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December Digest

[ 0 ] December 16, 2009 | Noah Hutton

digest_graphicLinks to content from the December podcast:

Noninvasive Technique to Rewrite Fear Memories Developed. ScienceDaily (Dec. 10, 2009) — Researchers at New York University have developed a non-invasive technique to block the return of fear memories in humans. The technique, reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature, may change how we view the storage processes of memory and could lead to new ways to treat anxiety disorders.

To Make Memories, New Neurons Must Erase Older Ones. (Nov. 13, 2009) — Short-term memory may depend in a surprising way on the ability of newly formed neurons to erase older connections. That’s the conclusion of a report in the November 13th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, that provides some of the first evidence in mice and rats that new neurons sprouted in the hippocampus cause the decay of short-term fear memories in that brain region, without an overall memory loss.

Amyloid Beta Protein Gets Bum Rap. (Nov. 10, 2009) — While too much amyloid beta protein in the brain is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, not enough of the protein in healthy brains can cause learning problems and forgetfulness, Saint Louis University scientists have found.

Other Links:

Henry Markram Discusses The Blue Brain Project at TED. The director of The Blue Brain Project based in Lausanne, Switzerland, discusses the goals and current status of the project, which is the first comprehensive attempt to reverse-engineer the mammalian brain, in order to understand brain function and dysfunction through detailed simulations. See also a recent controversy involving Markram and another scientist, Dharmendra Modha, about the validity of rival simulation projects.

Neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene Presents his Global Neuronal Workspace Theory of Consciousness. The French scientist has unveiled his answer to neuroscience’s holy grail question, based on twelve years of brain imaging research.

Researchers Discover Mechanism Used in the Brain to Filter Out Distracting Stimuli. In “Frequency of gamma oscillations routes flow of information in the hippocampus”, published in the November 19th issue of Nature, researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory describe a mechanism that the brain uses to filter out distracting thoughts.

BBC Forum Focuses on the Human Brain and Body. The weekly program turns to the brain in this edition, dealing with perception, memory, and meditation.

Scientists Debate Religion and the Brain. A spirited online discussion between Andrew Newberg, the radiologist and psychiatrist who wrote How God Changes Your Brain, and Dimitrios Kapogiannis and Jordan Grafman, scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

Found an interesting link? Send it to [email protected].

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