Summary of “A New Connection between the Gut and the 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.
Five years ago, 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.
Now, new research 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 “Relax, Turn Off Your Phone, and Go to Sleep”

In my adult years, I often explained away my sleeping habits by swearing that 4-5 hours of sleep a night was all I needed.
In our new, yet-to-be-published study of more than 700 college students, we found that while poor executive functioning did predict sleep problems, the stronger effect was actually due to anxiety.
The latter two results – more daily smartphone use and more nighttime awakenings – led directly to sleep problems.
That’s why The National Sleep Foundation recommends turning off all devices an hour prior to bedtime.
To compound these effects, anxious people have more cortisol in their system, which further stymies sleep.
Finally, anxious people are more likely to sleep with their phone close by and check it when they awaken at night, which then further disrupts sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation has shown that we are in the midst of a 50-year decline in sleep duration, and one study found that 90% of Americans use their gadgets within the last hour before bedtime at least a few nights a week.
Sleep deprivation is leading to less efficient learning, higher emotionality, increased anxiety, and a less efficient brain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Neurons That Tell Time”

In a video call, May-Britt Moser explained how the L.E.C. network might do the same for the arrangement of events in time.
“Time cells” identified by researchers at Boston University, in 2011, seem to mark the ticks of a neural “Clock” as seconds elapse; in October, biologists at Northwestern University announced that they had found a set of neurons in the medial entorhinal cortex that “Turn on like a clock when an animal is waiting.” Tsao’s analysis, too, uncovered a few L.E.C. neurons that display timer-like firing patterns.
Speaking with Buzsáki, I found myself wondering what my brain was actually sensing when I seem to feel time flowing, second by second, minute by minute.
“Of course time is change,” Edvard Moser agreed.
The Trondheim group believes that the L.E.C.’s temporal signal is distributed across thousands of neurons, which express time on scales ranging from tens of seconds to more than an hour.
These sorts of investigations could help establish whether other areas of the brain actually rely on the “Timestamps” generated by the L.E.C. In many ways new findings in the neuroscience of time only underscore how little we know about time more broadly.
Do systems in the brain keep “Clock” time, “Interval” time, or some other kind of time? How does their activity contribute to our subjective “Sense of time,” if at all? How does that sense of time relate to the “Absolute time” of the material universe? To sort out what’s known about some of these questions, Buzsáki and May-Britt Moser are organizing a small conference in Costa Rica, where neuroscientists, physicists, philosophers, and linguists will discuss time and the brain.
For now, one lesson we can draw from investigations of neurobiological time applies to science more generally: progress, as it arrives, can yield mystery, too.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Be Creative When You’re Feeling Stressed”

People are still expecting you to produce creative solutions despite your current mental state.
To start, you need to let go of trying to “Make yourself” come up with something creative.
This causes you to operate out of the primal, least creative part of your brain.
In particular, I find that I am most creative when I not only am giving myself space from my computer but also positioning myself in a “Happy place.” In the warmer months, that’s somewhere outside preferably along a lake.
Beautiful, peaceful surroundings lift my spirits and creative mental capacity.
Some of my coaching clients have found their happy, creative spaces in historic libraries, art museums, or even browsing through boutique shops.
Alternating between solo thinking and time in groups proves the most effective way to develop the most creative thoughts.
When your brain operates at full capacity, you may have the ability to come up with creative thoughts on the fly.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Inside the mind of a bee is a hive of sensory activity”

In this ‘dance language’, a successful scout bee returning from a good flower patch performs a repetitive sequence of movements in the dark hive on the vertical comb.
The direction of this run relative to gravity encodes the direction relative to the Sun – for example, if the run in the hive is straight up, this tells other bees to fly in the direction of the Sun.
In the cold months, bees are usually in a quiescent state; comb construction stops, and the insects will reduce their activity to ensure that their food storage can last until spring.
The bees used social learning to solve the task by watching skilled demonstrator bees: they observed that they could move one of three possible balls into the central reward area to obtain the reward.
So a bee could store these complex visual patterns just by memorising the signals from these neurons – without actually storing full images in its memory.
While a bee brain has only about 1 million nerve cells, compared with around 85 billion in a human brain, some individual neurons have a complexity of branching that rivals a fully grown oak tree.
The neuroscientist Bruno van Swinderen at the University of Queensland tested this by placing bees in a virtual reality environment that they could manipulate, and then measured their brain activity.
His team found neural activity patterns that corresponded to paying attention to one or another object, and also found certain brain states that preceded the bees’ selection of one or another stimulus.

The orginal article.

Summary of “10 Proven Ways to Learn Faster”

Learning new things is a huge part of life – we should always be striving to learn and grow.
So how can you make the most of your time by speeding up the learning process? Thanks to neuroscience, we now have a better understanding of how we learn and the most effective ways our brains process and hold on to information.
If you want to get a jump start on expanding your knowledge, here are 10 proven ways you can start learning faster today.
The better your notes are, the faster you’ll learn.
Before you learn a new topic, make sure you learn different strategies for note taking, such as the Cornell Method, which helps you organize class notes into easily digestible summaries.
When you use multiple ways to learn something, you’ll use more regions of the brain to store information about that subject.
The more resources you use, the faster you’ll learn.
The more you can relate new concepts to ideas that you already understand, the faster the you’ll learn the new information.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Meet Walter Pitts, the Homeless Genius Who Revolutionized Artificial Intelligence”

McCulloch was a confident, gray-eyed, wild-bearded, chain-smoking philosopher-poet who lived on whiskey and ice cream and never went to bed before 4 a.m. In 1923, the year that Walter Pitts was born, a 25-year-old Warren McCulloch was also digesting the Principia.
Late at night, when McCulloch’s wife Rook and the three children went to bed, McCulloch and Pitts alone would pour the whiskey, hunker down, and attempt to build a computational brain from the neuron up.
Pitts had found in McCulloch everything he had needed-acceptance, friendship, his intellectual other half, the father he never had. Although he had only lived in Hinsdale for a short time, the runaway would refer to McCulloch’s house as home for the rest of his life.
Against all odds, Walter Pitts had skyrocketed into scientific stardom.
In a letter to McCulloch, Pitts wrote “About once a week now I become violently homesick to talk all evening and all night to you.” Despite his success, Pitts had become homesick-and home meant McCulloch.
In 1952, Jerry Wiesner, associate director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, invited McCulloch to head a new project on brain science at MIT. McCulloch jumped at the opportunity-because it meant he would be working with Pitts again.
With McCulloch, Pitts had laid the foundations for cybernetics and artificial intelligence.
On May 14, 1969 Walter Pitts died alone in a boarding house in Cambridge, of bleeding esophageal varices, a condition associated with cirrhosis of the liver.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Control a Machine with Your Brain”

The experience taught him how to engineer his own tools, how to experiment with animals, and how to think through scientific problems, but it was a diversion from his interest in the workings of the arm.
The sound of many neurons firing resembles static on a radio; one neuroscientist has called it a “Cerebral symphony.” The team told Scheuermann that they were going to feed the recordings from her brain into a speaker.
Scheuermann drove her wheelchair up to Hector and waited while the researchers connected her brain to a computer.
Because the Utah arrays were inclined to shift in the gelatinous matter of the cortex as Scheuermann’s brain moved naturally within her skull, they took readings from an ever-changing population of neurons.
Although the mirroring effect allowed the researchers to estimate how her neurons were tuned, “It was such a crappy estimate that the arm would inevitably make a lot of mistakes.” To help Scheuermann through the beginning of the process, the team had developed two software tools: a directional filter that prevented her from causing the arm to veer off course, and an “Auto-controller” that could help guide the arm toward a target.
A delicate balance was necessary: too little computer assistance and Scheuermann risked losing her motivation; too much and she wouldn’t learn how to control Hector on her own.
In his view, Scheuermann had demonstrated far more sophisticated brain control with the robotic arm; by comparison, flying the airplane, using only two degrees of freedom, was scientifically empty, epitomizing the theatrical showiness that he had long avoided.
“I was just basking in the company of my family and my beautiful day. I remember thinking how beautiful life was, and how blessed I was. Then, in the twenty-minute drive home, it happened. I went from that blissful happiness to being a sobbing, blubbering mess. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the loss of Lewis and Clark and what their absence meant. It meant I would never control Hector again. It was all over. I might visit the lab, but I would never again be hooked up, would never again make Hector move. The full measure of that loss hit me, and I cried.” Scheuermann yearned to see the arm one last time, to speak to it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “5 Principles for Making Better Life Decisions”

Because not only will the hall itself be a bad decision, but anyone who ever attempts to visit it will clearly be making a bad decision as well.
Inside the hall, we will have exhibits for all of the worst decisions ever made.
They’ll offer some principles on how to make better life decisions.
All tough decisions are essentially about weighing values.
Train yourself to adopt the correct habits and make better decisions.
I personally know a lot of people-myself included-who ultimately made big life decisions largely based on the path of least regret.
These decisions are almost always described as the best decisions they’ve ever made.
What is your motivation behind the decision and is that a value you want to cultivate in yourself? All the decisions we make, big or small, are motivated in some way or another by our intentions.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Your Brain Decides Without You”

When shown the illusion on Easter Sunday, more children see the rabbit, where on other Sundays they are more likely to see the duck.1 The image itself allows both interpretations, and switching from seeing one to the other takes some effort.
At some point, can be made to see duck-rabbit, there is one thing that no one can see: You cannot, no matter how hard you try, see both duck and rabbit at once.
As if thinking about the banana as yellow was the same as actually seeing yellow-a kind of re-perception, as is known to happen in memory recall.
We form our beliefs based on what comes to us from the world through the window of perception, but then those beliefs act like a lens, focusing on what they want to see.
Before seeing the video, the subjects were asked to express how much identification they felt with police officers as a group.
Numerous studies have suggested a biased neural signature in subjects when they see images of people from their own racial in-group.
We live in a world where “In some sense, almost everything we see can be construed in multiple ways,” says Bavel.
To avoid consuming the nasty beans, subjects would have to see whichever image put them over the top.

The orginal article.