Forget Me Not

Having trouble remembering where you left your keys? You can improve with a little practice, says a new study. It’s an idea that had never occurred to me before, but one that seems weirdly obvious once you think about it: people who train their brains to recall the locations of objects for a few minutes each day show greatly improved ability to remember where they’ve left things. No matter what age you are, you’ve probably had your share of “Alzheimer’s moments,” when you’ve walked into a room only to forget why you’re there, or set something down and immediately forgotten … Continue reading Forget Me Not

Podcast 1: Our Interview With Joshua Vogelstein

Here it is – the first Connectome podcast! Click here to subscribe in iTunes. Join us as we talk with Joshua Vogelstein, a leading connectomics researcher, about the Open Connectome Project, an international venture to make data on neural connectivity available to everyone, all over the world. It’s like Google Maps for your brain. Here’s a direct link to download the mp3. We’ve learned a lot while working on this first episode, and future ones will be much cleaner and higher-fi. Anyway, enjoy! Continue reading Podcast 1: Our Interview With Joshua Vogelstein

Sacred Values

Principles on which we refuse to change our stance are processed via separate neural pathways from those we’re more flexible on, says a new study. Our minds process many decisions in moral “gray areas” by weighing the risks and rewards involved – so if the risk is lessened or the reward increased, we’re sometimes willing to change our stance. However, some of our moral stances are tied to much more primal feelings – “gut reactions” that remind us of our most iron-clad principles: don’t hurt innocent children, don’t steal from the elderly, and so on. These fundamental values – what … Continue reading Sacred Values

Clarke’s Third Law

Today I want to take a break from breaking news and tell you about the new love of my life: my Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset. This thing costs $299, and it is worth every penny. It uses 14 sensors positioned around my scalp to create a wireless EEG interface between my brain and my computer. I can move objects onscreen by thinking about it. I can click the mouse by thinking “click.” I can watch real-time video maps of my brain activity as I think about different ideas. I can summon specific feelings to navigate through photo albums sorted by emotion. In short, the future … Continue reading Clarke’s Third Law

Neuron Holograms

A new technique will allow us to watch hundreds of neurons in 3D, in real time, at a resolution that’s 50 times greater than before. The technology, known as digital holographic microscopy (DHM), was imported into neuroscience from materials science. It measures differences in the wavelengths of harmless lasers as they travel through a certain region of the brain – and this allows a computer system to construct precise 3D models of neurons at work. Since individual neurons are transparent, scientists used to use various kinds of chemical stains in order to study them.  The cells have to be extracted and placed in a Petri … Continue reading Neuron Holograms