Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
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Short answer It has been shown that loss of long-term memories may enhance the retrieval of others. Short-term working memory is explicitly designed to be volatile and non-lasting. However, there are many other types of memories where memory loss may not be explicitly beneficial, or even outright debilitating such as in the case of Alzheimer's or stroke. ...


16

The idea that we only use 10% of our brain capacity is a myth. There is a great article at wired.com that discusses the myth and it's history. There is really no reason to evolve an entire brain of which only 10% is used. One great point that they make is that minor brain damage can cause devastating effects, not what you would expect if you had 90% ...


12

Limiting the conversation to mammals, and taking relative brain size as a proxy for intelligence (which, of course is not necessarily "true", but at least is quantifiable), the answer is yes: body-size relative brain size correlates with body-size relative longevity in mammals. using a global database of 493 species, we provide evidence showing that ...


9

It's very likely that memory is "lossy" and holographic, such that you can keep adding more information indefinitely, but retain it with less and less accuracy. Memory isn't a digital storage system with X gigabytes of capacity, and the inputs to memory aren't neat little packets. What we remember are a web of associations and patterns. Vastly ...


8

Three possible mechanisms are mentioned in the first referenced article [1]: Attentional blink - the failure to detect a (visual) stimulus [2]. Visual short-term memory - non-permanent storage of visual information over an extended period of time [3]. Psychological refractory period - the period of time during which the response to a second stimulus is ...


8

Memory is formed by building connections between nerve cells (i.e. neurons). These connections are called synapses. The synapses form a network between several (or tens or hundreds) of neurons, therefore giving us the ability to retrieve something we had memorized before. Learning something new requires building new connections, but the older connections ...


7

One famous person, Solomon Shereshevsky, had an unusual ability to remember everything he encountered: sights, numbers, words in foreign languages, events from infancy, and more. Unfortunately, S’s gift was a serious handicap. He was unable to block unwanted memories. Also, he had a terrible memory for faces because he memorized them so exactly. People’s ...


6

I recommend Yoshua Bengio's recent works. E.g.: https://arxiv.org/abs/1502.04156 and his slides from the NIPS 2016 Brains and Bits workshop. Also, Timothy Lillicrap's work: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13276 This is still a big open question. In short, we (the neuroscience community) have little idea on how the brain learns at a circuit/systems ...


5

In your question, you ask about processing and sampling. I'd like to make a distinction between sampling, which in my view does not have a framerate, and perception which there is some evidence that there is sort of a framerate (though not as concrete as the framerate of a video display, for example). Processing is everything in between, and as such, whether ...


5

Who says it has to be good? We cannot assume that every trait that evolves is beneficial to the species. A lot of people assume that the species of an ecosystem will evolve optimally; that is, they assume each species evolves to have the best possible genes for its environment. My understanding is this is not the case. Species have to adapt or face ...


4

Not in the same sense as in artificial neural networks. Importantly, there is no biological mechanism for errors to be back-propagated further than a single cell/synapse. You can look into spike timing dependent plasticity which uses a back-propagating signal within a single neuron, but this is not a back-propagation of an error so it does not accomplish ...


4

There is definite truth in the notion that we do not use the full capacity of our cortex. It is generally accepted that there is a reserve present in the brain that can act as a backup for cerebral damage. Brain reserve can be defined in terms of the amount of damage that can be sustained before reaching a threshold for clinical expression (Stern, 2002). A ...


3

Short answer Visual perception and visual imagery draw on much of the same neural machinery. Background I have interpreted your question as: What are the common neural circuitries between visual sensation and the imagination of sensation? In neuroimaging, mental imagery of visual images is a big deal. For example, there is a large body of literature on ...


3

What are the advantages of forgetting? Perhaps the question asked should be what is the disadvantage of remembering every little detail? The answer is cost. It cost energy/neuron to remember everything. Neural tissue are expensive to maintain and feed. At rest, the human brain consume 20% of all calories. And that is alot of energy when the human brain is ...


3

I can't think of any biological basis for such a study. CO2 is produced as a waste product of metabolism and exists in the blood and lungs at levels far higher than atmospheric levels (~100X). Relative to the air in the lungs, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 might as well be zero. Very high atmospheric CO2 (relative to normal atmospheric levels) can ...


3

There has been a study by Jackson, Meltzoff & Decety (2005) who investigated the neurocorrelates involved in the perception of pain. In order to assess this, they carried out an fMRI study in which their subjects were shown photographs of of feet and hands in situations that are likely to evoke pain and also a control set of photos that were free of any ...


3

The phenomenon you describe is known as tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, where you know there is a word, and you feel it's "right on the tip of the tongue, but doesn't come out". The phenomenon is normal and tends to worsen with age. Only in case it becomes so strong that it seriously interferes with daily life, it can be considered a medical condition (anomic ...


3

I think this website provides a pretty surprisingly thorough breakdown of avian brain anatomy, including historical contexts and debate around what exactly is homologous and what is not, and whether 'homologous' is a useful bit of information. In short: It was thought until recently that the bird brain was just the core of the mammal brain with some layers ...


3

In a study by Wight et al. (2013) [1] it was shown that bees feeding on nectar containing caffeine seem to enhance the bees' memory of those flowers. They hypothesized this based on the fact that: Two caffeine-producing plant genera, Citrus and Coffea, have large floral displays with strong scents and produce more fruits and seeds when pollinated by ...


3

Caffeine response is dependant on the individual. Caffeine has a very similar chemical make-up to adenosine which your body uses to transfer the energy you eat into energy your body can actually use (chemical energy). When your body has enough adenosine, it begins what is called a negative feedback cycle that stops adenosine production and sustains ...


2

It is assumed that this effect of locomotive behavior IS an effect on cognition (1-4). Navigation requires snapshot memory, learning, and attention (2-4). You asked if this effect of neonicotinoids on cognition manifests itself through other vital behaviors. The short answer, yes. Specifically neonicotinoids are shown to effect mating, queen behavior, and ...


2

It is thought that binaural beats entrain the brain in the frequency of the binaural beat. These beat frequencies show up in the EEG. The EEG in turn represents synchronous activity in the cerebral cortex (Fig. 1). Fig. 1. EEG frequency bands and their associate mental states. source: Conor Russomanno Now if you look at where 10 Hz EEG waves show up it is ...


1

Your point #1 is correct, signal propagation is not instantaneous in real physical world. But for some models it is "good enough" to approximate action potential to go through axon in an instance. There is also biological role of signal propagation timing. One example, is classic Hebbian learning model. Based on "fire together - wire together" idea, ...


1

Long term exposure to hyperoxia actually does more harm than good. Though short term hyperoxia is recommended after brain injuries (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/741751_3) as a valid clinical strategy. For lower concentrations of oxygen, there seems to be evidence that cognitive function is improved: You can read more about that here: Chung, Soon-...


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This is too long to be a comment. Life expectancy is apparently affected the size of an animal, and this is especially evident in mammals and supported by the heartbeat hypothesis. This hypothesis says that all mammals have a similar number of heartbeats, and that the larger an animal is, the less heart beats it has per minute. Therefore, the larger an ...


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