10 Most Awe-Inspiring Neuroscience Studies

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New studies demonstrate the deep power of human empathy, debunk right-brain and left-brain personalities, explore neural structures during sleep and way more…

It’s been an awe-inspiring few years for neuroscience.

By peering inside the living brain, neuroscientists have made all kinds of incredible discoveries.

Here are ten of my favourite–click the title to get the full story.

1Connectivity: The Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Brains 

A new study on the brains of 949 young people found striking gender differences in the brain’s connectivity between males and females. These may help explain some of the classic psychological differences between men and women.

2Hidden Caves in the Brain Open Up During Sleep to Wash Away Toxins

A new study published in the prestigious journal, Science, found that the brain may wash away toxins built up over the day during sleep.

The research discovered “hidden caves” inside the brain, which open up during sleep, allowing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to flush out potential neurotoxins, like β-amyloid, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

3Debunked: ‘Right-Brain’ and ‘Left-Brain’ Personalities

Evidence from over 1,000 fMRI brain scans finds no evidence people are ‘right-brained’ or ‘left-brained’.

4Like to Stay Up Late? Different Neural Structures Found in the Brains of Night Owls

Those who were confirmed night owls (preferring late to bed and late to rise) were found to have lower integrity of the white matter in various areas of the brain.

Lower integrity in these areas has been linked to depression and cognitive instability.

5Remote Control of the Mind – Over the Internet

Imagine if it were possible for one person to control another person’s movements over the internet, purely using their thoughts.

Well, researchers at the University of Washington have managed to set up the first ever noninvasive human-to-human brain interface.

6Brain Ultrasound: How Sound Waves Can Boost Mood

Pilot study finds mood of chronic pain patients is boosted by left-field use of ultrasound machine. Could it work for all of us?

7Social Rejection Triggers Release of Natural Painkillers in the Brain

Contrary to the old ‘sticks and stones’ saying, it seems words can and do hurt, and the brain responds accordingly.

A new study has found that the body produces natural painkillers in response to social rejection, just as if it had suffered a physical injury.

8The Brain “Sees” Objects That You Don’t Perceive

Every day, when you open your eyes in the morning, there is a huge flood of visual information from the external world into your mind.

Your brain edits this flood down to a trickle of things that are highly relevant: Where is the dressing-gown? Where is the curtain? Where is the door?

9Childhood Poverty and Stress Harms Adult Brain Function

Childhood stress and poverty linked to problems regulating the emotions in adulthood, according to a recent study.

10Neuroscience Reveals The Deep Power of Human Empathy

Without empathy, human beings are lonely, disconnected creatures.

And recent neuroscientific studies now demonstrate the enormous human capacity for empathy in the living mind.

Image credit: Saad Faruque



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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 10 January 2014

Text: © All rights reserved.

Images: Creative Commons License