Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#Brain article of interest: Australian Goldfish Called George Undergoes Surgery To Save His Life

From Mashable

Read the full article here-> http://ift.tt/1nZmieZ

Thursday, July 10, 2014

#Brain article of interest: Headbanging: Doctors highlight potential dangers at hardcore rock 'n' roll acts


German doctors highlight the potential dangers surrounding headbanging in a Case Report published in The Lancet. Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian and colleagues from the Hannover Medical School, detail the case of a man who developed a chronic subdural haematoma (bleeding in the brain) after headbanging at a Motörhead concert.

In January 2013, a 50-year-old man came to the neurosurgical department of Hannover Medical School with a 2 week history of a constant worsening headache affecting the whole head. Although his medical history was unremarkable and he reported no previous head trauma, 4 weeks before he had been headbanging at a Motörhead concert.

A cranial CT confirmed the man had a chronic subdural haematoma on the right side of his brain. Surgeons removed the haematoma (blood clot) through a burr hole and used closed system subdural drainage for 6 days after surgery. His headache subsided and he was well on his last examination 2 months later.

Headbanging refers to the violent and rhythmic movement of the head synchronous with rock music, most commonly heavy metal. Motörhead, undoubtedly one of the greatest rock'n'roll bands on earth, helped to pioneer speed metal where fast tempo songs that have an underlying rhythm of 200bpm are aspired to.

Although generally considered harmless, headbanging-related injuries include carotid artery dissection, whiplash, mediastinal emphysema, and odontoid neck fracture. This is the first reported case showing evidence that headbanging can cause "chronic" subdural haematoma.

"Even though there are only a few documented cases of subdural haematomas, the incidence may be higher because the symptoms of this type of brain injury are often clinically silent or cause only mild headache that resolves spontaneously," explains lead author Dr Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian.

"This case serves as evidence in support of Motörhead's reputation as one of the most hardcore rock'n'roll acts on earth, if nothing else because of their music's contagious speed drive and the hazardous potential for headbanging fans to suffer brain injury."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Lancet . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


from Neuroscience News -- ScienceDaily [Read the full article here-> http://ift.tt/1ovkI5a]


#Brain article of interest: How The World Cup's Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton Works [Video]


Soccer Exoskeleton

Juliano Pinto, a paraplegic man, kicks a soccer ball using an exoskeleton built by Miguel Nicolelis and a large team of scientists and engineers.

Imagine Science Films

The World Cup has drawn more than rabid soccer fans to Brazil. A team of filmmakers are on the ground in Rio de Janeiro documenting the science behind the games, including an exoskeletal kick-off, the genetics of competition, and even the biochemistry of diehard spectators.

Here's Imagine Science Films' take on Kinetic, the latest mini-documentary in their "Field Work: World Cup" series:

Imagine Science Films teams up with Miguel Nicolelis, Director of the Institute of Neurosciences in Natal to discuss the neurobiology of translating thought into mechanical action in Kinetic.

What if you could move technology simply by imagining it? If this sounds like a science fiction movie, rest assured, it is all too real. The exoskeletal kick off of the World Cup, performed by Juliano Pinto who lost motor control of his lower body in a car accident, left many of us wondering, how did he do it?

Movement does not stem from one part of the brain, but neurons from many parts of the brain work in tandem to complete actions.

“Think of the brain as a big democracy,” says Miguel Nicolelis, who led a team of researchers to create the robotic exoskeleton used to prompt muscle movement. “Lots of cells ‘vote’ electrically to produce this behavior from different parts of the brain.”

The more neurons that join in, the better.

The sensors placed on Juliano Pinto record angle, position, pressure, and temperature, that is then fed back to the subject through vibrations placed on their torso. These vibrations create an illusion in the brain itself that the subject is responsible for limb movement. In a sense, the exoskeleton is incorporated as an extension of the person’s body.

Watch the film below.

Not working? Watch Kinetic on YouTube.

This article was created in partnership with Imagine Science Films. Watch all of the Field Work videos here.


from Popular Science [Read the full article here-> http://ift.tt/1qSTqdT]


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#Brain article of interest: The less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age, new study suggests


Researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore (Duke-NUS) have found evidence that the less older adults sleep, the faster their brains age. These findings, relevant in the context of Singapore's rapidly ageing society, pave the way for future work on sleep loss and its contribution to cognitive decline, including dementia.

Past research has examined the impact of sleep duration on cognitive functions in older adults. Though faster brain ventricle enlargement is a marker for cognitive decline and the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, the effects of sleep on this marker have never been measured.

The Duke-NUS study examined the data of 66 older Chinese adults, from the Singapore-Longitudinal Aging Brain Study(1). Participants underwent structural MRI brain scans measuring brain volume and neuropsychological assessments testing cognitive function every two years. Additionally, their sleep duration was recorded through a questionnaire. Those who slept fewer hours showed evidence of faster ventricle enlargement and decline in cognitive performance.

"Our findings relate short sleep to a marker of brain aging," said Dr June Lo, the lead author and a Duke-NUS Research Fellow. "Work done elsewhere suggests that seven hours a day(2) for adults seems to be the sweet spot for optimal performance on computer based cognitive tests. In coming years we hope to determine what's good for cardio-metabolic and long term brain health too," added Professor Michael Chee, senior author and Director of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke-NUS.


1) The Singapore-Longitudinal Aging Brain Study (started in 2005) follows a cohort of healthy adults of Chinese ethnicity aged 55 years and above. This study is one of the few in Asia that tracks the brain structures and cognitive functions of older adults so closely.

2) Data collected by Lumosity, an online brain-training program, suggests that self-reported sleep duration of seven hours is associated with the best cognitive test scores in over 150,000 adults. As of now it is unknown if this amount of sleep is optimum for cardio metabolic and long-term brain health.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


from Neuroscience News -- ScienceDaily [Read the full article here-> http://ift.tt/1sUNoLy]


Monday, June 30, 2014

#Brain article of interest: Seize Control of Your Dreams


Considering how much of our lives we spend sleeping – years and years, if you added up all our time in slumber – it’s remarkable how much mystery still surrounds this most fundamental of behaviours. Mystery of course is the perfect breeding ground for myths.

We need eight hours

Even this most trusted tenet of folk wisdom has been challenged recently. Hundreds of historical records show that until the late 17th century, the norm used to be for two separate sessions of sleep interspersed with a period of one to two hours nocturnal activity. Some experts believe this is our more “natural” inclination, and the frustrations of insomniacs who wake in the middle of the night could be related to these old instincts for having two periods of sleep.

The sleeping brain is at rest

Since scientists started studying sleep seriously in the 1950s, we’ve learned a lot about the relevant basic physiology. We know that the brain is remarkably busy whilst we sleep, contrary to the folk idea that it’s a chance for our minds to switch off. Sleep is associated with four distinct phases, which are repeated in 90 minute cycles. Each cycle consists of three phases of non-rapid-eye-movement sleep, also known as “slow wave sleep” or “orthodox sleep” (which takes up about 80 per cent of a typical night), and there’s a phase of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is particularly associated with dreaming and lively neural activity.

Teenagers are just lazy

Most teenagers stay up late and then lie in through the morning, dead to the world. It’s tempting to think they’re just being lazy but in fact the evidence is mounting that the teenage body clock really is set differently from an adult’s. A survey published in 2004 of over 25,000 Swiss and German people compared the time of day they slept to when they didn’t have any social obligations. This time became progressively later through adolescence, peaking abruptly at the age of 20.

Another study published in 2010 found that adolescents, more than adults, suffered daytime sleepiness when they were forced to adhere to a strict 8-hour-a-night sleep schedule for several days. There’s also evidence from Mary Carskadon’s sleep and chronobiology lab at E.P. Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island that melatonin (a hormone involved in regulation of the sleep cycle) continues to be secreted at a higher level later into the day among older teens.

Dreams are filled with symbolism

Sigmund Freud famously believed that dreams were the “royal road to the unconscious”. He argued that nightmares and dreams are filled with symbolism, which if decoded, could reveal our deepest desires and fears. It’s a popular idea, with many people struggling to believe that the intricate events of their dreams could be entirely meaningless.

The simple truth is there’s little evidence that dreams have any useful meaning. At least one influential neurobiological theory contends that dreams originate from sporadic neural activity in the brain stem and the random activation of memories. By this account, dreams are the consequence of our higher brain areas attempting to translate this haphazard activity into some kind of coherent subjective experience.

A pertinent recent survey of 15 paraplegics found that they often walked in their dreams, but they walked less often than able-bodied comparison participants did in their dreams, and the researchers, led by Marie-Thérèse Saurat, concluded that these results were incompatible with Freudian theory. The paraplegics were quite open about their strong desires to walk again and if dreams act as an outlet for wish-fulfilment, you’d expect paraplegics’ dreams to be far more dominated by walking than they were.

We can take control of our dreams

In Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is one of several people with the expertise and technical equipment to get inside other people’s dreams and interfere with the way events unfold. This technology remains a fantasy, but the film was apparently inspired by the real phenomenon of lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming is the often enjoyable state of being partly awake whilst dreaming and having the ability to control the dream. The state occurs most often towards the end of a period of sleep, just when you’re in that twilight zone between dreamland and waking up.

If you’ve never had a lucid dream, there are tips out there for how to make the experience more likely. In the e-book Control Your Dreams by University of Sheffield psychologist Tom Stafford and lucid dreamer Cathryn Bardsley, it’s recommended that you practice noticing whether you’re awake or asleep. By day this sounds daft, but if you get into the habit when you’re awake then it’s more likely that you’ll be able to make the distinction when you’re sleeping.

Flicking a light switch is a good test of whether you’re really awake, the authors say, since in your dreams the light levels won’t change. By contrast, pinching yourself is actually a bad test, because it’s all too easy to actually dream the act of pinching oneself. If you do become aware of being in a dream, then try to stay calm because if you get too excited you’ll probably wake yourself up. Finally, set yourself goals to aim for the next time you do manage to achieve lucidity in a dream. “Flying. Always good,” Stafford and Bardsley write. “Sex. Popular. And consequence free.”


from Brain Myths [Read the full article here-> http://ift.tt/1nZTqUa]


# Brain article of interest: Psychosis – The Brain’s Inner Conflict

Sensation is a function of the five senses: taste, smell, touch, vision and sound. Sensory organs convert stimulation into experiences that can be described as meaningful by means of neural receptors that send sensory information to the brain. Thus, the brain interprets sensory information as experience as meaningful. The human brain experiences the absorption of […]

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J from Brain Blogger http://ift.tt/1jCTAhR


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wonderful time at the #Neuromarketing World Forum in New York! #sciart


Michelle Hunter by her work
"The Brain and Smoking - Part 1"
at the Neuromarketing World Forum
Conference in New York City
A couple of months ago I was contacted by the lovely Carla Nagel who is the Executive Director or the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA). They were having a conference in New York and she came across my work online as asked if I would be interested in attending and showing my work. Of course I said Yes!

Below are some images from the conference which took place in March. A couple of works of mine from the Brain Series were included on stage with the presenters and other paintings and prints were laid out in the sponsor area.

It was so cool to talk brains with neuroscientists and marketers interest in the brain! Thank you Carla for the opportunity, Elyte for helping me get set up and the rest of the NMSBA staff in attendance. It was a great experience!

Location: Hudson Theater on W 44th street A New York City Landmark

Artwork has been set up on stage

Carl Marci, Chief Science Officer, Innerscope Research introducing the opening panel

Ale Smidts Professor of Marketing Research, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University talking about "How well do neural focus groups predict choice?"

Michelle Hunter's brain art table at the Neuromarketing World Forum Conference in New York

Caroline Winnett, BrandNeuro during her presentation on "The Future of Neuro"

Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California delivering the keynote address on "Emotions, Feelings and Decisions"

Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California during his presentation

Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California during his presentation

Michelle Hunter with Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California in front of Michelle's painting "Caffeine Headache"

I welcome opportunities so share the Brain Series with an audience. Know of any opportunities I should consider? Shoot me a note via any of the methods below!

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art

Monday, March 10, 2014

New #Painting! The #brain and negative vs positive thoughts #sciart

When someone says to you "Don't look over there." What's the first thing you do? You look over there (or at least have a strong desire to)! Of course, because for our minds, it's easier to process something positive rather than negative.

Let's test this...You do NOT want to read the rest of this post....

There are several interesting things that happen to the brain when we're faced or are thinking about negative versus positive thoughts. We'll get to that in a bit within this post and you are welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.

Cognitive Dissonance
20" x 20"
Acrylic on Canvas
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

About the Painting
There are a few things happening within this painting.

The brain is divided into two lengthwise. On the right side of the brain are words we can associate as positive like “Can,” “Yes,” “Welcome” and “Good” (these words could just have easily been on the left side also). As these words approach the brain, they are being absorbed. That can be seen around the words “Can” and “Welcome.”

On the other side of the brain we have negative words like “Can’t,” Shouldn’t” and “Bad.” Those words are crashing into a brick wall as the brain does not want to accept these terms.

When I first started the painting, I just intended to have the letters work into each other, like “Good” is connected to the word “Should” through the common letter “o.” Then I started thinking about that a little more. Usually when we’re children, it seems like we're always told not to do something. While that was probably in our own best interest so we don’t break something or don’t get hurt, there is probably a more constructive way to get the message across. As noted at the beginning of the post, what are you most likely to do when you are told not to do something – you want to do it! Why is that you shouldn’t? With that in mind, I formed the letters as building blocks that children usually play with. Perhaps instead of saying “Don’t do ____[Fill in the blank]_____]” a request can be framed as “How about you do this instead, and this is why.…” or “This is really dangerous because….”

About the Brain and Negative/Positive Thoughts
There are several interesting things that happen to the brain when we're faced or are thinking about negative versus positive thoughts. We'll get to that in a bit within this post and you are welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.

One aspect of negative thoughts is how they limit you. Not just in thinking "I can't do __[fill in the blank]____" but also with we feel that we have to make an impulse decision based on fear. Imagine you are faced with something scary, like we are witnessing an incident happening or feel like an incident is about to happen. What do you do in that moment?

Such a setting can trigger our flight or fight response. Forget all the possibilities of getting out of the situation if we were in a clear mindset, we just want to get the hell away. Our options, as a result, become limited; any other options for escaping a situation don't matter. That's one of the reasons a brick wall is running along the side of the brain being hit with negative words. We're in a fight to protect ourselves so nothing from the outside (no other opinions or considerations) is going to make it into my thoughts.

DETAIL - Cognitive Dissonance
20" x 20"
Acrylic on Canvas
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

Another aspect is that it’s easier for the brain to process positive thoughts versus negative. For some people, their minds actually ignore the negative leaving them with just positive or neutral thoughts. 

The information we are exposed to goes through a process involving our frontal lobe in a effort to decide if this information will influence a decision we have to make. Information that in line with how a person already feels could be weighted more than information that is contradictory. Our brain can certainly be bias whether we are aware of that or not. Think about it.....

Now I'm sure you don't want to share this post with one other person right?

Happy thinking!

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

100 yrs of smoking studies @PopSci | #Brain & #Smoking paintings | @JAMA_current

The Brain and Smoking: Part 1 - 
It Begins: The Brain and Secondhand Smoke - 

There was an article published recently on the Popular Science blog marking 100 years of studies done/reported on regarding the health implications of smoking.[1]

While it has been proven that smoking can be a cause of lung cancer, what is it that makes it hard to quit and how does smoking impact those around you, neurologically?

Well those are the questions that prompted two paintings in my ongoing Brain Series, an image which is included at the beginning of this blog post. Check out the links to those respective blog posts to see how smoking impacts the brain of the first and secondhand smoker.


Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art

[1] "100 Years of Smoking in Popular Sciance" Diep, Francis, http://www.popsci.com/article/science/100-years-smoking-studies-popular-science, January 10, 2014