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Wednesday, August 12, 2020
How coronavirus stress may scramble our brains

How coronavirus stress may scramble our brains

I’m on deadline, but instead of focusing, my mind buzzes with unrelated tidbits. My first-grader’s tablet needs an update before her online school session tomorrow. Heartbreaking deaths from COVID-19 in New York City make me tear up again. Was that a kid’s scream from upstairs? Do I need to run up there, or will my…
Have a Good Trip is a gateway drug to de-stigmatizing psychedelics

Have a Good Trip is a gateway drug to de-stigmatizing psychedelics

Sting, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, and the late Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain are among the celebrities interviewed for the new Netflix documentary Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics. Carrie Fisher had a psychedelic-induced encounter with a talking acorn.  Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann recalls the time he dropped too much acid and his…
Blind people can ‘see’ letters traced directly onto their brains

Blind people can ‘see’ letters traced directly onto their brains

Scientists have developed a new way to create “sights” for blind people. It’s like skywriting, but instead of blue sky, the letters are written on the brain itself. The new approach, described May 14 in Cell, bypasses the eyes and delivers a sequence of electrical signals to the brain, creating the perception of a glowing…
A game based on Simon shows how people mentally rehearse new information

A game based on Simon shows how people mentally rehearse new...

A brain at rest isn’t always resting. Sometimes it’s rehearsing information it just learned. For the first time, scientists have watched this mental replay in two human volunteers. These neural ruminations, described May 5 in Cell Reports, might play a role in making a new, fragile memory more durable, scientists suspect. Most examples of mental…
BCI system gives paralyzed man back his sense of touch with haptic feedback

BCI system gives paralyzed man back his sense of touch with...

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Enlarge / Ian Burkhard suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2010. Battelle's NeuroLife project is restoring motor function to his right arm with a brain-computer-interface system.Battelle Ian Burkhart, now 28, had a diving accident in 2010 that severely damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, with only limited movement…
‘The Idea of the Brain’ explores the evolution of neuroscience

‘The Idea of the Brain’ explores the evolution of neuroscience

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The Idea of the BrainMatthew CobbBasic Books, $32 Neuroscientists love a good metaphor. Through the years, plumbing, telegraph wires and computers have all been enlisted to help explain how the brain operates, neurobiologist and historian Matthew Cobb writes in The Idea of the Brain. And like any metaphor, those approximations all fall short. Cobb leads…
Study with jazz improv musicians sheds light on creativity and the brain

Study with jazz improv musicians sheds light on creativity and the...

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Enlarge / Popular myth associates creativity with the right side of the brain, but expert jazz musicians, like Pat Metheny, may actually rely more on the left side of the brain when improvising.Roberto Panucci/Corbis/Getty Images There's a popular myth that divides people into "left brain" and "right brain" categories, whereby the former are analytical and…
Mice’s facial expressions can reveal a wide range of emotions

Mice’s facial expressions can reveal a wide range of emotions

Although it’s tricky for us humans to see, mouse feelings are written all over their furry little faces. With machine learning tools, researchers reliably spotted mice’s expressions of joy, fear, pain and other basic emotions. The results, published in the April 3 Science, provide a field guide for scientists seeking to understand how emotions such…
Neural implants plus AI turns sentence-length thoughts to text

Neural implants plus AI turns sentence-length thoughts to text

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Enlarge / Several generations of neural implants from Neuralink. For people with limited use of their limbs, speech recognition can be critical for their ability to operate a computer. But for many, the same problems that limit limb motion affect the muscles that allow speech. That had made any form of communication a challenge, as…
Brain waves common during sleep also show up in awake sheep

Brain waves common during sleep also show up in awake sheep

Here’s something neat about sleeping sheep: Their brains have fast zags of neural activity, similar to those found in sleeping people. Here’s something even neater: These bursts zip inside awake sheep’s brains, too. These spindles haven’t been spotted in healthy, awake people’s brains. But the sheep findings, published March 2 in eNeuro, raise that possibility.…

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