A new brain connectivity study from Penn Medicine published today in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences found striking differences in the neural wiring of men and women that’s lending credence to some commonly-held beliefs about their behavior.
In one of the largest studies looking at the “connectomes” of the sexes, Ragini Verma, PhD, an associate professor in the department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues found greater neural connectivity from front to back and within one hemisphere in males, suggesting their brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action. In contrast, in females, the wiring goes between the left and right hemispheres, suggesting that they facilitate communication between the analytical and intuition.
For instance, on average, men are more likely better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women have superior memory and social cognition skills, making them more equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group. They have a mentalistic approach, so to speak.
Showing 66 posts tagged neurosci
New research suggests that the complexity involved in practicing and performing music may help students’ cognitive development. Studies released last month at the Society for Neuroscience meeting here find that music training may increase the neural connections in regions of the brain associated with creativity, decisionmaking, and complex memory, and they may improve a student’s ability to process conflicting information from many senses at once. Research also found that starting music education early can be even more helpful.
image via flickr:CC | Brother O’Mara
A new study finds that musical training at a young age may strengthen the brain, especially regions that influence language skills and executive function, needed for activities such as planning, organization, and managing time and space.
The volume of brain regions related to hearing and self-awareness appeared to be larger in those who began taking music lessons before age 7, according to Yunxin Wang of the State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning at Beijing Normal University.
“Early musical training does more good for kids than just making it easier for them to enjoy music — it changes their brain and these brain changes could lead to cognitive advances as well,” Wang said.
image via flickr:CC | Renee May
“It’s a question that’s perplexed philosophers for centuries and scientists for decades: Where does consciousness come from? We know it exists, at least in ourselves. But how it arises from chemistry and electricity in our brains is an unsolved mystery.
Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he might know the answer. According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.”
Falling asleep during a class may not necessarily be a bad deal, a student may argue, as new research details the method by which the brain uses sleep to learn.
Investigators believe that during sleep the brain uses neural oscillations — brain waves — of particular frequencies to consolidate learning in specific brain regions.
As reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, Brown University scientists discovered that two specific frequencies of brain waves — fast-sigma and delta — are directly associated with learning a finger-tapping task similar to typing or playing the piano.
photo via flickr:CC | marsmet543
Playing video games causes volume increases in regions of the brain responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning, as well as fine motor skills, according to a new study.
Researchers said they believe the positive effects of video gaming could also play a part in therapeutic interventions for psychiatric disorders.
image via flickr:CC | toughkidcst
As investigators learn more about the way we perceive emotions, it becomes clear that we often have a biased view of the way others feel.
That is, when we are sad, we perceive the world to be sad with us. But when we are happy, everything is rosy.
The projection of one’s emotions onto others is well known to scientists. In fact, experts believe this trait is at the core of the ability to interpret and relate to others.
image via flickr:CC | KaitlynKalon
It used to be that neuroscientists thought smart people were all alike. But now they think that some very smart people retain the ability to learn rapidly, like a child, well into adolescence. That means they have a longer period of time to learn from their environment — and maybe learn Chinese.
Philosophers and scientists have long puzzled over where human imagination comes from. In other words, what makes humans able to create art, invent tools, think scientifically and perform other incredibly diverse behaviors?
The answer, Dartmouth researchers conclude in a new study, lies in a widespread neural network — the brain’s “mental workspace” — that consciously manipulates images, symbols, ideas and theories and gives humans the laser-like mental focus needed to solve complex problems and come up with new ideas.
By studying how memories are made, UC Irvine neurobiologists created new, specific memories by direct manipulation of the brain, which could prove key to understanding and potentially resolving learning and memory disorders.
Research led by senior author Norman M. Weinberger, a research professor of neurobiology & behavior at UC Irvine, and colleagues has shown that specific memories can be made by directly altering brain cells in the cerebral cortex, which produces the predicted specific memory. The researchers say this is the first evidence that memories can be created by direct cortical manipulation.
Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University. As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes.
Published in the journal Science, the study presents a unique perspective regarding the causes of persistent poverty. The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty. A person’s cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs. Thusly, a person is left with fewer “mental resources” to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.
image via flickr:CC | Strannik45
Smartphone GPS capabilities have created a world where it’s almost impossible to get lost. But GPS neuroscientists have shown that our brains can physically change from GPS use.
People who often follow navigation instructions have less gray matter in their hippocamus, the part of the brain that encodes spatial memories.
A new study helps explain what happens in your brain while you are asleep that helps improve motor learning.
Using three different kinds of brain scans, the researchers were able to precisely quantify changes in some brain waves and the exact location of that changed brain activity in people as they slept after learning a sequential finger-tapping task. The task was a sequence of key punches akin to typing or playing the piano.
image via flickr:CC | code_martial
Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy — the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us — friends, spouses, lovers — with our very selves.
"With familiarity, other people become part of ourselves," said James Coan, a psychology professor in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
image via flickr:CC | mayurht
Autistic kidsChildren with autism who best their peers at math have a unique pattern of brain organization, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital found that children with autism and average IQs consistently demonstrated superior math skills compared to non-autistic children in the same IQ range.
“There appears to be a unique pattern of brain organization that underlies superior problem-solving abilities in children with autism,” said Vinod Menon, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a member of the Child Health Research Institute at Packard Children’s.
image via flickr:CC | Arenamontanus