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Antonio Damasio: The Quest to Understand Consciousness

Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness, but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense...

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The Creative Culture

Chuck Close has face blindness, yet he paints portraits of the human face. Watch his Neuroscience 2012 talk to learn about the skill behind his art.

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The Multitasking Mind

You may think multitasking makes you more productive. In actuality, it slows you down, increases the mistakes you make, and temporarily changes the way your brain works.

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Sensory Illusions

Now you see it, now you don’t. Tricks and illusions are not just for magicians. Brain researchers use these tools to learn about sensory perception.

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Introduction

Every second, we are bombarded with information from the many sights and sounds around us. In order to keep the brain from becoming overwhelmed by the steady stream of data competing for attention, brain cells work together to sort and prioritize information. Human and animal studies are helping researchers piece together the calculations brain cells use to prioritize information in hopes of better understanding the many varieties of awareness and attention. Using live brain imaging and computer simulations, scientists are beginning to develop a greater understanding of how cells in various brain regions take information in, and how the brain uses this information to make decisions. This insight may one day lead to better diagnoses and treatment options for disorders marked by attention problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia.

Discoveries

The Cocktail Party Problem

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Despite the swanky name, the cocktail party problem has nothing to do with martinis and hors d’oeuvres. It’s a term scientists use to refer to the brain’s ability to tune in to a single voice.

Decision-Making

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Decision-making is such a seamless process we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we wonder, “Why did I choose that option?”

About Face: How the Brain Recognizes and Processes Faces

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Learn about the specialized circuits that distinguish faces.

The Neuroscience of Decision Making

Source: The Kavli Foundation
Researchers are beginning to decipher what happens in our brains when we make decisions. Three experts describe the genesis of this cutting-edge field and potential practical applications of this research.

Metacognition — I Know (or Don't Know) that I Know

Source: Wellcome Trust
At New York University, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Steve Fleming is exploring the neural basis of metacognition.

Awareness and Attention in the News

How Going to Space Can Mess With the Astronaut Brain

Source: The Atlantic
Date: 23 April 2014
A new study finds that deep-space travel could warp reaction time.

PET Scans Offer Clues on Vegetative States

Source: New York Times
Date: 15 April 2014
A study found that a significant number of people labeled vegetative had received an incorrect diagnosis and actually had some degree of consciousness.

Playing Video Games Could Actually Change Your Brain—But Not in a Bad Way

Source: Smithsonian
Date: 8 April 2014
Despite video games' bad rep, they might improve a person's strategizing and multi-tasking abilities.

Related Diseases & Conditions