Brain

Before dinosaurs could fly, some had flight-ready brains

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 31, 2013   View Article

Dinosaurs evolved the brain power necessary for flight well before they took to the air as birds, according to a new study. The finding suggests that Archaeopteryx, often considered a transitional species between dinosaurs and living birds, wasn’t all that special.

“The same neurological capacity that Archaeopteryx has is also in these other non-avian dinosaurs,” Amy Balanoff, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the study’s lead author, told NBC News.

Robotic ants provide path to real ant brains

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 28, 2013   View Article

Robots built to mimic ants suggest that real ants waste little, if any, mental energy deciding which way to go when they reach an uneven fork in the road, according to a new study. Instead, the ants just take the easiest route as dictated by geometry.

“The shape of their network relieves some of the cognitive load for the ants; they don’t need to think about it,” Simon Garnier, a biologist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, told NBC News. “The shape of their networks has constrained their movement in a way that is more efficient for them.”

The findings have implications for understanding ant biology as well as how humans design transportation networks for the flow of people, information and goods.

Mini microscopes see inside the brains of mice

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 20, 2013   View Article

Mini microscopes embedded into the brains of genetically engineered mice are providing researchers a window onto the inner workings of the mammalian mind.

The tool provides an unprecedentedly wide field of view on the mouse brain – in one mouse, for example, the team recorded the firing of more than 1,000 individual neurons – and it can record for weeks on end, allowing scientists to study how brain activity evolves over time.

Scientists control rat dreams with technique that could enhance memory

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 6, 2012   View Article

Scientists can sway the dreams of sleeping rats, a breakthrough that could lead to new behavioral and learning therapies in humans that enhance selected memories and block undesired ones, according to a new study.

Going into the study, scientists had already shown that rats dream about what they experience in the hours before drifting off to sleep.

Tap other people’s brains to make decisions

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 8, 2012   View Article

Researchers are working on a new software tool that will allow us to tap other people’s brains as we try to make sense of information online.

In the United States, we collectively spend 70 billion hours a year trying to mentally process the data we collect as we surf the Web and try to decide things such as what new gadget to buy or where to go on vacation.

3-D model of rat brain circuit created

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 8, 2011   View Article

After six years and several million dollars, scientists have created a 3-D model of a rat brain circuit.

The accomplishment is a first step toward creating a complete computer model of the brain that will allow a deeper understanding of how our noggins work — and what causes them to malfunction, according to the scientists behind the feat.

Breakthrough chip mimics human brain function

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 17, 2011   View Article

The day that computers outsmart their human overlords may yet lie in the distant future, but a new computer chip that mimics the basis of learning and memory in the brain is a critical step towards that moment.

“We are not talking about recreating a whole brain at this point. We have to start with one system,” Chi-Sang Poon, a research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, told me Wednesday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach