Brain Twitter Conference #brainTC

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We are organising the first Twitter conference in neuroscience on the 20th of April! We are very excited about this; it felt like a fun idea, and now as we are putting the event together, we start to see more concretely how cool this event will be! Brain Twitter Conference #brainTC is a “normal” scientific conference, but organised in Twitter, instead of a university lecture hall, a hotel, or an exhibition centre.  Continue reading

Arts-based research II – reflections

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Yesterday I posted my initial thoughts on arts-based research, the topic of today’s panel discussion. Here are my brief mental notes from the morning’s event–they are a mixed bag since I wasn’t taking notes.
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Brain-to-brain interface – but what is being transmitted?

High-tech tinfoil hat

There’s a cool new paper on brain-to-brain interfaces, and I’m sure it will be misinterpreted in the media, just like every other paper of this genre. 🙂

There have been a couple of demonstrations of brain-to-brain interfaces before, and I’ve written about one of the previous papers in Finnish.  The idea of BBI is that information about one participant’s brain state is read (typically using EEG), and then the brain state of another participant is manipulated, typically using TMS. At least in the press, these demonstrations are often termed as “telepathy” or “mind-reading”, and illustrated by images from Star Trek, X-Men or just people in tinfoil hats. Often the implications of these studies is posed as a question: will we soon be able to communicate with each other directly, without language? Will all our brains be connected together to form a giant common consciousness?

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ABC of MEG

Aalto Brain Centre (ABC) organised yesterday a panel discussion to answer frequently asked questions about magnetoencephalography (MEG), a brain research method that is based on detecting the minute magnetic fields that brain activity generates. The panel was livestreamed, and the stream is now available online, and embedded below.

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Mapping the connections in the brain

DSI image of white matter tracts in the brain

White matter tracts seen from below – colour-coding shows the direction of fibre tracts. Figure from the Human Connectome Project gallery by LONI / UCLA & Martinos Center of Biomedical Imaging / MGH.

The BBC ran a story today on the Human Connectome Project. The story features a set of colorful pictures, which represent some of the first results of the massively ambitious, $40M endeavor to map the human connectome. The BBC article has the pretty pictures, while a recent advertorial* in Science has a bit more of the technical detail.

The Connectome Project attempts to map the neural connections in the human brain; the connectome (cf. genome) is unique for everyone, a result of genetic and environmental factors, as well as what we’ve learned and experienced in life.

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Learning the brain

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OK folk(s), Synchronised Minds turns a new page, along with me starting a new job. I’ll update the info to the about section etc. as soon as possible, but the news is that I’m now working at the Brain Research Unit of the O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory in the Aalto University. I’m still working on the synchronised minds, although now moving into looking at synchronised brains as well as synchronised bodies, as an evidence of that mindsync. 🙂

I’m working on a project called Brain2Brain, which is an ERC-funded attempt to develop two-person neuroscience (2PN); that is, methods and approaches to study dyads, interacting people, instead of isolated individuals. This is unbelievable exciting and to me a dream job. Although of course it is challenging, as I have not done neuroscientific studies before. I’ve been a participant in many of them, have read many of the papers and even taught my students about the findings, but of course planning and executing a brain study is a different thing. Luckily there is a lot of experienced people around me, so I don’t have to do these alone.

But, I have to learn a lot about the brain and how to study it. I think with the proliferation of neuroscience to all human sciences and also the growing public interest on the topic, it might be of more general interest to figure out how one can learn about the brain. Here are some resources that I’ve found useful in my attempt to gain a better understanding of how the brain works and how it can be studied. Continue reading