A newsletter of research on Consciousness, Mind and Life

by piero scaruffi

Researchers are welcome to submit news and articles about breakthroughs and events in the areas of cognitive science, artificial intelligence, neurobiology, artificial life, linguistics, neural networks, connectionism, cognitive psychology, mind, philosophy, psychology, consciousness. Email the editor at this Email address. Readers who would like to receive periodic news and updates on cognitive science, philosophy of mind, neurobiology, artificial intelligence, etc, are invited to register to my mailing list.

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December 2016
  • Alcino Silva's team at UC Los Angeles has discovered that the gene "C-C chemokine receptor 5" (CCR5) plays an important role in cognitive life. The role of CCR5 in immunity and in HIV infection has been known for a while (the FDA has approved a CCR5-based treatment for HIV treatment), but now this team has shown that the same gene is responsible for brain functions. In particular, inhibition of CCR5 increases MAPK/CREB signaling, long-term potentiation (LTP), and hippocampus-dependent memory in mice, while too much of CCR5 causes memory deficits (paper).
  • The team of Henry Markram, founding director of the Blue Brain Project at the EPFL in Switzerland used a mathematical technique to model how the brain processes information. The flow of information can be represented with directed graphs, but this flattens the picture of what happens in the brain. While graph theory has been used to analyze network topology, Markram's team collaborated with two mathematicians (Kathryn Hess from EPFL and Ran Levi from Aberdeen University) who employed algebraic topology to analyze those directed graphs, as pioneered by Francesco Vaccarino at the Institute for Scientific Interchange (ISI) in Italy. The result is a representation that shows a multi-dimensional structure. The brain does not think in three dimensions but in as many as eleven dimensions. (Journal of Frontiers in Neuroscience)

November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
  • Steven Piantadosi and Celeste Kidd from Rochester University argue that human brains are so sophisticated because parents need to take care of the most helpless babies in the animal kingdom. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science

April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
  • Memory capacity revised higher (Neuroscience News)
  • Jonathon Crystal at Indiana University has shown that rat memory uses two independent working memories.
  • Chenguang Zheng at University of Texas at Austin discovered that the brain stores information in different ways (using different brain waves) for real-time and later retrieval. Real-time high-resolution information is encoded by high-frequency (short) gamma waves, whereas low-frequency (long) gamma waves are used to retrieve memories of past events. The brain can store more information on these longer waves. The latter allow our brains to play memories in "fast forward" albeit at a lower resolution.
  • Jin Hyung Lee at Stanford University has shown that high and low frequency stimulations create completely different states of mind in rat brain, from awake to unconscious. Those frequency stimulations change the firing rates of neurons in the central thalamus, which normally acts as a relay station between the body and the brain's cortex.
  • Henry Markram at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne created a digital simulation of a piece of the neocortex (31,000 neurons)

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