Penn Psychology Professor Michael J. Kahana can read your mind. Well, not quite, but give him a couple years–he’s pretty close. In an attempt to show how electric signals in the human brain reflect thought, Kahana discovered that our memories form a “neural fingerprint” that is different for each person.
In this recently published study, Kahana implanted electrodes into the brains of epileptic patients about to undergo surgery. He asked them to examine, and then repeat back, a list of words. Kahana found that certain “meaning signals” allow us to group similar thoughts together, like “duck” and “goose.” Each brain does this differently, which is where the “fingerprint” business comes in. This gave him clues as to how our brains organize new information, which is quite revolutionary indeed.
“Neural fingerprints? YES, OF COURSE!” said that psychic on South Street. “We’ve been doing that this whole time.”
Penn researchers have teamed up with their pals over at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to let you know that talking to yourself is not only totally normal, but also totally healthy, because “self-directed speech” has been shown to stimulate your brain, and particularly, your memory.
“Phew! Thank goodness!” says everyone to themselves.
In other news, talking in third person is still not okay and certainly detrimental to your health.
Penetration isn’t always a good thing. Take electrodes, for example–neuroscientists have been surgically implanting electrodes into mice and rats to study their inner brain activity for decades. While the procedure is considered widely acceptable for small rodents, the idea of having sharp things jabbed inside your own brain just to, like, save lives or whatever, may not be so pleasant.
Here’s where Dr. Brian Litt, M.D. (and professor of Neurology) comes in. He and his team of researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine have come up with a way to study inner brain activity without going all Dr. Frankenstein on us. Check out a full description (plus pics!) of the device after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »