The human brain works incredibly fast. However, visual impressions are so complex that their processing takes several hundred milliseconds before they enter our consciousness. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt am Main have now shown that this delay may vary in length.
After a good night’s sleep, people remember information better when they know it will be useful in the future, according to a new study in the Feb. 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that the brain evaluates memories during sleep and preferentially retains the ones that are most relevant.
A mother’s voice will preferentially activate the parts of the brain responsible for language learning, say researchers from the University of Montreal and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre. The research team made the discovery after performing electrical recordings on the infants within the 24 hours following their birth. The brain signals also revealed that while the infants did react to other women’s voices, these sounds only activated the voice recognition parts of the brains.
Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we are listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that instead of one homogeneous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear.
A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts and College of Science and Engineering have found that an early part of the brain’s visual system rewires itself when people are trained to perceive patterns, and have shown for the first time that this neural learning appears to be independent of higher order conscious visual processing. The study by lead author Stephen Engel, a psychology professor in the College of Liberal Arts, is published in the Nov. 10 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
A highly publicized Grady Nelson Death Penalty Trial Sets national precedent with Florida Circuit Court Judge Hogan-Scola’s admission of QEEG [quantitative electroencephalography] brain mapping evidence. “This may be the first time in any United States criminal courtroom where QEEG analysis has been ruled admissible and respected for its ability to provide vital information on brain injury and impairment,” explains Terence Lenamon, death-qualified Miami criminal defense attorney and co-counsel with David S. Markus in Grady Nelson’s penalty phase trial.
It has been known for many years that drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause serious and irreversible damage to the fetus. However, new research exploring memory deficits in children diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may be able to aid in the creation of new therapies and treatments. The results will be published in the January 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.
Institutionalization of children has profound consequences for brain development and functioning. Researchers investigated the impact of foster care placement on the quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) activity of children who experienced severe psychosocial neglect in Romania, including a long-term (4.5 years) follow-up. The results were published in the journal, PLoS ONE. Check the end of this report to download this free, open access article.