Friday, October 24, 2014

#Brain article of interest: If you're over 60, drink up: Alcohol associated with better memory

From Neuroscience News -- ScienceDaily

Read the full article here->

Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy INTERNATIONAL #Coffee Day! #Caffeine #coffeeday

For those of you that are seeking your caffeine (or decaf) fix, you have plenty of company!

Caffeine Headache © 2010 Michelle Hunter 
According to Wikipedia, International Coffee Day is celebrated in Australia, Canada, Scotland, England, Ethiopia, Hungary, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United States. Other countries around the world may celebrate Coffee Day on a different date.

Note that it's a day to not only enjoy the beverage, but also to appreciate where it comes from. Think about the coffee growers and the benefit of using/purchasing fair trade coffee.

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art
 LinkedIn []

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NEW #Painting : The #Brain and Recoil Sounds

Hey you!

How do you react when you hear an unpleasant sound? For example:
  • Nails on a chalkboard
  • Child crying at a high pitch
  • Metal against glass
  • Brakes screeching
We usually recoil, maybe even cover our ears. The sounds are so sensitive to us that we physically try to protect ourselves. Well, allow me to introduce my latest brain painting "Cacophony. " The word cacophony means "a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds." Thanks to a good friend for the name suggestion!

The new painting has also been featured on the Scientific American blog!!

20" x 24"
Acrylic on Canvas 
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

** NOTE: No chalk was used in the making of this painting. It's all acrylic paint. Cool huh :)

There was an interesting study published in the Journal of Neuroscience conducted by Newcastle University scientists with funding from the Wellcome Trust. The study, "Features versus Feelings: Dissociable Representations of the Acoustic Features and Valence of Aversive Sounds," looked at the interaction between our amygdala (our emotion area of our brains) and our auditory cortex.

I came across this and other articles that referenced this study on recoil sounds published in The Journal of Neuroscience ( It inspired the painting.

Pink is the amygdala and it plays a large part in our processing of emotions
Blue is the auditory cortex
Yellow is the area of the auditory cortex that handles gauging frequencies. Apparently, sound vibrations of 2,000 to 5,000 Hz are considered to be unpleasant

The article came up with a top 10 list of unpleasant sounds from their research. I included a few of them in the painting, like:
1. Knife on a bottle
2. Chalk on a blackboard
3. Nails on a blackboard
4. Female scream
5. Brakes on a cycle squealing
6. Baby crying

Are there other sounds (PG) that make you cringe?

As always feedback is welcome!! I would love to know your thoughts and recommendations on other brain topics of interest!


2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

In the below photo, I took a picture of myself holding a pen (because I didn't have chalk) so I can use the photo as reference for painting my hand as you see it in the final painting.
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art

 LinkedIn []

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->]


#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->]