Summary of “Chills and Thrills: Why Some People Love Music”

Importantly, these people are not “Amusic” – an affliction that often results from acquired or congenital damage to parts of the brain required to perceive or interpret music.
They simply don’t experience chills or similar responses to pleasurable music in the way that other people do.
It is possible that the pattern of brain regions specifically activated by music pleasure, including the connection from auditory regions which perceive music to the reward centres, are slightly different in these individuals than in other people.
While pleasure is a popular reason for music listening, we are also drawn to music for other reasons.
Insight into our uses of music is however being achieved via music psychology – a rapidly expanding field which draws on research across numerous domains including cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and affective computing.
In a study involving more than 1,000 people, Swedish music psychologist Alf Gabrielsson showed that only a little over half of strong experiences with music involve positive emotions.
It may be possible then for music anhedonics to still appreciate and enjoy music, even if their reward brain circuitry differs a little from those of us who can experience intense physical responses to music.
Of course, music anhedonics might still find music a useful way to express or regulate their own emotions, and to connect to others.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A New Connection Between the Gut and Brain”

Over the last decade, studies across human populations have reported the association between salt intake and stroke irrespective of high blood pressure and risk of heart disease, suggesting a missing link between salt intake and brain health.
Interestingly, there is a growing body of work showing that there is communication between the gut and brain, now commonly dubbed the gut-brain axis.
In 2013, a couple of studies showed that high salt intake leads to profound immune changes in the gut, resulting in increased vulnerability of the brain to autoimmunity-when the immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues by mistake, suggesting that perhaps the gut can communicate with the brain via immune signaling.
Research published in “Nature Neuroscience” shows another connection: immune signals sent from the gut can compromise the brain’s blood vessels, leading to deteriorated brain heath and cognitive impairment.
Surprisingly, the research unveils a previously undescribed gut-brain connection mediated by the immune system and indicates that excessive salt might negatively impact brain health in humans through impairing the brain’s blood vessels regardless of its effect on blood pressure.
The researchers used mice, and found that immune responses in the small intestines set off a cascade of chemical responses reaching the brain’s blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the cortex and hippocampus, two brain regions crucial for learning and memory.
The impairment in learning and memory was clear even in the absence of high blood pressure; they observed that the gut is reacting to the salt overload and directing immune signals that lay the basis for deterioration throughout the brain’s vital vascular complex and compromise cognitive function.
These results motivate research on how everyday stressors to our digestive systems and blood vessels might change the brain and how we see, and experience, the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A New Connection Between the Gut and Brain”

Over the last decade, studies across human populations have reported the association between salt intake and stroke irrespective of high blood pressure and risk of heart disease, suggesting a missing link between salt intake and brain health.
Interestingly, there is a growing body of work showing that there is communication between the gut and brain, now commonly dubbed the gut-brain axis.
In 2013, a couple of studies showed that high salt intake leads to profound immune changes in the gut, resulting in increased vulnerability of the brain to autoimmunity-when the immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues by mistake, suggesting that perhaps the gut can communicate with the brain via immune signaling.
Research published in “Nature Neuroscience” shows another connection: immune signals sent from the gut can compromise the brain’s blood vessels, leading to deteriorated brain heath and cognitive impairment.
Surprisingly, the research unveils a previously undescribed gut-brain connection mediated by the immune system and indicates that excessive salt might negatively impact brain health in humans through impairing the brain’s blood vessels regardless of its effect on blood pressure.
The researchers used mice, and found that immune responses in the small intestines set off a cascade of chemical responses reaching the brain’s blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the cortex and hippocampus, two brain regions crucial for learning and memory.
The impairment in learning and memory was clear even in the absence of high blood pressure; they observed that the gut is reacting to the salt overload and directing immune signals that lay the basis for deterioration throughout the brain’s vital vascular complex and compromise cognitive function.
These results motivate research on how everyday stressors to our digestive systems and blood vessels might change the brain and how we see, and experience, the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Pay Attention: Practice Can Make Your Brain Better at Focusing”

Practicing paying attention can boost performance on a new task, and change the way the brain processes information, a 2017 study says.
The question is: which part of this attention equation is more important for learning, and how is it affected by practice? To find out, researchers led by Sirawaj Itthipuripat at the University of California, San Diego, subjected 12 research participants to the least entertaining computer game in the world, while measuring their brain activity.
The researchers suspect that this more automatic phase is the result of the brain fine-tuning what exactly it needs to pay attention to, basically switching over to a process that’s more like muting the volume on the rest of the orchestra.
For some of the sessions, the students were told where the contrast-boosted circle might appear, and to pay attention to that spot.
Turns out, the students got much better at picking out the correct, contrast-boosted circle after two or three days of training when they knew which part of the screen to pay attention to.
Itthipuripat suspects that this initial spike in activity accounts for the early gains in performance, when the brain is learning what to pay attention to.
Then as the task becomes more natural, another mechanism takes over that refines the pattern of brain activity that drives the task, cutting down on the neural background noise.
“The brain is still figuring out ways to make itself better.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Unique Science of Left-Handedness”

Where Does Handedness Come From? It used to be thought that lefties came to be as a result of a mother being stressed during pregnancy, but a more scientifically valid explanation has traced handedness to specific genes.
What Do We Know About Lefty Genetics? It seems like that handedness gene, or at least others that are closely associated with it, are responsible for quite a lot.
What Does a Lefty’s Brain Look Like? Many of the notable differences between the brains of righties and lefties remain undiscovered, as lefties are often left out of neuroscientific research, because those exact differences can come across as noise in a given study’s data.
Notably, the brains of lefties tend to use broader swaths of the cortex for different tasks.
While righties use just one of their brain’s hemispheres to remember specific events or process language, these brain functions are spread out across both hemispheres in lefties.
Because lefties use more of their brain for these tasks, it’s like they have a built-in backup.
It’s Not Always About Biology Some of the differences between righties and lefties are more sociological than biological.
While the science trickles in, it’s important to remember that many of these neurological differences between righties and lefties are minimal, and for the most part you won’t see too much of a difference between people, unless you count some awkwardness when you go for a handshake, or maybe a bumped elbow or two at the dinner table.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Benefits of Playing Music Help Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity”

If these brain games don’t work, then what will keep your brain sharp? The answer? Learning to play a musical instrument.
Science has shown that musical training can change brain structure and function for the better.
Unlike brain games, playing an instrument is a rich and complex experience.
Brain scans have been able to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians.
Ultimately, longitudinal studies showed that children who do 14 months of musical training displayed more powerful structural and functional brain changes.
These studies prove that learning a musical instrument increases gray matter volume in various brain regions, It also strengthens the long-range connections between them.
“It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”
Studies have found that short bursts of musical training increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners”

The study of such behavior is being de-prioritized, or studied “Almost as an afterthought.” Instead, neuroscientists have been focusing on using their new tools to study individual neurons, or networks of neurons.
We still don’t understand how the brain works, he says, “Because we’re still ignorant about the middle ground between single neurons and behavior, which is the function of groups of neurons-of neural circuits.” And that’s because of “The methodological shackles that have prevented investigators from examining the activity of entire nervous system. This is probably futile, like watching TV by examining a single pixel at a time.” By developing better tools that can watch entire neural circuits in action, programs like the BRAIN Initiative are working against reductionism and will take us closer to capturing the emergent properties of the brain.
Here’s the problem: In the monkey experiments, scientists almost never check the animals’ behavior to confirm that they genuinely actually understand what they’re seeing in their peers.
It doesn’t tell a neuroscientist why or how the loss of dopamine leads to the behavior.
By studying how owls listen out for scurrying prey, neuroscientists discovered how their brains-and later, those of mammals-localize sound.
“I’ve seen in neuroscience that behavior is often an afterthought, studied with insufficient understanding of the animal’s strategy.” But she adds that such studies are hard.
Marina Picciotto from Yale University, who is editor in chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, says it boils down to how studies are framed.
“My fear is that people will say: Yes, of course, we should continue to do everything we’ve been doing, but also do better behavior studies. I’m trying to say: You’ve got to do the behavior first. You can’t fly the plane while building it.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Jocks and Mathletes Are Alike”

It’s not only athletes’ bodies that are different; their brains are just as finely tuned to the mental demands of a particular sport.
In neuroscience labs, volunteers also play games where they try to outsmart each other-but the stakes are small amounts of cash rather than World Series home runs.1 One study divided volunteers into groups of 10 and put them one at a time into an MRI machine, where they had to pick a number from zero to 100 that they thought would be closest to two-thirds of the group average.
Following moving targets involves many regions of the brain; one structure neuroscientists have focused on is the superior temporal sulcus, a ridge of brain tissue that that runs behind each ear.
How well a player recognizes these dots translates to how well he can see and anticipate the movements of an opponent or team member.
Hockey players are known for their brawn, but it’s their brains that have to track whom to pass to and whom to bypass.
In 2008 a group of neuroscientists investigated how the free-throw-prediction abilities of Italian Professional League players compared to those of sports journalists and coaches.
Since mirror neurons bridge observing and acting, neuroscientists have hypothesized they have a role in a basketball player’s ability to foresee the effects of another player’s actions.
A well-trained athlete’s brain is a quiet one, an efficient one.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You’re Actually Conscious Each Minute”

Both 2018 studies – one on humans by a team at the University of California Berkeley, and another on macaques done by scientists at Princeton University – sought to pin down how many times the human brain oscillates in and out of focus per minute.
Four times every second, explains Princeton Neuroscience Institute Ian Fiebelkorn, Ph.D., to Inverse, the brain stops focusing on the task at hand.
“We focus in bursts, and between those bursts we have these periods of distractibility, that’s when the brain seems to check in on the rest of the environment outside to see if there’s something important going on elsewhere. These rhythms are affecting our behavior all the time.”
The scene presents far more sensory information than one human brain is capable of sorting through, and so, the brain deals with all of the information in two ways.
The teams behind both studies analyzed data from both human and macaque brains during a series of tasks to understand how the brain stitches together a coherent narrative when it’s only got snapshots to work with.
About four times every second, the brain stops taking snapshots of individual points of focus – like your friend on the corner in Times Square – and collects background information about the environment.
Without you knowing it, the brain absorbs the sound of the crowd, the feeling of the freezing December air – which it later uses to stitch together a narrative of the complete Times Square Experience.
The brain’s natural tendency to “Zoom out” and become distracted by the environment, even for just a few milliseconds, could have allowed them the time to detect the presence of a threat and react accordingly.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite”

To teach emotional intelligence in a modern fashion, we need to acknowledge this variation and make sure your brain is well-equipped to make sense of it automatically.
Books and articles on emotional intelligence claim that your brain has an inner core that you inherited from reptiles, wrapped in a wild, emotional layer that you inherited from mammals, all enrobed in-and controlled by-a logical layer that is uniquely human.
A reasonable, science-backed way to define and practice emotional intelligence comes from a modern, neuroscientific view of brain function called construction: the observation that your brain creates all thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, automatically and on the fly, as needed.
Your brain spends most of its time issuing thousands of microscopic predictions of what your body needs and attempts to meet those needs before they arise.
Emotional intelligence requires a brain that can use prediction to manufacture a large, flexible array of different emotions.
How do you enable your brain to create a wider variety of emotions and improve your emotional intelligence? One approach is to learn new emotion words.
In short, every emotion word you learn is a new tool for future emotional intelligence.
Two decades ago, when Emotional Intelligence hit the bestseller list, scientists didn’t know about the predicting brain, or that the words you hear affect how your brain is wired, and emotional granularity was only newly discovered.

The orginal article.