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'Multi-dimensional universe' in brain networks: Using mathematics in a novel way in neuroscience, scientists demonstrate that the brain operates on many dimensions, not just the 3 dimensions that we are accustomed to -- ScienceDaily

Using algebraic topology in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain. The research, published today in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, shows that these structures arise when a group of neurons forms a clique: each neuron connects to every other neuron in the group in a very specific way that generates a precise geometric object. The more neurons there are in a clique, the higher the dimension of the geometric object. "We found a world that we had never imagined," says neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, "there are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions." Markram suggests this may explain why it has been so hard to understand the brain. "The mathematics usually applied to study networks cannot detect the high-dimensional structures and spaces that we now see clearly."

Musical mystery: Researchers examine science behind performer movements -- ScienceDaily

While some assumed the role as leaders, and others followers, researchers found the leaders were far more influential in the ensemble. They also found the degree of body sway communication among the musicians was connected to their perceptions of how well they performed together. "Although we are often not consciously aware of it, non-verbal communications between people is common in many situations and influences who we like and who we don't like," explains Dan Bosnyak, a researcher and technical director at McMaster's LIVELab, where the work was conducted. "The methodology developed in this study could be useful for understanding many different types of group behaviour, such as understanding communication problems in autistic children or determining the best crowd control procedures for an emergency evacuation," he says.

How circadian clocks communicate with each other -- ScienceDaily

The Würzburg researchers found their master and slave theory confirmed by the work of their Chilean colleagues. The researchers in Chile had conducted a number of experiments in which they had artificially slowed down the circadian clocks of Drosophila in various combinations and observed the impact on the hatching behaviour. The results: When both clocks run more slowly, the "hatching rhythm" increases from normally 24 hours to over 27. A similar effect is observed when the peripheral clock continues to run at regular speed and the central clock is slowed down. Vice versa, however -- i.e. normal working central clock and slowed down peripheral clock -- the hatching behaviour remains unchanged at a 24-hour interval. "This is the first comprehensive experimental description of a pathway that links circadian clocks and it shows that the coupled-oscillator model is actually true in certain cases," says Christian Wegener. But he admits that science is still a long way from understanding the exact interactions of the circadian clocks. After all, the recent findings illustrate that the diverse mechanisms are heavily interwoven and provided with feedback loops. So Wegener is certain that "it is not going to be easy."

Wearing a 'heart' on your sleeve can reduce stress -- ScienceDaily

To test the efficacy of doppel, the researchers exposed volunteers to a socially stressful situation and measured their physiological arousal and their reported anxiety levels. In a controlled, single-blind study, two groups of participants were asked to prepare a public speech -- a widely used psychological task that consistently increases stress. All participants wore the device on their wrist and a cover story was used to suggest to participants that the device was measuring blood pressure during the anticipation of the task. Importantly, for only one of the two groups of participants, the device was turned on and delivered a heartbeat-like vibration at a slower frequency than the participants' resting heart rate, while they were preparing their speech. The researchers measured both physiological arousal and subjective reports of anxiety. The use of doppel had a tangible and measurable calming effect across both physiological and psychological levels. Only the participants who felt the heartbeat-like vibration displayed lower increases in skin conductance responses and lower anxiety levels. "Wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, but across the board their primary aim is to quantify our activity. The results we got suggest that, rather than measuring ourselves, we can instead harvest our natural responses to heartbeat like rhythms in ways that can assist people in their everyday life." said Professor Tsakiris.

Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong - The New York Times

Their urine volumes went up and down in a seven-day cycle. That contradicted all he’d been taught in medical school: There should be no such temporal cycle. In 1994, the Russian space program decided to do a 135-day simulation of life on the Mir space station. Dr. Titze arranged to go to Russia to study urine patterns among the crew members and how these were affected by salt in the diet. A striking finding emerged: a 28-day rhythm in the amount of sodium the cosmonauts’ bodies retained that was not linked to the amount of urine they produced. And the sodium rhythms were much more pronounced than the urine patterns.

How walking benefits the brain: Researchers show that foot's impact helps control, increase the amount of blood sent to the brain -- ScienceDaily

"New data now strongly suggest that brain blood flow is very dynamic and depends directly on cyclic aortic pressures that interact with retrograde pressure pulses from foot impacts," the researchers wrote. "There is a continuum of hemodynamic effects on human brain blood flow within pedaling, walking and running. Speculatively, these activities may optimize brain perfusion, function, and overall sense of wellbeing during exercise." "What is surprising is that it took so long for us to finally measure these obvious hydraulic effects on cerebral blood flow," first author Ernest Greene explained. "There is an optimizing rhythm between brain blood flow and ambulating. Stride rates and their foot impacts are within the range of our normal heart rates (about 120/minute) when we are briskly moving along."

Circadian meta rhythm needed for consciouness?

of Surrey and the University of Salzburg, Austria, examined circadian body temperature variations of 18 patients suffering from severe brain injuries and the potential link to consciousness. Circadian rhythms are an approximate 24-hour cycle governed by the body's internal clock and they determine a number of physiological processes in the body including core body temperature, which fluctuates throughout the day. To assess the body temperature of patients, researchers used four external skin sensors to monitor the circadian rhythm, which was found to range between 23.5 hours and 26.3 hours. The level of consciousness of each patient was evaluated through the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised, which among others measures responsiveness to sound or a patient's ability to spontaneously open eyes without or only with stimulation by the examiner. Researchers discovered that patients who scored better on the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised, especially, those patients with a stronger arousal had body temperature patterns that were more closely aligned with a healthy 24-hour rhythm. This finding demonstrates a newly discovered relationship between circadian body temperature variation and the level of consciousness of a patient with severe brain damage. This finding suggests that patient's consciousness levels should be assessed during time windows when their circadian rhythm predicts them to be more responsive. The effects of bright light stimulation on patients with severe brain injuries was also investigated during this study. To measure its effectiveness, eight patients received bright light stimulation, three times per day for one hour over the course of one week. After one week, improvements were found in the level of consciousness of two patients, whose condition improved from vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness to a minimally conscious state. Interestingly, in these two patients, a shift in their circadian body temperature, closer to a healthy 24-hour rhythm was also recorded. Co-investigator of the paper Dr Nayantara Santhi from the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, University of Surrey, said: "Prior to our study little was known about the circadian rhythms of patients with brain injuries. What we have learnt is that the circadian body temperature holds vital clues to the state of consciousness of patients which could potentially enable doctors to tailor medical treatment more effectively. "Circadian rhythms hold the secret to the workings of the body and we will be looking further into this in future research."

The brain's spontaneous activity and its psychopathological symptoms - "Spatiotemporal binding and integration". - PubMed - NCBI

I here suggest to conceive the brain's spontaneous activity in spatiotemporal terms that is, by various mechanisms that are based on its spatial, i.e., functional connectivity, and temporal, i.e., fluctuations in different frequencies, features. I here point out two such spatiotemporal mechanisms, i.e., "spatiotemporal binding and integration". Alterations in the resting state's spatial and temporal features lead to abnormal "spatiotemporal binding and integration" which results in abnormal contents in cognition as in the various psychopathological symptoms. This, together with concrete empirical evidence, is demonstrated in depression and schizophrenia.

Cellular jetlag seems to favor the development of diabetes -- ScienceDaily

studied pancreatic ɑ- and β- cells that are in charge of the production of insulin and glucagon, two hormones that regulate glucose levels in the blood. They discovered that already at cellular levels, these internal clocks orchestrate the timing of proper hormone secretion, thus optimizing body metabolism by anticipating the rest-activity and feeding-fasting cycles. Their misalignment would thus favor the occurrence of metabolic diseases. Their discovery, to be read in the journal Genes and Development, highlights an essential factor, yet still poorly understood, which may explain diabetes development as a consequence of circadian misalignments of these cellular clocks.

Hair trigger conversation transitions

In the 2006 study with de Ruiter, we made more than 1,500 measurements of the time it took for one person to begin speaking once the other had finished. We found that most of the transitions occur very close to the point at which there is no silence and no overlap: the average lull in the conversation was around 200 milliseconds—less time than it takes to blink an eye. This turnaround time is so rapid that it suggests people must gear up to speak—mentally planning what they will say next—while their partner is still talking. That way we can initiate our next contribution as soon as our partner yields the floor.

Why the lights don't dim when we blink: Blinking prompts eye muscles to keep our vision in line -- ScienceDaily

"Our eye muscles are quite sluggish and imprecise, so the brain needs to constantly adapt its motor signals to make sure our eyes are pointing where they're supposed to," Maus said. "Our findings suggest that the brain gauges the difference in what we see before and after a blink, and commands the eye muscles to make the needed corrections." From a big-picture perspective, if we didn't possess this powerful oculomotor mechanism, particularly when blinking, our surroundings would appear shadowy, erratic and jittery, researchers said. "We perceive coherence and not transient blindness because the brain connects the dots for us," said study co-author David Whitney, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley. "Our brains do a lot of prediction to compensate for how we move around in the world," said co-author Patrick Cavanagh, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College. "It's like a steadicam of the mind." A dozen healthy young adults participated in what Maus jokingly called "the most boring experiment ever." Study participants sat in a dark room for long periods staring at a dot on a screen while infrared cameras tracked their eye movements and eye blinks in real time. Every time they blinked, the dot was moved one centimeter to the right. While participants failed to notice the subtle shift, the brain's oculomotor system registered the movement and learned to reposition the line of vision squarely on the dot. After 30 or so blink-synchronized dot movements, participants' eyes adjusted during each blink and shifted automatically to the spot where they predicted the dot to be. "Even though participants did not consciously register that the dot had moved, their brains did, and adjusted with the corrective eye movement," Maus said. "These findings add to our understanding of how the brain constantly adapts to changes, commanding our muscles to correct for errors in our bodies' own hardware."

Birds of a Feather Do Flock Together. - PubMed - NCBI

We argue that the lack of evidence for personality similarity stems from the tendency of individuals to make personality judgments relative to a salient comparison group, rather than in absolute terms (i.e., the reference-group effect), when responding to the self-report and peer-report questionnaires commonly used in personality research. We employed two behavior-based personality measures to circumvent the reference-group effect. The results based on large samples provide evidence for personality similarity between romantic partners ( n = 1,101; rs = .20-.47) and between friends ( n = 46,483; rs = .12-.31). We discuss the practical and methodological implications of the findings.

Adhd and Temporality: A Desynchronized Way of Being in the World. - PubMed - NCBI

ADHD is, I argue, an impairment in sense of time and a matter of difference in rhythm; it can be understood as a certain being in the world, or more specifically, as a disruption in the experience of time and a state of desynchronization and arrhythmia. Through excerpts of interviews with adults diagnosed with ADHD and observations, I illustrate how impairment in time is manifested in an embodied experience of being out of sync. I suggest that the experience of ADHD is characterized as 1) an inner restlessness and bodily arrhythmia; 2) an intersubjective desynchronization between the individual and its surroundings; and 3) a feeling of lagging behind socially due to difficulties in social skills. In closing, I argue that an increasingly accelerating society is augmenting the experience of being out of sync rather than eliminating it.

Details of information processing in the brain revealed: New research shows that, when focused, we process information continuously, rather in waves as previously thought -- ScienceDaily

Our brains oscillate at many different frequencies, explains Mathewson, and each frequency has a different role. "This study examined 12 hertz alpha oscillations, a mechanisms used to inhibit, or ignore, a certain stimulus thereby allowing us to focus on a particular time or space that we are experiencing, while ignoring others," says Mathewson. For example, if there is a repetitive stimulus in the world, such as the sound of someone's voice in a lecture theatre, the alpha waves lock onto the timing of that stimulus, and the brain becomes better at processing things that occur in time with that stimulus. The new findings show, surprisingly, that this happens more in places we are ignoring. "We are bombarded with so much information and stimulation that we can't possibly process it all at once. Whether it be commuting, engaging in our work, studying for a class, or working out, our brains select the useful information and ignore the rest, so that we can focus on a single or a few items in order to make appropriate responses in the world. This research helps explain how," says Mathewson.

breath in through your nose

"One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation," said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system."

Disruption of the body's internal clock causes disruption of metabolic processes: Researchers study carbon monoxide metabolism -- ScienceDaily

the body's carbon monoxide metabolism is closely linked to the body's circadian (internal) clock. Carbon monoxide, a toxic gas found in exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke, is also an endogenous by-product of the degradation of heme, the hemoglobin cofactor responsible for giving red blood cells their color. The production of carbon monoxide is regulated by the body's internal clock, and this clock, in turn, is regulated by carbon monoxide

Portions of the brain fall asleep and wake back up all the time, Stanford researchers find | EurekAlert! Science News

The team used what amounts to sets of very sensitive pins that can record activity from a column of neurons in the brain. In the past, people had known that individual neurons go through phases of being more or less active, but with this probe they saw for the first time that all the neurons in a given column cycled together between firing very rapidly then firing at a much slower rate, similar to coordinated cycles in sleep. "During an on state the neurons all start firing rapidly," said Kwabena Boahen, a professor of bioengineering and electrical engineering at Stanford and a senior author on the paper. "Then all of a sudden they just switch to a low firing rate. This on and off switching is happening all the time, as if the neurons are flipping a coin to decide if they are going to be on or off." Those cycles, which occur on the order of seconds or fractions of seconds, weren't as visible when awake because the wave doesn't propagate much beyond that column, unlike in sleep when the wave spreads across almost the entire brain and is easy to detect.

Bad timing is depressing: Disrupting the brain's internal clock causes depressive-like behavior in mice -- ScienceDaily

Inherent circadian clocks help us function throughout the day, by telling us when to sleep, wake and eat, as well as by synchronizing our bodily processes. "It is perhaps not surprising that disruptions of our natural synchronization can have heavy impacts on our physical and mental health," Dr. Landgraf added. However, until now researchers did not know if disturbed circadian rhythms were a cause or consequence of mood disorders. In the new study, a team led by David K. Welsh has shown for the first time a causal relationship between functioning circadian clocks and mood regulation.

Did you miss that musical beat? Your pupils didn’t | Science | AAAS

Even if you don’t have rhythm, your pupils do. In a new study, neuroscientists played drumming patterns from Western music, including beats typical in pop and rock, while asking volunteers to focus on computer screens for an unrelated fast-paced task that involved pressing the space bar as quickly as possible in response to a signal on the screen. Unbeknownst to the participants, the music omitted strong and weak beats at random times. (You can listen below for an example of a music clip they used. If you listen carefully, you can hear bass and hi-hat beats omitted throughout.) Eye scanners tracked the dilations of the subjects’ pupils as the music played. Their pupils enlarged when the rhythms dropped certain beats, even though the participants weren’t paying attention to the music. The biggest dilations matched the omissions of the beats in the most prominent locations in the music, usually the important first beat in a repeated set of notes. The results suggest that we may have an automatic sense of “hierarchical meter”—a pattern of strong and weak beats—that governs our expectations of music, the researchers write in the February 2017 issue of Brain and Cognition. Perhaps, the authors say, our eyes reveal clues into the importance that music and rhythm plays in our lives.

How internal circadian clocks in neurons encode external daily rhythms of excitability -- ScienceDaily

Molecular clocks in cells throughout the body control many physiologic changes in a 24-hour day/night circadian rhythm -- among them the timing of sleep and wakefulness. The master pacesetter for those clocks resides in a tiny part of the human brain, where about 42,000 nerve cells spontaneously and independently maintain a 24-hour cycle through rhythmic internal surges and falls of biochemical signals. But nerve cells communicate to each other via external electrical impulses. So how do those internal biochemical clock signals get turned into changes in external electrical firing activity, the activity that spreads the pacesetter timing in those 42,000 cells throughout the brain and the rest of the body? Researchers led by Karen Gamble, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, have identified a key mechanism linking the two in a paper published today in Nature Communications. It involves the activity of a kinase enzyme called GSK3 that changes the excitability -- a technical term for the likelihood of a nerve cell to fire an electrical impulse -- of those neurons. Identification of this role for GSK3 raises clinical interest because GSK3 is the target of lithium and other mood-stabilizing drugs used to treat bipolar disorder. Also, the sodium channels that were found to be regulated by GSK3 are the target of riluzole, a drug used to treat amyotropic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, as well as anxiety disorders and depression.

Consciousness is tied to 'entropy', say researchers - physicsworld.com

Key to this has been the study of synchronization – how the electrical activity of one set of neurons can oscillate in phase with that of another set. Synchronization in turn implies that those sets of neurons are physically tied to one another, just as oscillating physical systems, such as pendulums, become synchronized when they are connected together. The latest work stems from the observation that consciousness, or at least the proper functioning of brains, is associated not with high or even low degrees of synchronicity between neurons but by middling amounts. Jose Luis Perez Velazquez, a biochemist at the University of Toronto, and colleagues hypothesized that what is maximized during consciousness is not connectivity itself but the number of different ways that a certain degree of connectivity can be achieved.

Life begins and ends with music

He took some informal guitar lessons in his twenties from a Spaniard he met next to a local tennis court. After a few weeks, he picked up a flamenco chord progression. When the man failed to appear for their fourth lesson, Cohen called his landlady and learned that the man had killed himself. In a speech many years later, in Asturias, Cohen said, “I knew nothing about the man, why he came to Montreal . . . why he appeared at that tennis court, why he took his life. . . . It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern, that has been the basis of all my songs, and all my music.”

The mathematics of music history: Patriotism in music is expressed through use of speech rhythms from the composer's native language -- ScienceDaily

Together with colleagues from London and Amsterdam, MIB postdoc Niels Chr. Hansen, analysed thousands of musical themes composed by French, Italian, and Austro-German composers living in 1600-1950. During these years, rhythmic variability in French music was initially low -- just like in Italian music and language. Later on, it increased towards the natural equilibrium for Austro-German music and language before the rhythms of French music finally diverged into two separate stylistic schools of composition.

Waves on waves

They found that they could closely replicate the shape of the beta waves in the model by delivering two kinds of excitatory synaptic stimulation to distinct layers in the cortical columns of cells: one that was weak and broad in duration to the lower layers, contacting spiny dendrites on the pyramidal neurons close to the cell body; and another that was stronger and briefer, lasting 50 milliseconds (i.e., one beta period), to the upper layers, contacting dendrites farther away from the cell body. The strong distal drive created the valley in the waveform that determined the beta frequency.

The Right Food Can Promote Trust And Closeness Between People - PsyBlog

The new study found people reached agreements twice as quickly and were more generous with their money after eating the same foods together.

Microsoft Research wants to pit you against virtual swimmers

Redmond's research division is working with a team of researchers from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) to develop SwimTrain. It's a system consisting of an app, a waterproof case for your smartphone and a pair of underwater headphones that provides sensory/auditory feedback. SwimTrain puts you in a team of three swimmers -- if you're competing, it tells you how you're doing against your two virtual opponents. If you're in the same team, it helps you maintain your strokes so you can keep up with your virtual teammates.