• Another Year of Brain Tweets

    It’s that time of year again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2015 Tweets

    BRAIN TECH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    GEEK CHIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    YOUNG BRAINS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BRAIN HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MISCELLANEOUS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DRUGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NEUROANATOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SLEEP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SOCIAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    KEEPING YOUR BRAIN FIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ALZHEIMER’S

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MEMORY

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

    How does the brain’s memory system work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MENTAL HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    QUOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BRAIN INJURY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SENSES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BRAIN AGEING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    LANGUAGE AND THE BRAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BRAIN BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BRAIN HACKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DECISION MAKING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    EXPLORING OUTER SPACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ALL THINGS ADDICTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CREATIVITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SEX AND ATTRACTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Love is…http://onforb.es/1MHo0PI

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

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

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

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

    CONNECTOME: WORKING OUT THE BRAINS CIRCUIT DIAGRAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MICROBIOME: HOW YOUR GUT AFFECTS YOUR BRAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ADVANCES IN ARTICIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    INNOVATIONS IN BRAIN SCANNING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    UNDERSTANDING COGNITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CONSCIOUS AWARENESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DEPRESSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DIGI-BRAIN: THREATS POSED BY DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    UNDERSTANDING HOW BRAINS DO EMOTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    INTELLIGENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    LEARNING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MUSIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NEUROPLASTICITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PERSONALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ANIMAL BRAINS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BRAIN TRAINING

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ECOLOGY MATTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

    EVENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PERFORMANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ROBOTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SCHIZOPHRENIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ATTENTION

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

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

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

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

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

    GAMES AND QUIZES

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

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

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

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

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

    HAPPINESS

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

    Cunning study provides evidence to suggest that we use the sound of our own voice to gauge how happy or sad we feel http://bit.ly/1ONdZUh

    Why is happiness so difficult to measure, and other science stories from around the web http://bbc.in/1g9dDd0

    Why we laugh: http://bbc.in/1IkfLqn Fascinating interview with @sophiescott

    I find it very hard to believe that the precuneus is seat of all happiness -can someone independently replicate pls? http://bit.ly/1S8Pxf0

    JOKES

    Asked librarian for a book on Pavlov’s dogs and Schrodinger’s cat. She said it rang a bell, but couldn’t say if it was there or not.

    IQ and BMI walk into a bar. They see Phrenology in a corner, scoff, and then each order alcohol in different-equally useless-measurements.

    Love that Nature gets in on the April Fool “Climatic conditions are rapidly reaching an optimum for breeding dragons” http://bit.ly/1CLL2BZ

    Sadly, I can imagine the “neuroelectric cosmonaut look” hitting our streets in not too distant future http://bit.ly/1LfFsgF #futureiscoming

    I’ve literally got tears streaming down my face -truly remarkable! http://bit.ly/1RvrCXH

    NEUROMYTHS

    Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore slates those who peddle the myth that people are either left brained or right brained: http://bit.ly/1B8apbK

    Neuro-hit or neuro-myth? great new resource from @UoL_CEN on 12 common neuromyths: http://tinyurl.com/z5pk9qe   #neurohit_or_miss

    Neurosophism, “a sophisticated but fallacious application of neuroscientific language” http://bit.ly/1QnMijr Rife in education & business

    Religious zealotry could be temporarily dampened with a simple jolt of magnetism to a specific brain area (pmPFC): http://bit.ly/1RJS3Zv

    The existence of ‘Learning Styles’ is a ‘neuromyth’ that is thriving in Higher Education. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26696947

    PRE-HUMANS

    compelling evidence for the co-evolution of early Stone Age slaughtering tools & our ability to communicate & teach” http://bit.ly/1B0OcSo

    Human DNA is 1 to 2% Neandertal, or more, depending on where your ancestors lived http://bit.ly/1QyNpzv

    Human migration out of Africa left its mark in mutations http://sco.lt/6p7qSX

    Monkey “brain net” … “has a high ‘gosh’ factor”: http://bit.ly/1KTDmme

    Who’d have thought that cannibals in Papua New Guinea could teach scientists something about brain disease/evolution? http://ab.co/1QO5zcg

    REVIEWS

    I first heard of this Pixar project 5years ago. They are the only movie house I would trust with a tale of the brain: http://wapo.st/1J5DqMl

    The Brain: The Story of You by @davideagleman is out soon, here’s an extended extract… If you’re curious http://on.ft.com/1GYQ5On

    Do No Harm by Henry Marsh is an excellent read. Reviews by moi: http://bit.ly/1bQFLiC and the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1FqNI9m

    Inside Out is ‘a work of simple genius’ says WIRED’s @olifranklin http://wired.uk/hz1tgz

    Last month I wrote a book review on “DO NO HARM” by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, take a peek… http://bit.ly/1bQFLiC

    VIRTUAL REALITY

    I’ve been meaning to build one of these for ages. Now GE has I don’t need to 🙂 Navigating Brains in Virtual Reality http://engt.co/1IqsngD

    Virtual brain surgery http://bit.ly/1YhsXTh

    Virtual reality comes in very handy when studying human communication http://bit.ly/1Vu4UAg

    Visual feedback in form of 3D images of tongue movements hold promise as a tool to aid speech rehab after stroke: http://bit.ly/1I1FhQ9

    Visualising brain microcircuitry in3D enables rotation+view from different perspectives=better understanding of data http://bit.ly/1PDqx1l

    LEGAL

    “fundamental problems that brain images bring into the courtrooms” http://bit.ly/1SrzFru

    Neurojurisprudence :-p Guilt/innocence judgements, penalty severity pondering & the brain http://bit.ly/1KjlaxA #onemoreneuroprefixcanthurt

    Neuroscience and the Future of the Insanity Defense http://www.snsanalytics.com/1nlvy4

    Re-offending rates can be reduced by as much as 20% if those leaving jail have stable accommodation to go to http://buff.ly/1KrBYWV

    IMMUNE BRAIN

    Great article outlining key experiments supporting concept that gut health fundamentally impacts upon brain health: http://bit.ly/1KZkMGM

    Why discovery of brain lymph vessels might be missing link that helps us understand Alz & MS http://bit.ly/1GWKCd0

    Discovery: lymphatic system (tubes ferrying immune cells around body) extends into the brain alongside blood vessels: http://bit.ly/1ERp5hg

    CSF provides pressure..necessary to build&maintain the brain..pressure is too low, brain can’t grow..if it’s too high..tissue is destroyed

    MIND OVER MATTER

    Bringing a smile to one’s face, even if it’s fake, can induce physiological benefits of a smile & make us feel better http://bit.ly

    Control over pain enabled through mindfulness is superior to mere placebo effect: http://bit.ly/1SM4MLI

    Neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan lifts the lid on psychosomatic illness http://bit.ly/1KFEauD

    MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

    Bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers may help to protect against Multiple Sclerosis, but only for women!: http://bit.ly/1BdWZOG

    Melatonin, which regulates sleep/wake cycle, may protect against seasonal multiple sclerosis relapse as well as vitD: http://bit.ly/1LOiY1a

    Two drugs already on the market .. may potentially take on new roles as treatments for multiple sclerosis” http://1.usa.gov/1E2HqfA

    PARKINSON’S

    Now we know it takes 3-5yrs to really kick in, treating Parkinson’s with foetal stem cells is getting its 2nd wind: http://bit.ly/1evvXf6

    The woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease!!! http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-34583642 …

    Using nano-particles to ferry fully-formed dopamine across blood brain barrier to improve symptoms of Parkinson’s: http://bit.ly/1aUvMrk

    PEOPLE

    In 2003 i got chatting to Russ Poldrack on a plane, 1000miles later I knew he was destined to achieve great things.. http://stanford.io/1OjIw7Q

    Oliver Sacks is a truly remarkable human being: http://nyti.ms/1Or3GlF

    Prof Nancy Kanwisher gives herself a skin head to help students see exactly where each different brain area resides: http://bit.ly/1b4sCli

    SELF

    The bizarre things that happen when you see your doppelgänger http://bbc.in/1EsDR4K

    Damage to the default mode network disrupts autobiographical memory retrieval http://bit.ly/1Ezh46f

    The Science of Self: http://n.pr/1KwOLpg

    BRAIN BANK

    Sneaky peak into the daily activities of a brain bank: http://bit.ly/1F1NxAT What? Where? How? and most importantly Why?…

    50’s Brain Rush People were collecting brains – it was a thing” and Einstein’s brain got dragged into it: http://bbc.in/1G1fW9u

    GENDER

    Take a female brain, inject large quantities of testosterone, et voila, the brain undergoes some interesting changes; http://slate.me/1KphHD2

    This is why, when people ask “what ARE the differences between male&female brains?” I’ve always ducked the question: http://ow.ly/Vml9R

    MULTITASKING

    In case you’d forgotten… multitasking always comes at a cost: http://cnn.it/1INM80f

    Organising the mind & so-called multi-tasking: you’ll find this fascinating @JoeDyble @AnnaCookson @DrJackLewis http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0505zw1

    PROSTHETIC

    Extensive use of bionic arm should lead to significant neuroplastic rearrangement – Bionic Man’s Likely Brain Change http://bit.ly/1TeV985

    Prosthetic hand, wired directly into man’s brain, enables him to feel when his fingers touch something: http://bit.ly/1UP5BYX

    SCI ART

    Who says science and art don’t overlap? http://on.mash.to/1wY14by via @conversationuk

    Winners of the 2015 BioArt Image and Video Competition http://bit.ly/1NqAlMo

    TALKS

    Phenomenal TED talk covering everything from formation of universe through to human global connectivity in 18 mins: http://bit.ly/16XEva8

    This guy’s a great speaker… how a mayor helped the obese people of his city to shed 1,000,000 pounds in just 5 years: http://bit.ly/1d3oEtq

    TIME

    Scientists amass evidence indicating that NOW “lasts on average between 2 & 3 seconds”! http://bit.ly/1BP2Wks

    Very comprehensive series of articles about how brains do time&various factors that can make it run faster or slower: http://bit.ly/1K7jX13

    PREGNANCY

    What pregnancy does to a woman’s brain: http://theatln.tc/1KoRPo7 Witnessed the whole process take place in my sister last year! Phenomenal 🙂

    RELIGION

    Time2ditch religion?“..similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism” Decety http://bit.ly/1kxtVOu

    STRESS

    StressGoldilocks&TheBrain – when it comes to stress hormones the aim is: not too little, not too much, but just right http://bit.ly/1MtVUYv

    TINNITUS

    “signals relating to..constant ringing noise of tinnitus..mapped across the brain of a patient undergoing surgery” http://bbc.in/1DiLao4

    TOURETTE’S

    Verbal/motor tics associated with Tourette’s may be remedied with GABA (not the techno music..the neurotransmitter:-) http://bit.ly/1JJueug

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Nissan Ad Zombie ChildrenThe key message throughout is that the car is carefully built around the driver and therefore every conceivable problem has been anticipated and addressed. In the closing scene two children appear in the back seat fidgeting, shouting and generally being… well… children. In the blink of an eye technology has magically teleported into their midst – the rowdy boys instantly transformed into well-behaved, docile and, most importantly, silent little angels: one absorbed by a tablet, the other gazing out of the window listening to something on a pair of expensive looking headphones (let’s hope it’s my podcast). That’s right kids. Do not interact with each other. That would just cause a disturbance to your father, or whoever he is. Communication must be discouraged when in ear shot of your elders and betters. And remember: silence is golden!

    My issue with these ads is not Susan Greenfield-esque. I don’t believe that technology is good or bad. But I do think that to unquestioningly consume limitless hours of screen entertainment at the expense of all other activities would have negative consequences for brain development across childhood. My objection to these ads revolves around that fact that they are normalising, if not positively encouraging, child-rearing behaviours that are likely to be deleterious to the best interests of the next generation.

    Study after study has demonstrated that what kids really need if their brains are to develop optimally throughout childhood is lots of interaction with other people. Ideally in the context of unstructured play. Keeping them perpetually spell-bound by computer games, films or cartoons is very much against their best interests.

    telly tubbiesInfants plonked in front of Teletubbies for hours on end are measurably retarded in their language development and verbal expression in comparison to those rarely exposed to screens in their first 2 years of life. This is ironic given that, allegedly, a large team of child psychologists were assembled by the BBC to consult on what elements should be included in order to optimise neurodevelopment.

    Admittedly endless hours of interacting with young kids are shattering. And undoubtedly the most effective method of conjuring some much needed peace and quiet from the endless barrage of questions, perpetual motion, mess, mood swings and tears are screen-based innovations designed specifically to captivate young minds. But the easiest route is rarely the best path and whilst this approach may well be very convenient for frazzled parents it is demonstrably not best for the child.

    Advertisers will jump on any scenario that their intended market might be able to relate to so the theme of pacifying noisy kids with tech is not surprising. Yet it supports the proliferation of lazy, unhelpful parenting tricks that ultimately work against the best interests of a whole generation of humans. Whether or not this amounts to a whole hill of beans in the long run is yet to be seen. Yet from what is known with any certainty so far, there are clear indications that screen time should be monitored and possibly limited, or else it will displace the human face-to-face interactions that so beautifully sculpt young brains in preparation for a long life of interacting with other humans.

    buggy phoneIf you want a child’s neurodevelopment to proceed optimally you should, in my humble opinion, forego the lure of using technological paraphernalia to distract them – unless you are carefully restricting its use at other times – and instead encourage them to engage in some form of play in the real world. And whilst we’re at it you should ensure that as much as possible you give them your full attention. Having your eyes on your smartphone whilst talking to your child is a terrible example to set. So much of communication happens via eye contact and active (as opposed to partially distracted) listening, so if you rob your children of valuable experience with this mode of interaction then their communication skills and social dexterity will suffer.

    I’m not saying people should consign their tablets to the rubbish, nor permanently ban children from using all tech. I’m merely encouraging parents to avoid using these tactics habitually. Save it for when you really need it and you will help your kid to develop the full range of skills, both hard and soft, to give them the best possible start in life.

    And if you think I’m a luddite after this rant you’d be wrong. If you explore my blog further you’ll find plenty of articles relating to the brain benefits of various computer games. Everything in moderation I say (unless we’re talking about working memory training using the Dual N-Back task or reading books in which case I see no harm in overdoing it so long as combined with a healthy social life :-))

    As well as these monthly blogs I do a weekly podcast – Geek Chic’s Weird Science – and daily tweets about breakthroughs in neuroscience and beyond – @drjacklewis.

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  • How Virtual Environments Shape Your Brain by Dr Jack Lewis

    London_Black_Cab wikiComAny environment in which we immerse ourselves on a daily basis will eventually induce changes in the very fabric of our brains. This observation is based on brain scanning experiments investigating the brains of taxi drivers and professional musicians before and after they have acquired their expertise. Intensive training over many months and years physically changes the size of the hippocampus and motor hand area of these individuals, respectively. This occurs as a direct result of repeatedly challenging the brain to perform specific tasks, navigating around London in the first instance and manipulating an instrument to emit the desired sounds in the second, so that the connectivity between areas involved in executing that task is improved. This occurs at the flick of a few genetic switches that increases the number of synapses across which one neuronal brain wire influences the next in line in pathways that are used often and intensively. It seems reasonable to assume that any cognitive capacity that we regularly use over long periods of time will have a similar impact via the same mechanism.

    VR wikiComIn the past I’ve written about our incredible aptitude for using tools to manipulate our environment. One of the best examples of recent human ingenuity in this regard are the virtual environments we have created – video games, internet, online social networking and the like. Millions of people are immersed in such virtual environments intensively, regularly and consistently over extended periods of time, exactly the pre-requisites for interaction that drives brain changes; occurring whether the environment in question is real or virtual. I’ve written previously about the potential impact of this on the adolescent brain but, of course, adult brains also adapt to the demands of any virtual environments they may be regularly immersed in too, albeit at a reduced rate.

    Cell_phone_use_while_driving wikiComThese brain changes occur for better or for worse. Adults who engage in intensive action video gaming for endless hours slowly but surely begin to accumulate cognitive improvements, namely enhancements in certain aspects of vision, memory and rapid decision-making. On the other hand, those who automatically respond to any bleep, buzz or vibration from their laptop or smartphone appear to be training themselves into a state of constant distraction. A recent study has suggested that so-called heavy media multi-taskers are gradually losing their capacity to block out distractions, an unintended consequence of “dual screening” behaviours like surfing the internet and responding to electronic messages whilst watching television.

    My message is simple. Technology is neither good or bad, it’s all about how you choose to use it. Stopping to contemplate your habits when it comes to using technology and considering whether the likely changes to your brain will serve you well or badly, might be advisable. Evidence is currently quite sparse, but rapidly accumulating. Just bear in mind the rule of thumb that anything you do intensively, daily, for months on end has the potential to re-wire your brain to perform that task more efficiently. Some behaviours honed in this way do not always serve your best interests when operating in the real world.

    porn_star wikiComreport hit the press this week describing as yet unpublished brain data from Cambridge University demonstrating that people addicted to internet pornography show a heightened sensitivity in the reward pathways (specifically in the ventral striatum) when exposed to sexually explicit images. Results were not dissimilar to that observed in the brains of alcoholics and illicit drug addicts when viewing images of the target of their addiction. How might this hypersensitivity to pornography have developed? I’m sure you can guess what’s coming next… by viewing pornographic images with great scrutiny, regularly and over periods of months if not years – pleasurable sexual responses have become honed to whatever stimuli have been encountered in the virtual environments with which they are regularly immersed.

    brain that changes itselfMy concern is the impact that such outcomes of neuroplasticity might have on people’s real life behaviours. Could it be ruining people’s real life sex lives? The anecdotal evidence presented in Norman Doidge’s excellent book: “The Brain That Changes Itself” certainly backs up this notion. From the perspective of basic neuroscience it also seems likely. Once a brain is trained to respond in a manner that results in feelings of pleasure when viewing hyper-sexual body shapes performing wild and gratuitous sex acts, it is likely that less powerful sexual images – a real life sexual partner, for instance – no longer hit the spot. Given how much of a boost a healthy active sex life gives to real romantic relationships it seems a real shame (if not a blight to wellbeing in society as a whole) that sexual relationships might be harmed by unconstrained consumption of pornography.

    Quiet carriageI’m not an advocate of censorship. It doesn’t work anyway. I believe in freedom of informed choice. I am an advocate of encouraging people to think carefully about what their habitual behaviours might be doing to their brains from the perspective of neuroplasticity. This I hope will enable them to make choices that benefit them in the long run as well as in the short term. Carving out periods of the day when emails are ignored and phones switched to silent will preserve the ability to sustain attention, engage in deep thought and enable people to remain the master rather than slave of technology. And actively avoiding indulging in online pornography on a daily basis might help people to evade brain adaptations that set the bar of satisfaction ever higher so that the real thing can maintain its lustre. “Everything in moderation” will steer us all clear of unwanted brain adaptations.

    In addition to these monthly blogs I also tweet daily about interesting brain-related articles that hit the press. If that sounds good to you then please consider following me by clicking here.

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  • Adolescent Brains in the 21st Century by Dr Jack

    I was once told that adolescence is the hardest thing I would ever have to do in life. Up to that point in time I had got the overwhelming impression that most adults wished they could go back to the simple life they seemed to distinctly remember enjoying during childhood. All this smacked of rose-tinted glasses to me, but still I asked myself what exactly was I doing so wrong to find the teenage years a bit of a grind.

    Teenagers tend to experience life in the extreme. The highest highs rub shoulders with the lowest lows. They tend to experience everything as either fabulously exciting, depressing, or mind-numbingly boring, with very little in between. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case:

    • during adolescence the brain is a patchwork quilt of work-in-progress (see video below)
    • it is undergoing a neurochemical conspiracy that simultaneously amplifies emotions
    • whilst encouraging risk taking and exaggerating perceived benefit

    …all in the absence of any extensive experience that, in adults, can occasionally step in to trump the usually erroneous risk/benefit calculations that accompany every decision at an unconscious, implicit level.

    I personally found the acknowledgement that being a teen is tough to be profoundly reassuring. Now as a neuroscientist I can go one step further by actually showing WHY being a teenager will always feel tough at times. More importantly I will describe why teenagers of today will turn into adults that are even more different from the previous generation than ever before in the history of man.

    Human brain maturation does not reach completion until after adolescence. During the teenage years the brain is literally caught midway between adulthood and childhood. In the mid-teens cerebral maturation looks like a patchwork quilt, with some areas that have already reached their adult form intermingled amongst others that have not changed significantly since childhood. Yet other regions of cortex find themselves in a transition state part way between the two extremes. This is why a teenager can seem so bright and intelligent one minute, whilst making the most disasterous decisions and over-reacting in the most outrageous emotional outbursts the next. There is a child and an adult co-existing in the brain of a teen. Below is a video that tracks the brain’s maturation over the course of adolescence starting in the early teens and ending in late teens (blue colour = mature cortex; so keep an eye out for how much green, yellow, orange and red is still in the mix throughout most of adolescence).

    The process of adolescent brain maturation, counterintuitively, does not involve an increase in the thickness of the brain’s outer surface (the cortex). On the contrary, it actually involves a reduction in cortical thickness – as less important synaptic connections and brain pathways are “pruned” away; presumably to free up resources for more intensively-used neural networks. This process enables the brain to function more and more efficiently the more certain behaviours are repeatedly performed and elaborated upon. Skills that we acquire with a great deal of time and effort during childhood are performed effortlessly by the time we reach adulthood.

    The human brain will adapt to any environment with which many, many hours are spent interacting. These days the real life immediate environment of a teenager’s home, school, playground, social settings etc in which they spend their waking hours is increasingly supplemented by a wide variety of virtual and online spaces and places into which innumerable hours are poured. This means that digital natives – kids that cannot remember a time before the internet – are going through their “synaptic pruning” maturation phase of accelerated teen brain development synergistically with virtual, as well as real, worlds. The brains that result from this interactive process will be specialised differently to those honed during a twentieth century adolescence.

    Cause for alarm? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. It will undoubtedly be a mixed bag. Brain specialisation to improve efficiency in the execution of one behaviour will always come at the expense of specialisation that could have been invested in something else. This is displacement.

    When time spent playing massive multiplayer online games (MMOG) entirely displaces time spent engaging in old fashioned face-to-face interaction with a friend or group of friends certain brain areas will be improved in preference to others. That teenager would develop superior visuospatial, rapid task-switching and quick decision making abilities, but at the expense of social skills; unless time is also invested in extensive face-to-face communication with peers. Social networking and instant messenging services actually takes this social displacement to a whole different level by actively disrupting what little time is acutally spent in the company of real people.

    Teen social lives are increasingly becomeing less about the face-to-face and much more about face-down-to-phone. The right to choose which smartphone alerts they do and don’t respond to are waived in favour of a slavish dependency. The attention of many teens is immediately diverted to any BBM, Twitter, Facebook etc alert that squarks and vibrates from their smartphone – regardless of where they are or who they are with. This constant disruption must surely degrade the quality of in person social interaction and brain specialisation supporting this vital skill. So does this mean the art of conversation is utterly doomed?

    If teens can be made aware of the need to take control of their digital consumption then there is hope. Otherwise they’ll find themselves distinctly uncomfortable being in the same room as other people and will much prefer to communicate through the written word – a scenario that will inevitably leave them feeling empty. Brains that evolved to communicate much more effectively through body language than speech will inevitably miss the physical presence of another person when communication becomes exlusively remote. Not to mention the fact that physical touch is one of the primary ways in which a brain is inspired to activate brain circuitry that makes a human being feel safe, secure and content.

    In addition to these monthly brainposts you can catch daily #braintweet by following me on Twitter.

    Please don’t leave a comment (spambot overload) but I would love to hear from you so please do send me an email.

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  • Dr Jack Double Whammy on Mon 4th July

    On Monday 4th July Dr Jack will be back on This Morning between 10.30-12.30 (ITV1). If you’d like to recap on the memory tricks you can see his first contribution all over again by clicking here.

    Later on that evening at 20.00 the first episode of his new series “The Tech Show” is launched (Discovery Science), followed immediately afterwards by the second episode at 20.30.

    Dr Jack's 2nd appearance on THIS MORNING: Mon 4th July

    Monday’s item on This Morning will be all about decisions. Whether deciding what to have for lunch, what route to take to reach a destination, whether or not to resist the temptation to make that impulse purchase or the best way to avoid getting in trouble – all of us have to make literally hundreds of decisions every day.

    The problem is that our brains, having remained pretty much unchanged since the Stone Age, rarely make decisions that maximise long term returns. The default setting of the brain tends towards choosing quickly, based on gut feelings, about the currently available options. People often can’t be bothered to put the effort in to figure out what’s really the best choice in the long run. So we just go on our impulses and make up explanations that fit with the choice after the decision has been made.

    When hungry, stressed, excited or in a rush, people rely even more on hot, emotional, short-sighted desires to immediately get what we want. This is the state that supermarkets and other shops want you to be in so that you’re tempted by the seemingly great deals. Dr Jack will describe why the only way to make good decisions is to do it in a cold, far-sighted, rational state of mind where we can calmly consider only best option in light of what we really need in the long run. He will suggest a variety of strategies people can use to get themselves in this state of mind in order to SAVE YOU MONEY!

    Dr Jack's also on Discovery Science at 20.00, Mon 4th July

    Just a few hours later, at 20.00 over on Discovery Science, Dr Jack showcases some of the most fascinating, amazing and sometimes bizarre new inventions, discoveries and breakthroughs from the world of science, technology and engineering enterprise. “The Tech Show” will run as pairs of back-to-back half hour episodes at 20.00, and then again at 01.00, 09.00, 12.00, 15.00… so it will fit into your schedule no matter how busy you are. As you are flicking through the channels on your satellite or cable box over the summer, don’t forget to have a little scan through the Discovery channels to see if you can catch an episode. The tone of this particular series was specifically directed to be upbeat, friendly and lighthearted, so viewers should find it stimulating without becoming overwhelmed by too much boring “techie” information. This is a flagship show for Discovery and they have high hopes for it so fingers crossed many people will get stuck in and hopefully watch the whole series. That way there’s a chance that Dr Jack will be back on Discovery for another series in the not so distant future.

    If you’d like to follow Dr Jack’s daily #braintweets please click here.

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  • THE TECH SHOW on Discovery Science presented by Dr Jack

    On Friday nights at 8pm starting in July 2011 Dr Jack Lewis presents THE TECH SHOW on the Discovery Science channel. Here is the promotional video that Discovery will be running across Europe, Africa and the Middle East to pique people’s curiosity about this brand new flagship series:

    Across 26 half-hour episodes Jack takes viewers on a journey through some of the latest technological breakthroughs in engineering, science and biomedicine. We explore new developments in robotics, renewable energy and tornado physics. We encounter a wide variety of nutty inventors, hell-bent on creating the most bizarre water, land and air-borne vehicles the world has ever seen. We see how engineering can be guided by the latest biological research by getting to the bottom of how evolution has solved various threats to survival by giving certain creatures some uniquely brilliant abilities. And we even discover what neuroscience can learn from the art of magic!

    My personal favourites include the young American scientist who creates tornados in his garage, the crazy German pilot who can loop-the-loop in a helicopter and the ingenious lizard that can evade predators by burrowing into tightly packed sand in the blink of an eye by turning its body into a wave generator!

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