Semantics, categories and the brain.

How the brain stores and manipulates categories of objects is a quite interesting scientific question – but a difficult one. Every noun in a language represents some sort of category. Oak trees, for instance, is a category that regroups every individual oak tree. Continue reading

Posted in About Neuroscience, Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, In Society, Language, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Neuroeducation, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Technologies
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Representation of the different types of memory

A live google hangout to answer your questions about memory and the brain.

I got a message from science writer Bruce Lieberman announcing that he will be hosting a live webcast on Thursday April 11, 11:30AM with Bradford Dickerson, Associate Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School and Mayank Mehta, Professor of Neurophysics at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California. This looks like a good occasion for those of you who want to learn about how memory works and ask questions to renowned experts in the field! Continue reading

Posted in About Neuroscience, Across the Lifespan, Aging, Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, In Society, Learning and Memory, Neuroanatomy, Neuroeducation, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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“Brainy” Mice with Human Brain Cells: Chimeras of Mice and Men

Human brain cell transplantation makes mice smart.  The transplanted cells are not neurons and the cells communicate without using electricity. Continue reading

Posted in Animal Research, Brain Development, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Evolution, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Uncategorized
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Human brain anatomy

Can brain functions be computed?

People are getting excited this month on the more-than-century-old debate about whether or not the brain is computable – whether we could make a computer or machine that simulates it. The recent debates were partly caused by the book published by Ray Kurzweil, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. Oppositions to the claims and contents of the book have been published by major scientists. One text by Christof Koch in Science1 covers very well the naive and misinformed aspects of this book concerning its statements on biology and intelligence and I will not go further into pinpointing the issues. Christof Koch also provides an accurate view of how complex the question is and how far we are from understanding any brain – let alone the human brain – to program it into a computer. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Cell Communication, Evolution, In Society, Language, Learning and Memory, Movement, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Neuroethics, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Learning of structure in a sequence of events.

How our brain makes up stories.

Think about the last time you reported a sequence of events to someone. It probably was in the form of a story with some events, your reactions, and some outcomes. It remains to be determined how events within a story are represented by the brain. We know from empirical research that people are able to report things as a stream in time – event A led to event B, which led to event C. We tend to focus on rare events – the most surprising and informative ones. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Eurasian Jay from England

Jays adjust the food they share to partner’s preferences.

Cooperation between individuals is a rather common observation in the animal kingdom. Cooperation is likely favored by evolutionary pressures that provide an advantage to the cooperating partners. Love birds, for instance, regurgitate food to feed their partner. Bats have a similar behavior. One of the questions that psychologists and ethologists have been wondering about is whether the brain represents the preferences of others when performing these behaviors. The question has been framed as whether or not non-human animals have a theory of mind – whether they have neural circuits that represent the preferences, motivations, or goals of the other individual. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Awareness and Attention, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Evolution, Learning and Memory, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Counting and subitising

High school, numbers and the brain.

Of all things the human brain learns, few fascinate me more than numbers. It starts with kids counting, one by one, elements that they care about. How many gifts are there under the tree, how many oranges are there in the bag? 1, 2, 3, 4 … For a long time counting will be the process by which kids navigate through the endless series of numbers. Continue reading

Posted in Across the Lifespan, Authors, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Childhood, In Society, Learning and Memory, Neuroeducation, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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