Here is what I am reading today:

“A new study reveals for the first time that activating the brain’s visual cortex with a small amount of electrical stimulation actually improves our sense of smell. The finding published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro, McGill University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, revises our understanding of the complex biology of the senses in the brain.”

“Most of us know what it means when it’s said that someone is depressed. But commonly, true clinical depression brings with it a number of other symptoms. These can include anxiety, poor attention and concentration, memory issues, and sleep disturbances.”

“In the 2009 film Surrogates, humans live vicariously through robots while safely remaining in their own homes. That sci-fi future is still a long way off, but recent advances in technology, supported by EU funding, are bringing this technology a step closer to reality in order to give disabled people more autonomy and independence than ever before.”

“Millions of people suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and worsens over time. As the world’s population ages, it’s estimated that the number of people with the disease will rise sharply. Yet despite several effective therapies that treat Parkinson’s symptoms, nothing slows its progression.”

“Caffeine will get you going during the day but could leave you tossing and turning at night  unless you’re  a “night owl” to begin with, a new study suggests.

In the study, “morning people” who consumed caffeine during the day appeared more likely than late risers to awaken in the middle of their nighttime sleep.”


Samantha_Neher · March 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

In response to “caffeine and sleep”

I have always had a hard time being able to get a good nights rest when I have too much caffeine during the day. Just yesterday I drank a lot of caffeine and wasn’t given the chance to burn it all off so I ended up staying awake all night. It seems that in most people, not just the early risers as the study suggests, too much caffeine can cause inability to get a good nights rest. Even though the study said that college students slept well regardless of caffeine intake (due to being so sleep-deprivation), I have to say that isn’t always the case for me.

Samantha_Neher · March 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

In response to “brain-computer interface”

It seems that this technology is really taking off. What once was thought of as impossible, could be very common in the near future. I agree with this study in that having this technology available would be great for people who have neurological disorders or disabilities. If they are unable to live a fulfilling life, they can then experience a good life through this technology. Further research and progress in this area would cause a great advance in many fields.

kleggoe · March 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm

In regards to the “brain-computer interface” I think the new developing technology in our society is imperative in the success in creating a least restrictive environment for individuals with disabilities. The complex nature of the EEG make the BCI seem incredible, and a great innovative project. It not only helps individuals perform normal daily activities that we take for granite, but it can also help them with avoiding social isolation due to the disability. This technology could do wonders for an individual by increasing their self efficacy, and making them feel like they are a part of the world. Although this technology would be great for the population of people with disabilities, it makes me question to what extent the device would be used. If we have the power to control things with our mind, what negative aspect can this have on our society and the power hungry people out there. Could there be any possible threats to society?

kleggoe · March 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

In regards to the “depression and brain hyperactivity” article, I think it really good to understand what is going on in the brain to have a deeper understanding of depression. This research could help with a break through “cure” for depression. I was always under the impression that a depressed brain had less synapses or function connections then an healthy brain. The fact that “ when brain systems lose their flexibility in controlling connections” makes me question how we can increase the variability of these connections. Is there a way to utilize the hyperactive nature of the brain and convert the depressed issue into positive?

JamesWoodhead · March 5, 2012 at 2:21 am

in response to “caffeine and sleep”
I have noticed I have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep when I have had caffeine that day. The amount of problems I have really depend on my activity levels during the day and what I ate that day. If I haven’t been able to burn off the caffeine it seems to stay in my system longer than it usually would. The article reinforces this claim by mentioning this tends to be the case with most people. I also wouldn’t consider myself a early riser, so the effect caffeine has on me at night is less than what some other people could experience.

Aiwong · March 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

For the “Caffeine and Sleep” article, I go to sleep pretty late and get up early, so I need the caffeine for most of those mornings. I normally don’t have trouble falling asleep/waking up in the middle of night because I am so exhausted. This may indicate that I am slightly sleep deprived and I need the sleep. I agree with JameWoodhead who commented above, it really depends on the activity of the day and whether I have been drinking water or what I have been eating. I always have to keep in mind to drink more water for those days I have caffeine in my system.

MariPerez · March 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

In response to “Caffeine and Sleep”

I’m a early riser, I tend to drink one or two cups of coffee during the day and sometimes one during the night. The only reason why I drink coffee in the night is to try and stay awake, half of the time it doesn’t really work. I’ve gone to bed after drinking a cup of coffee with no problem whatsoever.

astiers · March 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm

In response to “depression and brain hyperactivity” :
This study illustrates a new idea that over connectivity is a bad thing. While typically we think of non functioning things as not being connected, this hypernetworking could be the neurological reason for depression and figuring out a way to trim back these connections like synaptic pruning without damaging the functions is going to be researchers next big challenge.

N8 · March 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm

“your eyes and your sense of smell”
This article offers some very interesting insight. Primarily though this makes me wonder what sort of differences may occur for an individual that is colorblind or has other abnormal things going on with their eyes, if any differences at all. It is amazing how intertwined different areas and functions of our brain are and how strong the dependance/association is between certain structures, or how much stronger the dependance/association can grow to be through certain stimuli .

astiers · March 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm

The article about the cross-wiring of the visual cortex and the sense of smell was very revolutionary. In the past taste tests were conducted blind folded but it makes sense from an evolutionary stand point that looking at the food you are eating and associating good or safe tastes with a visual picture of the object would be an advantage. We are learning more and more about the brain that is remodeling our understanding of processes and it seems the brain is so interconnected!

astiers · March 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm

The study on caffeine levels and interruptions in sleep illustrates that while caffeine is an awesome substance its metabolism within the body varies so much that it inhibits natural recovery. Who knows if having no artificial substances in out body would improve our sleep and health or not?

scasey · March 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

In response to “your eyes and your sense of smell”
This article was interesting, but I am not too surprised. I think as we continue to learn more about our bodies we will continue to make similar discoveries about how connected everything is. I remember doing a science project in elementary school about the relationship between taste and smell. I also knew someone with synesthesia, and his experiences were fascinating. Our senses are so amazing!

scasey · March 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

In response to “the model of Parkinson’s disease”
It’s always encouraging to hear about new possible treatment approaches, even if they have only been tested in animals. In my cell biology class we talked a lot about cancer, and it is always challenging to find a treatment that targets the problem without affecting healthy cells. This is why targeting the process, like the researchers did here, can be a better approach. With science though, I feel like even being cautiously optimistic can still sometimes be a stretch.

JamesWoodhead · March 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm

In response to “your eyes and your sense of smell”
This was a really interesting article to read. I remember one of my elementary school teachers say her coffee tasted like the smell of a doctor’s office. This comment seemed like a stretch to me but I have experienced one sense stimulating a memory or recognition of another sense. However, I never knew there were people with cross wiring of senses. This seems like a fascinating condition but I don’t think it is a condition I would like to have. It would get confusing and annoying to have an involuntary connection of senses. I wonder how people with this condition feel about their association of certain things with senses.

cnguyen · March 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm

In response to “Caffeine and Sleep”

I find it difficult to figure out if I’m a night owl or early riser at times. Some days I can’t sleep and other nights I just want to knock out early. I also felt like I was immune to coffee because I still managed to sleep like a baby. The only reason why I feel like coffee keeps me up at night is because I drink at least 4 cups of it that it makes me a little sick and that can leave me quite restless through the night. If I have coffee earlier in the day than I can sleep through the night like a baby because I feel exhausted a lot. I really wish there was more information in the article about how caffeine works. These days I’m starting to drink coffee like it’s juice and still manage to avoid the restless sleep.

cnguyen · March 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm

In response to “Your Eyes and the Sense of Smell”

I feel like when I see an object first, I already associate a smell to it, but I think I can do that because the smell is something I have experienced plenty of times before. It makes me think about babies who experience smell for the first time. If their cross wiring is stronger at birth or does it get stronger as we get older. I would have liked to see the comparison of brain activity with an infant and an adult. I cannot really explain why it makes sense that vision is associated to smell and auditory senses and smell are separate. You can’t really hear a smelly object before you smell it.

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