Social Brain developed in Children as young as three

A new study reports the brain network that controls theory of mind, the ability to interpret the thoughts of others, is already developed in children as young as three.

Humans use an ability known as theory of mind every time they make inferences about someone else’s mental state — what the other person believes, what they want, or why they are feeling happy, angry, or scared.

Behavioral studies have suggested that children begin succeeding at a key measure of this ability, known as the false-belief task, around age 4. However, a new study from MIT has found that the brain network that controls theory of mind has already formed in children as young as 3.


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The Learning Brain is less Flexible than previously believed

According to researchers, when learning a new task, the brain is less flexible than previously believed.

Nobody really knows how the activity in your brain reorganizes as you learn new tasks, but new research from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh reveals that the brain has various mechanisms and constraints by which it reorganizes its neural activity when learning over the course of a few hours. The new research finds that, when learning a new task, the brain is less flexible than previously thought.

The research, published today in Nature Neuroscience, examined the changes that take place in the brain when learning a new task. To truly see how neural activity changes during learning, we need to look bigger—at populations of neurons, rather than one neuron at a time, which has been the standard approach to date.


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Animals know when they are being treated unfairly

Humans beings appear to be hardwired to have a sense of fairness. This is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective, which you would have thought would mean we were predisposed to seek advantage for ourselves and our families wherever possible. But in fact a sense of fairness is important for humans to be able to help each other. Human cooperation is based on reciprocal altruism – we help people because they’ve either helped us in the past or they may help us in the future.

This form of cooperation is only possible when individuals are able to keep track of other individuals’ efforts and payoffs – and a sense of fairness helps with this. But what about non-human animals? Is sense of fairness unique in differentiating humans from other animals or has it evolved in other non-human animals too?


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Brain Activity at Rest Provides Clue to Intelligence

A new study reports our level of brain activity while at rest is linked to our ability to perform well in cognitive tests.

The ability of an adult to learn and to perform cognitive tests is directly linked to how active the brain is at rest, UNSW researchers have found. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Brain Imaging and Behaviour, found that how well an elderly adult performed on language recall, memory executive function tests was directly related to the activity of the brain while in a resting state, or not doing any specific tasks.


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Genes for Aging Brain Deterioration Discovered

Researchers have discovered 250 new genes involved in brain aging, including Dbx2 which may prematurely age stem cells.

A group of genes and genetic switches involved in age-related brain deterioration have been identified by scientists at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge and Sapienza University, Rome. The research, published online today in Aging Cell, found that changes to one of these genes, called Dbx2, could prematurely age brain stem cells, causing them to grow more slowly. The study was led jointly by Giuseppe Lupo and Emanuele Cacci in Italy and Peter Rugg-Gunn in the UK.


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Diabetes Is Five Diseases, Not Two

The new classification system could help improve personalized medicine approaches to the disease.

Diabetes is a group of five diseases with distinct genetic and physiological profiles, according to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology last week (March 1).

Traditionally, diabetes—a condition that affects more than 100 million Americans—has had just two classifications. However, clinicians were aware that type 1 and type 2 was “not a terribly accurate classification system” for the disease, Victoria Salem, a clinical scientist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the study, tells the BBC.


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Human Biosociology: From Cell to Culture

There is growing evidence that an amalgamation of systems theories and communication and information theories will become the leading conceptual model for addressing human behavior. In this book we have used a theoretical frame which focuses on the coding, storage, and movement of information within and among open systems. We believe this to be a productive working concept which allows the student of human behavior to avoid the mind/body dichotomy. This conceptual framework also allows the integration of the biologic and sociologic aspects of human behavior. Using this theoret ical model we may see science and art as a continuum of imaginative ways of organizing information. Hence, the primary aim of this text is to provide a conceptual frame for students of human behavior which utilizes systems theories and information and communi cation theories in an integrated approach which is both theoretical and practical. It is written for the student in the behavioral sciences who may be planning a career in medicine, social work, psychology, nursing, guidance and counseling, the ministry, or other health and service professions. In addition, students in biology, sociology, and philosophy may benefit from this conceptual ap proach. It is also written for the practitioner who is cur rently delivering counseling and other health services to a variety of clientele.


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Life in the Bioengineered Society of the Near Future

A panoramic overview of biotechnologies that can endlessly boost human capabilities and the drastic changes these “superhuman” traits could trigger

Biotechnology is moving fast. In the coming decades, advanced pharmaceuticals, bioelectronics, and genetic interventions will be used not only to heal the sick but to boost human physical and mental performance to unprecedented levels. People will have access to pills that make them stronger and faster, informatic devices will interface seamlessly with the human brain, and epigenetic modification may allow people to reshape their own physical and mental identities at will.

Until recently, such major technological watersheds–like the development of metal tools or the industrialization of manufacturing–came about incrementally over centuries or longer. People and social systems had time to adapt: they gradually developed new values, norms, and habits to accommodate the transformed material conditions. But contemporary society is dangerously unprepared for the dramatic changes it is about to experience down this road on which it is already advancing at an accelerating pace.


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Memory Loss Identified Years Before Alzheimer’s Symptoms Appear

UCL researchers have developed a new cognitive test able to detect subtle memory problems years before Alzheimer’s symptoms develop.

A UCL-led team has developed a cognitive test to detect subtle memory deficits years before Alzheimer’s disease symptoms develop, set out in a new paper published in The Lancet Neurology. The study involved 21 people who carry the mutation for early onset Alzheimer’s disease who have not shown any symptoms based on standard cognitive tests, alongside 14 controls. On average the study participants were seven years away from predicted onset of symptomatic disease.


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Bilingualism Could Offset Brain Changes in Alzheimer’s

A new study reports bilingual people have an advantage when it comes to brain plasticity. Researchers report being multilingual could help stave off cognitive decline associated with dementia.

After more than a decade of research, this much we know: it’s good for your brain to know another language. A new Concordia study goes further, however, focusing specifically on the effects of knowing a second language for patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI; a risk state for AD). “Most of the previous research on brain structure was conducted with healthy younger or older adults,” says Natalie Phillips, a professor in the Department of Psychology.


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