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neurosciencestuff:

How the brain pays attention
Neuroscientists identify a brain circuit that’s key to shifting our focus from one object to another.
Picking out a face in the crowd is a complicated task: Your brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you’re seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match.
A new study by MIT neuroscientists reveals how the brain achieves this type of focused attention on faces or other objects: A part of the prefrontal cortex known as the inferior frontal junction (IFJ) controls visual processing areas that are tuned to recognize a specific category of objects, the researchers report in the April 10 online edition of Science.

Scientists know much less about this type of attention, known as object-based attention, than spatial attention, which involves focusing on what’s happening in a particular location. However, the new findings suggest that these two types of attention have similar mechanisms involving related brain regions, says Robert Desimone, the Doris and Don Berkey Professor of Neuroscience, director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and senior author of the paper.
“The interactions are surprisingly similar to those seen in spatial attention,” Desimone says. “It seems like it’s a parallel process involving different areas.”
In both cases, the prefrontal cortex — the control center for most cognitive functions — appears to take charge of the brain’s attention and control relevant parts of the visual cortex, which receives sensory input. For spatial attention, that involves regions of the visual cortex that map to a particular area within the visual field.
In the new study, the researchers found that IFJ coordinates with a brain region that processes faces, known as the fusiform face area (FFA), and a region that interprets information about places, known as the parahippocampal place area (PPA). The FFA and PPA were first identified in the human cortex by Nancy Kanwisher, the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT.  
The IFJ has previously been implicated in a cognitive ability known as working memory, which is what allows us to gather and coordinate information while performing a task — such as remembering and dialing a phone number, or doing a math problem.
For this study, the researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to scan human subjects as they viewed a series of overlapping images of faces and houses. Unlike functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is commonly used to measure brain activity, MEG can reveal the precise timing of neural activity, down to the millisecond. The researchers presented the overlapping streams at two different rhythms — two images per second and 1.5 images per second — allowing them to identify brain regions responding to those stimuli.
“We wanted to frequency-tag each stimulus with different rhythms. When you look at all of the brain activity, you can tell apart signals that are engaged in processing each stimulus,” says Daniel Baldauf, a postdoc at the McGovern Institute and the lead author of the paper.
Each subject was told to pay attention to either faces or houses; because the houses and faces were in the same spot, the brain could not use spatial information to distinguish them. When the subjects were told to look for faces, activity in the FFA and the IFJ became synchronized, suggesting that they were communicating with each other. When the subjects paid attention to houses, the IFJ synchronized instead with the PPA.
The researchers also found that the communication was initiated by the IFJ and the activity was staggered by 20 milliseconds — about the amount of time it would take for neurons to electrically convey information from the IFJ to either the FFA or PPA. The researchers believe that the IFJ holds onto the idea of the object that the brain is looking for and directs the correct part of the brain to look for it.
The MEG scanner, as well as the study’s “elegant design,” were critical to discovering this relationship, says Robert Knight, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley who was not part of the research team.
“Functional MRI gives hints of connectivity,” Knight says, “but the time course is way too slow to show these millisecond-scale frequencies and to establish what they show, which is that the inferior frontal lobe is the prime driver.”
Further bolstering this idea, the researchers used an MRI-based method to measure the white matter that connects different brain regions and found that the IFJ is highly connected with both the FFA and PPA.
Members of Desimone’s lab are now studying how the brain shifts its focus between different types of sensory input, such as vision and hearing. They are also investigating whether it might be possible to train people to better focus their attention by controlling the brain interactions  involved in this process.
“You have to identify the basic neural mechanisms and do basic research studies, which sometimes generate ideas for things that could be of practical benefit,” Desimone says. “It’s too early to say whether this training is even going to work at all, but it’s something that we’re actively pursuing.”

neurosciencestuff:

How the brain pays attention

Neuroscientists identify a brain circuit that’s key to shifting our focus from one object to another.

Picking out a face in the crowd is a complicated task: Your brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you’re seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match.

A new study by MIT neuroscientists reveals how the brain achieves this type of focused attention on faces or other objects: A part of the prefrontal cortex known as the inferior frontal junction (IFJ) controls visual processing areas that are tuned to recognize a specific category of objects, the researchers report in the April 10 online edition of Science.

Scientists know much less about this type of attention, known as object-based attention, than spatial attention, which involves focusing on what’s happening in a particular location. However, the new findings suggest that these two types of attention have similar mechanisms involving related brain regions, says Robert Desimone, the Doris and Don Berkey Professor of Neuroscience, director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and senior author of the paper.

“The interactions are surprisingly similar to those seen in spatial attention,” Desimone says. “It seems like it’s a parallel process involving different areas.”

In both cases, the prefrontal cortex — the control center for most cognitive functions — appears to take charge of the brain’s attention and control relevant parts of the visual cortex, which receives sensory input. For spatial attention, that involves regions of the visual cortex that map to a particular area within the visual field.

In the new study, the researchers found that IFJ coordinates with a brain region that processes faces, known as the fusiform face area (FFA), and a region that interprets information about places, known as the parahippocampal place area (PPA). The FFA and PPA were first identified in the human cortex by Nancy Kanwisher, the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT.  

The IFJ has previously been implicated in a cognitive ability known as working memory, which is what allows us to gather and coordinate information while performing a task — such as remembering and dialing a phone number, or doing a math problem.

For this study, the researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to scan human subjects as they viewed a series of overlapping images of faces and houses. Unlike functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is commonly used to measure brain activity, MEG can reveal the precise timing of neural activity, down to the millisecond. The researchers presented the overlapping streams at two different rhythms — two images per second and 1.5 images per second — allowing them to identify brain regions responding to those stimuli.

“We wanted to frequency-tag each stimulus with different rhythms. When you look at all of the brain activity, you can tell apart signals that are engaged in processing each stimulus,” says Daniel Baldauf, a postdoc at the McGovern Institute and the lead author of the paper.

Each subject was told to pay attention to either faces or houses; because the houses and faces were in the same spot, the brain could not use spatial information to distinguish them. When the subjects were told to look for faces, activity in the FFA and the IFJ became synchronized, suggesting that they were communicating with each other. When the subjects paid attention to houses, the IFJ synchronized instead with the PPA.

The researchers also found that the communication was initiated by the IFJ and the activity was staggered by 20 milliseconds — about the amount of time it would take for neurons to electrically convey information from the IFJ to either the FFA or PPA. The researchers believe that the IFJ holds onto the idea of the object that the brain is looking for and directs the correct part of the brain to look for it.

The MEG scanner, as well as the study’s “elegant design,” were critical to discovering this relationship, says Robert Knight, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley who was not part of the research team.

“Functional MRI gives hints of connectivity,” Knight says, “but the time course is way too slow to show these millisecond-scale frequencies and to establish what they show, which is that the inferior frontal lobe is the prime driver.”

Further bolstering this idea, the researchers used an MRI-based method to measure the white matter that connects different brain regions and found that the IFJ is highly connected with both the FFA and PPA.

Members of Desimone’s lab are now studying how the brain shifts its focus between different types of sensory input, such as vision and hearing. They are also investigating whether it might be possible to train people to better focus their attention by controlling the brain interactions  involved in this process.

“You have to identify the basic neural mechanisms and do basic research studies, which sometimes generate ideas for things that could be of practical benefit,” Desimone says. “It’s too early to say whether this training is even going to work at all, but it’s something that we’re actively pursuing.”

“Much like the human version… depression in animals spans the full spectrum of severity, from brief and shallow periods of low mood to long and intense stretches of depression. Animals also experience the same hormonal changes that depressed humans do, including higher secretion of steroid hormones and dampened immune system function. Perhaps most interestingly and indicatively, the body clocks of depressed animals — their circadian rhythms, which we already know are of tremendous importance to human well-being — are so disrupted that they produce the same irregularities in body temperature and sleep-wake cycle seen in depressed humans.”

—   Can pets be depressed? The science behind what every pet-owner intuits.  (via explore-blog)

staceythinx:

Sand Babel designed by Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya, Guo Shen won an honorable mention in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition for its innovative use of sand in its design and construction.

About the project:

Sand Babel is a group of ecological structures designed as scientific research facilities and tourist attractions for the desert. The structures are divided into two parts. The first part, above ground, consists of several independent structures for a desert community while the second part is partially underground and partially above ground connecting several buildings and creating a multi-functional tube network system.

The main portion of each building is constructed with sand, sintered through a solar-powered 3D printer. The top structures are based on the natural phenomena called Tornadoes and Mushroom Rocks, which is very common in deserts. It utilizes a spiral skeleton structure, which is tall, straight and with strong tension, to meet the requirements of residential, sightseeing and scientific research facilities. The dual funnel model not only improves cross-ventilation, but also generates water condensation atop the structures based on temperature differences. The net structure for the portion of underground and surface is similar to tree roots. This design not only helps to keep flowing sand dunes in place but also facilitates communication among the buildings.

(Source: inhabitat.com)

diy:

17-Year-Old Creates a 3D-Printed Robotic Prosthetic Arm for $250

Combining a Nintendo Power Glove with 3D-printed parts, 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle has designed an incredible robotic prosthetic arm. Made from LEGO bricks, fishing wire, and surgical tubing, LaChapelle’s robotic arm earned him 3rd place in the Colorado Science Fair of 2011 – which inspired him to go even further with the 3D-printed design.

At the Science Fair, LaChapelle encountered an entrant who wore an $80,000 prosthetic arm that would need replacing as she grew. Inspired and intrigued, he decided to take his homemade robotic arm, which could only grip a soda can, to the next level. His new goal was to create a high-tech prosthetic arm that was not only highly functional, but also affordable.

Read more: MAKE

unexplained-events:

I thought I’d share this really cool app with you guys. It’s by Spritz and its purpose is to help us read faster. In the 1st gif it is running just a bit above the average reading speed of 250 WPM. It jumps to 400 WPM in the 2nd gif and then an impressive 600 WPM in the last gif. This app would help students learn faster. It would also help kids with attention problems study better.

“My favourite thing was a bunch of people made a giant sign that said “How am I going to be an octopus about this?” and held it up during Pompeii at all the right times and it distracted me enough to sing “octopus” instead by accident.”

—   Dan Smith [x] (via bastillewtf)

(Source: dansmithsconverse, via cellogirl22)

foreveralone-lyguy:

tastefullyoffensive:

Animals Stealing Food [x]

Previously: Animals vs. Kids, Cats Giving High Fives

THE DOG PUSHED THE CHAIR OUT FROM UNDER HIM THEN TOOK HIS FOOD WHEN HE FELL

(via designertrashbag)

insanelyrandomeiledon:

taiga-cchi:

thegreenwolf:

sachimo:

abeardfullofbees:

alilnugget:

wanashou:

beatonna:

If you aren’t totally quaking in your boots at the news of millions of bees dead, yet again, you’re nuts.

this should be concerning a lot more people than it is
not only because bees are one of the most important animals in the world and their job is a lot more than gathering honey but also because they are what scientists refer to as an “indicator species”
this means that when their populations start dwindling and then rapidly dropping, humans need to watch their shit because that means that environmental factors are too difficult for THEM to live in, so it might be difficult for US to live in, too. bees basically act as an indication that humans have a lot to worry about and when they start dying like this it deserves a lot more than a few headlines.

last year my biggest worry was the steep decline in bee population and apparently thats not about to change anytime soon. people have told me to my face that they think its strange I’m so concerned for the bees. read this you selfish fucks

Get excited, motherfuckers.  Without bees, we will die off.  Bayer and Monsanto continue to produce the chemicals that have been proven to kill them, and the government has their backs.  Bees pollinate 30% of our food in the US and we are passing legislation to PROTECT the scumbags responsible for killing them.
I preach this shit to everyone who will listen and I always get “WAAAAH I HATE BEES THEY STING AND THEY ARE BIG MEANIES!” but think about your future life without kiwis, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, sunflowers, cotton, apples, plums, pears, mustard, celery, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, beans, cherries, melons, turnips, canola oil, alfalfa, soybeans, lemons, oranges, and I could go on forever.
Bees are amazing creatures who are responsible for the comfortable lives we lead in this country and we cannot sustain and feed our population without them.

Alright you guys, there’s a good amount of notes on this but it’s only making us aware of the problem, not telling us what we can do to help. We can do something to help and YOU CAN HELP, YES THAT MEANS YOU. ALL YOU NEED IS DIRT, A FEW BUCKS, AND A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME TO MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE, LITERALLY. 
Plant flowers that bees like and that attract them.
Bees prefer flowers that are blue, purple, and yellow. Choose flowers that bloom successively over the spring, summer, and fall seasons such as coreopsis, Russian sage, or germander. They especially love clover! Other plants include sage, salvia, oregano, lavender, ironweed, yarrow, yellow hyssop, alfalfa, honeywort, dragonhead, echinacea, bee balm, buttercup, goldenrod and English thyme. Buy seeds online.
GET RID OF THE PESTICIDES!!
If pesticides are killing off the bees so easily, what do you think it’s doing to us? The EPA says studies have shown pesticides can cause birth defects, nerve damage, and cancer. There are other ways to get rid of pests in the garden than using chemicals. Organic Garden Pests shows you how to keep off the bugs the organic way.
Give the bees a free home!
Giving bees a “bee block” alone is a huge load off their backs! You can buy homes here or  You can even build your own. 
Please, if you have already reblogged this, reblog this is again with what I have posted onto it so you know what you can do to help. We can make a difference.
Sources and other helpful links:
5 ways to help our disappearing bees
How to “Friend” Your Native Bees
Why gardening is good for your health
Silence of the Bees

Quick mention of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit group doing a LOT of good work for bees and other pollinators, among others.

Guys, if all the bees died we’d have FOUR YEARS to live.



Hey, if the Doctor thinks that it’s a serious problem, so should you.

insanelyrandomeiledon:

taiga-cchi:

thegreenwolf:

sachimo:

abeardfullofbees:

alilnugget:

wanashou:

beatonna:

If you aren’t totally quaking in your boots at the news of millions of bees dead, yet again, you’re nuts.

this should be concerning a lot more people than it is

not only because bees are one of the most important animals in the world and their job is a lot more than gathering honey but also because they are what scientists refer to as an “indicator species”

this means that when their populations start dwindling and then rapidly dropping, humans need to watch their shit because that means that environmental factors are too difficult for THEM to live in, so it might be difficult for US to live in, too. bees basically act as an indication that humans have a lot to worry about and when they start dying like this it deserves a lot more than a few headlines.

last year my biggest worry was the steep decline in bee population and apparently thats not about to change anytime soon. people have told me to my face that they think its strange I’m so concerned for the bees. read this you selfish fucks

Get excited, motherfuckers.  Without bees, we will die off.  Bayer and Monsanto continue to produce the chemicals that have been proven to kill them, and the government has their backs.  Bees pollinate 30% of our food in the US and we are passing legislation to PROTECT the scumbags responsible for killing them.

I preach this shit to everyone who will listen and I always get “WAAAAH I HATE BEES THEY STING AND THEY ARE BIG MEANIES!” but think about your future life without kiwis, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, sunflowers, cotton, apples, plums, pears, mustard, celery, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, beans, cherries, melons, turnips, canola oil, alfalfa, soybeans, lemons, oranges, and I could go on forever.

Bees are amazing creatures who are responsible for the comfortable lives we lead in this country and we cannot sustain and feed our population without them.

Alright you guys, there’s a good amount of notes on this but it’s only making us aware of the problem, not telling us what we can do to help. We can do something to help and YOU CAN HELP, YES THAT MEANS YOU. ALL YOU NEED IS DIRT, A FEW BUCKS, AND A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME TO MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE, LITERALLY. 

Plant flowers that bees like and that attract them.

Bees prefer flowers that are blue, purple, and yellow. Choose flowers that bloom successively over the spring, summer, and fall seasons such as coreopsis, Russian sage, or germander. They especially love clover! Other plants include sage, salvia, oregano, lavender, ironweed, yarrow, yellow hyssop, alfalfa, honeywort, dragonhead, echinacea, bee balm, buttercup, goldenrod and English thyme. Buy seeds online.

GET RID OF THE PESTICIDES!!

If pesticides are killing off the bees so easily, what do you think it’s doing to us? The EPA says studies have shown pesticides can cause birth defects, nerve damage, and cancer. There are other ways to get rid of pests in the garden than using chemicals. Organic Garden Pests shows you how to keep off the bugs the organic way.

Give the bees a free home!

Giving bees a “bee block” alone is a huge load off their backs! You can buy homes here or  You can even build your own. 

Please, if you have already reblogged this, reblog this is again with what I have posted onto it so you know what you can do to help. We can make a difference.

Sources and other helpful links:

5 ways to help our disappearing bees

How to “Friend” Your Native Bees

Why gardening is good for your health

Silence of the Bees

Quick mention of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit group doing a LOT of good work for bees and other pollinators, among others.

Guys, if all the bees died we’d have FOUR YEARS to live.

image

image

Hey, if the Doctor thinks that it’s a serious problem, so should you.

(via lordlucian)

royalprat:

wryer:

Giant driftwood on the beach at La Push, Washington (2010)

this made me feel really uneasy, the ocean is terrifying.

its like when cats bring home a dead bird and drop it at your feet except the ocean is like I HAVE BROUGHT YOU THIS ENORMOUS TREE FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL ENJOY

(Source: likeafieldmouse, via lordlucian)