Saturday, January 30, 2010

Remembering returns brain states to when the actual experience happened


William James, the influential American philosopher and psychologist of the late 1800's argued that remembering events reactivated motor and sensory brain regions involved during the original event. How right he was! Danker and Anderson have written an extensive review of the research literature looking at how this all happens, cleverly titled "The Ghosts of Brain States Past". Here is there abstract from the latest issue of Psychological Bulletin.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I think, therefore I dream

I woke up late last night experiencing first-hand the production of my dreams; these intimate yet ephemeral narratives fabricated by the brain to explain its very own workings...better yet, its very own existence.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can distractions really enhance motor performance?

Texting while driving seems to score pretty high up there on the "I really shouldn't be doing this right now" list.

A study in 2009 by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting on the road were 23 times more likely to find themselves involved in an accident.

Incidentally, and much to my bewilderment, truck drivers who talked on cell phones were found to have absolutely no increased risk for crashing. I suppose it's much easier to say over the phone than to text "Slow down. Smokey Bear (cop) on your tail. Watch out for that barbershop (bridge lower than 13'6") up ahead or you'll soon find yourself driving a bobtail (tractor without a trailer). Looks about time to head over to that pickle park (a state highway rest area...I wonder why they call it that...)". You can find more CB terminology here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Anticipating reward improves learning during sleep

Rocking out on the guitar is by far one of my most cherished pastimes. At the angst ridden age of 15 I picked up a cheap Ibanez strat and learned my very first Nirvana song, "Teen Spirit". Little did I know a good night's rest would play such a crucial role in my learning those simple power chords. Furthermore, who would've thought my desire to become the next grunge icon would determine the rate at which I learned during those quiet nights of sleep.

According to a study by Fischer and Born, published in the most recent journal of SLEEP, they found that merely anticipating a reward can determine the amount of memory consolidation during those important times of offline processing.