Monday, May 30, 2011

Relax, your body is perfect, it is your brain, a visual glitch, just a technical malfunction. OUR BRAIN ROCKS.

Distorted Self-Image In Body Image Disorder Due To Visual Brain Glitch, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Dec. 12) — Although they look normal, people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) perceive themselves as ugly and disfigured. New imaging research reveals that the brains of people with BDD look normal, but function abnormally when processing visual details. The UCLA findings are the first to demonstrate a biological reason for patients' distorted body image.

"Our discovery suggests that the BDD brain's hardware is fine, but there's a glitch in the operating software that prevents patients from seeing themselves as others do," explained Dr. Jamie Feusner, principal investigator and assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute. "Now that we've identified a possible physical cause, down the road we may be able to pinpoint ways that patients' brains can be retrained to perceive faces more accurately."
Individuals with BDD fixate on an imagined flaw in appearance or a slight physical abnormality. To fix their "problem," they tend to pursue plastic surgery -- sometimes repeatedly. They often feel ashamed, depressed and anxious, increasing their risk of suicide.
Affecting an estimated two percent of the population, BDD tends to run in families and is especially common in persons with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Thirty percent of people with BDD suffer from eating disorders, which are also linked to a distorted self-image.
Feusner's team compared the BDD patients' responses to 12 control subjects matched by age, gender, education and handedness. What the scientists observed surprised them.
"We saw a clear difference in how the right and left sides of the brain worked in people with BDD versus those without the disorder," noted Feusner.
BDD patients more often used their brain's left side -- the analytic side attuned to complex detail -- even when processing the less intricate, low-frequency images. In contrast, the left sides of the control subjects' brains activated only to interpret the more detailed high-frequency information. Their brains processed the untouched and low-frequency images on the right side, which is geared toward seeing things in their entirety.
"We don't know why BDD patients analyze all faces as if they are high frequency," said Feusner. "The findings suggest that BDD brains are programmed to extract details -- or fill them in where they don't exist. It's possible they are thinking of their own face even when they are looking at others."
Feusner also recently discovered that the more severe the BDD patient's symptoms, the more strongly the brain's left side activates during visual processing. He is currently studying how BDD patients process their own faces in order to explore how emotional arousal may influence visual processing.
"All of these findings indicate that BDD has a biological link and can no longer be attributed solely to our society's focus on appearance," he concluded.
This research was reported in the December edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study was supported by the Saban Family Foundation, the Neysa Jane BDD Fund and National Institute of Mental Health. Feusner's coauthors included Dr. Susan Bookheimer, Dr. Alexander Bystritsky and Jennifer Townsend, all of UCLA's Semel Institute.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Do you SEE what I SEE?

RSS icon HOUSTON -- (May 9, 2011) -- In the wild, mammals survive because they can see and evade predators lurking in the shadowy bushes.That ability translates to the human world.We get out of the house every morning because we find our car keys on that cluttered shelf next to the door.
This ability to recognize target objects surrounded by distracters is one of the remarkable functions of our nervous system.
"Visual search is an important task for the brain. Surprisingly, even in a complex task like detecting an object in a scene with distracters, we find that people's performance is near optimal. That means that the brain manages to do the best possible job given the available information," said Dr. Wei Ji Ma, assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine.

"We found that even in this complex task, people came close to being optimal in detecting the target," he said. "That means that humans can in a split second integrate information across space while taking into account the reliability of that information. That is important in our daily lives."

"The visual system is automatically and subconsciously doing complex tasks," said Ma. "People see objects and how they relate to one another. We don't just see with our eyes. We see with our brains. Our eyes are the camera, but the process of interpreting the image in our brains is seeing."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Somebody please tell these guys........? REALLY?

Mr. Schwartzenaegger and Mr. Straus-Kahn:
Have you not learned anything from Berlusconi, Clinton, The Bishop of Bruge, Kim Jong, John Edwards and hundreds of others who abused their power to feed their insatiable egos? How could you give yourselves the right to manage others lives while clearly incompetent to manage your most primitive, infantile aggressive urges. 

Mr. Schwartzenaegger please stop reapeating "this happened over a decade ago," as if that makes it less of a digusting betrayal of your wife and children's trust. 

Mr. Strauss-Kahn please remember you tore off shirts, forcefully unhooked bras,
ripped panty hoses, grabbed, gropped and forced yourself on three or more  women
before the Sofitel incident.  The conspiracy theory does not apply.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Still wonder why you should mindurbrain?

Over 1,000,000 million children have severe attachment disorders.

An estimated 2.7 million children and adolescents suffer from serious emotional or behavioral difficulties

Depression affects about 10 percent of Americans over the age of 18 each year.

Up to 40 Billion. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that about 2.3 million American adults have Bipolar Disorder

A staggering 5 to 15 percent of Americans—14.5 to 43.5 million children and adults—have dyslexia.

Migraine is a disabling condition that affects some 30 million Americans.

One in three people experiences insomnia at some point in their life.

About 400,000 Americans have multiple sclerosis. Every week, an estimated 200 more are diagnosed.

OCD affects 3.3 million American adults and is equally common in men and women

Conservatively, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from some persistent type of pain.

The cost of violence reached more than $158 billion in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Justice

Phobia, a disabling type of anxiety disorder, affects more than 14 million adults in the United States.

Approximately 36 percent of the nation’s fourth graders cannot read at a basic level.

More than 5 million injured American men, women, and children are living with a TBI-related disability today.

Tourette's (TS) symptoms usually first appear in children between the ages of 7 and 10 years.

Schizophrenia affects about 2 million Americans. Annual costs total about $32.5 billion.

Some 5.2 million Americans 18 to 54 have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) every year.

About 20 million Americans live with the disorder, which often causes severe and crippling pain.

An estimated 1 million people are living with Parkinson’s in the United States.

Between 750,000 to 1 million people in the United States are addicted to heroin.

5.3 Million, 570 Billion. Alzheimer's disease eventually causes substantial memory loss and then death, with no known cure.

What is Sleep? SCIENCE ROCKS

Human sleep is typically monitored by recording brain activity using a few electrodes placed on the scalp. A new study simultaneously recorded neuronal activity in a dozen different brain regions in neurosurgical patients, and found that regions of the human brain often go silent at different times through the night, reflecting a form of 'piecemeal sleep'.
HFSP Long-Term Fellow Yuval Nir and colleagues
We usually think of sleep as a global phenomenon. Since sleep is defined as a state of unresponsiveness, it seems natural to assume that our brain is either "awake" or "asleep" as a whole. But a new study finds that regions of the human brain typically go silent at different times, giving humans something in common with dolphins, which are known to sleep with one part of their brain while the other part controls swimming to the surface for air.
In a collaborative study carried out jointly by scientists at the University of Wisconsin and the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Yuval Nir and colleagues examined the sleep of a unique group of 13 epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted deep into their brains to monitor the sources of their seizures. Usually sleep is studied either in animal models or in sleep labs by recording human brain waves sensed through the surface of the skull via scalp encephalogram (EEG). This study provided a rare opportunity to simultaneously record neuronal activity from a dozen different brain regions in the human brain. Despite their epilepsy, it was found that the sleep in the patients resembled normal sleep in healthy individuals. In addition, bursts of activity associated with epilepsy were removed from the analysis to make sure that results could be generalized to the entire population.
Researchers found that both slow waves and oscillating spindles, which are electrical markers for sleep, were mostly restricted to local regions of the brain. Towards the end of sleep such "local" sleep waves became more and more frequent. Interestingly, even when sleep waves were observed across several brain regions, they did not take place at the exact same time, but tended to propagate along typical paths. Overall, the study shows that electrical activity in sleep is highly complex - both in space and in time, and only some of this action can be picked up by non-invasive measures such as EEG. The findings raise the intriguing possibility that when we are awake but sleep deprived, such local sleep waves may invade our brain activity so that some circuits go offline independently.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Impact of everyday Stress on Teen brain function !

Stressed Out: Teens and Adults Respond Differently

UCLA neuroscientist Adriana Galván studies the impact of normal, everyday stress and associated stress hormones on adolescents' brain function and decision making

"Data suggest that the greatest sources of stress for teens are parents, while for adults stress tends to come from work or schoolwork."
Stress can be compared with the pressure that a sculptor places on a piece of marble: the right pressure and it becomes a masterpiece, but too much pressure and the marble breaks into pieces.
The right amount of stress helps us to meet our goals and do good work. Too much stress can produce serious damage to the heart, the vascular system and the immune system, and it also causes changes in some areas of the brain.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Adriana Galván, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is studying the effect of stress on brain function in adolescents and adults.
"Studies on stress and cognition across development have mostly focused on chronic, severe and, often, traumatic stress, such as child abuse or neglect," Galván said.
"In our new research, we will determine what normative, daily stress, and associated stress hormones, do to decision making during adolescence."

When we are exposed to stress, the brain interprets the event as a threatening situation. The hypothalamus secrets adrenocorticotrophic releasing hormone (ARH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). ACTH stimulates the adrenal gland, located on top of the kidneys, to produce adrenaline and cortisol, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. When the stressful situation is over, the hippocampus (in the brain) stops the production of these hormones so the body can return to its normal state.

Studies in animals show that chronic stress produces a decrease in the size of the neurons in some parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, which are involved in memory and attention.

Chronic stress also produces an increase in the size of the neurons in the amygdala, the part of the brain involved in aggression, fear and anxiety. These changes in the brain can influence one's ability to make decisions.

Other studies have shown that the decision-making process, in situations that involve choosing between a risky versus a safe response, produces high activation of the insula (in the brain) and that chronic stress can decrease the activity of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, weakening memory and attention.

The way an individual responds to stress can be very different based on previous experiences. Normally, a stressor factor, such as a project for school, turns on the stress circuit, and it is turned off again when the stressor factor disappears. This can change for different reasons such as repeated stressors, failure of an individual to adapt to the stressor factor or defects that prevent the circuit from turning off.

Galván monitors the level of stress in her study participants four times per day. When an individual records high or low levels of stress, he or she immediately comes to the lab for evaluation.
Data suggest that the greatest sources of stress for teens are parents, while for adults stress tends to come from work or schoolwork.

There are also differences based on the time of day. While adults are most stressed in the morning, teens are most stressed in the early evening. Data also suggest that teens show greater cognitive impairment when stressed than adults.

According to Galván, "We anticipate greater ventral striatal and ventral prefrontal cortex activation during risky choices in the adolescent group, compared to adults. In adults, we expect greater insular cortex activity during non-risky (safe) choices. These effects will be exacerbated during times of high stress. In addition, we expect that adolescents will show greater recruitment of the amgydala during high versus low stress conditions."

The researchers predict that these findings will have a broad social impact. They will provide information to a broad range of specialists, including those in public policy, psychiatry, psychology, human development and education.
The study also provides evidence about how an individual's own stress influences his/her cognition and brain function versus previous studies that had induced stress in a laboratory setting. And it will show if adolescents are more susceptible to environmental stressors, potentially leading to new interventions and preventions that aim to reduce stress in clinically disordered populations.
September 3, 2010

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pink Floyd on the brain...... SCIENCE ROCKS

NPR   Mind Reading: Technology Turns Thought Into Action

WHAT if I knew what you are thinking!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCIENCE ROCKS

Eavesdropping On Your Inner Monologue?
ECoG is also revealing things about how the brain creates speech.
Schalk and other researchers are using the technology to watch the brains of people as they speak out loud and also as they say the words silently to themselves.
"One of the surprising initial findings coming out of that research was that actual and imagined speech [are] very, very different," Schalk says.
When your brain wants you to say a word out loud, it produces two sets of signals. One has to do with moving the muscles controlling the mouth and vocal tract. The second set involves signals in the brain's auditory system.
But when a person simply thinks of a word instead of saying it, there are no muscle signals — just the activity in the parts of the brain involved in listening.
"That seems to suggest that what imagined speech actually really is, it's more like internally listening to your own voice," Schalk says.
So, he says, it should be possible to use ECoG to eavesdrop on that inner voice and decode what we're thinking.
Schalk says he hasn't quite done that yet. But he's close. In one experiment, he says, the ECoG system tried to recognize several dozen unspoken words in the minds of volunteers. It was right about half the time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rat whiskers will explain Touch!? SCIENCE ROCKS

Virtual whiskers have the touch

BW Quist and R Faruqi / Northwestern University
This is a view of the model whisker array built to explore how sensory and motor data are combined in the brain to create a perception.
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

Her lab is using rat whiskers to understand how the brain goes from the mechanics of touch to a perception. "In the same way that we use our hands to go out and actively explore different objects, rats use their whiskers," Hartmann said.
Whiskers are less complicated to study than the human hand, which has sensors all over. The response of the sensors depend on the viscoelasticity of the skin.
Rat whiskers, by contrast, have senors only at the base. In addition, "rats cannot grasp with their whiskers, they can only explore. Our hand movements are complicated because we can grasp and manipulate objects, as well as tactually explore," Hartmann noted.
Whisker model
She can colleagues studied the structure of the rat head and whisker array — 30 on each side of the face arranged in a regular pattern — to create their virtual model.
Rats use these whiskers to whisk objects 5 to 25 times per second. This is different than cats or dogs, which also have whiskers but aren't able to "move them back and forth that much," Hartmann noted.
The model allows the researchers to simulate the rat whisking against different objects and predict the full pattern of inputs into the whisker system as a rat encounters an object. These simulations can then be compared against real rat behavior.
"It allows us to start to simulate what's going to happen as the rat comes up to an object and explores it with its whiskers," she said.
Human touch
This information, in turn, should lead to insights to what's going on in the human brain as the hand fishes around a pocket or purse.
"There's just electricity in your brain and there's just mechanical signals on your hand. And somehow your brain is able to turn that contact pattern into electricity that generates a perception," Hartmann said. "That whole process is very mysterious. We need basic research to try and figure out how that happens."
In addition, the research is being used to create robots with whiskers, which can use the motion of the whiskers to generate three-dimensional spatial representations of the environment. The technology could be used, for example, on robots designed to explore dark places.
A paper describing the research was published Thursday online in Public Library of Science Computational Biology.

The best 55 million ever spent.... Allen Institute Rocks

3D Brain Explorer Maps Anatomy and Gene Expression

Scientists have unveiled a $55 million dollar project of the Allen Institute for Brain Science that is an interactive atlas of the human brain. It is called Brain Explorer, and it is the first of its kind because it not only maps the anatomy of the brain, but localized gene expression as well. Understanding the underlying biochemistry of brain regions is critical for the comprehension of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression. That is why 4000 scientists are already using Brain Explorer as a research tool.

The atlas combines brain image data collected through several imaging techniques into one 3D archive that maps anatomy and gene expression. Brain Explorer is offered as a free download through the Allen Institute for Brain Science website, and is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A world of possibilities.... Neuroscience Rocks

Mirror Neuron System in Autism: Broken or Just Slowly Developing?

ScienceDaily (May 3, 2011) — Developmental abnormalities in the mirror neuron system may contribute to social deficits in autism.

The mirror neuron system is a brain circuit that enables us to better understand and anticipate the actions of others. These circuits activate in similar ways when we perform actions or watch other people perform the same actions.
Now, a new study published in Biological Psychiatry reports that the mirror system in individuals with autism is not actually broken, but simply delayed.
Dr. Christian Keysers, lead author on the project, detailed their findings, "While most of us have their strongest mirror activity while they are young, autistic individuals seem to have a weak mirror system in their youth, but their mirror activity increases with age, is normal by about age 30 and unusually high thereafter."
This increase in function of mirror neuron systems may be related to increased capacity for social function or responsiveness to rehabilitative treatments among individuals with autism.
"The finding of late developing circuit functions could be very important. One wonders whether the recent breakthroughs in the genetics of autism could help to identify causes for the developmental delays. This type of bridge might help to identify novel treatment mechanisms for autism," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
One of the next steps in this line of research will be for researchers to examine how individuals with autism accomplish this improvement over time, and how therapeutic interventions targeting the same mechanism can help to support this important process.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

meditation=increased positivity....SCIENCE rocks

Written By: James Shreeve
Photo: Cary Wolinsky


For 2,500 years Buddhists have employed strict training techniques to guide their mental state away from destructive emotions and toward a more compassionate, happier frame of being. Spurred by the cascade of new evidence for the brain's plasticity, Western neuroscientists have taken a keen interest. Can meditation literally change the mind?

For the past several years Richard Davidson and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been studying brain activity in Tibetan monks, both in meditative and non-meditative states. Davidson's group had shown earlier that people who are inclined to fall prey to negative emotions displayed a pattern of persistent activity in regions of their right prefrontal cortex. In those with more positive temperaments the activity occurred in the left prefrontal cortex instead. When Davidson ran the experiment on a senior Tibetan lama skilled in meditation, the lama's baseline of activity proved to be much farther to the left of anyone previously tested. Judging from this one study, at least, he was quantifiably the happiest man in the world.

Davidson recently tested the prefrontal activity in some volunteers from a high-tech company in Wisconsin. One group of volunteers then received eight weeks of training in meditation, while a control group did not. All the participants also received flu shots.

By the end of the study, those who had meditated showed a pronounced shift in brain activity toward the left, "happier," frontal cortex. The meditators also showed a healthier immune response to the flu shot, suggesting that the training affected the body's health as well as the mind's.

"You don't have to become a Buddhist," says the Dalai Lama himself, who is closely folowing the work of Western cognitive scientists like Davidson. "Everybody has the potential to lead a peaceful, meaningful life."

Dr. Ramachandran ... Time's 100 most influential people... SCIENCE rocks,32068,912832862001_2066607,00.html