Before the age of GPS, humans had to orient themselves without on-screen arrows pointing down an exact street, but rather, by memorizing landmarks and using learned relationships among time, speed and distance. They had to know, for instance, that 10 minutes of brisk walking might equate to half a mile traveled. A new Johns Hopkins study found that rats' ability to recalibrate these learned relationships is ever-evolving, moment-by-moment. The findings, to be published Feb. 11 in Nature, provide insight on how the brain creates a map inside one's head. "The hippocampus and neighboring regions in the brain help us figure out where we are in the world," says Manu Madhav, a postdoctoral associate in the Johns Hopkins Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute and one of the study's primary authors. "By studying the firing patterns of neurons in these areas, we can better understand how we map our location." The brain receives two types of cues that aid in this mapping; the first is external … [Read more...] about Rats in Augmented Reality Help Show How the Brain Determines Location
Psychonauts brain locations
Like seismic sensors planted in quiet ground, hundreds of tiny electrodes rested in the outer layer of the 44-year-old woman’s brain. These sensors, each slightly larger than a sesame seed, had been implanted under her skull to listen for the first rumblings of epileptic seizures.The electrodes gave researchers unprecedented access to the patient’s brain. With the woman’s permission, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco began using those electrodes to do more than listen; they kicked off tiny electrical earthquakes at different spots in her brain.Most of the electrical pulses went completely unnoticed by the patient. But researchers finally got the effect they were hunting for by targeting the brain area just behind her eyes. Asked how she felt, the woman answered: “Calmer in my nerves.”Zapping the same spot in other participants’ brains evoked similar responses: “I feel positive, relaxed,” said a 53-year-old woman. A … [Read more...] about Brain-zapping implants that fight depression are inching closer to reality
The Game Awards may celebrate the incredible accomplishments of the industry every year, but its show in 2015 captured the attention of fans for a different reason, and it started with an unexpected trailer. Because of the enthusiasm of Psychonauts' fans, Double Fine Productions announced a sequel to the cult classic platformer. There was a slight catch though: the studio needed a little help from fans to make Psychonauts 2 a reality. The story so far Following Razputin "Raz" Aquato, Psychonauts was set in a fictional government training facility under the guise of being the Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp. Raz gets caught up with the Psychonauts, a group of characters that are gifted with psychic abilities like telekinesis among several others. What unfolds is a tale that would make most go, "how do they even come up with this stuff?" Like a few classic cartoons, Psychonauts definitely has the vibe of being created under a drug-induced trip. After learning of a plot to harvest … [Read more...] about Psychonauts 2: Everything you need to know
In studies with monkeys, Johns Hopkins researchers report that they have uncovered significant new details about how the cerebellum -- the "learning machine" of the mammalian brain -- makes predictions and learns from its mistakes, helping us execute complex motor actions such as accurately shooting a basketball into a net or focusing your eyes on an object across the room. In a summary of the study published on April 16 in Nature Neuroscience, the investigators provide a better understanding of why degenerative diseases that affect the cerebellum cause people to lose control of their movements. Their results demonstrate that the cerebellum is organized in a very different way than current designs of artificial neural networks, which are currently used in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Learning in the cerebellum -- a part of the vertebrate brain located at the back of the skull that directs and regulates movements -- is guided through a process of trial and error. For … [Read more...] about Decoding the Brain’s Learning Machine
By George Musser, SpectrumMar. 9, 2018 , 9:00 AM Originally published on Spectrum Satsuki Ayaya remembers finding it hard to play with other children when she was young, as if a screen separated her from them. Sometimes she felt numb, sometimes too sensitive; sometimes sounds were muted, sometimes too sharp. As a teenager, desperate to understand herself, she began keeping a journal. “I started to write my ideas in my notebooks, like: What’s happened to me? Or: What’s wrong with me? Or: Who am I?” she says, “I wrote, wrote, wrote. I filled maybe 40 notebooks.” Today, at 43, Ayaya has a better sense of who she is: She was diagnosed with autism when she was in her early 30s. As a Ph.D. student in the history and philosophy of science at the University of Tokyo, she is using the narratives from her teen years and after to generate hypotheses and suggest experiments about autism — a form of self-analysis called Tojisha-Kenkyu, introduced nearly 20 … [Read more...] about Does autism arise because the brain is continually surprised?