Carnegie Mellon University

2014 News

The Brain and Harry Potter

Carnegie Mellon University
December 4, 2014

Some people say that reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" taught them the importance of friends, or that easy decisions are seldom right. Carnegie Mellon University scientists used a chapter of that book to learn a different lesson: identifying what various regions of the brain are doing when people read. The work is part of CMU's new BrainHub initiative. Read more

Brain Representations of Social Thoughts Accurately Predict Autism Diagnosis

Carnegie Mellon University
December 2, 2014

Led by Psychology Professor Marcel Just, CMU researchers have created brain-reading techniques that use neural representations of social thoughts to predict autism diagnoses with 97 percent accuracy, establishing the first biologically based diagnostic tool that measures a person's thoughts to detect the disorder. Read more

Seven Tenure-Track Positions in Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University
November 13, 2014

CMU is pleased to announce seven new tenure-track faculty openings in connection with the newly announced BrainHUB initiative.BrainHUB will grow our interdisciplinary community of scholars focusing on computational, cognitive and biological neuroscience. We seek broad applicant pools, and candidates are encouraged to apply for any or all of these positions. Read more [pdf]

CMU & Pitt Researchers Identify 33 Genes That Contribute to Autism Risk

Carnegie Mellon University
October 29, 2014

According to a new study by an international research team led by the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), including Carnegie Mellon University's Kathryn Roeder and the University of Pittsburgh's Bernie Devlin, has expanded the list of genes identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from nine to 33. Read more

Unifying the Mind: Carnegie Mellon’s David Danks Outlines New Cognitive Architecture To Explain How Thought Process Works

Carnegie Mellon University
October 17, 2014

In “Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representation as Graphical Models,” Danks outlines a new cognitive architecture that explains two aspects of the human thought process: the ability to pay attention to only things that matter; and to use many different types of cognition to learn and reason about our world. Read more

CMU & University of Pittsburgh Celebrate 20 Years of Advancing Brain Research Through Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC)

Carnegie Mellon University
October 8, 2014

At the end of September, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recognized neuroscience research programs at CMU and the University of Pittsburgh for their support of the federal BRAIN Initiative. Much of what is currently being done by both universities began 20 years ago when the Richard King Mellon Foundation gave a gift of $12 million to launch a collaborative research center focused on neuroscience. The result — the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) — will celebrate its 20th anniversary Oct. 17-18 with a series of events held on both universities’ Pittsburgh campuses. Read more

CMU Brain Experts at the White House

Carnegie Mellon University
September 30, 2014

CMU BrainHub℠ experts were invited to the White House for an Office of Science and Technology Policy event. The event focused on President Obama's BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative and brought together neuroscientists and representatives from universities, industry, private research organizations and U.S. government agencies. Read more

Pittsburgh Business Leader Henry L. Hillman Provides $5 Million Gift for Carnegie Mellon's New BrainHub℠ Initiative

Carnegie Mellon University
September 30, 2014

Just weeks after the launch of a global initiative to leverage its unique strengths to impact brain research, Carnegie Mellon University has received a major boost from renowned Pittsburgh philanthropist Henry L. Hillman in the form of a new $5 million gift to support CMU's BrainHub℠. Read more

Carnegie Mellon Research Team Awarded NSF Grant to Combine Biophysical and Statistical Models of Neuronal Computation

Carnegie Mellon University
September 25, 2014

Nathan Urban, interim provost and the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences, and Robert Kass, professor of statistics and machine learning, have received a $930,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to apply biological and statistical neuroscience approaches in order to create a better overall understanding of how neurons encode information. Read more

Q: What Happens When an Athlete Suffers a Concussion? A: Poetry

Huffington Post
September 23, 2014

Tom Lombardo played football as a running back in Pittsburgh at Central Catholic High School and Carnegie Mellon University and sustained several concussions over the eight years. Concussions are a painful on the brain and can cause serious injury. Although for Tom, his concussions allowed him to articulate what his body and brain endured though the words of poetry.  Read more

Neurons and Other Memories

Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Gallery Exhibit: October 10 - 24, 2014

The human brain is a vast interconnected super highway of neurons that hold our thoughts, dreams, and memories. Monitoring and mapping these split second reactions in the brain is tough work for scientists, but when an artist shares their perspective on this neural network, they see something different. Starting October 10th, the Miller Gallery is introducing their ‘Neurons and Other Memories’ exhibition, which features investigations, translations, and reflections of neural mechanisms by artists and neuroscientists. Come see what happens when science meets art! Read more

Will we ever understand the human brain?

World Economic Forum Blog
September 11, 2014

Will we ever get our minds around the brain? Marlene Behrmann, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, says, “We have a long way to go but I think we’re making really good progress. The questions are deep, the questions are really thorny, but it’s an extremely exciting time to be in this field.” And she believes it is a cross-disciplinary cooperation that is going to make all the difference. Read more

Carnegie Mellon, Pitt Scientists Discover Why Learning Tasks Can Be Difficult

Carnegie Mellon University
August 27, 2014

Learning a new skill is easier when it is related to an ability we already have. For example, a trained pianist can learn a new melody easier than learning how to hit a tennis serve. Scientists from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) — a joint program between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh — have discovered a fundamental constraint in the brain that may explain why this happens. Read more

Carnegie Mellon Launches Global Brain Research Initiative, Leveraging Strengths in Computation and the Brain Sciences

Carnegie Mellon University
August 26, 2014

Coalescing its strengths in computer science, neuroscience, psychology and engineering, Carnegie Mellon University today announced the launch of CMU BrainHubSM, a new initiative focusing on understanding how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors. Read more

Researchers Show How Neurons Respond to Sequences of Familiar Objects

Carnegie Mellon University
August 25, 2014

The world grows increasingly more chaotic year after year, and our brains are constantly bombarded with images. A new study from Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint project between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, reveals how neurons in the part of the brain responsible for recognizing objects respond to being shown a barrage of images. The study is published online by Nature Neuroscience. Read more

Carnegie Mellon's Byron M. Yu Describes How To Find Simplicity in the Brain

Carnegie Mellon University
August 25, 2014

In a new review paper published in Nature Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University's Byron M. Yu and Columbia University's John P. Cunningham describe how dimensionality reduction has provided insight into how the brain distinguishes between different odors, makes decisions in the face of uncertainty and is able to think about moving a limb without actually moving. Read more

Statistics To Play An Important Role in the Federal BRAIN Initiative

Carnegie Mellon University
July 3, 2014

According to the American Statistical Association (ASA) working group, led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Rob Kass, professor in the Department of Statistics, the Machine Learning Department, and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, statistics must play a role in the federal BRAIN initiative in order for it to be successful. This comes in response to calls from the National Science Foundation and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy looking to see how statistics will contribute to the initiative. Read more

Gift From Infosys Co-founder To Create Research Partnership

Carnegie Mellon University
July, 2014

Global technology leader and Infosys co-founder Senapathy "Kris" Gopalakrishnan has donated $1.8 million to Carnegie Mellon University to establish a research partnership between CMU and the Centre for Brain Research at the renowned Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. The partnership will strategically leverage the research strengths of both institutions while enhancing the connection between CMU and India. Read more

Your Brain's Got Rhythm

National Public Radio
June 17, 2014

"The brain absolutely has rhythm," says CMU's Nathan Urban. Neuroscientist and head of the Department of Biological Sciences, Urban is studying the internal cadences of the brain and nervous system, and finds that they appear to play an important role in everything from walking to thinking. Abnormal rhythms, he says, have been associated with problems including schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism and Parkinson's disease. Read more

Possibilities of Mind Reading

USA Today
April 22, 2014

Mind reading technology isn't yet where the sci-fi thrillers predict it will go, but researchers like Marcel Just aren't ruling out such a future. "In principle, our thoughts could someday be readable," said Just, who directs CMU's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging. "I don't think we have to worry about this in the next 5-10 years, but it's interesting to think about. What if all of our thoughts were public?" Read more

Skills in Action

Carnegie Mellon University
January 27, 2014

CMU Psychology Professor Timothy Verstynen recently received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). "One great thing about the award is that the NSF is interested in basic science, in other words, setting up the foundation or the soil for fertile growth in a field without necessarily focusing heavily on where it will go," Verstynen said. "Doing core, basic science is important because you never know where it will take you." Read more

Understanding Unconscious Priming

Carnegie Mellon University
January 24, 2014

In a breakthrough paper published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, CMU's Roberta Klatzky and J. David Creswell illustrate the mechanisms underlying priming and explain how its effects do not always act as predicted. Priming, an unconscious phenomenon that causes the context of information to change the way we think or behave, has frustrated scientists as they have unsuccessfully attempted to understand how it works. Read more