Carnegie Mellon University

2015 News

CMU Develops New Tool for Analyzing Synaptic Density

Carnegie Mellon University
December 28, 2015

The high-throughput machine-learning tool developed by Alison Barth and colleagues could help researchers better understand synaptic activity in learning and disease. Learn more

Social Stress: Brain Circuitry Fails To Connect in Children With Autism

Carnegie Mellon University - Dietrich College
December 15, 2015

An innovative brain imaging study has uncovered new evidence explaining why "theory of mind" deficiencies are present in ASD children. Learn more

Call for Applications: Spring 2016 ProSEED/BrainHub Seed Grants

Carnegie Mellon University
December 15, 2015

The goal of the ProSEED/BrainHub seed grant program is to initiate or develop new projects that promote the application of novel approaches to the study of brain and behavior or the connection between these two. Applications are due February 12, 2016. Learn more

Immortal Thoughts

Carnegie Mellon Today
December 14, 2015

When it comes to the brain, so much is still unknown. Researchers at BrainHub, an initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, are looking for answers. One question in particular brought a panel of experts together at CMU—whether “downloading consciousness” is a future possibility or merely science fiction. Learn more

Why The Brain Makes Mistakes

Carnegie Mellon University - College of Engineering
December 8, 2015

The new research suggests that when the brain makes a mistake, it actually thinks that it is making the correct decision—its neural signals are consistent with its inner beliefs, but not with what is happening in the real world. Learn more

How Does The Brain Learn?

Carnegie Mellon University
December 8, 2015

In this video, Byron Yu, associate professor of engineering, talks about how he uses brain-computer interface tools and other technologies to study how the brain learns. Yu is working to develop systems to help people learn more effectively. Watch the video

Art + the Brain

Carnegie Mellon University - Dietrich College News
December 4, 2015

Patricia Maurides often works at the intersection of art and science. A biologist and visual artist, the adjunct professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University is known for designing courses that integrate fine arts practice with the disciplines of biology, neuroscience and psychology. Learn more

How Does the Brain Rapidly Deconstruct What We See?

Carnegie Mellon University
December 1, 2015

This is one of the questions Psychology Professor Marlene Behrmann is working to answer. In this video, she talks about how she uses the latest analytical methods such as machine learning and statistical analysis to understand the psychological and neural mechanisms behind the visual perception system. Watch the video

CMU Receives $3 Million NIH Grant To Study Healthy Aging

Carnegie Mellon University
November 30, 2015

David Creswell blends health psychology and neuroscience to investigate the mechanisms and pathways for stress resilience, and in the process has helped to define the new field of health neuroscience. His work utilizes stress management approaches, such as mindfulness meditation and self-affirmation, to study the neurobiology of stress resilience circuits in the brain. Read more

Studying the Human Visual System

Carnegie Mellon University
November 24, 2015

Michael J. Tarr is a world-renowned cognitive scientist who studies the human visual system. In this video, he talks about Carnegie Mellon University’s long history in brain research, his own work and what the future holds for CMU’s BrainHub initiative. Watch the video

Downloading Consciousness: Connectomics and Computer Science

BrainHub Panel Discussion
November 20, 2015

How are circuits constructed to give rise to cognition? Have we nearly passed the Turing test? Neuroscientists are making great strides in investigating motifs for cellular and synaptic connectivity in the brain, with the hope that they might be able to reconstruct "thought" by understanding the component parts. Conversely, computer scientists are using different strategies to create better and better interfaces for devices to interact with us in a way that is indistinguishable from another human. Watch the video

Brains With Autism Adapt Differently During Implicit Learning

Carnegie Mellon University
November 19, 2015

CMU scientists have discovered a crucial difference in the way learning occurs in the brains of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This finding may explain why people with ASD might have difficulty with everyday social interactions, if their learning of implicit social cues has been altered. Read more

Study: Navigational skills help improve brain functions

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
November 17, 2015

Neuroscientists from Carnegie Mellon University can answer why gray matter in the hippocampus actually grows during the mental exercise of route planning — the physiology of why cabbies have bigger hippocampi. Read more

Video: What is BrainHub?

Carnegie Mellon University
November 4, 2015

Learn how Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHub research initiative builds on the university’s strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering to study on how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors, and develops new technologies that stand to transform neuroscience. Watch the video

Mental Maps: Route-Learning Changes Brain Tissue

Carnegie Mellon University
October 28, 2015

Findings Establish Critical Link Between Structural and Functional Brain Changes During Learning. Read more

Panel Discussion: "Downloading Consciousness: Connectomics and Computer Science"

Carnegie Mellon University
October 15, 2015

Neuroscientists are making great strides in investigating motifs for cellular and synaptic connectivity in the brain, with the hope that they might be able to reconstruct "thought" by understanding the component parts. Conversely, computer scientists are using different strategies to create better and better interfaces for devices to interact with us in a way that is indistinguishable from another human. Join us for a panel discussion on these top-down and bottom-up approaches to replicate cognition. Read more

Difficulty Processing Speech May Be an Effect of Dyslexia, Not a Cause

Carnegie Mellon University
October 8, 2015

The cognitive skills used to learn how to ride a bike may be the key to a more accurate understanding of developmental dyslexia. And they may lead to improved interventions. Read more

Training by Repetition Actually Prevents Learning for Those With Autism

Carnegie Mellon University
October 5, 2015

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes acquire a new behavior or skill only in a specific context, but they have difficulty transferring that learned skill or information to a new context. Read more

BrainHub and CNBC Interim Leadership Appointments Announced

Carnegie Mellon University
September 24, 2015

Provost Farnam Jahanian announced two interim leadership appointments in the field of brain science, an established and growing area of expertise at Carnegie Mellon University. Read more

Position Available: Director, BrainHub at Carnegie Mellon University

September 24, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University invites applications for the Director of BrainHub, a global research partnership that harnesses technology to better understand brain and behavior. Read more

Bright Minds, Big Ideas

Carnegie Mellon University
September 23, 2015

Ten faculty members of Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering, School of Computer Science, Dietrich College and the Tepper School of Business have received the Summer 2015 Google Research Awards. Read more

A Group Effort to Crack the Brain's Code

September 18, 2015

The tricky thing about the brain, though, is that it exists at the nexus of many different disciplines: psychology, neuroscience, chemistry, and biology (to name just a few). And you can’t make a lot of progress unless people in the different areas of research talk to each other. That’s happening in Pittsburgh, where a massive project at Carnegie Mellon University is aiming to understand the three pounds of stuff between our ears. Read more, listen on SoundCloud or listen on iTunes

This will also be aired on WESA FM at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. 

BrainHub Scientists Visualize Critical Part of Basal Ganglia Pathways

Carnegie Mellon University
August 17, 2015

Professor Timothy Verstynen’s latest research involves a breakthrough could help see the pathways that degenerate with Parkinson’s and Huntingdon’s disease.  Read more

New Information Is Easier To Learn When Composed of Familiar Elements

Carnegie Mellon University
August 13, 2015

CMU psychologists, led by Professor Lynne Reder, uncover a critical relationship between working memory and the strength of information “chunks.”  Read more

Gittis and Brasier Author Perspectives Piece in Science

Carnegie Mellon University
August 13, 2015

Learning or changing a behavior relies on a coordinated network of communication and responses between the cells in the brain. Read more

BrainHub Engineers Receive NSF Grant To Study Neuron Variability and Motor Learning

Carnegie Mellon University
August 12, 2015

Grant Is Part of the NSF’s Support of the BRAIN Initiative. Read more

World Economic Forum Selects CMU BrainHub Startup as Technology Pioneer

Carnegie Mellon University
August 5, 2015

Neon’s proprietary technology uses cognitive science, neuroscience and machine learning tools to understand how humans see and react to images, and selects images that emotionally resonate with viewers. Read more

Neuroscience-based Algorithms Make for Better Networks

Carnegie Mellon University
July 15, 2015

Researchers from CMU and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have, for the first time, determined the rate at which the developing brain eliminates unneeded connections between neurons during early childhood. Read more

Postdoctoral Positions in Neural Image Analysis and Computational Neuroscience

Carnegie Mellon University
July 14, 2015

Successful candidates will join the labs of Ge Yang (Department of Biomedical Engineering & Department of Computational Biology) and Sandra Kuhlman (Department of Biological Sciences & Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition) and will interact with world-class research programs at CMU in neuroscience, bioimage informatics, computer vision, machine learning and related areas. Read the PDF

BrainHub Research Projects Receive ProSEED Funding

Carnegie Mellon University
July 6, 2015

The projects range from creating advanced diagnostics for mild traumatic brain injury to studying how the brain responds to mechanical stimuli. Read more »

Curci Foundation Provides Funding for Research in Neuroscience

Carnegie Mellon University
June 29, 2015

The grant will allow professors to teach mice to use brain-computer interfaces, which could provide new information about the neural basis of learning, behavior and motor control. Read more »

BrainHub Lecture Series: Bob Glushko

Carnegie Mellon University
June 16, 2015

CMU hosted Bob Glushko, University of California at Berkeley Professor and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur. In his lecture, he presented a case study, "The Discipline of Organizing" [pdf]. See the presentation slides [pdf].

Carnegie Mellon to Host GEM4 Summer Institute on the Brain and Mechanics

Carnegie Mellon University
June 15, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University hosts the Global Enterprise for Micro-Mechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4) Summer Institute on Neuroscience and Cellular Mechanics June 22–July 3, 2015. Read more

Scientists Gain First Glimpse of New Concepts Developing in the Brain

Carnegie Mellon University
June 9, 2015

Published in Human Brain Mapping, the scientists have — for the first time — documented the formation of a newly learned concept inside the brain, which shows that it occurs in the same brain areas for everyone. Read more

Carnegie Mellon's Marlene Behrmann Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Carnegie Mellon University
April 28, 2015

Behrmann, the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and CMU co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), is the first female scientist from CMU to be elected to the NAS. Behrmann joined the CMU faculty in 1993 and is widely considered to be one of the foremost experts in the cognitive neuroscience of visual perception. Read more

Carnegie Mellon Scientists Make Film Debut in Baseball Documentary

Carnegie Mellon University
April 20, 2015

Scientists from the Mellon College of Science and Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences are appearing in "Fastball," a baseball documentary produced by CMU Trustee Thomas Tull and directed by eight-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock. The film is being shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. Read more

Pop Psychology: CMU's Verstynen Uses Social Media to Make Neuroscience Relatable to the General Public

Carnegie Mellon University
April 13, 2015

Carnegie Mellon psychology professor Timothy Verstynen understands that science is serious work. But he also believes strongly in making science relatable to general audiences. His approach caught the attention of the National Science Foundation, which conducted a Q&A with him on the subject. Read more

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Discover How Pain Fine-Tunes Pain Relief

Carnegie Mellon University
April 10, 2015

At the cellular level, pain and pain relief are caused by two different signaling pathways. According to a study published by Carnegie Mellon researchers in Cell Reports, the mechanism by which cellular signals for pain fine-tunes neurons’ sensitivity to opioids, medications that relieve pain. The finding could help researchers better understand pain and addiction. Read more

Autism: Making Progress

Carnegie Mellon University
April 1, 2015

According to a 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, autism — a complex developmental disease — will affect one out of every 68 children born in the United States. The lifetime cost to care for a child with autism is estimated to be as great as $2.4 million. While no single cause or cure has yet to be found, there is optimism as researchers — including several at Carnegie Mellon University — are making significant progress with groundbreaking discoveries that are being highlighted this April during National Autism Awareness Month. Read more

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Create "Wikipedia" for Neurons

Carnegie Mellon University
March 30, 2015

The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this “brain big data,” researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have used data mining to create, a publicly available website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons. Read more

Teaching Science to the Brain: Carnegie Mellon Scientists Discover How the Brain Learns the Way Things Work

Carnegie Mellon University
March 17, 2015

When you learn a new technical concept, something happens in your brain, but exactly what has been a mystery until now. For the first time, Carnegie Mellon University scientists have traced the brain processes that occur during the learning of technical concepts. Published in NeuroImage, the findings reveal how new technical knowledge is built up in the brain during the course of different learning stages. The findings foreshadow the capability to assess the effectiveness of instruction and efficiency of learning by monitoring changes in the brain. Read more

Carnegie Mellon Neuroscientists Identify Way Several Brain Areas Communicate

Carnegie Mellon University
March 4, 2015

Using diffusion spectrum imaging and fiber technology, Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientists have identified a new way that several brain areas communicate in the striatum. The findings illustrate structural and functional connections that allow the brain to use reinforcement learning to make spatial decisions. This discovery will impact learning and could lead to improved treatments for Parkinson's disease. Read more

Carnegie Mellon BrainHub Announces Recipients of ProSEED Funding

Carnegie Mellon University
March 2, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University has funded eight new neuroscience projects through its ProSEED grant program. The projects propose innovative solutions to answer some of the most pressing questions in brain science and represent the university’s strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering. Read more

Intermediary Neuron Acts as Synaptic Cloaking Device, Carnegie Mellon Study Says

Carnegie Mellon University
February 26, 2015

In the study published in the March 16 issue of Current Biology, neuroscientists Joanna Urban-Ciecko and Alison Barth found that a class of inhibitory neurons, called somatostatin cells, send out a signal — much like a cloaking device — that silences neighboring excitatory neurons. This cloaking device allows the cells to change the brain’s circuitry at will, which stands to dramatically impact how scientists understand and use the connectome. Read more

Researchers Reveal How Mindfulness Training Affects Health

Carnegie Mellon University
February 12, 2015

CMU Psychology Professor J. David Creswell and graduate student Emily K. Lindsay have developed a model suggesting that mindfulness influences health via stress reduction pathways. Their work, published in “Current Directions in Psychological Science,” describes the biological pathways linking mindfulness training with reduced stress and stress-related disease outcomes. Read more

Bringing Texture to Flat Touchscreens: New Insight Into How Brain Understands Data From Fingers

Carnegie Mellon University
February 9, 2015

Roberta Klatzky, the Charles J. Queenan Jr. Professor of Psychology and Human Computer Interaction, was part of a team that developed a new mathematical model and experimental results on "haptic illusions” that could one day lead to flatscreen displays featuring active touchback technology, such as making your touchscreen’s keyboard actually feel like a keyboard. Read more

MIT's Ed Boyden To Receive Andrew Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences

Carnegie Mellon University
January 23, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University will award the third annual Andrew Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences to Ed Boyden, associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. Read more

Unique neural patterns revealed in autistic brains

Carnegie Mellon University
January 19, 2015

New research led by Carnegie Mellon and the Weizmann Institute recently published in Nature Neuroscience shows that the brains of individuals with autism display unique synchronization patterns, something that could impact earlier diagnosis of the disorder and future treatments. Read more

Damaged Brains Give Clues to Neural Pathways for Recognizing People and Movement

Carnegie Mellon University
January 12, 2015

As scientists work to unlock the mysteries of the brain, they are finding that often it’s brains that have been damaged that can help reveal the correspondence between brain function and behavior. Such is the case in new research collaboration that includes Carnegie Mellon’s Marlene Behrmann, co-director of the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition. Read more

Carnegie Mellon's John R. Anderson To Attend White House Workshop on Bridging Neuroscience and Learning

Carnegie Mellon University
January 9, 2015

CMU's John R. Anderson has been invited to participate in a White House Workshop on Bridging Neuroscience and Learning on Friday, Jan. 23 in Washington, D.C. Anderson is renowned for his work that combines cognitive psychology and computer science to understand how the brain works, how people learn and how computer-based instructional systems can be used as educational aids. Read more

International Research Effort Gives Neuroscientists Better Feeling About Sense of Touch

Carnegie Mellon University
January 5, 2015

How does the brain control how tightly to hold a paper cup, or how our skin reacts to a cold wind? Carnegie Mellon professor of biological sciences Alison Barth is part of a research team that is discovering specific neural networks responsible for how our bodies perceives somatosensation – the sense of touch, perhaps the least understood of the senses. Read more