• Hot Topics in Neuroscience by Dr Jack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Listed below, in alphabetic order, for your convenience:


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


    Artificial Intelligence

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

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

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

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


    Bad Journo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Body Language

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



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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Ageing

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Education

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

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

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


    Brain Nutrition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Hacks

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

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

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

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


    Brain Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Illness

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

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

    Wii Balance Board Induces Changes in the Brains of MS Patients

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Interesting case of a man born with disconnected brain hemispheres

    Living With Schizophrenia: The Importance of Routine | NYT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Are you genetically predisposed to antisocial behaviour?

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


    Brain Imaging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Injury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Brain Training 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Computer Coding

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


    Protective buttressing of the hominin face #sexualdimorphism #evolution

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


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

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

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

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



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


    Free Will

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



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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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


    Geek Chic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Gut Bacteria

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

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

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

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

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

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



    How cultures influence content of hallucinations/delusions



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

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

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



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

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


    Holding Onto Marbles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



    What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Neuroscience w/ @DrJackLewis



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



    Laughter puts #brain in2state similar to that of deep meditation



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Mind Over Matter

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



     Neuromyths are hampering education

    Christian Jarrett is worried about the impact of neuromyths on society

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


    Optical Illusions

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

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

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


    Other Creatures’ Brains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


    Reward Pathways

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

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

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

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

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


    Science Communication

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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


    My Most Unexpected Telly MomentTV

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

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



    Virtual Reality

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


    Window to the Soul

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

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


    Young Brains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • Arthritis Drugs Could Delay Dementia by Dr Jack

    Following on from Dr Jack's "Aging Gracefully" item on ITV's THIS MORNING on Fri 12th Aug 2011

    This brainpost complements Dr Jack’s recent appearance on ITV1 on Fri 12th August 2011. It’s tricky to do such an important brain topic as AGING GRACEFULLY justice in just a 10 min slot on THIS MORNING (ITV’s flagship live daytime magazine show in the UK). Talking openly and honestly about highly emotive topics like Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia in general, is a very delicate matter. Given the prevailing time pressures of live television and the quick/punchy explanations that it requires, there is always the potential to be misunderstood. This means that really hot topics must occasionally be left out in case they have the unintended effect of causing undue anxiety as opposed to the specific intention: inspiring the public with what we can do to hang onto our marbles well into old age. This brainpost reveals a new breakthrough in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, deemed too risky to mention on live television in case it was misconstrued, but which may one day be instrumental in keeping dementia at bay in each and every one of us.


    Columbo, played by Peter Falk, suffered with severe dementia for several years before he died in 2011 aged 83

    A recent article in the Daily Mail described how Peter Falk, the actor who played Lieutenant Columbo in the famous 70’s detective series by the same name, rapidly declined from mild into severe dementia in just one year. In early 2007 he was acting in a feature film, but by the end of that same year, after a series of dental operations, his daughter was in court filing for legal guardianship of her father because he could no longer recognise familiar people, places or objects. Such tragic stories inspired recently published research investigating possible links between acceleration of progression from mild to severe dementia and seemingly unrelated health problems.

    Professor Clive Holmes and colleagues at the University of Southampton published a paper in last month’s Neurology journal, which may provide an explanation for the mighty Columbo’s rapid descent into severe dementia. They monitored a group of 300 people with dementia over 6 months and found that, when certain elements of the immune system were mobilised, the incidence of certain neuropsychiatric symptoms doubled. This may suggest that Peter Falk’s rapid decline into severe dementia may have been caused not by the series of dental operations per se, but rather his immune system’s response to those operations. Professor Holmes’s investigation observed elevated concentrations of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), amongst others, in individuals whose dementia-related “sickness behaviour” worsened during the 6 month monitoring period.

    TUMOUR NECROSIS FACTOR – double-edged sword

    TNF is involved in the inflammatory response to tissue damage and its major role is to regulate the function of immune cells. TNF is also something of a grim reaper as far as cells in our bodies are concerned, as it can induce apopotosis – programmed cell death. Apoptosis might sound like a bad idea but it is actually very important for cells to have a self-destruct button, otherwise removal of malfunctioning cells would be impossible. TNF is a natural component of our immune system that kills off, amongst other things, dangerous damaged cells that start to multiply out of control i.e cancerous tumour cells: Tumour – cancer; Necrosis – killing; Factor – agent. So, when you see TNF, think “Cancer Killing Agent.” However in a person with Alzheimer’s disease, whose brain cells are being increasingly clogged up with neurofibrillary tangles and stuck together with the accumulating amyloid plaques, it seems that high levels of TNF make matters worse by accelerating the onset of severe dementia.


    TNF has long been implicated in autoimmune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis. Many drug companies have invested vast sums of money in order to bringing anti-TNF drugs to market as an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Many severely arthritic individuals across the globe are currently enjoying significantly improved quality of life as a result of using such “biologics” to reduce the swollen joints that often leave people with terrible pain and significantly reduced mobility. But that’s not all. Recent studies have revealed that TNF plays a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and that treatment with anti-TNF drugs can improve dementia symptoms considerably. Indeed, more than 10 years ago a Danish study revealed that levels of TNF in elderly people were elevated and that TNF levels were positively correlated with dementia. An American study came to a similar conclusion. But of course back then these marvellous anti-TNF drugs hadn’t yet hit the market.

    Unfortunately the anti-TNF drugs currently taken by individuals with arthritis are largely ineffective in combating dementia. This is because they simply cannot get from the blood stream into the brain (unless they are injected directly into the spine.) This is because the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), which wraps around every blood vessel that passes through the brain, tightly regulates which molecules are allowed into the brain. Large molecules like these dementia-smashing anti-TNFs are most definitely “not on the list” so although there are many elderly arthritis sufferers with plenty of the good stuff sloshing around in their blood stream, it simply can’t get into the party. In their current form these drugs are unlikely to play a significant role in keeping dementia at bay given how impractical, not to mention dangerous (given the infection risk), repeated spinal injections are.


    Anti-TNF compounds riding Trojan horses may one day help to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease for us all

    Brand new drug technologies can however attach therapeutic compounds to naturally-occuring molecules that are on the BBB list  – a so-called “molecular Trojan horse.”  Special transporter proteins embedded in the BBB “recognise” the shape of the naturally-occuring molecule as friend rather than foe, allowing it to attach to the transporter protein and be pulled, along with the attached anti-TNF compound, inside the brain. Once drug companies have managed to create anti-TNF Trojan molecules, acceleration of dementia can be prevented by suppressing TNF activity in the brain. In the not too distant future, we might all soon find ourselves keeping Alzheimer’s at bay with anti-TNF drugs that ride Trojan horses to the rescue by defending our brains from the perils of TNF “friendly fire.”

    In addition to these weekly brainposts you can also catch Dr Jack’s daily #braintweet by following him on Twitter.

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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 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.


    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.


    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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  • Dr Jack’s Memory Clinic on ITV1’s THIS MORNING – Mon 13th June 2011


    Dr Jack’s first appearance was on Mon 13th June covering the topic of how to improve your memory

    Over the summer I’ll be making a series of contributions to ITV’s THIS MORNING. The aim is to get the nation interested in how their brains work and ultimately to help YOU get the most out of YOUR brain. I’ll offer easy-to-follow advice on how to get your brain firing on all cylinders each and every day.

    I’ll be answering the questions that YOU want answered. Is your brain not what it used to be? Want to know what you can do about it? Bad with money? Ever wondered why you can’t kick your habits? Ever worry about your children’s development? You can either get in touch with your questions directly by clicking here, or get in touch with THIS MORNING via The Hub.

    Topics I’ll be covering in detail will range from money management to memory, from love to hate, from happiness to sorrow, and all the way from child development to holding onto your marbles in old age. You most definitely CAN teach an old dog new tricks and it is never too late to start getting more out of your brain!

    Each item will kick off with a discussion with Phillip Schofield and Co. on the sofa to explore ways in which they feel their own brains’ work well and not-so-well.  We’ll then be asking members of the public to participate in experiments live in the studio. And we’ll meet some extraordinary people who’ll either demonstrate some amazing abilities or some shocking disabilities. Each item will be packed with useful tips, nudges and strategies for optimising your brain function. So, each week, you’ll be able to put my advice to the test to see how it can benefit your life by boosting your brain power.

    Most people would agree that their memories are far from perfect. So, on Monday 13th June 2011, I’ll be showing you what part of your brain creates a MEMORY for people, places, facts and faces. I’ll be putting some members of the public through their paces to see how much information a noraml “working” memory can hold. You’ll even be able to join in the fun and play along at home. I’ll reveal a classic memory trick that is virtually guaranteed to boost anyone’s memory for lists of facts or any other kind of information you might need to remember.

    So tune into ITV1 from 10:30-12:30 and SORT YOUR BRAIN OUT!

    Academic credentials:

    • Jack has studied Brain Biology for nearly 20 years
    • Jack has a First Class batchelor’s degree in Neuroscience from The University Of Nottingham
    • Jack earned his PhD in the Laboratory of Neurobiology at University College London
    • Last year, Jack published a paper in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience describing human brain scanning experiments that investigated multisensory perception; carried out during a post-doc at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
    • Despite Jack’s extensive knowledge about the human brain, he is NOT medically qualified and so will not be able to answer questions relating to medical care.
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  • Hold On To Your Grey Matter – Take a Walk by Dr Jack

    Older brain on the left, younger brain on the right

    From adolescence onwards we all begin to lose brain cells. As a consequence our brains gradually and inexorably shrink (compare the “old” brain on the left to the “young” brain on the right). In fact by the age of 80 your brain will occupy 15% less of the space within your skull than in the prime of life. Yet over the course of adulthood, as our brains are losing more and more cells, our knowledge and repertoire of skills nonetheless continues to grow as we accumulate more and more experience. How is this possible? Well, despite the incremental decrease in quantity of brain cells over the years connections between neuronal networks that are in regular and intensive communication with each other are selectively reinforced. This enables increased efficiency in execution of the mental processes that those networks support. Hence we can do more with less as we age. Sadly, for all of us, there will always come a time when the degree of brain cell loss is such that mental function begins to decline. In other words, if we all could live forever, dementia will inevitably strike at some point in time.

    Although we cannot halt the process of grey matter loss completely, the good news is that we can slow down its progression. This month a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal “Neurology” describes the influence of regular exercise on the rate of reduction of brain volume and cognitive function in 299 elderly individuals.

    It was observed that those individuals of this group of average age 78 who walked in excess of 6 miles per week had a significantly reduced rate of grey matter loss and consequently a lesser degree of cognitive decline. The greater the distance walked each week, the smaller the reduction in volume over a 9 year period within their frontal lobe, occipital lobe, entorhinal cortex and critically, in the hippocampus. My post last month described the vital role that the hippocampus plays in the creation and recall of long term memories.

    This begs the question – how and why does exercise slow down the rate at which grey matter shrinks? An exciting possibility is that all that walking might actually increase the rate at which new brain cells are created; a process known as neurogenesis. This boost in the creation of new brain cells might help to compensate for the loss of old brain cells. Evidence to support this hypothesis comes from research conducted over a decade ago suggesting, in the mouse brain at least, that exercise does indeed increase the rate of neurogenesis.

    Exactly why this happens is unclear, but I would propose that, given the hippocampus is heavily involved in navigation, particularly when it comes to flexibility in finding the best route from A to B, it would make sense for physical activity to trigger production of new cells in this brain area. A greater number of hippocampal neurons would presumably support a greater capacity to memorise routes and landmarks encountered whilst exploring the environment. This could feasibly convey a critical survival advantage by helping to prevent people from getting lost. Over the thousands of years of our species evolultion, getting lost was probably an excellent way of deleting oneself from the gene pool and so those with movement-triggered hippocampal neurogenesis may have been more likely to survive.

    This seems a plausible (but by no means concrete) account of why older individuals who take regular exercise appear to have more grey matter and superior cognitive function than those who do not. Whatever the true explanation, it seems clear if you want to hang onto your marbles in the long term then it’s probably a good idea to take a regular stroll for the rest of your life.

    You can follow Dr Jack’s daily #BrainTweets by clicking here, and pushing the “Follow” button.

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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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