Neuroscience

Grow a new language in your head

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 23, 2011   View Article

For adults, learning a new language is often a long, frustrating process that inevitably ends up in failure. A memory expert and a neuroscientist hope to change that with a new online software package designed to make learning the vocabulary of a foreign language fast, fun and rewarding.

“Really good successful learning needs to be vivid, imaginative and creative. It needs to be active. And if you can make it a bit social, that’s great,” Greg Detre, a neuroscientist and co-founder of Memrise, the online destination to learn foreign words quickly, told me today.

Virtual whiskers have the touch

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

A virtual model of rat whiskers may help scientists unlock the mystery of how our brains turn the mechanics of touch into perceptions.

“Our sense of touch is very mysterious. You can reach into your pocket or your purse and without even looking, you can identify your keys, a coin, or a paperclip,” Mirta Hartmann, who studies sensory and neural systems engineering at Northwestern University, explained to me today.

The real science of dream research

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: July 16, 2010   View Article

Movie director Chris Nolan is famous for his unorthodox spin on thrillers ranging from “Memento” and “The Prestige” to “The Dark Knight.” Nolan’s latest movie, “Inception,” takes viewers on a sci-fi trip to a novel frontier: the visions of the sleeping mind.

The cerebral adventure introduces the concept of “extraction,” where corporate thieves enter people’s dreams and steal their ideas. Master extractor Dom Cobb – played by Leonardo DiCaprio, – is given the task of planting a dream instead.

Are our dreams really vulnerable to manipulation? Click ahead for a reality check on these ideas and more in the world of dream research

Human Brains “Evolve,” Become Less Monkey-Like With Age

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 12, 2010   View Article

Brain regions that grow the most outside the womb are the same areas that expanded the most during evolution from monkeys to humans, a new study says.

As the human brain matures, it expands in a “strikingly nonuniform” fashion, according to researchers who compared MRI scans of 12 infant brains with scans of 12 young adult brains.

Mouse Tears Are Aphrodisiacs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 1, 2010   View Article

A guy who can shed a tear really can drive females wild—among mice, at least.

According to a new study, male mouse tears contain a sex pheromone called ESP1, which makes female mice more receptive to mounting.

8 insights gleaned from brain science research

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: January 23, 2009   View Article

Does political bias distort rational thought? Can we teach ourselves compassion? Is technology overload rewiring our brains? These are some of the questions scientists are pursuing in the quest to understand how and why our noggins do what they do.

Brains of Bullies Light Up With Pleasure as People Squirm

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 7, 2008   View Article

The brains of bullies—kids who start fights, tell lies, and break stuff with glee—may be wired to feel pleasure when watching others suffer pain, according to a new brain scanning study.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach