The Divided Brain – Reloaded

23 January 2013
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Renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist provides a succinct and fascinating account of the divided brain theory from a contemporary and social perspective, accompanied by the animated illustration of Andrew Park. Watch the film on the RSA website here:

The psychology of natural disasters

31 October 2012
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The recent storms to hit the US are a reminder to think about the psychological consequences of natural disasters and how they effect children and families.  Survivors tend to look for leadership and stability in the wake of this sort of shocking change to their environment. Children need to understand the event and be returned to a reassuring routine. Read more about disasters in the school context here Read more from the American Psychology Association

The brain’s face recognition centre identified?

27 October 2012
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Routine tests on an epilepsy patient led Dr. Josef Parvizi of Stanford School of Medicine to discover an area of the brain, which when stimulated caused his patient to lose the ability to see faces in the normal way. This exciting discovery could pave the way to treating people suffering from face blindness (Prosopagnosia). Read more here

The secret behind computer game addiction?

24 October 2012
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The success of the simple puzzle game Tetris may be down to the brain’s desire for tidiness. The Zeigarnik Effect, whereby unresolved problems stick in the mind, even if they are forgotten immediately afterwards, may hold the key to why so many millions of hours have been spent, across the globe on games like Tetris. The same phenomena can also be identified in the prolific expansion of online games such as the Sims: taking advantage of our natural desire to tidy up lose ends. Read more on the BBC here

Can young blood refresh the brain cells other elixirs cannot reach?

19 October 2012
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We have all heard the legends of vampers, living for centuries on the blood of young women. Now, researchers form Stamford University have shown that not only can brain cell growth in old adults be promoted by the infusion of blood from adolescents, but that these changes are directly linked to improved memory and further tests have demonstrated improvement of recall in subjects. At the moment the tests have been restricted to mice but the medical and social impact of these results should be interesting. Read more here 

The UK set to become global leader on dementia research

13 October 2012
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As part of the British Government’s “Challenge on Dementia” a showcase, event (UK Dementia Research: Addressing the Global Challenge) was held on the 10th October 2012 to bring together more than 150 potential international partners in order to promote the UK’s unique research university facilities, combined with NHS patient data. “The UK wants to be a world-leader in dementia research, but only by international collaboration can we tackle the global challenge of this condition.” Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister Read more here

Three genes determine your child’s academic achievement

11 October 2012
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Kevin Beaver of Florida State University has identified that three genes DAT1, DRD2 and DRD4 predict levels of academic achievement. So does this mean that we are soon to be condemned to a world in which our lives are determined at birth, populated by genetic elites and a DNA underclass? The vision of our future depicted in the 1997 film Gattaca (pictured) highlights the age old struggle between nature and nurture, predetermined potential and the benefits and disadvantages afforded to us by our environment. The 1994 book “The Bell Curve” argues for accepting the determinist view and...

A whole new way of thinking about memory consolidation theory

10 October 2012
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A recent study at the UCLA has demonstrated that there is persistent activity within the entorhinal cortex during sleep, and charted the sequence of neurone influence through differing areas of the brain.  “The big surprise here is that this kind of persistent activity is happening during sleep, pretty much all the time.” “This is a whole new way of thinking about memory consolidation theory. We found there is a new player involved in this process and it’s having an enormous impact” Mayank R. Mehta, UCLA (The whole article is available on Nature Neuroscience) Read...

Illuminating the mythology of the mind

08 October 2012
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Tonight is your chance to discover the truth behind the popular myths about our minds. Does listening to Mozart during infancy improve intelligence, do people behave differently during the full moon? Claudia Hammond presents Mind Myths on BBC Radio 4 at 21.00 GMT and explains all! Read more here.

Obesity leads to permanent physiological changes in the brain.

04 October 2012
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A recent study, run by the American University’s Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience, showed that subjects who became obese through high sugar and fatty diets, suffered permanent changes to their hippocampus, resulting in a heightened appetite and memory impairment. “What I think is happening is a vicious cycle of obesity and cognitive decline,” Read more here

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