Brain

Bugs life: The nerve cells that make locusts 'gang up'

Bugs life: The nerve cells that make locusts 'gang up'

A team of biologists has identified a set of nerve cells in desert locusts that bring about 'gang-like' gregarious behaviour when they are forced into a crowd.

Dr Swidbert Ott from the University of Leicester's Department of Biology, working with Dr Steve Rogers at the University of Sydney, Australia, has published a study that reveals how newly identified nerve cells in locusts produce the neurochemical serotonin to initiate changes in their behaviour and lifestyle.

Thumbs-up for mind-controlled robotic arm

Thumbs-up for mind-controlled robotic arm

A paralysed woman who controlled a robotic arm using just her thoughts has taken another step towards restoring her natural movements by controlling the arm with a range of complex hand movements.

Thanks to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Jan Scheuermann, who has longstanding quadriplegia and has been taking part in the study for over two years, has gone from giving "high fives" to the "thumbs-up" after increasing the manoeuvrability of the robotic arm from seven dimensions (7D) to 10 dimensions (10D).

'Microlesions' in epilepsy discovered by novel technique

'Microlesions' in epilepsy discovered by novel technique

Using an innovative technique combining genetic analysis and mathematical modeling with some basic sleuthing, researchers have identified previously undescribed microlesions in brain tissue from epileptic patients. The millimeter-sized abnormalities may explain why areas of the brain that appear normal can produce severe seizures in many children and adults with epilepsy.

The findings, by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Wayne State University and Montana State University, are reported in the journal Brain.

Pitt team publishes new findings from mind-controlled robot arm project

Pitt team publishes new findings from mind-controlled robot arm project

In another demonstration that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes.

Why some antidepressants may initially worsen symptoms

New research helps explain a paradoxical effect of certain antidepressants--that they may actually worsen symptoms before helping patients feel better. The findings, highlighted in a paper publishing online December 17 in the Cell Press journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, may help investigators fix the problem as well as create new classes of drugs to treat depression.

Certainty in our choices often a matter of time, researchers find

When faced with making choices, but lack sufficient evidence to guarantee success, our brain uses elapsed time as a proxy for task difficulty to calculate how confident we should be, a team of neuroscientists has found. Their findings, which appear in the journal Neuron, help untangle the different factors that contribute to the decision-making process.

Study finds that employees who are open about religion are happier

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- It may be beneficial for employers to not only encourage office Christmas parties but also celebrate holidays and festivals from a variety of religions, according to a Kansas State University researcher.

Sooyeol Kim, doctoral student in psychological sciences, was involved in a collaborative study that found that employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not.

Personality outsmarts intelligence at school

Recent research at Griffith University has found that personality is more important than intelligence when it comes to success in education.

Dr Arthur Poropat from Griffith's School of Applied Psychology has conducted the largest ever reviews of personality and academic performance. He based these reviews on the fundamental personality factors (Conscientiousness, Openness, Agreeableness, Emotional Stability, and Extraversion) and found Conscientiousness and Openness have the biggest influence on academic success.

Alcohol blackouts: Not a joke

How music class can spark language development

EVANSTON, Ill. - Music training has well-known benefits for the developing brain, especially for at-risk children. But youngsters who sit passively in a music class may be missing out, according to new Northwestern University research.

In a study designed to test whether the level of engagement matters, researchers found that children who regularly attended music classes and actively participated showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers after two years.