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2017 News

Carnegie Mellon Neuroscientists Lay Groundwork for Identifying the Algorithm Behind Information Processing in the Neocortex

Mellon College of Science
March 27, 2017

Researchers in Biological Sciences Professor Alison Barth's lab have identified principles for information processing in the neocortex, an area of the brain critical for cognition. The study is one of most elaborate of its type, and lays the groundwork for understanding the algorithm neurons use to transform information during learning. The research also could further the study of disorders caused by deficits in cortical processing, like Alzheimer’s disease, autism and epilepsy.

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Adult Subcortex Processes Numbers With Same Skill as Infants

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
March 20, 2017

Despite major brain differences, many species from spiders to humans can recognize and differentiate relative quantities. Adult primates, however, are the only ones with a sophisticated cortical brain system, meaning that the others rely on a subcortex or its evolutionary equivalent.

Carnegie Mellon University scientists wanted to find out whether the adult human subcortex contributes to number processing at all. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, their study found that the adult subcortex processes numbers at the same level as infants and perhaps other lower-order species, such as guppies and spiders.

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Computational Biologist Part of All-Star Alzheimer's Collaboration

School of Computer Science
February 20, 2017

As part of an international research team assembled by the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, Andreas Pfenning will use computational techniques to potentially identify thousands of genetic sequences that hold therapeutic potential for Alzheimer's disease. He is also developing new biological techniques to test the function of those human DNA fragments in the brains of mice.

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Innovation in Brain Imaging

College of Engineering
February 16, 2017

Writers and scientists throughout history have searched for an apt technological analogy for the human brain, often comparing it to a computer. For CMU's Pulkit Grover, this analogy couldn’t be more fitting. Although Grover and his research team spend much of their time exploring how information flows through computer networks (such as coding systems, cyberphysical systems, and low-power wireless systems), they also apply these information theory principles to brain-imaging systems. This cross-disciplinary research approach bridges mathematical theory with clinical applications—striving to improve the treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy.

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How to Speed Read the Internet

January 29, 2017

Skimming can serve as an exercise in efficiency and prioritization: Is what you’re reading actually worth your time? According to Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon, “Sometimes you’re really familiar with something and you can reconstruct the text after skimming. Speed reading isn’t a good method for expanding your knowledge base, but it is a good way to quickly determine what some piece of writing is about and whether it’s worthwhile to go read it in detail or not.”

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How To Survive Nail-Biter Football Games, According to Science

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
January 19, 2017

For the millions of people watching NFL football games this weekend, it is not all fun and games. Rooting for your favorite team can leave you feeling anxious and stressed — right down to the last second.

The good news is that there is a way to help manage your stress reactions during the game. Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve stress management, and CMU scientists are leading the way to understanding how and why.

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