With so many fascinating advancements in the field of neuropsychology, it can be challenging to keep up with what’s going on even if you’re actively studying the area.
With the growing interest in figuring out how our brains work, we have come to discover some very curious conditions, anomalies, and patterns.
Neuropsychology deals specifically with the physical part of the brain and is one of the most complex fields of study.
4 Interesting Revelations About Our Brain
We’ve come a long way from thinking that there’s a “humor” for each emotion to real-world applications in preventing cognitive disorders. Check out some of the discoveries made in neuropsychology recently.
New Brain Interface Systems
Using modern technology to map the way our brain works has always been difficult because of the complexity of the brain itself and the current limits of tech.
In previous years, science has used one or two sensors to sample up to a few hundred neurons.
However, science has now developed a way to use up to 50 microsensors called “neurograins”.
What are neurograins?
According to Brown University, neurograins are part of brain-computer interfaces, or BCI’s. Essentially, neurograins are sensors in a newly developed, drastically improved BCI, “one that employs a coordinated network of independent, wireless microscale neural sensors, each about the size of a grain of salt, to record and stimulate brain activity…(they) independently record the electrical pulses made by firing neurons and send the signals wirelessly to a central hub, which coordinates and processes the signals.”
What are BCIs?
“Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are emerging assistive devices that may one day help people with brain or spinal injuries to move or communicate. BCI systems depend on implantable sensors that record electrical signals in the brain and use those signals to drive external devices like computers or robotic prosthetics,” according to a Brown University press release.
Why It’s Exciting
The challenge in building this interface came in two parts, one being the shrinking of the technology itself to reach more regions of the brain simultaneously, while the other was developing a complex reader receiving the information from the neurograins themselves.
The device itself is a thin patch no bigger than a thumbprint that attaches to the outside of the skull and works as a phone tower of sorts for the neurograins, each of which has its own network address.
The study has a long way to go, with researchers hoping to be able to connect hundreds of microsensors and thus provide a seamless picture of the way our brains function in the moment.
How The Brain Understands Sign Language
Speech is one of the core ways humans differ from animals, and as such, we have done a lot of studies regarding its origin, development, and uses.
Sign language, however, has been somewhat difficult to examine, and some essential revelations were made just recently.
Those revelations are namely regarding which regions of the brain are responsible for processing it as opposed to speaking or reading.
Researchers concluded that Broca’s area in the left hemisphere of the brain is used for understanding sign language the same way it is for speech.
The difference between the two in the brain is that spoken language is processed only by this area, while sign language adds the right side of the brain to the equation.
Why It’s Exciting
It was previously believed that Broca’s area could only process written and spoken language, and this study proves that it’s connected to every sort of communication, maybe even body language.
Early Identification Of Alzheimer’s
A recent study focuses on the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and amyloid plaque.
The latter is an insoluble accumulation of wrongly configured or misfolded proteins in the brain that leads to memory loss and is detrimental to cognitive functions.
Why It’s Exciting
The critical part here is that the researcher in question found that 42% of those without the amyloid plaque showed no signs of cognitive decline at all, while people with Alzheimer’s are sure to have it.
This gives a new direction for identifying Alzheimer’s before it reaches a clinical state when it’s usually already too late.
The idea here is for people to start searching for accumulations of the amyloid plaques themselves instead of the visible symptoms because the latter is often found too late in development.
Computer Games And Memory
Video games have had their fair share of controversy ever since they gained popularity.
Recently, however, science has proven that they can be positive in more ways than one, most notably their connection to our memory.
One specific study tests the brain’s cognitive functions, including reaction times, attention span, problem-solving, and memory before playing games, following the sessions themselves, and 15 days after playing every day.
Why It’s Exciting
The researchers concluded that although the short-term effects are minor, people who have played computer games as kids (both people who have and who have not been a part of the study) performed better with all memory tasks.
Different studies back up the fact that video games positively affect cognitive functions even years after they have stopped playing, most likely because of the functions your brain does while playing and turns into habits.
My advice to you is to keep an eye on the developments in this field and try to remember that, with every new discovery, we’re learning more about ourselves. What better way could there be to gain an understanding of others than through an understanding of your own mind?
The human brain is one of the most fascinating parts of our body. There’s still much to be learned about this piece of tissue, especially with recent advancements in technology and other sciences in general. Neuropsychology has been studying the brain for many years now and has provided us with numerous facts on how our brains function and even a few theories as to why we are the way we are.
Neuropsychology is a fascinating field and one that will only continue to develop in the coming years, especially with the advent of the digital era. As technology enables us to better understand the brain and its way of functioning, applications for individuals in everyday life are likewise being developed for better management of ailments and disorders. The future is bright for neuropsychology—and the future is now.