Tag: Brain

Scientists Have Created Brain Implants That Could Boost Our Memory By Up To 30%


Scientists have developed a groundbreaking brain implant that can boost human memory.

In recent years, studies have shown that so-called ‘memory prostheses’ can be used to improve memory in rodents and primates, helping them to perform better on cognitive tasks.

Now, researchers have shown for the first time that the technique can enhance human memory, too, by mimicking processes that occur naturally in the brain.

The new study, presented at the Society of Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC this past weekend, found that stimulating a region in the brain responsible for learning and memory can improve performance on memory tasks by up to 30 percent.

Researchers recruited 20 volunteers who were undergoing epilepsy monitoring, in which they were fitted with electrodes targeting the brain’s hippocampus.




Subjects were first asked to participate in a training session, where they were given visual delayed-match-to-sample (DMS) tasks.

Each participant was shown images in a sample presentation, and later had to recall the images during a match phase up to 75 seconds later.

The researchers then modeled the neural recordings from the training session to pinpoint the regions likely activated during the task.

Then, in a second session, the researchers used the implant to stimulate the subjects’ brains with micro-electric shocks based on the model.

In the trials, the technique was found to improve performance by as much as 30 percent.

While prior research has shown similar methods to enhance memory in some mammals, the researchers say it’s the first time it’s been demonstrated in humans.

These studies have yielded a prosthetic system that restored DMS task-related memory in rodents and nonhuman primates, and is now extended to successful memory facilitation in humans,” the authors wrote in an abstract detailing their presentation.

The work has implications for the treatment of memory disorders, suggesting that stimulating the brain based on patterns in a healthy brain could help to improve function, according to New Scientist.

And, it could pave the way for memory-enhancing prosthetics.

Cognitive task performance on MIMO stimulated trials was compared with non-stimulated and random pattern stimulated trials,” according to the researchers.

MIMO stimulation resulted in a 15-25% improvement in DMS task performance in five patients, demonstrating successful implementation of a new neural prosthetic system for the restoration of damaged human memory.”

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Are Fidget Toys Legitimately Good For Your Brain?

Fidget” isn’t exactly a word with the most positive of connotations. For many of us, it recalls veiled childhood threats of “stop fidgeting or,” and then the promised removal of something we value more highly than fidgeting.

Type “stop” into Google’s search box and “stop fidget” is one of the first recommendations its autocomplete feature presents you with.

But fidgeting, like beloved 1990s TV properties, is making a comeback.

Last year, the creators of Fidget Cube a Kickstarter desk toy allowing users to click, roll, flip, glide, spin and assorted fidgety verbs set out to raise $15,000 to make their product a reality.

They wound up raking in $6,465,690 from 154,926 backers.

Fidget Cube has inevitably been followed by a number of other crowdfunding campaigns designed to appeal to the twitchy fingers of those who supported it.




One was a fidget pen called Think Ink, which combines a titanium pen exterior with a number of tactile elements for distracted fingers to play with. It made more than quadruple its funding target.

I made this for my daughter,” co-founder Kent Lyon said.

She had just started a new job, which she nervous about, and started noticing that she was fidgeting a whole lot. Whether it was clicking her pen or playing with her hair, she found that she couldn’t stop doing something with her hands.” Lyon gave Think Ink the subtitle “Fidget to focus.

But is this really a thing — or is the idea that a distracting toy can actually help us just a pseudoscientific marketing ploy?

It’s tempting to bust out the klaxons at the breaking news that a fidget toy purveyor thinks fidget toys increase productivity.

However, it just may be correct.

Research has shown that even small repetitive activities can increase the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain in a way that increases our ability to focus and pay attention.

Even if the fidget you are carrying out involves minimal concentration fidgeting with a pen, chewing gum, or doodling on a piece of paper this type of multitasking can positively impact the outcome of a particular task.

This is especially noticeable when dealing with children with ADHD, as Purdue University professor Sydney Zentall has noted in her work.

According to Zentall, while failure to stay on task can reduce work speed and production, there is no evidence that most “distractions” increase errors among children with ADHD.

Surprisingly, she said, these kind of fidget distractions “may actually help the child perform in the classroom, especially when tasks are long and tedious.

That is, off-task looking may provide ‘doses’ of environmental stimulation that the child needs.

There is even evidence that fidgeting can have a positive impact on people’s physical health.

Examinations regarding the physical benefits of fidgeting are relatively few and far between, but a 2008 study tracked daily movements for a group of slim and overweight women, and discovered that the slimmer group tended to fidget more.

If the obese women adopted the activity patterns of the lean women,” the authors of the study noted, they might burn an extra 300 calories per day.

Sure, you’re never going to match a five-mile run by playing with your Fidget Cube, but the findings suggest that every little bit helps.

Ultimately, we’re still still a long way from the makers of fidget-focused desk toys being able to make explicit medical claims for their devices — but it seems that there is real scientific evidence to suggest that fidgeting has an important role to play in our lives.

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Why Are We Still Using Electroconvulsive Therapy?

The idea of treating a psychiatric illness by passing a jolt of electricity through the brain was one of the most controversial in 20th Century medicine.

So why are we still using a procedure described by its critics as barbaric and ineffective?

Sixty-four-year-old John Wattie says his breakdown in the late 1990s was triggered by the collapse of his marriage and stress at work.

We had a nice house and a nice lifestyle, but it was all just crumbling away. My depression was starting to overwhelm me. I lost control, I became violent,” he explains.

John likens the feeling to being in a hole, a hole he could not get out of despite courses of pills and talking therapies.




But now, he says, all of that has changed thanks to what is one of the least understood treatments in psychiatry – electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

“Before ECT I was the walking dead. I had no interest in life, I just wanted to disappear. After ECT I felt like there was a way out of it. I felt dramatically better.

The use of electricity to treat mental illness started out as an experiment. In the 1930s psychiatrists noticed some heavily distressed patients would suddenly improve after an epileptic fit.

Passing a strong electric current through the brain could trigger a similar seizure and – they hoped – a similar response.

By the 1960s it was being widely used to treat a variety of conditions, notably severe depression.

But as the old mental asylums closed down and aggressive physical interventions like lobotomies fell out of favour, so too did electroshock treatment, as ECT was previously known.

The infamous ECT scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest cemented the idea in the public’s mind of a brutal treatment, although by the time the film was released in 1975 it was very rarely given without a general anaesthetic.

Perhaps more significantly, new anti-depressant drugs introduced in the 1970-80s gave doctors new ways to treat long-term mental illness.

But for a group of the most severely depressed patients, ECT has remained one of the last options on the table when other therapies have failed.

Annually in the UK around 4,000 patients, of which John is one, still undergo ECT.

It’s not intuitive that causing seizures can be good for depression but it’s long been determined that ECT is effective,” says Professor Ian Reid at the University of Aberdeen, who heads up the team treating John.

In the 75 years since ECT was first used scientists have argued about why and how it might work. The latest theories build on the idea of hyperconnectivity.

This new concept in psychiatry suggests parts of the brain can start to transmit signals in a dysfunctional way, overloading the system and leading to conditions from depression to autism.

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This Is How Space Can Mess With the Astronaut’s Brain

Scientists already know a lot more than they used to about what space can do to the body, thanks in large part to identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly.

Earlier this year, NASA published the earliest results of its twin study, comparing the physical changes found in Scott, who spent a year aboard the International Space Station, to those found in Mark, who was on Earth during the same time period.

The results: Scott returned to his home planet two inches taller, with weaker vision and declining bone formation, among other things. But he also experienced some symptoms that were more neurological in nature, like loss of fine motor skills and slower reaction time.




And now, researchers have a better understanding of why that might be the case: A study recently published in the journal Microgravity and highlighted by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest outlines, for the first time, how living in space can change the human brain.

The study authors scanned the brains of 27 astronauts before they embarked on their missions into space some on two-week space shuttle missions, and others for six-month stints aboard the ISS and again once they came back. As Jarrett explains:

On average, after experiencing spaceflight, the astronauts brains had shrunk in various frontal and temporal regions and in the cerebellum (a region at the back of the brain involved in coordination, among other things).

“Meanwhile, there were also some more localised areas in which brain volume appeared to have increased, on average, including in parts of the parietal lobe, which are involved in motor control. This might reflect changes to brain structure involved in the astronauts’ adaptation to a micro-gravity environment.

As Jarrett notes, the study isn’t without its flaws. Plenty of the astronauts had already been to space, for example, which may have already altered their neurological structures.

Still, it’s a cool look at how the brain adjusts to life with less gravity — and a helpful one, assuming we ever make it to Mars.

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The Effects Of Concussions On The Brain

A blow or jolt to the head can disrupt the normal function of the brain. This is called a brain injury, or concussion.

Doctors may describe these injuries as “mild” because concussions are usually not life threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

After a concussion, some people lose consciousness or are “knocked out” for a short time, but not always — you can have a brain injury without losing consciousness.

Because the brain is very complex, every brain injury is different. Some symptoms may appear right away, while others may not show up for days or weeks after the concussion.

Sometimes the injury makes it hard for people to recognize or to admit that they are having problems.




The signs of concussion can be subtle. Early on, problems may be missed by patients, family members, and doctors. People may look fine even though they’re acting or feeling differently.

Because all brain injuries are different, so is concussion recovery. Most people with mild injuries recover fully, but it can take time. Some symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer.

In general, recovery is slower in older persons. Also, persons who have had a concussion in the past may find that it takes longer to recover from their current injury.

This article explains what can happen after a concussion, how to get better, and where to go for more information and help when needed.

Medical Help

People with a concussion need to be seen by a doctor. Most people with concussions are treated in an emergency department or a doctor’s office. Some people must stay in the hospital overnight for further treatment.

Sometimes the doctors may do a CT scan of the brain or do other tests to help diagnose your injuries. Even if the brain injury doesn’t show up on these tests, you may still have a concussion.

Your doctor will send you home with important instructions to follow. For example, your doctor may ask someone to wake you up every few hours during the first night and day after your injury.

Danger Signs — Adults

In rare cases, along with a concussion, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain and crowd the brain against the skull.

Contact your doctor or emergency department right away if, after a blow or jolt to the head, you have any of these danger signs:

  • Headaches that get worse
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting

The people checking on you should take you to an emergency department right away if you:

  • Cannot be awakened
  • Have one pupil — the black part in the middle of the eye — larger than the other
  • Have convulsions or seizures
  • Have slurred speech
  • Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated

Danger Signs — Children

Take your child to the emergency department right away if the child has received a blow or jolt to the head and:

  • Has any of the danger signs for adults
  • Won’t stop crying
  • Can’t be consoled
  • Won’t nurse or eat Although you should contact your child’s doctor if your child vomits more than once or twice, vomiting is more common in younger children and is less likely to be an urgent sign of danger than it is in an adult.

The type of brain injury called a concussion has many symptoms. These symptoms are usually temporary, but may last for days, weeks, or even longer.

Generally, if you feel that “something is not quite right,” or if you’re “feeling foggy,” you should talk with your doctor.

Young Children

Although children can have the same symptoms of brain injury as adults, it is harder for young children to let others know how they are feeling.

Call your child’s doctor if your child seems to be getting worse or if you notice any of the following:

  • Listlessness, tiring easily
  • Irritability, crankiness
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Change in the way they play
  • Change in the way they perform or act at school
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking

How fast people recover from brain injury varies from person to person. Although most people have a good recovery, how quickly they improve depends on many factors.

These factors include how severe their concussion was, what part of the brain was injured, their age, and how healthy they were before the concussion.

Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. You’ll need to be patient because healing takes time.

Return to your daily activities, such as work or school, at your own pace. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.

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According To Study, Magic Mushrooms ‘Reboot’ Brain In Depressed People

Magic mushrooms may effectively “reset” the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics suggests.

Psychedelics have shown promising results in the treatment of depression and addictions in a number of clinical trials over the last decade.

Imperial College London researchers used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms – to treat a small number of patients with depression, monitoring their brain function, before and after.

Images of patients’ brains revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms and participants in the trial reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, who led the study, said: “We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments.




Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted’.

Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy.

“Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy.”

For the study, published in Scientific Reports on Friday, 20 patients with treatment-resistant depression were given two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg), with the second dose a week after the first.

Of these, 19 underwent initial brain imaging and then a second scan one day after the high dose treatment.

The team used two main brain imaging methods to measure changes in blood flow and the crosstalk between brain regions, with patients reporting their depressive symptoms through completing clinical questionnaires.

Immediately following treatment with psilocybin, patients reported a decrease in depressive symptoms, such as improvements in mood and stress relief.

MRI imaging revealed reduced blood flow in areas of the brain, including the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped region of the brain known to be involved in processing emotional responses, stress and fear.

The authors believe the findings provide a new window into what happens in the brains of people after they have ‘come down’ from a psychedelic, with an initial disintegration of brain networks during the drug ‘trip’ followed by a re-integration afterwards.

The Imperial College researchers acknowledge that the significance of their results is limited by the small sample size and the absence of a control/placebo group for comparison.

They also stress that it would be dangerous for patients with depression to attempt to self-medicate.

Professor David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences, and senior author of the paper, said: “Larger studies are needed to see if this positive effect can be reproduced in more patients. But these initial findings are exciting and provide another treatment avenue to explore.”

The authors currently plan to test psilocybin against a leading antidepressant in a trial set to start early next year.

The research was supported by the Medical Research Council, the Alex Mosley Charitable Trust and the Safra Foundation.

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Meet The French Team Who “Woke” A Man From 15 Years In Vegetative State

The team of researchers including Angela Sirigu, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Institute for Cognitive Sciences–Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France and her colleagues, tried vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on the whose in vegitative state for 15 years.

They surgically implanted a disk-shaped palm-sized electrical stimulator to the vagus nerve that gives off minute electrical shocks.

These shocks are less than one hundredth of the current required to run a battery-powered wrist watch.

The vagus is one of the most important nuerves in the body that carries signals to major organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, gut, digestive system as well as other parts of the body.

As Sirigu explained, nerve stimulation has been studied for brain damage for a while now. It has been tried for other brain diseases as well including epilepsy, cluster headaches, Parkinson’s disease, dementia etc.




It is not clear why these work. However, Sirigu says that it could be because the vagus nerve connects to the thalamus.

Thalamus is a deep-seated region of the brain that leads to awareness and consciousness. If this thalamus is stimulated, it could lead to consciousness.

If temporary stimulation leads to rousing a person, long term stimulation of the thalamus could lead to waking up of a vegetative person, she speculated. This was the hypothesis the team had worked upon.

For this study the team thus implanted a vagus nerve stimulator in the chest of the patient and kept stimulating the vagus nerve.

A month into the therapy the man showed small signals that he was more interactive with the world. He started to respond.

He was still deemed “minimally conscious” but was still improving from his previous vegetative state say the researchers.

For example, the person now could track an object with his eyes and also turn his head when requested. There was a startle response when he was faced with another face close to his suddenly.

Brain mapping of activities showed that metabolism was better in the brain in certain regions. This means that these regions were working better now.

The brain was also producing stronger theta waves explained Sirigu. These waves are patterns seen on EEG or electroencephalogram and are connected to consciousness.

The persons’ progress is being continuously monitored. After around nine months of the stimulation therapy, although he remained static at his level of consciousness, he did not deteriorate either.

This raises hopes for others in this state too says the team. However, experts warn it may be too early to speculate similar successes or more in other patients.

A single case might not be indicative of others. But this experiment shows promise they agree.

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Optical Illusion: How Your Eyes Trick Your Mind

Visual, or optical, illusions show us that our minds tend to make assumptions about the world – and what you think you see is often not the truth.

Throughout history, curious minds have questioned why our eyes are so easily fooled by these simple drawings.

Illusions, we have found, can reveal everything from how we process time and space to our experience of consciousness.

Early illusions

Illusions have a long history, going as far back as the ancient Greeks.

In 350BC, Aristotle noted that “our senses can be trusted but they can be easily fooled”.

He noticed that if you watch a waterfall and shift your gaze to static rocks, the rocks appear to move in the opposite direction of the flow of water, an effect we now call “motion aftereffect” or the waterfall illusion.

Tracking the flow of the water seems to “wear out” certain neurons in the brain as they adapt to the motion.

When you then shift your gaze to the rocks, other competing neurons over-compensate, causing the illusion of movement in the other direction.




Mind shift

The real boom in studying illusions began in the 19th Century. A school of scientists who studied perception – among many other things – created simple illusions to shed light on how the brain perceives patterns and shapes, which kick-started the early theories on how our eyes can play tricks on our mind.

In-depth view

Around the same time, the Ponzo illusion illustrated that context is also fundamental for depth perception.

It shows that identically sized lines can appear to be different lengths when placed between converging parallel lines.

This shows how our sense of perspective works.

Like a train track, the slanted lines make us believe the top line is further away.

This confuses the brain, and it overcompensates, making the line appear bigger – as it would have to be in real life to produce those kinds of proportions.

Early illusions like this appeared at a ground-breaking time for the study of perception, says illusion historian Nicholas Wade from the University of Dundee in Scotland.

They were of interest theoretically because they went against the prevailing view that you could understand vision if you understood the way in which an image is formed in the eye.

The phenomena were small but reliable; they were experimentally tractable and it generated this incredible boom of variations on simple figures.

Yet this period also saw a series of misguided attempts to find a ‘unifying theory’ of illusions. The literature on illusions is “littered with over-interpretations”, says Wade.

As researchers would later discover, our reactions to illusions can be even more complicated than the early pioneers realised.

Today, illusion research is booming once more. Technology advances now allow scientists to peer inside our brains as we look at illusions, and to begin to understand the underlying mechanisms going on inside our head.

ll of this research points to one thing: our visual system remains too limited to tackle all of the information our eyes take in.

For that our brain would need to be bigger than a building, and still then it wouldn’t be enough,” says Martinez-Conde.

And so our minds take shortcuts. Like betting for the best horse in a race, our brain constantly chooses the most likely interpretation of what we see.

Seeing, then, is certainly not always believing.

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A Migraine May Change Your Brain

About 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, those incredibly painful and often debilitating headaches.

Though they’ve been known to knock a person out, migraines weren’t thought to permanently affect the brain, until now.

A study published in the journal Neurology suggests that migraines may indeed leave a mark.

Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways,” said study author Dr. Messoud Ashina, a neurologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

A migraine is a common type of headache in which throbbing pain is typically felt on just one side of the head.

Sufferers experience sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting. Women are three times more likely to be affected by migraines than men.




According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraines cost the United States more than $20 billion a year, both in direct medical expenses like doctor visits and medication and indirectly, when employees miss work resulting in lost productivity.

About 20% of migraine sufferers experience an aura, a warning symptom 20 minutes to an hour before a migraine begins.

It’s usually in the form of visual disturbances like wavy lines, dots or flashing lights, tingling in the face or arms, even difficulty speaking.

The study focused on three types of abnormalities that were detected by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. MRI tests use a magnetic field and radio wave energy to take pictures of organs inside the body.

They can detect problems that often cannot be seen with an X-ray or ultrasound imaging.

Researchers reviewed six population-based studies and 13 clinic-based studies to see whether migraine sufferers had an increased risk of brain lesions, white matter abnormalities, infarct-like lesions or brain volume changes in both the gray and white matter regions of the brain.

Infarct-like lesions, also called silent strokes, are changes neurologists usually see on MRI scans that look like minor strokes.

According to the study, the risk of white matter brain lesions increased 68% for those suffering migraines with aura, compared with non-migraine sufferers.

Those who suffered from migraines without aura saw that increased risk cut in half (34%), but they too could get lesions in the part of the brain that is made up of nerve fibers.

Researchers found that white matter abnormalities are not limited to migraines; they also occur in non-migraine headaches.

And people with migraines and migraines with aura were also more likely to have brain volume changes than those who don’t suffer from migraines. But what these white matter abnormalities lead to is still unclear.

That’s why Ashina says more long-term studies are needed.

Migraine affects about 10% to 15% of the general population and can cause a substantial personal, occupational and social burden,” Ashina said.

We hope that through more study, we can clarify the association of brain structure changes to attack frequency and length of the disease. We also want to find out how these lesions may influence brain function.

Though migraines might be associated with structural changes in the brain, there’s no cause for concern, Ashina determined.

“Studies of white matter changes showed no relationship to migraine frequency or cognitive status of patients.”

Dr. MaryAnn Mays, a staff neurologist at the Center for Headache & Pain at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the research, agreed.

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Why Is Yawning So Contagious?

If looking at the image above makes you yawn, you’ve just experience contagious yawning.

What is yawning? And why do we do so much of it? Neuroscientist and yawn expert Robert Provine says it’s “ancient and autonomic.” It stems from early evolution and is common to many creatures—even fish do it.

It’s autonomic in the sense that it roots in the brainstem, way down in the basement level of the brain, where certain responses are so built-in they don’t even qualify as reflexes.

Yawning has many triggers, including boredom, sleepiness, and temperature.




A 2014 study suggested that there’s a “thermal window” (at around 68°F) for human yawning; as ambient temperature approaches body temperature or goes down near freezing, we yawn less.

According to the paper, we may yawn to regulate the temperature of our brains. This isn’t the same as saying we yawn to take in extra oxygen, as evidence to date says we don’t.

It means that yawning might act to draw brain-soothing ambient air in through the nose and mouth.

COPYCAT YAWNING?

Over the years, scientists have observed “contagious yawning” in chimpanzees, humans, baboons, bonobos, wolves, and, to a certain extent, dogs. Yawning feels good, so why not join in when someone else yawns?

Well, you’re not really “joining in,” because you aren’t copying the yawn on any conscious level. It happens because you just can’t help it. If you become self-conscious about a yawn, it stops.

While many past studies have documented the phenomenon, a more recent study, published in the journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, contends that yawns may not be contagious after all—or at least that we have not yet proven it.

Experimental psychologist Rohan Kapitány of the University of Oxford conducted a review of the scientific literature on contagious yawns and found very little conclusive evidence to back up our long-held assumption that yawns are contagious.

The belief that yawns are contagious seems self-evident,” Kapitány said, “but there are some very basic reasons for why we might be mistaken in this.”

“If we fail to dissect that which we think we know, we might end up with conclusions that do not reflect reality.”

“In this instance, the literature hasn’t questioned the basic features of contagious yawning, and ended up with a wide range of unstandardized methodologies and conclusions.

Still, because Kapitány’s study was small and extremely limited, he and his fellow authors urge other scientists to challenge their findings with experiments of their own.

I may be wrong!” Kapitány said. “Maybe yawns are contagious!” Kapitány says he’d like to see “more robust” attempts to falsify the claim that yawns are contagious rather than “simply demonstrating it over and over [in] slightly different contexts with richer and richer explanations.

WHO DOESN’T CATCH YAWNS?

Some people with autism or schizophrenia don’t exhibit a yawn-contagion response. The same is true of children under the age of four years. This has led to a variety of theories about yawning’s relationship to empathy and the brain’s mirror-neuron system (MNS).

The idea here is that MNS deficits might lead to missing hidden empathetic cues that trigger contagious yawning. The MNS seems to be involved in the process to some extent.

fMRI scans on a range of people have shown that other parts of the brain also “light up” in response to images of yawning, perhaps more so than the areas normally associated with empathy.

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