Versus Brain Blast | Dec. 2019

In the world of neuroscience, change is the only constant. This month, we explore how our brains change us, how we change our brains, and how our brains change themselves. Enjoy and share the newest research below.

Breathe In: The Impact of Respiration on the Brain

A man closing his eyes and breathing in.
In a study at Northwestern University, neurologists discovered that subjects were better at recalling information and identifying emotions while inhaling than while exhaling. To understand this difference, the researchers looked at participants’ EEG. They found that, unlike exhalation, inhalation strongly stimulated neurons in the areas of the brain associated with memory and emotional processing.

Head Games: The Mental Side of Physical Performance

A man putts a golf ball on a course.
When training for physical performance, athletes should not forget about the brain. During a University of Limerick study, golfers were asked to watch a video of an expert putting while also listening to a description of how it physically felt to putt. The results suggest that these exercises improved the participants’ putting, particularly for those subjects who had a high level of pre-existing kinesthetic ability.

Same Difference: The Brain’s Ability to Compensate

Story via Discover
An fMRI image of a human brain.
A new study is shedding light on brain development after traumatic injury. Using an fMRI machine, Caltech researchers looked at the brains of six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed in childhood to manage their epilepsy. Surprisingly, these peoples’ brains showed connectivity and function that was similar to, or even better than, the brains of control subjects with both hemispheres.

Chill Out: The Brain’s Emotional Response to Music

A smiling woman wears a headset.

Have you ever gotten the chills from listening to music? If so, your brain may be different than those who haven’t. A Harvard University researcher found that individuals who get chills from music have more fibers connecting their auditory cortices and the emotional processing portions of their brains. As a result, these people have an increased ability to feel profound emotions, especially in relation to auditory stimuli.

Fear Factor: The Effect of Dreams on Reality

Story via BBC​
A woman lies in bed with the blanket pulled up to her eyes.

Bad dreams may help us better manage our fear while awake. A multi-university research team monitored the EEG of subjects while they slept. When participants awoke from frightening dreams, they had increased activity in the area of their brains associated with controlling the fear reaction. However, this association was broken when participants experienced intense nightmares.

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