January 19, 2015 |
The darkened room at Drexel University contains a 120-inch projection screen, a bunch of high-end 3-D glasses, and a custom-built computer with enough memory to make your laptop seem like a toaster oven. State-of-the-art equipment, in other words, for racing through a fantasy world to gun down virtual foes. Andrew R. Cohen and Eric Wait use it for something they find much more interesting: traveling through the brain of a mouse. The Drexel engineers and their colleagues have applied video-game technology to let biologists analyze and watch movies of the formation of brain cells - though the phrase "watch movies" hardly does it justice.
January 3, 2015 |
Everybody knows it's really hard for smokers to quit. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania think a quick brain scan could someday make quitting easier - or at least more effective. In a recent study, they found that certain changes in the brain, visible using technology that measures brain activity, predicted better than anything else now available which smokers would quickly relapse - that's most of them - and which might be able to quit without much more than a pep talk.
December 7, 2014 |
For decades, researchers have been seeking a blood test that could diagnose a concussion and tell whether it is severe enough to cause lasting brain damage. In a big step toward that holy grail, University of Pennsylvania scientists have found that a blood protein called SNTF surged and stayed elevated in professional hockey players with persistent concussion symptoms, but not in players who recovered within a few days. "These results show that SNTF has promise as a blood biomarker for sports-related concussion," said Robert Siman, a research professor of neurosurgery at Penn and lead author of the study in last month's Journal of Neurotrauma.
December 1, 2014 |
Tim Lynch has a theory about why he beat the brutal brain cancer glioblastoma. Even with intensive treatment, the average survival is about 15 months. As the tumor grows, it destroys the very abilities that define people as human - thinking, feeling, communicating. Brittany Maynard, who at age 29 became the face of the right-to-die movement, was so determined to cut short the inevitable horror that she ended her life with a lethal prescription this month in Oregon, 10 months after her glioblastoma diagnosis.
November 16, 2014 |
Chances are good you won't finish this article - at least not before you check your e-mail, send a text, or follow a tweet. As technological distractions beep and ping their way into our consciousness, plenty of evidence shows that multitasking can pump up anxiety levels, increase errors, reduce attention spans, and affect working memory. According to a study by Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, the typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, and it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after a distraction.
November 2, 2014 |
One woman has devoted her career to understanding the brain of an animal that measures just 1 millimeter in length. Another explores the brains of creatures with billions of neurons, whose ability with languages sets them apart from all other living things. The two will have the chance for a pretty interesting conversation in April. Cornelia Bargmann, who studies the brain of a type of roundworm, and Elissa Newport, a prominent expert on how humans learn language, are among nine new winners of awards from the Franklin Institute, given each year to recognize achievement in the sciences and engineering.
October 24, 2014 |
Is she dead or isn't she? Jahi McMath, 13, was declared brain-dead in December after her heart temporarily stopped during a tonsillectomy in Oakland, Calif. The tragedy drew national attention when the girl's mother, Nailah Winkfield, persuaded a judge in January to allow her to remove the body from the hospital, still on life support. The mother brought the girl to New Jersey, where the law allows a family to refuse to remove life support from brain-dead patients for religious reasons.
August 28, 2014
I ALWAYS suspected that regular physical fitness plays a role in the health of the brain. And now, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience strongly suggests that kids who are more active and physically fit do better in school. According to the study, "Aerobic fitness plays an important role in the brain health of children, especially in terms of brain structure and brain function. . . . These fitness-related differences in brain health are often coupled with performance differences, such that higher-fit children have been shown to outperform their lower-fit peers on tasks of cognitive control and memory as well as scholastic achievement tests in classroom.
August 4, 2014 |
By feline standards, Zeb was a social cat. He spent much of his time in the kitchen, where he could mingle with his owners and the other family pets. But two years ago, his behavior started to change. His owners, Ricki and Ed Johnson of Schwenksville, would often find him hiding in a box. He became lethargic and seemed to have difficulty eating. The 9-year-old domestic shorthair started defecating in an indoor potted plant and urinating in a closet - not unusual for some cats, perhaps, but Zeb had always been fastidious.
July 25, 2014 |
IN "CADDYSHACK," Carl Spackler famously reports that the Dalai Lama has promised him "total consciousness. " In Luc Besson's "Lucy," we finally get a look at it, and it comes, agreeably, in the form of Scarlett Johansson. She plays a random bystander who gets Shanghai'd (or in this case, Tapei'd) by Asian mobsters into being a mule for a new mind-expanding party drug. The drug leaks into her bloodstream, she gets a hyperdose, and soon her mind is expanding its capacity exponentially, leading her to consult a theorist (Morgan Freeman)