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Neuroscience, cognition, and society
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  • 08/20/07--06:43: Magnetoencephalography
  • In the dark confines behind our eyes lies flesh full of mysterious patterns, constituting our hopes, desires, knowledge, and everything else fundamental to who we are. Since at least the time of Hippocrates we have wondered about the nature of this flesh and its functions. Finally, after thousands of years of wondering we are now [...]

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    Here’s an exchange of emails between PL and MC on a recently published paper (Balleine et al., 2007). Email 1 (from PL): Have a look at this introductory paragraph from a recent (Aug 2007) J Neurosci article by Balleine, Delgado and Hikosaka. What do they mean by “cognition” here? The Role of the Dorsal Striatum [...]

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    I recently published my first primary-author research study (Cole & Schneider, 2007). The study used functional MRI to discover a network of brain regions responsible for conscious will (i.e., cognitive control). It also revealed the network’s specialized parts, which each uniquely contribute to creating the emergent property of conscious will. I believe this research contributes [...]

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  • 11/06/07--12:29: The Will to be Free, Part II
  • Several months ago I posted The Will to be Free, Part I. In that post I explained that memory is the key to free will. However, this insight isn’t quite satisfactory. We need three additional things to complete the picture: the ability to choose based on predictions, internal desires, and self-awareness. (A quick disclaimer: These [...]

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    Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a method for safely measuring brain activity, has been around for about 15 years. Within the last 10 of those years a revolutionary, if mysterious, method has been developing using the technology. This method, resting state functional connectivity (rs-fcMRI), has recently gained popularity for its putative ability to measure how [...]

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    I recently watched this talk (below) by Joaquin Fuster. His theories provide a good integration of cortical functions and distributed processing in working and long-term memory. He also has some cool videos of likely network interactions across cortex (in real time) in his talk. Here is a diagram of Dr. Fuster’s view of cortical hierarchies: [...]

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    I just got back from CNS a few days ago. I thought I’d write a quick summary of one of the more interesting symposia at the conference. Taking place Monday (4/14) afternoon, The rise and fall of cognitive control: Lifespan development covered how executive brain functions develop and peak in the 20s and 30s, falling [...]

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    Keeping up with new findings is constantly becoming more difficult with the rate of publication in just cognitive neuroscience increasing by over 200 per year, with an overall increase of 2333 over the last ten years  (see figure below). I will briefly describe some methods I’ve recently discovered to help deal with this onslaught of [...]

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    Thousands of brain imaging studies are published each year. A subset of these studies are replications, or slight variations, of previous studies. Attempting to come to a solid conclusion based on the complex brain activity patterns reported by all these replications can be daunting. Meta-analysis is one tool that has been used to make sense [...]

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    Figuring out how the brain decides between two options is difficult. This is especially true for the human brain, whose activity is typically accessible only via the small and occasionally distorted window provided by new imaging technologies (such as functional MRI (fMRI)). In contrast, it is typically more accurate to observe monkey brains since the [...]

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    When you type a search into Google it figures out the most important websites based in part on how many links each has from other websites. Taking up precious website space with a link is costly, making each additional link to a page a good indicator of importance. We thought the same logic might apply [...]

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    We are rarely alone when learning something for the first time. We are social creatures, and whether it’s a new technology or an ancient tradition, we typically benefit from instruction when learning new tasks. This form of learning–in which a task is rapidly (within seconds) learned from instruction–can be referred to as rapid instructed task [...]

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    A new study – titled “Global Connectivity of Prefrontal Cortex Predicts Cognitive Control and Intelligence” – was published just last week. In it, my co-authors and I describe our research showing that connectivity with a particular part of the prefrontal cortex can predict how intelligent someone is. We measured intelligence using “fluid intelligence” tests, which measure [...]

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    I’m excited to announce that my latest scientific publication – “Multi-task connectivity reveals flexible hubs for adaptive task control” – was just published in Nature Neuroscience. The paper reports on a project I (along with my co-authors) have been working on for over a year. The goal was to use network science to better understand how [...]

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    The frontoparietal control system is to the mind what the immune system is to the body. It may oversimplify the situation, but we’re finding it’s a useful metaphor nonetheless. Indeed, we’ve just published a new theory paper explaining that there is already an avalanche of evidence supporting this metaphor. Even though much work is left [...]

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  • 03/14/15--13:50: Neurevolution relaunch
  • It’s hard to believe we started this blog over eight years ago – all the way back when we were grad students. What a long way we’ve come. Patryk is now Director of R&D at Brain Corporation, while Michael is an assistant professor at Rutgers University. Today we are relaunching Neurevolution, with a new design and ... Read more

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    Humans have come to dominate the world largely due to our intelligence relative to other species. Where does this tremendous cognitive flexibility come from? Many have considered prefrontal cortex as the origin of this boost in intelligence, yet it has remained unclear how this chunk of brain tissue could drive intelligent behavior. In a recently published ... Read more