Tuesday, January 31, 2006

So, if I say I'm invisible....?

Words help deterimine what we see

This sort of harks back to a study done on a small tribe of indians in Brazil who had no word for certain colors - they had "green" and "not green" - and had difficulty with perception of other colors. This study backs that one up with more specific results.

Feel no pain...

Research shows brain's ability to overcome pain and thirst

Not that this teaches people HOW to turn off pain or thirst, it just identifies where it happens.

Liar, Liar, brain on fire...

Who's the liar? Brain MRI stands up to polygraph test

The first rumblings of this type of technology came to light about a year ago if I remember correctly. Keep in mind that this technology has a long way to go, it isn't exactly portable to a courtroom yet, and it hasn't been tested enough to be even close to courtroom ready yet; but, hey, it looks promising, doesn't it?

I wonder if they could use it to ferret out memories that are false, but that the individual percieves as reliable and accurate.

I think this technology is the perfect example of "this is a great idea, just don't test it on me" thing.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Healthy body = healthy brain

Scientists Suggest That Immune Cells Help to Maintain Cognition and Brain Cell Renewal

There have been other developments around this idea earlier this year, but the article below is quite informative. Basically, our immune system plays a role in our brains, contrary to prior belief.

Self-knowledge = purchasing history?

How we view ourselves affects perception of products and brands

Similarly related to the prior post - it seems that there is some nice research around self-concept and how it affects our daily actions.

Knowing yourself

Identifying the source of negative emotions greatly reduces their influence on unrelated decisions

Okay, I'm an admitted sci-fi fan, and I really like the show SG-1 on the Sci-Fi Network. Last night had a rather nice quote,
To resist the influence of others, knowledge of one’s self is most important.

An interesting concept, and somewhat relevant when considering the idea stated in the referenced article.

Does better/more self-knowledge lead to better decision making? How do you quantify self-knowledge?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Actor = memory genius?

'To be or, or ... um ... line!'

Well, probably not - but by certain definitions, it is definitely worth a thought.

Use it or lose it

Use your brain, halve your risk of dementia

This seems like old news to me - although, perhaps this has simply been an assumption and not proven via research.

Killing your brain

Chronic drinking and smoking cause both separate and interactive brain injury

So, smoking and driking are bad for your health in new and different ways. Go figure.

Peer pressure

Children's peer relationships have enormous influence

I'd like to see a study that links this finding to education.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Looking at stress

Penn research permits first-ever visualization of psychological stress in the human brain

I think I blogged this earlier but still, a very cool development.

The representative from Emory has the floor

Emory study lights up the political brain

Apparently politicians rely on emotion rather than fact when making decisions. This is not a surprise to the active observer, but it is nice to have it proven via brain imaging.

Also - I am a bit disappointed because this was a study I've been thinking of for some time, but someone beat me to the punch.

Another summary here: Political bias affects brain activity, study finds

Fishmonger momma

Diet and the unborn child

Yet another story that shows evidence that eating fish (and specifically Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish) increases the possibility of raising the intelligence level of your children.

Monday, January 23, 2006

An apple a day

Age-related memory improvement linked with consumption of apple products

Boy, if ever there was a post that cried out to be associated with that ole aphorism - this one is it.

Still, a very interesting finding to say the least.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Taste is also hard-wired

How taste response is hard-wired into the brain

Here is the taste article I referred to earlier.

I should note, however, that we only have suggestive evidence of something like "hard-wiring" in the brain. The concept is much more complex than our electronic understanding of something that is "hard-wired" - the brain is so much more complex than simple electrical engineering.

Hard-wired may mean "pre-disposed" or it could mean that we simply learn it exceptionally rapidly in comparisson to other skills.

Still, the number of things for which our brains seem prepared in some way to recieve is pretty amazing.

One more geometry story

Indigenous Amazonians display core understanding of geometry

Just a different write-up of the geometry story linked to earlier.

This is good news

The brain is broadly wired for reproduction

Generally speaking anyway.

Remembering what you see

Working memory retains visual details despite distractions

Which explains why you can enjoy the scenery while you hike. HA! Kidding! That is a very lame interpretation, sorry.

Evolutionists would interpret this as a survival instinct I suppose.

We know more than we think

We’re hard-wired for geometry

How cool is this? We're hard wired for language, a study recently (which I need to track down) says we're hard wired for taste, and now it seems that we're pre-disposed to understanding geometry.

Exceedingly cool.

Protect your thoughts

Imune cells protect cognitive process

Yet another complex development in our understanding of the brain. Wild stuff.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Go you chicken fat go!

Exercise is linked to later onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Sorry for the obscure reference - but this is pretty good news if true.

Why men like the 3 stooges

Men get a bigger kick from revenge

Someone once said "There's nothing funnier than someone else's misery."

Well, it's funny for guys anyway.

Teenagers: not so bright

CNN.com - Report: Teen drivers pose broad risk

A few posts ago I mentioned that teenagers really don't have the tools to make sound decisions regarding their personal protection. Looks like they can't make sound decisions regarding other peoples safety either.

Teens, as much as they refuse to admit it (or even be aware of it), are simply not mentally equiped to deal with many of the decisions they are forced to make.

They have some hard lessons to learn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Not sure if I blogged this already or not. Oh, well.

A new window into structural plasticity in the adult visual cortex

A follow-up to the "The more we know..." post concerning changing brain structures.

Blogging your academic career

TeensÂ’ bold blogs spur warnings

An interesting article that looks at how schools are reacting to student'ss blogs.

Okay - I get that teens aren't the brightest folks around. They don't have the life experience to realize the very real danger that posting personal information on a public site presents. They also are not equipped (for the most part) with the mental maturity to make sound decisions regarding what and what not to post.

However, all that aside (which is not meant to be a flippant comment) schools are really running the risk of breaching the 1st amendment gap by infringing on a student's right to free speech.

This is not an area of expertise for me, but I sense that litigation will ensue over these matters sooner rather than later.

It's a brave new world of instant and ubiquitous communication - schools (and governments for that matter) need to adapt. The consequences could very well be something that is completely unanticipated. I predict legal fallout, but it could just as easily be something far different and much more difficult to deal with.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's coming - like it or not

Online classes popular on campus as well as off

Actually, the central tenet of the article - that institutions are facing a dilema about online classes (and their reasons for why) is pretty accurate from what I've seen.

My prediction? Get ready for it. You can't stop it - you'll probably see about a 50/50 mix of brick & mortar vs. online classes before too long. If you gear up for that kind of volume now, you'll be in a fantastic position for success when the tide comes in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oh...Oh...I know! Pick me!

Experts debate whether certain research should be restricted

I will now consult my crystal ball and tell you what the answer will be: Yes and no - depending on circumstances, current policy and how much money will be made.

Whew! I'm drained now. I think I'll go sleep for 8 hours to have 10 minutes of cognitive impairment.

Color me surprised

'Play' model of information system design makes teammates of users and designers

Well, holy cow. Imagine that. Getting feedback from actual users may improve product design.


Not a morning person...

Morning grogginess more debilitating than sleep deprivation

This is a very interesting study and should have impact on decision making chains at say - the military level and in hospitals in particular.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Zapping your brain

New procedure reveals the secrets of the brain

I'm not sure how I feel about this study. They zap your brain with electrodes (into the actual cortex, not just stimulation on the scalp) and then measure the effects. The potential applications are interesting - but, still, I'm not really excited about somebody sticking electrodes in my noodle.

No thanks.

Early to bed...

Losing sleep undoes the rejuvenating effects new learning has on the brain

This is a freaky-cool article. Every student on the planet should read this. Not that they would pay any attention to it - but one never knows.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What does it do?

Discovery challenges view of brain function

First we discover that glial cells may actually have something to do with neuronal communication, and now this.

You gotta love the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Learning Theory

Go forth and read this wonderful post by the increasingly indespensible Creating Passionate Users: Crash course in learning theory.

This site consitently pushes out some of the best posts available in the blogosphere.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Truth - that ugly wench...

The Dilbert Blog: Your Body Hates You

Not brain related in the slightest. But darned funny. And it get's funnier (and more true) the older you are when you read it.

Gender Gap?

Where The Boys Aren't

An interesting article - and one that, once I thought about it, didn't surprise me. Of course, being in the education department, I think it is a little heavy on the female representation anyway (I've had classes where I was the only male present), but I have noticed more women than men on campus for several years.

I'd be very interested to hear the take of some professors on this trend.