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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Neuroengineering meets neuroethics to address treatment-resistant depression

Dr. Maryam Shanechi. Cred­it: USC Viter­bi

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Is This the Future of Men­tal Health? (USC Viter­bi School of Engi­neer­ing):

Brain–machine inter­faces (BMIs) pro­vide a direct path­way to the brain to trans­late brain sig­nals into actions … Below, Shanechi (Note: Maryam Shanechi, PhD, assis­tant pro­fes­sor of elec­tri­cal and com­put­er engi­neer­ing) answers some ques­tions about her work and what the future might hold for our under­stand­ing and treat­ment of men­tal dis­or­ders.

What poten­tial does this hold for the future not just of men­tal health, but of under­stand­ing our brains as a whole?

Neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders are a major cause of dis­abil­i­ty world­wide with depres­sive dis­or­ders being the most dis­abling among them. About 30% of major depres­sion patients are treat­ment-resis­tant – that’s about 5 mil­lion peo­ple in the US alone. Read the rest of this entry »

A conversation with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg on Creativity, Neuroscience, and Technological Innovation

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Dear Elkhonon, a plea­sure to have you with us. Let’s get out the gate by dis­cussing how are new ideas born — for exam­ple, how exact­ly did you first think about writ­ing your new book, Cre­ativ­i­ty: The Human Brain in the Age of Inno­va­tion?

Orig­i­nal­ly, I set out to write a book about how the brain deals with nov­el­ty — a long-stand­ing focus of my own research. But the more I thought about it, the more the sub­ject of cre­ativ­i­ty was com­ing up, so I decid­ed to tack­le nov­el­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty at the same time.

Do we need yet anoth­er book on Cre­ativ­i­ty?

We absolute­ly do. Cre­ativ­i­ty is not just an indi­vid­ual feat; it is embed­ded into a cul­ture which either fos­ter, sti­fles, or shapes it in a vari­ety of ways. And it is nev­er a strict­ly soli­tary process, since even the most cre­ative mind draws on the pre­vi­ous­ly accu­mu­lat­ed knowl­edge. So, in order to tru­ly under­stand cre­ativ­i­ty, we must inte­grate neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic and cul­tur­al per­spec­tives into a coher­ent nar­ra­tive. To my knowl­edge, this has not been done before, and this is what my book aims to accom­plish.

I am par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by the dynam­ic rela­tion­ship between over- and under­ac­ti­va­tion of pre­frontal cor­tex areas in the cre­ative process and dis­cuss it exten­sive­ly in the book. This is one of the most intrigu­ing and pos­si­bly most con­se­quen­tial aspects of the brain machin­ery of cre­ativ­i­ty.

What have we learned about the brain mech­a­nisms of cre­ativ­i­ty over the last five to ten years?

We have learned a lot: that cre­ativ­i­ty is not a mono­lith­ic trait; that is con­sists of many mov­ing parts and may take many paths even with­in the same are­na of human endeav­or; that it is not linked to any sin­gle brain struc­ture or to a sin­gle gene or even a small group of genes.

How do you define Cre­ativ­i­ty, and what can Neu­ro­science con­tribute to its under­stand­ing?

Cre­ativ­i­ty is often defined as the abil­i­ty to come up with con­tent which is both nov­el and salient. Read the rest of this entry »

Belén Guerra-Carrillo to speak about Cognition, Learning and How to Conduct a 200,000-participant Study at the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit

Proud to con­firm a new excel­lent Speak­er @ 2017 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Decem­ber 5–7th).

Belén Guer­ra-Car­ril­lo is an NSF fel­low and a doc­tor­al stu­dent at UC Berke­ley in Prof. Sil­via Bunge’s Build­ing Blocks of Cog­ni­tion Lab. She is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in the neur­al and cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms that give rise to changes that occur as a result of learn­ing, and uses mul­ti­ple methodologies–eye-tracking, neu­roimag­ing, big data and more– to gain a rich­er pic­ture of how and when these changes take place, as well as the fac­tors that may influ­ence indi­vid­ual learn­ing tra­jec­to­ries, as evi­denced by the fas­ci­nat­ing recent study pub­lished just two weeks ago and out­lined below.

UC Berke­ley study links cog­ni­tive longevi­ty to high­er edu­ca­tion (The Dai­ly Cal­i­forn­ian):

A study led by cam­pus researchers found that high­er lev­els of edu­ca­tion are linked to lat­er ages of peak cog­ni­tive performance…The team was able to use anony­mous data gath­ered from almost 200,000 sub­scribers to Lumos­i­ty, an online cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, whose users con­sent­ed that their results could be used for sci­en­tif­ic research. Lumos­i­ty became involved in the study through its Human Cog­ni­tion Project, which aims to pro­vide researchers with cog­ni­tive data from Lumosity’s train­ing tools Read the rest of this entry »

The dual challenge ahead of Facebook’s Typing-by-Brain project: 1) develop the neurotechnology, 2) develop the science

Direc­tor of Typ­ing-by-Brain Project Dis­cuss­es How Face­book Will Get Inside Your Head (IEEE Spec­trum):

When Facebook’s Mark Chevil­let describes the company’s new “typ­ing by brain” ini­tia­tive, he has a way of keep­ing it from sound­ing total­ly crazy Read the rest of this entry »

To boost creativity, combine systematic daily effort with diverse emotional states

jazz_creativityMap­ping Cre­ativ­i­ty in the Brain (The Atlantic):

The writer Edith Whar­ton, a self-pro­fessed “slow work­er,” dis­missed the idea of easy cre­ative tri­umph. “Many peo­ple assume that the artist receives, at the out­set of his career, the mys­te­ri­ous sealed orders known as ‘Inspi­ra­tion,’ and has only to let that sov­er­eign impulse car­ry him where it will,” she wrote in her 1925 book The Writ­ing of Fic­tion. The artis­tic impulse, she con­tin­ued, was instead achieved through “sys­tem­at­ic dai­ly effort.”

But while she cham­pi­oned dili­gence, Whar­ton was also dri­ven by Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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