Summary of “The Evolution of Pleasure and Pain”

The nervous systems are in constant interaction and cooperation with the rest of the organism.
The reason why nervous systems exist in the first place is to assist the rest of the organism.
Organisms with nervous systems can image these states.
It’s important to understand that nervous systems serve the organism and not the other way around.
Once organisms got to the point of being so complex that they had an endocrine system, immune system, circulation, and central metabolism, they needed a device to coordinate all that activity.
Now, in the process of doing that, over millions of years, we have developed nervous systems that do plenty of other things that do not necessarily result in coordination of the organism’s interior, but happen to be very good at coordinating the internal world in relation to the outside world.
You do not invent a moral system or a government system alone or for yourself alone.
When the natural systems do not succeed at improved regulation, guess what? They are weeded out by evolution because they promote illness.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal”

In new research, scientists report signature patterns of neural activity that mark out those who are most creative.
“We have identified a pattern of brain connectivity that varies across people, but is associated with the ability to come up with creative ideas,” said Roger Beaty, a psychologist at Harvard University.
Creative thinking is one of the primary drivers of cultural and technological change, but the brain activity that underpins original thought has been hard to pin down.
The scientists asked the volunteers to perform a creative thinking task as they lay inside a brain scanner.
Reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found distinct patterns of brain activity in the most and least creative people.
The scans suggest that more creative people can better engage both networks at once.
Now, Beaty wants to look at brain activity in different creative pursuits, such as the arts and sciences, and investigate whether training helps boost creative powers.
“A critical open question, for future research, is whether this ability to put the brain in creative mode transfers across tasks,” he said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How To Teach Your Brain Something It Won’t Forget A Week Later”

Well, because that’s not how your brain likes to absorb information.
As brain scientists have dug into how learning really works, they’ve discovered that massed practice only leads to remembering things over the short term.
It’s a fine strategy for when you’re learning something you don’t really care about.
With a little more planning and foresight, you can tap into that cognitive phenomenon to take better advantage of how your brain actually works.
“We measure experiment participants’ brain activity while they’re learning, trying to take in the information, and then ask them to rest,” Davachi says of her research.
“We see there is a footprint of what was happening during the learning; the brain continues to rehearse the prior information.” Davachi has found that participants whose brains show more replay during that rest period do better on recall tests later.
“Your brain is doing your work for you while you’re doing other tasks,” she adds.
The good news is that your brain is already built to acquire and store information that way, just as long you space out the learning process from the outset.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to see a memory”

Chen is among a growing number of researchers using brain imaging to identify the activity patterns involved in creating and recalling a specific memory.
Using techniques for labelling active neurons, for example, teams have located circuits associated with the memory of a painful stimulus in rodents and successfully reactivated those pathways to trigger the memory.
Such findings could one day help to reveal why memories fail in old age or disease, or how false memories creep into eyewitness testimony.
Only in the past decade have new techniques for labelling, activating and silencing specific neurons in animals allowed researchers to pinpoint which neurons make up a single memory.
As new techniques provide a glimpse of the engram, researchers can begin studying not only how individual memories form, but how memories interact with each other and change over time.
In a follow-up study, Preston has started to probe the mechanism behind memory linking, and has found that related memories can merge into a single representation, especially if the memories are acquired in close succession13.
The researchers showed that neurons encoding one memory remained more excitable for at least five hours after learning, creating a window in which a partially overlapping engram might form.
“We actually build concepts, and we link things together that have common threads between them.” The cost of this flexibility could be the formation of false or faulty memories: Silva’s mice became scared of a harmless cage because their memory of it was formed so close in time to a fearful memory of a different cage.

The orginal article.

Summary of “I Was A Skeptic Of Mindfulness Until I Tried To Make My Case”

I was especially distrustful because mindfulness and meditation have been having a moment – meditation apps occupy some of the top spots on the App Store’s rankings of most popular health and fitness apps; Anderson Cooper has profiled the merits of mindfulness on “60 Minutes”; mindfulness is being used in schools as a way to help manage classrooms.
As FiveThirtyEight’s science team assembled the junk science we wanted to shed in 2018, I started to wonder whether mindfulness really was bunk.
Apps like Headspace, which offers as little as three minutes a day of directed meditation, are a far cry from the eight-week, 20-plus-hour mindfulness training that is used in the best studies.
The 2014 meta-analysis was careful to note that “Any firm claims about whether meditation truly causes differences in brain structure are still premature.” Mindfulness research is also easily misrepresented.
So where does all this leave a skeptic like me? I’ve tried mindfulness, and I think it has plenty to teach me about how to fight life’s undertow and come up for air.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy has made my panic attacks almost nonexistent, and the science doesn’t suggest that mindfulness as a dedicated practice is necessarily better than talk therapy anyway.
Plus, it’s not clear that the brief, app-led mindfulness I’d do at home would replicate the longer, more integrated mindfulness that most studies have tested.
After looking at the research, I’ve come to realize that my dismissal of mindfulness was premature – and likely informed by my own biases against any number of things: science fads, non-Western medicine, things that could actually make me stop having panic attacks, etc.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Do We Need to Sleep?”

An hour north of Tokyo at the University of Tsukuba, with funding from the Japanese government and other sources, the institute’s director, Masashi Yanagisawa, has created a place to study the basic biology of sleep, rather than, as is more common, the causes and treatment of sleep problems in people.
Whatever sleep gives to the sleeper is worth tempting death over and over again, for a lifetime.
In particular, this need to make up lost sleep, which has been seen not just in jellyfish and humans but all across the animal kingdom, is one of the handholds researchers are using to try to get a grip on the bigger problem of sleep.
Why we feel the need for sleep is seen by many as key to understanding what it gives us.
Biologists call this need “Sleep pressure”: Stay up too late, build up sleep pressure.
Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi, sleep researchers at the University of Wisconsin, suggest that since making these connections, or synapses, is what our brains do when we are awake, maybe what they do during sleep is scale back the unimportant ones, removing the memories or images that don’t fit with the others, or don’t need to be used to make sense of the world.
Depriving mice specifically of REM sleep by shaking them awake repeatedly just as they’re about to enter it causes serious REM sleep pressure, which mice have to make up for in their next bout of slumber.
Whether the mice get away totally unscathed is another question-the team is testing how REM sleep affects their performance on cognitive tests-but this experiment suggests that where dreaming sleep is concerned, these cells, or some circuit they are part of, may keep the records of sleep pressure.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Neuroscientist Explores the “Sanskrit Effect””

In India’s ancient learning methods textual memorization is standard: traditional scholars, or pandits, master many different types of Sanskrit poetry and prose texts; and the tradition holds that exactly memorizing and reciting the ancient words and phrases, known as mantras, enhances both memory and thinking.
India’s Vedic Sanskrit pandits train for years to orally memorize and exactly recite 3,000-year old oral texts ranging from 40,000 to over 100,000 words.
We wanted to find out how such intense verbal memory training affects the physical structure of their brains.
Through the India-Trento Partnership for Advanced Research, we recruited professional Vedic pandits from several government-sponsored schools in the Delhi region; then we used structural magnetic resonance imaging at India’s National Brain Research Center to scan the brains of pandits and controls matched for age, gender, handedness, eye-dominance and multilingualism.
Numerous regions in the brains of the pandits were dramatically larger than those of controls, with over 10 percent more grey matter across both cerebral hemispheres, and substantial increases in cortical thickness.
Most interestingly for verbal memory was that the pandits’ right hippocampus-a region of the brain that plays a vital role in both short and long-term memory-had more gray matter than controls across nearly 75 percent of this subcortical structure.
The right is more specialized for patterns, whether sound, spatial or visual, so the large gray matter increases we found in the pandits’ right hippocampus made sense: accurate recitation requires highly precise sound pattern encoding and reproduction.
The training might need to be exact. One day I was filming four senior pandit teachers demonstrating the different recitation speeds. Partway into one session all four suddenly stopped.”What’s wrong?’ I asked.

The orginal article.

Summary of “20+ Science Facts We Didn’t Know at The Start of 2017”

A brand new human organ has been classified, and it’s been hiding in plain sight this whole time.
There’s an entirely new type of diabetes, and most people wouldn’t know they have it.
It’s official: time crystals are a new state of matter, and we now have an actual blueprint to create these “Impossible” objects at will.
Direct counterfactual quantum communication is possible! In 2017, scientists achieved quantum communication without particle transmission for the first time ever.
The world’s first semi-synthetic organisms are living among us – scientists have given rise to new lifeforms using an expanded, six-letter genetic code.
Polycystic ovary syndrome might actually start in the brain, not the ovaries.
Earth appears to have a whole new continent called Zealandia, which would wreak havoc on all those textbooks and atlases we’ve got lying around.
Humans have had a bigger impact on Earth’s geology than the infamous Great Oxidation Event 2.3 billion years ago, and now scientists are calling for a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – to be officially recognised.

The orginal article.

Summary of “20+ Science Facts We Didn’t Know at The Start of 2017”

A brand new human organ has been classified, and it’s been hiding in plain sight this whole time.
There’s an entirely new type of diabetes, and most people wouldn’t know they have it.
It’s official: time crystals are a new state of matter, and we now have an actual blueprint to create these “Impossible” objects at will.
Direct counterfactual quantum communication is possible! In 2017, scientists achieved quantum communication without particle transmission for the first time ever.
The world’s first semi-synthetic organisms are living among us – scientists have given rise to new lifeforms using an expanded, six-letter genetic code.
Polycystic ovary syndrome might actually start in the brain, not the ovaries.
Earth appears to have a whole new continent called Zealandia, which would wreak havoc on all those textbooks and atlases we’ve got lying around.
Humans have had a bigger impact on Earth’s geology than the infamous Great Oxidation Event 2.3 billion years ago, and now scientists are calling for a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – to be officially recognised.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Neuroscience of Intelligence: An Interview with Richard Haier”

Richard Haier is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California Irvine and is the author of the Neuroscience of Intelligence published by Cambridge University Press.
You’ve spent forty years studying intelligence and have compiled your knowledge into a new book accessible to the general reader called The Neuroscience of Intelligence, which looks fascinating from its prĂ©cis.
Firstly, can you tell us how you became interested in intelligence research, and how you came about studying intelligence through neuroimaging?
This is why neuroscience is starting to focus attention on intelligence.
Our first PET study and many subsequent studies suggest that high intelligence is associated with more efficient brains; there are also indications that more gray matter in certain brain areas and more connections among brain areas are associated with more intelligence.
Since the first neuroimaging studies of intelligence, researchers have been trying to predict intelligence test scores from images.
Can the same methods to study intelligence through neuroimaging also be used to study personality traits and creativity?
Neuroscience approaches have already made intelligence research more mainstream and ready for inclusion in policy discussions.

The orginal article.