/1OuQ8Zc

    Brains of psychopaths have reduced grey/white matter in areas implicated in empathy and don’t learn from punishment: http://bit.ly/1v2uMLt

    hyperconnectivity between thalamus&sensory areas of the brain” seems to precede development of full blown psychosis: http://wb.md/1Tx20J7

    Neurosurgeon Emad Eskandar Thinks He Can Cure Complex Psychiatric Disorders Using Implanted Electrodes | MIT Techno http://ow.ly/T9Fda

    New research investigating causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder points to dorsal raphe nucleus (brain serotonin hub) http://bit.ly/1E1VTUi

    Retinal neurodegeneration may be associated w early signs of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) http://ow.ly/HzpGw and http://bit.ly/1J3r6Kg

    Science finally starting to understand why autistic brains have more/less brain cells&different connectivity pattern http://bit.ly/1P2Wq11

    Study shows that ‘testosterone can help people with social anxiety’ http://bit.ly/1Wa1h3F

    Trying to gain a better understanding of the suicidal brain: http://bit.ly/1IPj9ZQ

    Two different fear pathways in the brain? … with implications for post-traumatic stress disorder: http://bit.ly/1yDotfE

    Victims of childhood bullying AND the bullies themselves have increased incidence of adult mental health issues http://bit.ly/1lSywLM

    Weak link between month of birth and dementia risk uncovered in data analysis of 150,000 German medical records: http://bit.ly/1RFcnv1

    Ever suspected someone you know of being psychopathic? Simply yawn in front of them x100 & see if they ever yawn back http://bit.ly/1Lm2n7i

    A window into what it’s like to work with neurologically compromised individuals: http://bit.ly/1X0Gtzp

    QUOTES

    “single most important lesson my colleagues & I have learned is that you can literally change people’s brains..” AMEN http://bit.ly/19b4dIZ

    “Brains are as unique as snowflakes” – @davideagleman http://bit.ly/1gJqYYJ

    “Fairness seems a bit like air – its absence is a lot more noticeable than its presence” from SOCIAL by Matthew D Lieberman @social_brains

    “It is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits” John Maynard Keynes

    “Just as kidneys produce urine, the brain produces mind” Jacob Moleschott (1822-1893) via Dick Swaab in We Are Our Brains

    “Making milk is a costly process-mums quite literally liquify their own bodies to churn out this fluid” Ed Yong http://bit.ly/1GKDyk4

    “Science must be put first. These data are not scientific, they’re not evidence-based & this is a bad law” Prof Nutt, Daily Politics, BBC2

    “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease” Voltaire (1694-1778) via Swaab (2014)

    “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” Milton

    “The mind of the bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

    “There’s increasing evidence that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain” Prof Manson, Harvard Uni: http://n.pr/1JcF2Fd

    “We are pulled by many currents, but it is the people we swim with who make us who we are” Michael Bond (2015)

    Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.” – Terry Pratchett

    He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals” I. Kant

    Hippocrates:”Proper exercise & nourishment, not too little or too much, is safest way to good health”. Best sol’n for diabetes

    Kahneman on writing Thinking, Fast and Slow: ‘it was an acutely miserable experience’ #BX2015

    Life is a sexually transmitted disease that is invariably fatal” Mark Twain (who always cracks me up) via Dick Swaab in We Are Our Brains

    Vernon Mountcastle, Brain Explorer “no greater thrill in life than to make an original discovery,no matter how small” http://nyti.ms/15kV688

    BRAIN INJURY

    Kiwi strategy for reducing prisoner re-offending factors in high incidence of traumatic brain injury in this pop’n: http://bit.ly/1T37omV

    People who suffer brain injuries tend to heal quicker if they get up and moving again as soon as they are able to: http://n.pr/1exDN7J

    People with damage to sagittal stratum don’t “get” sarcasm: http://bit.ly/1a5BVR2 FYI here is the sagittal stratum: http://bit.ly/1yd6jol

    People with past traumatic brain injury more likely to have ADHD than those who’ve never had a major bang on the head http://bit.ly/1NoqKVe

    Perhaps rugby medics should have telmisartan on touchline to suppress production of brain swelling-inducing protein?: http://bit.ly/1gFRbrd

    RWC2015 rugby players will be happy to hear MRI’s getting better at spotting brain micro-bleeds/prompting treatment: http://bit.ly/1KcAoGN

    Shape memory alloy implant designed2protect brain aneurysms before they burst (haemorrhage) goes into clinical trial http://bit.ly/1PN1Jnq

    Strategic cognitive training programme at Uni of Texas Centre for Brain Health boosts performance after brain injury: http://bit.ly/1JcbTd5

    Study tracking pro fighters for 5yrs shows greater brain shrinkage/compromised cognition in boxers vs martial artists http://bit.ly/1A6aQsy

    Two-minute flashcard test detects concussions in athletes http://nyti.ms/19bnviP

    Using Virtual Reality to investigate what networks are affected by brain trauma, establishing best course of therapy: http://bit.ly/1LZPgMl

    When a brain injury makes you forget how to read: http://bit.ly/1gzJ0gD – can you imagine having Alexia? Dunno what I’d do with myself…!

    100yrs later cause of ShellShock found:’distinctive honeycomb pattern of broken&swollen nerve fibres’in frontal brain http://ind.pn/154kuPs

    A scarily high proportion of US soldiers with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury show evidence of brain scars in MRI scans http://bit.ly/1ROUdJ1

    All in the dose…Carbon monoxide can be neuroprotective for subarachnoid haemorrhage (brain bleed) in small amounts: http://bit.ly/1RnISy1

    SENSES

    Ever experienced body parts seem to suddenly change size? Me neither.. but it’s called Alice In Wonderland Syndrome! http://theatln.tc/1EKgpNL

    Cool multisensory trick enables punters to feel like they’ve teleported out of the MRI scanner: http://bit.ly/1JX9cdF

    Human inferior frontal gyrus responsive to changes in sound patterns that monkey brains just don’t seem to register: http://bit.ly/1gRkmZ5

    I’ve never really thought of hearing as “vibration sensitivity” before, now I feel a greater kinship with bacteria: http://n.pr/1KFYVaK

    For Nick Johnson, losing his sense of smell was a bigger loss than he could ever have imagined http://bbc.in/1DJKq2o

    Limbic system reimagined: “you see (& hear & smell & taste) what you believe…believing is largely based on feeling” http://bit.ly/1Qp1ZW5

    Noradrenaline tunes&filters auditory cortex sensitivity in noisy environments to pick out” sounds from the clamour: http://bit.ly/1CtPfak

    Occipital face area is activated by visual perception of single features of face, Arcurio et al (2012), FFA is more interested in whole face

    Occipital lobes (back of head) enable you or I to see, yet process language by age of 5 in those blind from birth!: http://bit.ly/1gXMZDL

    Social media meme inspires serious scientific investigation into.. The Dress Effect (blue/black, white/gold or both?) http://ind.pn/1PocDks

    The Purpose of Our Eyes’ Strange Wiring Is Unveiled http://bit.ly/1FAm0XJ #science

    When it comes to writing well “there are things the ears pick up which the eyes don’t” – I couldn’t agree more: http://bit.ly/1H3P0a8

    Why scratching that itch feels so good: http://bit.ly/1KVaRDA

    Ever wondered if you have synaesthesia? University of Radboud, Netherlands have created an App so you can find out: http://bit.ly/1P24NKR

    For some people, chocolate smells pink and stripey – how radical is that?! http://bit.ly/1RJT2ca

    BRAIN AGEING

    ..vocabulary skills, written and verbal, require many more years before they peak in our 60s and 70s..” http://onforb.es/1xrM1an

    Curiosity may kill cats but it might just help us humans to dodge age-related cognitive decline: http://bit.ly/1DjMj60 #SortYourBrainOut

    If you want to live to the grand old age of 100 then you’d better try and, er, keep your inflammation down… http://bit.ly/1NiUiQT

    Imagine eyedrops that can treat cataracts without surgery &protect against need for reading glasses in old age? Wow! http://bit.ly/1HEUQwS

    It might not feel like it but having more children actually seems2slow the ageing process (via telomere lengthening) http://bit.ly/1UIXqc3

    Keeping coffee intake steady appears 2b key in keeping mild cognitive impairment at bay for longer: http://onforb.es/1OOy8Hg #SortYourBrainOut

    Molecule implicated in old age memory loss identified, becomes drug target for halting age-related cognitive decline: http://bit.ly/1dKtg8x

    most physically active elderly volunteers..better oxygenation & healthier..brain activity than the more sedentary” http://nyti.ms/1L4BQbY

    Older people getting smarter, but not fitter-http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150831144100.htm

    Twice weekly “light resistance training may also slow the age-related shrinking of some parts of our brains” http://nyti.ms/1hSTXK8

    What properly-controlled, clinical investigations into interventions trying2help elders improve cognition have found: http://nyti.ms/1K46RAW

    Who’d have thought that your blood type could affect your cognitive function in later life?! http://bit.ly/1uvLRNs

    Yet more evidence suggesting that playing music in youth protects brains against cognitive decline in later life: http://bit.ly/1z7rypG

    ..age-related cognitive decline seems to be mostly associated with loss of myelin rather than loss of neurons..” http://bit.ly/1GL2YfB

    LANGUAGE AND THE BRAIN

    “..that mammalian crying serves as a cue 4 maternal support rather than as a dinner bell,is a major evolutionary difference Lieberman(2015)

    Whilst language predominantly relies on left brain hemisphere for most, ancient whistling languages use both sides: http://bit.ly/1TRaa4w

    “The rise of audio-only narratives & why stories told in just the right way are so engaging to the human brain”: http://theatln.tc/1PRBSJO

    Dimensions are..encoded in..sound of..words kekere vs tobi – guess which means big/small in Yoruba language?! http://bit.ly/1LIn6nF

    Is it funny or sad that computers can now detect sarcasm in text yet whole nations of English native speakers cannot? http://bit.ly/1HBYYTn

    Linguistic analysis of email phrases that signal hierarchy in the workplace http://bit.ly/1MyM7l3

    Neurons in Broca’s area (just above left temple) become active when you read aloud, but also when you read silently: http://bit.ly/15EIMyY

    Never heard of “octopus cells” before – yet they might well lead to cochlear implants with better speech recognition: http://ab.co/1JZZcCu

    Pro motor mouths show less activity in Broca’s area reflecting “fact that they simply find speech less effortful” http://bit.ly/1Hzf1Po

    Resting brain connectivity between various language areas predict how quickly people will pick up a 2nd language http://bit.ly/1OF8naZ

    Some of the many brain benefits of speaking more than one language: http://bbc.in/1NsA21P

    Speech Quilts – they might not keep you warm at night but are helping us understand how brains process spoken words http://bit.ly/1Gr0FRB

    Talk to me: Humans and birds share language-producing brain structures http://bbc.in/1QJbX6B   (via @BBCEarth)

    Two words is all you need to hear to recognise a good friend or relative’s voice: http://bit.ly/1jgTmDh ..still 1 step ahead of AI…just!

    BRAIN BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

    I wrote a blog on “brain benefits of mindfulness” based on a review of latest neuroscience studies -hope you like it! http://bit.ly/1iOdeNN

    mindfulness meditation has been linked with shrinkage 2 the amygdala..neural region involved in processing emotions” http://sciof.us/1L6tOnc

    Mindfulness meditation may make people more susceptible to false memories http://bit.ly/1JWddBS

    Mindfulness study to track effect of meditation on 7,000 teenagers http://gu.com/p/4ay58

    Mindfulness treatment as effective as CBT for depression and anxiety http://www.psypost.org/?p=29751

    Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may reduce the demand for primary care visits http://thementalelf.net/?p=10069 #mhaw15 @ag2460

    Mindfulness-based stress reduction diminishes chemo brain http://ln.is/ift.tt/p4pzB #feedly

    How to do mindfulneess meditation: http://ti.me/1QOhZ6X .. if Steve Jobs found it stimulated his creativity, surely it’s worth your time

    I had no idea that a neuroscientist pioneered flotation tanks way back in the 1950’s: http://bit.ly/1K4aBDp

    Nice synopsis of brain benefits of meditation: http://onforb.es/1M6fP07 – inspires me to actually do some whilst on holiday later this month..

    TED-ed’s latest video “How stress affects your brain” & how exercise / meditation can reverse the damage: http://bit.ly/1OEgzwZ

    The Neuroscience of Meditation, and the Virtues of Just Shutting Up http://www.snsanalytics.com/1rliy3

    We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity” http://bit.ly/1PjVPvi

    Yoga and your brain: http://huff.to/1Fwmk5k

    BRAIN HACKS

    The extraordinary tale of the neurosurgeon who hacked his own brain: http://bit.ly/1QpmF2e

    The Future Is Here – Paraplegic man walks again via EEG decoding brain’s intention to move -> relayed to leg muscles: http://bit.ly/1LaIKlT

    More on consumer brain-wearables: http://onforb.es/1JUcbqG

    Wanna upload your brain to evade death? It may be a trickier undertaking than you ever imagined: http://nyti.ms/1Pad017

    Wearing an EEG baseball cap to monitor fatigue/reduce accidents in dangerous jobs is a great idea -but does it work? http://bit.ly/1I8UaG0

    Will we soon be ditching remote controls for our brain machine interfaces to switch between shows on the BBC iPlayer? http://bit.ly/1H0gQa8

    Wireless brain-machine interface is a great stride forward in giving paralysed folks control over their environment: http://bit.ly/1DGHKRG

    Worrying surge in neurotechnology patents indicates intention2measure consumer brain openness to advertising on sly: http://yhoo.it/1QpDfib

    You have to ask whether you’d want to have invasive surgery to not have to press a button on a remote control” http://bit.ly/1PPpBrG

    Would you consider freezing your brain at death in hope that medicine would catch up with sci-fi&bring you back2life? http://nyti.ms/1gm7DNh

    Firing patterns in inferotemporal cortex perfectly match human visual object recognition in many different contexts: http://bit.ly/1KVZDxt

    Nice synopsis of research into electrical brain stimulation to help Alzheimer’s, memory, smokers, stroke repair&more: http://bit.ly/1YyHahz

    Hero or nutcase? US doc has electrodes he made himself implanted in his own brain to do research on thought decoding http://bit.ly/20GYVwn

    Using focused ultrasound & gas microbubbles to temporarily break blood brain barrier to help treat aggressive glioma http://bit.ly/1HqDNUv

    DECISION MAKING

    In case you missed it here’s a blog I wrote about books, podcasts & my appearance on BBC1 doing the Marshmellow Test: http://bit.ly/1xVucQw

    “..damage to the LOFC leads people to base their vote on simpler information, namely the candidate’s good looks” http://bit.ly/1FENtEm

    after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important http://bit.ly/1zpraEk

    Ask Ariely: Surge Charges, Moving Costs, and Expiration Dates http://wp.me/p5oiR-1l1

    Boom/bust of global financial cycles attributed to brain’s penchant for quick small gains over greater long term ones http://ti.me/1V7sW8o

    Brain training for weight loss? In principle this could work (despite reputation of the newspaper it’s printed in 😉 http://dailym.ai/1CkmwKn

    Love the concept that Cookie Monster taught infants principle of delayed gratification -but didn’t he always give up? http://econ.st/1I8Z0N3

    New study sheds light on how “serotonin and dopamine affect people’s willingness to harm others for personal gain” http://bit.ly/1epipBD

    Nucleus accumbens stimulation gets mice coming back for more, but stimulation 1mm alongside leads to strong aversion: http://bit.ly/1EBU47P

    Old but still fascinating: judges suffer cognitive bias too i.e. more lenient when they’ve returned from a nice break http://bit.ly/1JjSa9d

    On 2nd thought “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious & early brain waves” Prof John-Dylan Haynes http://bit.ly/1ZLNIt5

    Should you rely on first instincts when answering a multiple choice exam? http://goo.gl/etVsoZ

    Marshmallow Test with cute kids from last night’s show: http://bbc.in/1x47cJl @BBCWatchdog Remember: Deferring gratitude wins bigger prizes

    EXPLORING OUTER SPACE

    11 years ago @esa’s #Huygens probe landed on Titan http://go.nasa.gov/1P3cS4H

    A new look at Saturn’s moon Prometheus, one of the highest resolution views ever. Details: http://go.nasa.gov/1m8Vs9T

    Check out some of the closest ever views of Mars, Charon, and Pluto http://wired.uk/K0yS9Q

    Exciting. First exoplanet visible light spectrum http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/e-fev042015.php …

    In 2018 Hayabusa2 will collect samples of asteroid Ryugu, reenacting a Japanese fairy tale. http://bit.ly/1Pe7omt

    Nasa is looking for new astronauts — here’s how to apply http://wired.uk/N8Uo1h

    Our cover story: how Babylonians tracked Jupiter with geometry 1400 years ahead of its time http://scim.ag/1nqRVEh

    Peering at the ‘heart,’ @NASANewHorizons reveals evidence of carbon monoxide ice: http://go.nasa.gov/1KbzMB4 #PlutoFlyby

    Planet Earth now has a flag. Take that, several billion other planets. http://wired.uk/PKuli1

    Sweet! Deep-Space Sugars May Reveal Clues About Origins of Life http://shar.es/1bgqRl by @cqchoi for @SPACEdotcom

    Thank you @newscientist for the link to the Live Pluto flyby on 14th July (at ~50,000km/hr): http://bit.ly/NSpluto #worldfirst

    What we can see of Pluto, and what’s to come: New Horizons’ Pluto Flyby http://nyti.ms/1HqUHip

    You can now look at over 130,000 pages of declassified US Air Force files related to UFO sightings – http://www.theblackvault.com/

    ALL THINGS ADDICTION

    Anatomy of addiction: opiods http://n.pr/1OK261c

    Brain circuits for loss prediction disrupted in cocaine users, accounting for not taking steps to avoid losses? http://bit.ly/1D1I23R

    Brain scans show compulsive gamers have hyperconnected neural networks http://sco.lt/7qbChV

    Cocaine addiction is often compulsive (not primarily motivated by pleasure seeking) & new studies might explain why http://bit.ly/1TREK9W

    Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong | via TED Talk | http://bit.ly/1To8xrk by @johannhari101

    Happy birthday, William James! The father of American psychology on habit http://buff.ly/1DLdpi4

    If stroke damages the insula more people manage to quit smoking cigarettes, so it might be a good target for therapy: http://bbc.in/1KYscMk

    Increased ventral-striatal activity during monetary decision making is a marker of problem poker gambling severity http://bit.ly/1CK7cEY

    Insula functional connectivity differs in brain scans of people who successfully quit smoking vs those who relapsed: http://bit.ly/1EeIjgp

    Medical treatment for cocaine addiction on horizon after breakthrough in basic science of dopamine transporter: http://bit.ly/17E4AMz

    Scientists are giving hallucinogens to smoking addicts to help them quit: http://bbc.in/1R07Lxw

    Step closer to understanding mechanisms of alcoholism: http://bit.ly/1JDB7AI (booze potentiates dm-striatal “go” neuron D1 receptors)

    CREATIVITY

    10Hz (alpha wave) transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation boosts creativity (slightly): http://bit.ly/1DnBmcJ

    A step-by-step guide to stimulation creative breakthroughs courtesy of @sciammind http://bit.ly/1KFS4LH #behindthepaywall @Xfm_Lliana

    Capturing the moment an idea is recorded in the human brain… http://bit.ly/1IJoeXL

    Creativity can be thought of as a capacity, independent of intelligence, that enables assimilation of contradictions http://bit.ly/1Z0SuAH

    Creativity is really about neuroplasticity and this might actually be helpful in preventing and healing disease http://ab.co/1T1bTSs

    How our brains comes up with original, creative & workable ideas: http://bit.ly/1I2q8n2

    New research reveals unexpected brain regions contribute to #creativity, http://bit.ly/1GFP411

    Overseas travel can increase creativity and openness – so long as you actually engage with the local culture: http://bit.ly/1ZGOxXr

    Surely there’s a huge confound in this fMRI study that finds greater cerebellum activity in more creative drawings? http://bit.ly/1FPU1ne

    Taking pen to paper inspires more creative thought..it is a slower process than just typing something on a keyboard” http://on.mash.to/1CdoF7u

    The excuse we’ve all been waiting for: Want to be more creative? Go travelling: http://theatln.tc/19ENs9G …like Hemmingway, Huxley, Twain…

    When your brain gets knackered it can think more creatively, allegedly.. http://bit.ly/1B30GKy Personally I nap to come up with novel ideas

    PAIN

    I do love a counterintuitive headline.. High intensity interval training helps ease pain of arthritis: http://bit.ly/1KAPsAN

    Chilli Pepper Jeckyl & Hyde: http://bbc.in/1j8VbTc

    Dorsal posterior insula brain region identified as key to generating “hurting” aspect of pain says Prof Irene Tracey: http://bit.ly/1FFnsWw

    Grey matter thickness changes in various important brain areas after just a month on morphine pills for back pain! http://reut.rs/1PtEmut

    Ice cream head explained..consensus points to: dynamics in blood flow to brain when back of palate is rapidly chilled http://bbc.in/1iRDdV1

    Mo Costandi on chili peppers: Catching fire http://bit.ly/1HRp0hi

    New research points to novel drugs that might reduce pain & declutter cognition for peripheral neuropathy sufferers: http://bit.ly/1L7t3Ji

    Studying roots of migraine..protein regulating trigeminal nerves (which innervate face) could be key to future cure: http://bit.ly/1WNI3kN

    Teasing apart the brain networks for physical vs psychological aspects of pain: http://bit.ly/1u6uRNW

    The burn of wasabi could lead to new pain meds http://wrd.cm/1IKpaqV

    These findings demonstrate a novel role for how dopamine contributes to maintaining chronic pain states: http://bit.ly/1PpmXn4

    yoga can be an important tool for preventing or even reversing the effects of chronic pain on the brain” http://bit.ly/1ELwrTS

    SEX AND ATTRACTION

    “The breadth of circumstances that seem to be affected by facial attractiveness is mind boggling”: http://bit.ly/1QatVy4

    Denmark bans bestiality in move against animal sex tourism http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUKKBN0NC1Z620150421?irpc=932 …

    Don’t skip sex when you have a headache” http://fxn.ws/1zQyBnm 30% cluster-headache sufferers reported partial or total relief thru’ sex

    Dutch study finds the more sexually active older people are, the better their memories and brain function” http://bit.ly/1BvH1AY

    How much human brain cortex is dedicated to processing touch sensations arising in the penis versus other body parts? http://bit.ly/1H7dvAi

    Human pheromone debate: Hedione (magnolia/jasmine) scent “..generates sex-specific activation patterns in the brain”! http://bit.ly/1NWJfMl

    Just discovered the supporting actor’s 1st scene in “Epic of Gilgamesh” involves a marathon 7day/6night sex session #GoodInnings #6000BCporn

    Love is…http://onforb.es/1MHo0PI

    Scientists confirm two forms of female ejaculation http://bit.ly/1FIs42b

    Sex, pheromones, monogamy: http://bit.ly/1diRsih

    The Relationship Between Digit Ratio (2D:4D) and Sexual Orientation in Men from China. | Arch Sexual Behavior http://ow.ly/3xRZ2C

    Women’s sexuality has been a source of controversy throughout the ages, says @LindaGeddes http://bbc.in/1KgHhct

    CONNECTOME: WORKING OUT THE BRAINS CIRCUIT DIAGRAM

    “digital lump of rat brain…mimics the behaviour of about 30,000 neurons connected to one another by 40m synapses”: http://bit.ly/1NsUu3I

    3D brain map reveals neuronal connections in nano-scale http://gu.com/p/4b59m/stw by @hvthomson

    Allen Institute for Brain Science launches database of neuronal cell types in key step towards 1st *real* brain model http://wrd.cm/1JgNROp

    Allen Institute unveils new science search engine http://buff.ly/1LNK8IA (via @NatureNews) @allenai_org

    Boosting connections via molecule influencing synapses at micro level (NMDA receptors) shows up at macro level (EEG) http://bit.ly/1ONxJHH

    Cool vid explains how all those beautiful HD 3D images of mouse brain were created http://bit.ly/1IVXYdp (DanBerger is a really nice guy 🙂

    How to make a map that plots brain functions in a way that mankind can really grasp, utilise and drive progress: http://n.pr/1CfOMbL

    Huge volumes of brain scan/genetic data + Paul Thompson + Big Data methods = insights linking genes to brain size: http://bit.ly/1yMgQ6w

    NeuroElectro, an open access database of electrophysiological properties of different types of neurons http://www.neuroelectro.org/

    Prospect of GPS for tracing neuronal pathways is particularly exciting in light of Seb Seung’s brilliant CONNECTOME: http://bit.ly/1GATI1l

    Very, very funny: Neuroscience lab manager talks about the Human Brain Project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhsZll_P1iA … via @jpeelle

    MICROBIOME: HOW YOUR GUT AFFECTS YOUR BRAIN

    Are we master or slave to the bugs in our guts? You are what you eat 2.0? http://bit.ly/1ZukzFT

    big question right now is how the microbiome exerts its effects on the brain Christopher Lowry: http://bit.ly/1xgTlyl #gutbrainconnection

    Biotech getting in on the gut-brain excitement: http://bit.ly/1Nkkf1D

    Gut Feelings–the “Second Brain” in Our Gastrointestinal Systems [Excerpt] http://bit.ly/1IvtKM5 #science

    Gut microbe dynamics in 98 new mothers and their babies during the first year of life http://bit.ly/1AfPlq5

    Is Your Nervous System Being Hacked by Bacteria in Your Gut? http://swyy.co/rrz6oUS @Gizmodo #bacteria #brain @getswayy

    Metformin Users Have Different Gut Bugs | The Scientist Magazine® http://bit.ly/21JCBTg What other Rxs are affecting gut bugs

    Understanding how gut/brain interacts2induce satiety leads to development of foods that make us feel full for longer: http://bit.ly/1SCDJ5I

    When it comes to truly understanding impact of gut microbes on human brain function, here’s our progress so far: http://bit.ly/1hE5dtL

    When the gut is healthy, you create more serotonin. Approximately 80-90% of our serotonin comes from the gut”: http://cnn.it/1KMufAD

    ADVANCES IN ARTICIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

    “We can take GPS coordinates and feed it into an artificial brain and it understands, no problem” http://wrd.cm/1Prm4dR

    Google offering free online class abt deep learning http://bit.ly/1SCb82W #machinelearning #DataScience #analytics

    Having beaten human champions to win US quiz show Jeopardy in 2011 IBM’s Watson is now in training to become a doctor http://bit.ly/1IHnwpq

    Machine learning approach using 182 fMRI brain datasets can identify negative emotion with 90% accuracy: http://bit.ly/1L4kTkp

    Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft have now made their own deep learning tools open sourced: http://bit.ly/1Qpsqx1

    Part of me hopes that they never achieve this goal of helping Artificial Intelligence to catch up with human brains: http://bit.ly/1ORG21l

    Practical everyday application of neural computing No.1 – cleverer smartphones without using wifi or killing battery: http://wrd.cm/1NADIfA

    What happens when robots are given “grid” & “place” cells (like those found in human brains) to help them navigate?: http://bit.ly/1OOiWvi

    Will computers ever really *get* the subtle nuances of human speech e.g. the influence of context over word meaning? http://bit.ly/1RPCIYX

    INNOVATIONS IN BRAIN SCANNING

    Measuring brain connectivity using fMRI to predict whether someone has a diagnosis of ADHD: http://n.pr/1R2M4Al

    MRI study identifies changes in brain processing that occur as a result of practice doing two things simultaneously: http://ab.co/1REdlro

    PET scanning demonstrates changes in density of dopamine receptors after weight loss surgery: http://bit.ly/1wCKtnA But WHY though?

    Predicting the future using brain imaging techniques is starting to show promise: http://n.pr/143uVkG Good, bad or ugly? #neuroethics

    Psychiatry’s holy grail: Can brain activity predict how depressed patients will respond to drugs or psychotherapy? http://bit.ly/1LkRh5p

    Reward learning fast and slow: http://bit.ly/1PZ15QT (simultaneously scanning brains with MRI & EEG is just showing off)

    Scanning kids’ brains to predict educational attainment – interesting insights,but I don’t like where this is going.. http://bit.ly/1gbjoG6

    Scary prospect of kids in 2020 being screened by their schools with MRI to decide what set/stream they’ll be in: http://wrd.cm/1LJIpHc

    Therapy for anxiety=like wheel of chance..brain imaging2help provide more reliable predictors of treatment response” http://bit.ly/1Tx0uqd

    UNDERSTANDING COGNITION

    “..how dynamic flexibility of brain networks can predict cognitive flexibility” (ability to switch from task to task) http://bit.ly/1KrzhGG

    Homing in on the genes of cognition with a study spanning 12 countries and involving over 30,000 people: http://bit.ly/1cQ634T

    Is “pregnancy brain” a myth? http://ti.me/1WRzP9b

    It’s not everyday that neuroscientists discover a whole new brain network, this one’s sensitive to familiarity: http://bit.ly/1DSMRjj

    Super-forecasters: Meet the ordinary people who may be better at predicting world events than experts. http://ow.ly/HDeVF

    The odd hallucination here and there is perfectly normal: http://sciof.us/1kPnOG3

    Theory of “Threaded Cognition” suggested as explanation for why some forms of multitasking seem to work… http://huff.to/1LCst4Z

    This is why I work out of libraries rather than cafes or at home – turns out effort is contagious! http://bit.ly/1grmNkf

    What gives the human brain it’s highly complex behavioural repertoire? Glial cells might be the key: http://n.pr/1lstcyI

    CONSCIOUS AWARENESS

    Consciousness reimagined: http://bit.ly/1K0ID69

    Consciousness: here, there and everywhere? http://bit.ly/1aeaHHZ

    Consciousness: http://theatln.tc/1RJs8mj

    Double-good – @mocost writing up science (on learning, consciousness, and pain) by @neuroconscience @francescafardo http://gu.com/p/4b67d/stw

    Embodied cognition suggests that the body / brain divide is fuzzier than you might have thought: http://sciof.us/1MX5EI9

    Freud’s Model of the Human Mind – http://journalpsyche.org/understanding-the-human-mind/ … #psychology #journalpsyche

    How colour perception could unlock consciousness, and other science stories http://bbc.in/1N3P3EG

    Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh on the conceptual leap between brain tissue and person https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/mysterious-starry-sky-above-me … Taster from @psychmag

    New brain monitor used in Australian hospitals makes possibility of coming round during surgery virtually impossible http://bit.ly/1GEcpNj

    DEPRESSION

    Elevated levels of FGF9 ID’ed in major depression. Rat studies show tweaking level pushes anxiety up/down accordingly http://bit.ly/1FxgxOB

    Global study finds the more episodes of depression the greater the reduction in hippocampus size” – but reversible! http://bit.ly/1g6Itmj

    Hmmm, video gaming as an antidote to depression. Susan Greenfield is gonna LOVE that notion… http://slate.me/1MS0hjF

    If Facebook makes you feel envious of others, consider deleting your account before it develops into depression: http://bit.ly/1CZ24fv

    New drug tinkering with cAMP levels in nucleus accumbens improves stress response, provides new target for depression http://bit.ly/1Kjriba

    Should depression be treated more like a stroke? http://on.wsj.com/1Qkm67E

    those who experienced multiple episodes of depression showed ‘decoupling’ between the amygdala..&emotional network http://bit.ly/1S5Kujg

    To suggest that anxiety & depression are caused by too little serotonin is far too simplistic. Here’s 1 reason why: http://bit.ly/1S8O34s

    Your phone knows if you’re depressed http://bit.ly/1Rzc48A

    DIGI-BRAIN: THREATS POSED BY DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

    “..as your brain becomes accustomed to checking a device every few minutes, it will struggle to stay on task..” http://ti.me/1FdILkc

    “Ah, such delicious irony… Minds are in some ways more flaccid – especially if we’re dabbling in social media”: http://ind.pn/1SoFKQT

    Hardly scientific, yet musings of these “mystery” neuroscientists on 4day desert digi-detox provide food for thought: http://bit.ly/1MzQuxx

    METRO says: too much screen time screws you up.. http://bit.ly/1GnIYAD

    Now you can coerce your kids into going out to play by telling them that staying indoors will make them short-sighted http://bit.ly/1CsHvsp

    oh dear .. separation anxiety from iphones #psychology #tech http://ow.ly/H3AeY

    To begin a digital detox, we need to identify what is causing the need in the first place http://ow.ly/M7Z6Z #digitaldetox #addiction

    Two new books dig into the philosophical roots of why our lives are so filled with distraction http://ow.ly/MHTPi

    Can EEG measurements whilst subjects watch film trailers predict box office success? http://bit.ly/1EQATED

    UNDERSTANDING HOW BRAINS DO EMOTION

    Interesting article explaining why/how the brain triggers the torture of a broken heart: http://bit.ly/1MhvM49

    LeDoux’s been studying the amygdala for decades & he’s NOT happy that you keep referring to it as the “fear” centre: http://bit.ly/1EoEbfw

    Our brains begin to register any emotion in non-verbal sounds in just a tenth of a second http://bit.ly/1OuueUG

    “The acoustical properties of the human scream poke at the neural circuits that control fear” http://bit.ly/1KAFtLU

    The more graphic the description of the murder, the greater the activity in the amygdala: http://on.wsj.com/1FPYdUo

    Using pupil size to objectively measure people’s emotional responses to music: http://bit.ly/1X1R4F5

    Women are better than men at telling how someone’s feeling from the look in their eyes…but not if they’re autistic: http://bit.ly/1LeXKt6

    only way to get through fear is to be exposed to it..finding ways to get through it..training yourself 2 manage it” http://cnn.it/1QOgyUq

    INTELLIGENCE

    Are you as clever as a bright 15 year old? Test your Grey Matter general knowledge with this Brain Bee quiz: http://wapo.st/1FX31X3

    Are you as clever as the UK’s finest codebreakers? Try this Christmas puzzle from GCHQ http://bit.ly/1QgHjEr

    Crows recognize human faces, mourn their dead, and may even fear death http://bbc.in/1KXkFtm by @melissasuzanneh

    Fats in the Brain May Help Explain How Human Intelligence Evolved http://bit.ly/1DkpVJZ

    Flynn Effect: steep increase in IQ score over 20th century attributed to.. “more challenging learning environment” http://bit.ly/1CafTXu

    Intuitive evaluation of attacking vs defensive strategy recruits different parts (back vs front) of cingulate cortex: http://bit.ly/1QeEeme

    Octopus ancestors are, perhaps, the first intelligent beings on Earth. http://bit.ly/1jqU4hQ

    The prospect of human-machine superintelligence rears it’s potentially ugly head http://bit.ly/1O8rM3Z

    LEARNING

    “Sleep almost doubles our chances of remembering previously unrecalled material” http://bit.ly/1HUhL9y

    Have a listen to this “Teachers tap into brain science to boost learning” PBS item: http://to.pbs.org/1CbnrNf …& let me know what you think!!

    How to cram effectively – spaced repetition: http://bit.ly/1nfkKmX

    I will not bring neuromyths into the classroom Well written and well argued essays at:http://bit.ly/1RIHsRz

    Learning sequence of notes involves tight association of brain modules at first followed by functional disconnection: http://lat.ms/1O2zKNn

    Learning with All the Senses: http://neurosciencenews.com/vocabulary-learning-sensory-perception-1742/ … #neuroscience #psychology

    strong links between epigenetic marks at birth & a child’s ability to learn” in2culturally diverse sets of children: http://bit.ly/1OgKlIc

    Studies investigating importance of sleep for learning incorporate findings into teaching strategy recommendations: http://bit.ly/1OPga7Z

    MUSIC

    Brains that sync to the musical beat (all of us at fast tempos, musicians only at slower tempos!) http://bit.ly/1GWIUMj

    Got an annoying song stuck in your head (an ear worm)? Wanna get rid of it? Chew some gum. No, really… http://bit.ly/1PSmjAL

    Music lessons spur emotional and behavioral growth in children, new study says http://ow.ly/Ho9ds via @washingtonpost

    Musical instruments reinvented to study the brain in MRI scanners – from plastic trumpets/harmonicas to cello: http://wrd.cm/1C27gBT

    Musical marmosets http://bit.ly/1RoZdDP

    Piano man learned control over his Tourette’s (which developed overnight aged 7) through classical performances: http://ind.pn/1GW6gN2

    The BaAka people of the Congo have developed “water drumming” in complete isolation – and they are brilliant http://bit.ly/1uno8dr

    The beautiful things music does to your mind cogs x here’s a science of rock n roll podcast x @GCweirdscience https://audioboom.com/boos/3254177

    NEUROPLASTICITY

    Brains subtly remodel themselves over periods of intensive smartphone use: http://reut.rs/1xgOxQd

    Miracle gene therapy cure for certain forms of blindness couldn’t possibly work without adult neuroplasticity: http://bit.ly/1MEVi1g

    Mirrorbox therapy, facilitates rehabilitation after stroke, but also good for other conditions affecting single limb: http://ab.co/1J5xkZJ

    MIT’s Tara Swart’s tips on what it takes to truly re-wire a brain after the age of 25 are bang on: http://bit.ly/1PSltE5 #SortYourBrainOut

    More tales of triumphs of neuroplasticity from Norman Doidge in his new book “The Brain’s Way of Healing”: http://ab.co/1DbjRvT

    New research indicates that tinnitus & chronic pain results from the brain reorganising itself in response to injury: http://bit.ly/1jeeBpC

    Pirate eye patch experiment supports idea that moderate exercise promotes neuronal adaptability in visual cortex: http://nyti.ms/1SLnliD

    Psychotherapy that changes brains: http://bit.ly/1QodS39

    PERSONALITY

    107chimp brain MRI’s indicate personality traits (eg dominance,reactivity) linked to differences in brain structure: http://bit.ly/1GeKEdY

    Increased grey matter density in different brain areas in those who tend to respond emotionally versus rationally: http://bit.ly/1Ch583N

    Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test http://gu.com/p/3egzq/stw via @deevybee

    Restless Berserker – what your choice of avatar name in a battle video game says about your temperament: http://bit.ly/1LlnWSm

    Strong connectivity in specific default mode network indicative of many different positive traits: http://1.usa.gov/1NZyR9L

    Too Much Praise Promotes Narcissism http://ift.tt/1dw1kW1

    Want to be happier? Choose a neighborhood that meets your #personality! http://ow.ly/HenMh #socialpsychology

    When Good People Behave Badly: http://neurosciencenews.com/temptation-ethics-psychology-behavior-2100/ … #psychology

    ANIMAL BRAINS

    Fly whisperer” conducts study of fly brain that finds new doughnut-shaped neuronal network that acts as a compass: http://bbc.in/1HfOkOH

    Scanning dolphin brains reveals surprising similarity to bat brains: http://nbcnews.to/1KNqe1Q

    Thai macaques are veritable artisans – wide repertoire of tools and actions observed, documented and published: http://bit.ly/1ILEDJp

    The NIH will retire all research chimpanzees and send them to sanctuaries http://bit.ly/1LoG121

    Would you trust a bird brain to diagnose your biopsy for signs of cancer? Turns out pigeons are pretty good! http://nbcnews.to/1MVJmqm

    Squirt of fast-acting insulin enables cone snail to gobble hypoglycaemic fish whole: http://bit.ly/1CKEFfR @GCweirdscience #newscientist

    What boney creature has a big head, a tiny brain, lives at the bottom of the sea and has an unflattering name? http://bit.ly/1lcDYsj

    BRAIN TRAINING

    Plenty of video games are improving working memory and attention: http://bbc.in/1gq8UCP

    Report published today details specific features of video games that can lead to improvements in cognitive abilities: http://bit.ly/1WA5VrQ

    Simple game helps people cope better with distraction to reduce anxiety,courtesy of Jason Moser at Michigan State Uni http://bit.ly/1NcNp5N

    For future generations of soldiers “brain training might be just as important as pushups” http://bit.ly/1YnH9ua #SortYourBrainOut

    Is this “Brain Training Doesn’t Work” article: http://bit.ly/1Gwy9yE reporting a new study? Or simply re-hashing: http://bit.ly/1ybKSDL ?

    Lumosity fined by regulator for vastly overstating the benefits of their brain training games: http://1.usa.gov/1MR1LEl

    ECOLOGY MATTERS

    Poor bumblebees. A climate vice is squeezing their habitat from the north and the south http://ow.ly/PqCWS

    Poor sealions http://bit.ly/227mGyf

    Rhino horn is now being bioengineered in the hope it will deter poachers http://wired.uk/kLtPQr

    The world’s smallest and rarest dolphin could be extinct within 15 years http://bbc.in/1SzE4XD

    This rare butterfly is half male, half female http://wapo.st/1IuZmxW via @washingtonpost

    Poor outlook for Borneo’s mammals http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30924523 …

    EVENTS

    30,000 neuroscientists descend on Chicago; SfN2015 is GO!! So finding tweetworthy brain news becomes much easier 😉 http://n.pr/1GlDAlu

    Anyone at a loose end in London next week(13-16th) should check out this ‘NeuroArt Exhibition’ in UCL! @DrJackLewis

    Cannabis, neuroscience & TV: A ‘joint’ enterprise http://gu.com/p/46gvm/stw by @m_wall and other researchers involved in @Channel4’s Drugs Live

    Cracking review of “Brainstorm” – new play devel in conjunction with WT & Prof S-JB where teens play the teen brain: http://bit.ly/1fz8Qk5

    Hard Problem”Sir Tom proves that it is possible to construct a tight100mins of drama around neuroscientific conceits” http://econ.st/1velJao

    Sounds like Beano comic’s Numskulls conception of brain function gets a trippy 21stC upgrade in Pixar’s latest film: http://ti.me/1d5IXXC

    PERFORMANCE

    Hunting down those pesky brain areas responsible for making us crack under pressure http://bit.ly/1nyJG9w

    If dual-tasking study/Facebook leads to bad grades: http://bit.ly/1J7Hmfi Is keeping 1 eye on Twitter at work messing with your efficiency?

    If optimal sporting prowess varies according to chronotype(lark/owl) does the same go for optimal cognitive function? http://bit.ly/1u8Bdfh

    Routine behavioural sequences governed by rostrolateral Prefrontal Cortex: http://dailym.ai/1gXjUYK (yes I do realise this is a DM article!)

    Would you like to be smarter, more confident, kinder, more resilient under stress &more successful? http://ti.me/1UbKddp #SortYourBrainOut

    Want to feel more relaxed and enthusiastic at work? New experiment proves that this intervention works http://bit.ly/17z3aTd

    ROBOTS

    “one more step toward making brain control of a robotic limb or computing device a reality”: http://bbc.in/1HzetL9

    MIT has developed a robot that uses human reflexes to stop it from falling over http://wired.uk/BJXOsK

    Apt that i’m tweeting this “robots learning from the example of infants” article from a robot-run hotel in Japan!!! http://ow.ly/Vmndh

    Robots that do experiments on fruit flies: http://nyti.ms/1G2Osni

    Who knew drones could be so pretty? Watch a video of drone butterflies fluttering about http://pops.ci/IpVnhe

    Would you like to see 100 robots perform a synchronised dance routine? Of course you would. http://ow.ly/HJZ5s

    SCHIZOPHRENIA

    Cambridge Uni Wizard game improves episodic memory in those with schizophrenia;helping them get back on their feet: http://bbc.in/1M64BL0

    In #schizophrenia it’s what we’ve been waiting for – a way to prevent it progressing in those showing the first signs http://bit.ly/1L4W2gs

    New genetic study suggests that one possible trigger for schizophrenia in teens is overactive synaptic pruning: http://bit.ly/1KbbKtA

    Schizophrenia may involve faulty inhibitory circuit between thalamus (sensory junction box) & prefrontal cortex http://bit.ly/1aLAt7G

    schizophrenic hallucinations linked to specific valley in the landscape of the human frontal cortex: http://bbc.in/1Pyqzb9

    Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation at forehead helps normalise schizophrenic brain response to error detection: http://bit.ly/1D2PclW

    ATTENTION

    How the brain blocks out distractions: http://bit.ly/1LLSP6w

    It’s nice to hear that TED realise how hard it is on brains to concentrate for hours on end: http://bit.ly/1GQoFuC

    Major brain junction box (thalamus) seems vital for ability to ignore irrelevant sensory information: http://1.usa.gov/1hUdtGb

    Study identifies part of brain key to controlling attention – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287692.php

    Why We Become Temporarily “Deaf” When Focusing Hard via @Braindecoder http://rbl.ms/1OWg40j

    GAMES AND QUIZES

    It’s an interesting/scary concept that Lumosity brain game achievement tracking might one day come back to haunt us: http://bit.ly/1HVL6zt

    Video games will soon compete with drugs as a form of medicine http://wired.uk/xywEIQ

    Video-game robot helps to accelerate injured kids’ recovery: http://bit.ly/1lRfwgu

    Want to be a GCHQ spy? Play this game http://wired.uk/dIxwRq

    You’ll soon be hunting Pokemon in the real world http://wired.uk/4f9oKM

    HAPPINESS

    We use laughter as a way of breaking down boundaries, making new friends..showing that we like people @sophiescott: http://bit.ly/1BsaGHL

    Cunning study provides evidence to suggest that we use the sound of our own voice to gauge how happy or sad we feel http://bit.ly/1ONdZUh

    Why is happiness so difficult to measure, and other science stories from around the web http://bbc.in/1g9dDd0

    Why we laugh: http://bbc.in/1IkfLqn Fascinating interview with @sophiescott

    I find it very hard to believe that the precuneus is seat of all happiness -can someone independently replicate pls? http://bit.ly/1S8Pxf0

    JOKES

    Asked librarian for a book on Pavlov’s dogs and Schrodinger’s cat. She said it rang a bell, but couldn’t say if it was there or not.

    IQ and BMI walk into a bar. They see Phrenology in a corner, scoff, and then each order alcohol in different-equally useless-measurements.

    Love that Nature gets in on the April Fool “Climatic conditions are rapidly reaching an optimum for breeding dragons” http://bit.ly/1CLL2BZ

    Sadly, I can imagine the “neuroelectric cosmonaut look” hitting our streets in not too distant future http://bit.ly/1LfFsgF #futureiscoming

    I’ve literally got tears streaming down my face -truly remarkable! http://bit.ly/1RvrCXH

    NEUROMYTHS

    Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore slates those who peddle the myth that people are either left brained or right brained: http://bit.ly/1B8apbK

    Neuro-hit or neuro-myth? great new resource from @UoL_CEN on 12 common neuromyths: http://tinyurl.com/z5pk9qe   #neurohit_or_miss

    Neurosophism, “a sophisticated but fallacious application of neuroscientific language” http://bit.ly/1QnMijr Rife in education & business

    Religious zealotry could be temporarily dampened with a simple jolt of magnetism to a specific brain area (pmPFC): http://bit.ly/1RJS3Zv

    The existence of ‘Learning Styles’ is a ‘neuromyth’ that is thriving in Higher Education. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26696947

    PRE-HUMANS

    compelling evidence for the co-evolution of early Stone Age slaughtering tools & our ability to communicate & teach” http://bit.ly/1B0OcSo

    Human DNA is 1 to 2% Neandertal, or more, depending on where your ancestors lived http://bit.ly/1QyNpzv

    Human migration out of Africa left its mark in mutations http://sco.lt/6p7qSX

    Monkey “brain net” … “has a high ‘gosh’ factor”: http://bit.ly/1KTDmme

    Who’d have thought that cannibals in Papua New Guinea could teach scientists something about brain disease/evolution? http://ab.co/1QO5zcg

    REVIEWS

    I first heard of this Pixar project 5years ago. They are the only movie house I would trust with a tale of the brain: http://wapo.st/1J5DqMl

    The Brain: The Story of You by @davideagleman is out soon, here’s an extended extract… If you’re curious http://on.ft.com/1GYQ5On

    Do No Harm by Henry Marsh is an excellent read. Reviews by moi: http://bit.ly/1bQFLiC and the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1FqNI9m

    Inside Out is ‘a work of simple genius’ says WIRED’s @olifranklin http://wired.uk/hz1tgz

    Last month I wrote a book review on “DO NO HARM” by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, take a peek… http://bit.ly/1bQFLiC

    VIRTUAL REALITY

    I’ve been meaning to build one of these for ages. Now GE has I don’t need to 🙂 Navigating Brains in Virtual Reality http://engt.co/1IqsngD

    Virtual brain surgery http://bit.ly/1YhsXTh

    Virtual reality comes in very handy when studying human communication http://bit.ly/1Vu4UAg

    Visual feedback in form of 3D images of tongue movements hold promise as a tool to aid speech rehab after stroke: http://bit.ly/1I1FhQ9

    Visualising brain microcircuitry in3D enables rotation+view from different perspectives=better understanding of data http://bit.ly/1PDqx1l

    LEGAL

    “fundamental problems that brain images bring into the courtrooms” http://bit.ly/1SrzFru

    Neurojurisprudence :-p Guilt/innocence judgements, penalty severity pondering & the brain http://bit.ly/1KjlaxA #onemoreneuroprefixcanthurt

    Neuroscience and the Future of the Insanity Defense http://www.snsanalytics.com/1nlvy4

    Re-offending rates can be reduced by as much as 20% if those leaving jail have stable accommodation to go to http://buff.ly/1KrBYWV

    IMMUNE BRAIN

    Great article outlining key experiments supporting concept that gut health fundamentally impacts upon brain health: http://bit.ly/1KZkMGM

    Why discovery of brain lymph vessels might be missing link that helps us understand Alz & MS http://bit.ly/1GWKCd0

    Discovery: lymphatic system (tubes ferrying immune cells around body) extends into the brain alongside blood vessels: http://bit.ly/1ERp5hg

    CSF provides pressure..necessary to build&maintain the brain..pressure is too low, brain can’t grow..if it’s too high..tissue is destroyed

    MIND OVER MATTER

    Bringing a smile to one’s face, even if it’s fake, can induce physiological benefits of a smile & make us feel better http://bit.ly

    Control over pain enabled through mindfulness is superior to mere placebo effect: http://bit.ly/1SM4MLI

    Neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan lifts the lid on psychosomatic illness http://bit.ly/1KFEauD

    MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

    Bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers may help to protect against Multiple Sclerosis, but only for women!: http://bit.ly/1BdWZOG

    Melatonin, which regulates sleep/wake cycle, may protect against seasonal multiple sclerosis relapse as well as vitD: http://bit.ly/1LOiY1a

    Two drugs already on the market .. may potentially take on new roles as treatments for multiple sclerosis” http://1.usa.gov/1E2HqfA

    PARKINSON’S

    Now we know it takes 3-5yrs to really kick in, treating Parkinson’s with foetal stem cells is getting its 2nd wind: http://bit.ly/1evvXf6

    The woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease!!! http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-34583642 …

    Using nano-particles to ferry fully-formed dopamine across blood brain barrier to improve symptoms of Parkinson’s: http://bit.ly/1aUvMrk

    PEOPLE

    In 2003 i got chatting to Russ Poldrack on a plane, 1000miles later I knew he was destined to achieve great things.. http://stanford.io/1OjIw7Q

    Oliver Sacks is a truly remarkable human being: http://nyti.ms/1Or3GlF

    Prof Nancy Kanwisher gives herself a skin head to help students see exactly where each different brain area resides: http://bit.ly/1b4sCli

    SELF

    The bizarre things that happen when you see your doppelgänger http://bbc.in/1EsDR4K

    Damage to the default mode network disrupts autobiographical memory retrieval http://bit.ly/1Ezh46f

    The Science of Self: http://n.pr/1KwOLpg

    BRAIN BANK

    Sneaky peak into the daily activities of a brain bank: http://bit.ly/1F1NxAT What? Where? How? and most importantly Why?…

    50’s Brain Rush People were collecting brains – it was a thing” and Einstein’s brain got dragged into it: http://bbc.in/1G1fW9u

    GENDER

    Take a female brain, inject large quantities of testosterone, et voila, the brain undergoes some interesting changes; http://slate.me/1KphHD2

    This is why, when people ask “what ARE the differences between male&female brains?” I’ve always ducked the question: http://ow.ly/Vml9R

    MULTITASKING

    In case you’d forgotten… multitasking always comes at a cost: http://cnn.it/1INM80f

    Organising the mind & so-called multi-tasking: you’ll find this fascinating @JoeDyble @AnnaCookson @DrJackLewis http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0505zw1

    PROSTHETIC

    Extensive use of bionic arm should lead to significant neuroplastic rearrangement – Bionic Man’s Likely Brain Change http://bit.ly/1TeV985

    Prosthetic hand, wired directly into man’s brain, enables him to feel when his fingers touch something: http://bit.ly/1UP5BYX

    SCI ART

    Who says science and art don’t overlap? http://on.mash.to/1wY14by via @conversationuk

    Winners of the 2015 BioArt Image and Video Competition http://bit.ly/1NqAlMo

    TALKS

    Phenomenal TED talk covering everything from formation of universe through to human global connectivity in 18 mins: http://bit.ly/16XEva8

    This guy’s a great speaker… how a mayor helped the obese people of his city to shed 1,000,000 pounds in just 5 years: http://bit.ly/1d3oEtq

    TIME

    Scientists amass evidence indicating that NOW “lasts on average between 2 & 3 seconds”! http://bit.ly/1BP2Wks

    Very comprehensive series of articles about how brains do time&various factors that can make it run faster or slower: http://bit.ly/1K7jX13

    PREGNANCY

    What pregnancy does to a woman’s brain: http://theatln.tc/1KoRPo7 Witnessed the whole process take place in my sister last year! Phenomenal 🙂

    RELIGION

    Time2ditch religion?“..similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism” Decety http://bit.ly/1kxtVOu

    STRESS

    StressGoldilocks&TheBrain – when it comes to stress hormones the aim is: not too little, not too much, but just right http://bit.ly/1MtVUYv

    TINNITUS

    “signals relating to..constant ringing noise of tinnitus..mapped across the brain of a patient undergoing surgery” http://bbc.in/1DiLao4

    TOURETTE’S

    Verbal/motor tics associated with Tourette’s may be remedied with GABA (not the techno music..the neurotransmitter:-) http://bit.ly/1JJueug

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  • Caffeine Nation – good or bad for you?

    Coffee-BeansWhat Does Caffeine Do To Your Brain?

     As a neuroscientist who spends much of his working life giving brain talks at events all around the country (at schools, conferences and science festivals) I’ve noticed that one theme catches public imagination over and over again: How does caffeine work? What does it do to my brain? How long does it stay in my system? Is it really that bad for me? This is one reason why it became one of the key topics in the “Smart” Drugs chapter of my book: Sort Your Brain Out. In this blog I’ll cover some of the most regularly asked questions.

     

    How long caffeine takes to leave your system?

    It depends what other drugs you’re on. If you’re on the contraceptive pill it can take up to twice as long for your liver to remove caffeine from your system. So people “on the pill” can find themselves particularly sensitive to its effects because consecutive doses stack up and are not cleared out as swiftly as in everyone else. But if you’re a smoker it is the other way around. Caffeine is removed from your system at double the speed of a non-smoker.
    If you’re neither a smoker nor on the contraceptive pill the concentration of caffeine in your bloodstream is halved every 5-6 hours, but it really does depend on the individual as this “half-life” varies greatly from person-to-person.

     

    Is it beneficial to have caffeine before a meeting / presentation / to improve concentration?

    coffee-loverCaffeine blocks the receptors of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine, which under normal circumstances reduces overall activity across the brain. By blocking these receptors and removing the dampening influence on brain activity, caffeine increases activity across brain pathways involved in alertness, focusing attention and initiating body movements. This why people dosed up on caffeine can get quite jittery.
    Whether or not caffeine is beneficial for you in a meeting / presentation or to improve concentration whilst working depends on how much you’ve already had. There’s a sweet spot where you will feel more alert and switched on at moderate levels, but beyond that you can become so wound up that it has effects that are deleterious to performance (see description of caffeinism below).
    However the increase in feelings of alertness and ability to focus attention only gets regular coffee drinkers up to levels enjoyed by non-caffeine drinkers everyday. This is because once you’re a caffeine addict the brain tends to increase the numbers of adenosine receptors to compensate for the fact that there’s loads of caffeine swimming around in your brain on a daily basis. This means that your average coffee drinker has more inhibitory receptors in their brain dampening activity levels to a greater degree – so they will feel more sluggish whenever they don’t have caffeine in their system.

     

    Is caffeine good or bad for you in the long run?

    There seem to be some long-term benefits to drinking caffeine even if the short-term benefits don’t amount to a whole hill of (coffee) beans. It has been observed that regular drinkers of moderate amounts of caffeine (3 cups / day) have a lower incidence of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, liver and heart diseases. This may be due to the increased numbers of inhibitory receptors triggered by ever-present levels of caffeine dampening activity levels in body and brain. The decreased activity levels across the brain caused by the larger numbers of inhibitory receptors in the caffeine drinkers’ brains may relieve the pressure on dopamine neurons that are compromised in Parkinson’s disease and the acetyl choline neurons that get clogged up with various proteins in Alzheimer’s disease. In other words caffeine seems to slow down the process of cell death so that symptoms of these diseases kick in several years later than in your average non-caffeine drinker. At the moment this mechanism is purely speculative. The jury’s still out on the precise mechanism that might account for these observations, but the evidence supporting the concept of moderate amounts of caffeine having a neuroprotective influence on the brain is steadily increasing.

     

     

    Is it important to control and monitor your caffeine intake?

    CoffeeOnDripA dose of 10g is deadly – 100 cups and a human may well find themselves popping their clogs as a typical cup of brewed coffee contains 100mg of caffeine. (NB you may notice that in the above video from the lovely people at ASAPscience they say 1 cup of coffee has 150mg – presumably they brew it stronger over in Canada 🙂 For the non-coffee drinkers out there here are some average caffeine contents of some other popular drinks. There are 80mg in a can of Red Bull, 75mg in a cup of instant coffee, 50mg in a cup of tea, 30mg in a can of Coca Cola.

    Very high but not deadly doses can lead to a quite severe psychiatric condition known as caffeinism: “which is characterised by restlessness, agitation, excitement, rambling thought and speech, and insomnia.” (Winston et al, 2005). It is important to control and monitor caffeine intake because too much can interfere with appetite, make people anxious or depressed, not to mention the fact that anything that interferes with sleep will have a deleterious effect on the brain. Everyone’s sensitivity to caffeine is slightly different, but if you have trouble sleeping then you’d be well advised to avoid caffeine at least 5-6 hours before bedtime – for your brain’s sake.

    3 cups of coffee per day is considered a “moderate dose” for most people. Get these in early enough to avoid any potential for them to interfere with sleep and you should get the apparent long-term brain benefits without the negative consequences associated with excessive consumption (DISCLAIMER: this should not be interpreted as medical advice – it is just the science-based opinion of the author who has a Ph.D. in neurobiology i.e. not a medical degree!).

     

    I don’t like tea or coffee, are there any other sources of caffeine?

    head in coffee beansCaffeine is also found in kola nut (one of the original ingredients of coca cola) and guarana – a wonder berry from the Brazilian rainforest; it’s also found in low quantities in chocolate. Caffeine is also included as a stimulant in many cold and flu remedies – so beware what you reach for when you wake up in the middle of the night with a bunged up nose!

    By the way: if you study the picture on the left very carefully you’ll find a face amongst the coffee beans – can you find it?

    Keep looking… he’s definitely there and you’ll kick yourself for doubting me when you find him!!

    If you liked this you’ll love my daily brain tweets so please follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

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  • Hang Onto Your Marbles by Dr Jack Lewis

    why did I come into the bathroomAs we progress through life we  inevitably find ourselves becoming increasingly forgetful. It is not as if bouts of forgetfulness never occurred when we were younger. It’s just that it begins to happen more and more frequently – to the point where it becomes much more noticeable; even troublesome . From our mid-twenties onwards we lose more neurons (brain wires) and synapses (connections between the brain wires) than we build. The long term end point of this perfectly natural, gradual process of brain aging is dementia. By which I mean if we all lived to the impossibly grand old age of 200, every single one of us would have developed dementia of one description or another along the way. In reality very few of us will even make it to the grand old age of 100, let alone 200. Of those that do, not everyone will have become plunged into the amnesic fog of dementia. So what is the difference between individuals that do and don’t develop dementia well into their senior years? Is it blind luck? Or is there something we can do to lengthen our dementia-free status?

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  • Cognitive Reserve Keeps Alzheimer’s Dementia at Bay by Dr Jack Lewis

    Elderly people who do not suffer with Alzheimer's tend to exercise regularly, eat healthily, seek mental stimulation, are proactively engaged in a varied social life and are well integrated into their community. These lifestyle choices do not guarantee to keep dementia at bay, but it sure as hell can't hurt to try

    Contrast the lifestyles of people in their seventies who do and do not suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and clues about how to keep your brain ticking over nicely, well into old age, jump right out at you. Those who do not suffer with this dreaded disease tend to have been more committed to a regular exercise regime throughout their later years; hitting it as hard as their inevitable physical infirmities would allow (TOP TIP: Tai Chi is an excellent example of a low impact physical exercise which improves strength and flexibility at any age. It requires no equipment and can be practiced wherever you happen to be). They tend to have been more engaged in a wider array of social activities. They tend to have been careful with their diet in the long term, favouring a healthy Meditteranean-style diet (see below for more) over a typical modern Western diet (often high in saturated fats and sugars). They also tend to have been more proactively involved with their local community and more  motivated to seek regular mental stimulation. People are now being advised to adopt a variety of brain-healthy habits if they wish to reduce the likelihood of developing cognitive deficits that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease can, but does not always, induce.

    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of the many different types of dementia, affecting 10% of those over 65 and almost 50% of people over the age of 85 (Evans et al, 1989). Dementia describes a syndrome that involves progressive cognitive decline occurring at an accelerated pace compared to the very gradual loss of mental faculties associated with normal aging. Dementia can involve the deterioration of reasoning, judgement, thinking, mood control, language, understanding and, most famously of all, memory. Colloquially-speaking, Alzheimer’s disease is an almighty metabolic cock-up: a brain protein (beta-amyloid) is not constructed properly due to a misprint in the genetic recipe, causing it to form tiny sticky clumps (plaques) that develop between brain cells, preventing them from communicating with each other properly and eventually killing them off entirely. To make matters worse neurofibrillary tangles accumulate within brain cells, which also ultimately leads to cell death.

    As Alzheimer's progresses brain cells are gradually killed causing brain regions to shrink and the gaps between them to consequently enlarge

    Depending upon which brain structures these plaques form in, different mental functions can be disturbed. For instance, a brain structure that typically gets more than its fair share of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s is the hippocampus. As I’ve described in a previous brainpost this brain structure is critical for the formation of memories and so when its function is compromised by the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s, people can become extremely forgetful.

    To date, scientific research has yet to come up with a treatment to stop the formation of these amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, but there is evidence that drug treatments designed to boost the cholinergic neurotransmitter system can make symptoms less severe. Furthermore and extensive body of studies has gradually accumulated over the past 20 years to indicate that some people are able to tolerate the disruption caused by these plaques better than others (e.g. Katzman et al, 1988). The Katzman study described individuals who had shown no cognitive impairment whatsoever in life, yet post-mortem examination of their brains revealed that telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease (the plaques and tangles) which had progressed to a considerable degree. This disparity begs the question: if two people’s brains are affected by the same degree of plaque damage, why does one continue to enjoy normal mental faculties, whilst the other suffers severe impairments to their memory, thinking and mood? The concept of “cognitive reserve” was introduced to describe brains which seemed to be able to compensate for the damage done by Alzheimer’s, presumably by using other brain networks not affected by the metabolic damage to take over certain cognitive tasks.

    Alzheimer's disease involves plaques accumulating around the neural called "axons" that allow communication between different brain areas

    A separate study, this time involving 593 individuals in New York over the age of 60 and on an “at risk of dementia” register, concluded that “increased educational and occupational attainment may reduce the risk” of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A more recent study conducted in the UK concluded that cognitive reserve is almost entirely mediated by childhood cognitive ability and educational attainment, whilst whether people had successful careers or not had very little influence. So does this mean that the only way to “plaque-proof” yourself is to study hard at school and stay in education for as long as possible? Well, yes and no. Yes – in the sense that this certainly seems to protect you from the ravages of amyloid plaque buildup. No – because there ARE things you can do to build up your cognitive reserve in later life, they just have nothing to do with what you do for a living and how good you are at it.

    DIET

    Diet may well influence the rate at which Alzheimer’s disease progresses, probably due to the negative influence of a modern Western diet on the brain’s blood vessels. In a recent article, prominent Alzheimer’s researcher Dr Scarmeas describes a study providing evidence that a traditional Meditteranean diet – characterised by lots of fish, unsaturated fats, vegetables, fruit and cereals – seems to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In a different study which used a mouse model of the disease it was suggested that coffee may help to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease by preventing build up of amyloid plaques.

    LANGUAGES

    A recent NYT article describes research into bilingual people who seem to develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s on average 5 or 6 years later than those who speak only one language. This suggests that the cognitive demands of regularly switching between two or more languages may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Although this has yet to be proven, it is thought that speaking two languages may increase cognitive reserve by improving the function of prefrontal brain areas involved in executive control. Executive control involves mental functions like holding relevant information in working memory whilst ignoring irrelevant distractions, as well as other faculties relating to problem solving, planning and decision making.

    FUTURE TREATMENTS

    In the not-so-distant future it may be possible to replace brain cells damaged by the abberent metabolic processes of Alzheimer’s with fresh ones created from a person’s own skin cells. Other recent research has suggested that the amyloid plaques might cause memory problems by attaching to certain important neurotransmitters, and that drugs preventing this from happening may help to ease the symptoms of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In light of the importance of early intervention to catch the disease before it causes too much damage new scanning techniques have already been developed to spot the disease before it induces any clinical deficits.

    A variety of lifestyle changes can build up cognitive reserve, helping to keep dementia at bay and improving quality of life to boot!

    In addition to these fortnightly brainposts you can also get DrJack’s daily #braintweet by following him on twitter.

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  • Brain Teasers = Brain Training by Dr Jack Lewis

    Dr Jack Lewis is keen to get people motivated to get the best out of their brains, so has compiled a quick overview of brain training options:

    Brain teasers are good for you. Brain teasers include word games, number puzzles, spot the difference, Where’s Wally-type games, attention directing or splitting challenges, general knowledges quizes and so on. Brain training simply involves perfoming various different brain teasers on a regular basis. Your brain constantly adapts to serve you better. The more often you perform a certain mental function the more the brain will do to make changes so that the next time you do it, you can perform it slightly faster, with a greater degree of success and more efficiently.

    How do we know that practice increases the connections between different brain areas? Two brain imaging studies have demonstrated that when people practice a skill very hard for prolongued periods of time despite the fact that the changes happen at the ultramicroscopic level of the synapses where two brain cells meet the net effect of billions of these changes occuring over many months is that the grey matter gets larger in the part of the brain responsible for that function. The part of the brain that controls hand movements is significantly larger in professional string and keyboard musicians than non-musicians because of all the training they have done over the years to manipulate their instruments with split second precision. Another brain region, the hippocampus, creates and recalls memories particularly for geographical locations and is significantly larger in the brains of London Cabbies – who navigate around their city based on a sound KNOWLEDGE of every landmark, road and bridge – than in the brains of bus drivers – who simply drive the same route over and over again.

    The synapses connecting various different groups of brain cells together that are responsible for perfoming a certain task, say a crossword for instance, are strengthened each time to try to solve the puzzle in order that they can function slightly more efficiently next time round. If you do the crossword every day, then the net effect of many slight overnight adjustments to the brain areas involved in searching your memory for suitable words that have a certain meaning, a certain number of letters and specific letters in at certain positions within the word, become noticably better after just a few days. The same goes for number puzzles. Or games that involve prolonged concentration. Or the ability to recall trivia when it becomes relevant to conversation.

    We all know that practice makes perfect and the strengthening of connections between the relevant brain areas to enable more efficient communication between them is the reason why. Of course getting good at doing crosswords is not particularly useful in its own right, but the point is that once you become good at recalling suitable words for the sake of the crossword, you will also find it easier and quicker to bring the appropriate word to mind during conversation or when creating written documents – and that can be extremely useful.

    There are numerous websites that have compiled a large variety of different puzzles (http://www.brainbashers.com/puzzles.asp) and various others where you can try out electronic versions of classic physical puzzles like the Tower of Hanoi (http://www.mazeworks.com/hanoi/index.htm). However these all pale into comparison next to custom-designed brain training games such as those available at Lumosity (www.lumosity.com), which have not only the advantage of a much more aesthetically-pleasing look and feel of games that are genuinely fun and engaging to play, but also as you have to log in to play (they offer a free 30 day trial) you can keep track of how your performances improve over time.

    Nintendo DS were the first console manufacturer to produce and market games with the aim of improving brain function which all started with the release of Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training in 2005. This predominantly involes some quite predictable tasks like the Sudoku number puzzles, simple rapid-fire arithmetic, but also some unexpected treats like the Stroop Test (naming the colour of the font ignoring the meaning of the word which can be tricky when the word RED is written in blue font!) which take advantage of some pretty nifty voice processing software. I must admit I found myself thinking “can I really speak to this machine?”

    The effect of the advertising campaign that accompanied the release of this game was quite profound as it not only encouraged everyday consumers to purchase Nintendo’s products, but more importantly sent out the message that the brain is something that you can do something pro-active to improve; a concept that has been long-accepted to be the case in children but the mantra “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” meant that this was rarely considered to be applicable in adults. Such a message is particularly enticing for people entering into old age, for whom the prospect of holding onto their marbles for as long as possible is extremely desirable and thus motivating. In this regard the key thing to remember is that, as far as the brain is concerned, it’s a simple matter of use it or lose it. Exercising brain areas involved in problem-solving by tackling word games, logical reasoning problems, memory challenges and number puzzles keeps such mental faculties in tip-top condition. If you don’t continue to use these mental abilities then they will fall into disrepair because the brain receives no indication that connections between appropriate areas should be maintained and reinforced. The upshot: it is never too late to improve your mental fitness. By emulating the lifestyles of individuals enjoying a healthy brain in their 80s and 90s, who have regular social interaction, cards games, read extensively, stay physically active and challenge themselves daily with various puzzles and quizes, the odds of being afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease are reduced by 25%.

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