Janet Kwasniak , Janet Kwasniak

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  • April 13, 2015
  • 02:47 PM

Gibbon calls

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

There is some interesting news on gibbons. But first, what are gibbons? They are apes, called lesser apes but definitely in our group with chimps, gorillas, and orangs and not with monkeys. The Chinese used to call them “gentlemen of the forest” to separate them from troublesome monkeys. Our lineage split from theirs about 18 […]... Read more »

  • March 29, 2015
  • 09:28 AM

Music affects on the brain

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

A recent paper identified genes that changed their expression as a result of music performance in trained musicians. (see citation below). There were a surprising number of affected genes, 51 genes had increased and 22 had decreased expression, compared to controls who were also trained musicians but were not involved in making or listening to […]... Read more »

Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Lähdesmäki, H., & Järvelä, I. (2015) The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians. Scientific Reports, 9506. DOI: 10.1038/srep09506  

  • March 22, 2015
  • 03:24 PM

New method – BWAS

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

There is a report of a new method of analyzing fMRI scans – using enormous sets of data and giving very clear results. Brain-wide association analysis (BWAS for short) was used in a comparison of autistic and normal brains in a recent paper (citation below). The scan data is divided into 47,636 small areas of […]... Read more »

  • March 16, 2015
  • 03:20 PM

Meta-memory surprises

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

There was a parlor game that was played when I was young. Something in the room would become the focus of attention. Maybe a calendar picture would be remarked on and a short discussion of the picture would follow. The trick was to get people to look carefully at the picture. Then the person who […]... Read more »

  • March 7, 2015
  • 07:28 AM

Connectivity is not one idea

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

Sebastian Seung sold the idea that “we are our connectome”. What does that mean? Connectivity is a problem to me. Of course, the brain works only because there are connections between cells and between larger parts of the brain. But how can we measure and map it. Apparently there are measurement problems. When some research […]... Read more »

  • March 1, 2015
  • 09:49 AM

Link between image and sound

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

Babies link the sound of a word with the image of an object in their early learning of language and this is an important ability. How do they come to have this mechanism? Are there predispositions to making links between sounds and images? Research by Asano and others (citation below) shows one type of link. […]... Read more »

  • February 12, 2015
  • 09:06 AM

What is the motive?

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

It is clear from bacteria to ourselves that cooperation has evolved many times in all sorts of organisms and so it clearly has an advantage that can be realized. However, it is also obvious that simple unquestioned cooperation works if everyone cooperates but would be a great disadvantage once cheaters became numerous. This looks like […]... Read more »

Hoffman, M., Yoeli, E., & Nowak, M. (2015) Cooperate without looking: Why we care what people think and not just what they do. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(6), 1727-1732. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1417904112  

  • February 9, 2015
  • 07:19 AM

Another brick gone in the wall

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

The idea that there is an unbridgeable gap between human language and animal communication has taken another hit. For many years it has been maintained that chimpanzees cannot change their vocal signals, so although the grunts vary in different populations, in any particular group they are fixed. Therefore their vocalizations were not at all like […]... Read more »

Watson, S., Townsend, S., Schel, A., Wilke, C., Wallace, E., Cheng, L., West, V., & Slocombe, K. (2015) Vocal Learning in the Functionally Referential Food Grunts of Chimpanzees. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.032  

  • February 6, 2015
  • 10:42 AM


by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

Why do coaches keep reminding golf and tennis athletes to concentrate on a good follow-through? It really should not matter that is done after the moment of contact with the ball. But it does. Howard and others show how, in a paper (citation below) on the effect of follow-through on learning and execution. The details […]... Read more »

  • January 31, 2015
  • 08:13 AM

More about neurons

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

I want to make a point here that we know less about the brain than is generally acknowledged. Our picture of the functioning of a neuron is taken as more or less settled knowledge; only small refinements are likely. But the refinements that are regularly published are not small. Now we have a paper (citation […]... Read more »

  • January 28, 2015
  • 01:01 PM

Some visual-form areas are really task areas

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

There are two paths for visual information, one to the motor areas (dorsal ‘where’ stream) and one to the areas concerned with consciousness, memory and cognition (ventral ‘what’ stream). The visual ventral stream has areas for the recognition of various categories of object: faces, body parts, letters for example. But are these areas really ‘visual’ […]... Read more »

Abboud, S., Maidenbaum, S., Dehaene, S., & Amedi, A. (2015) A number-form area in the blind. Nature Communications, 6026. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7026  

  • January 22, 2015
  • 07:36 AM

Wolf to dog

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

Why were dogs domesticated so early? How was it done? A recent paper (citation below) looks at how much of dog behaviour might have been already in the wolf with no effort needed to produce it in the dog. All that may have been needed was to have the wolf lose its fear of man […]... Read more »

  • January 19, 2015
  • 06:57 AM

Another sensory channel

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

There is another recent discovery to highlight how little we know about our nervous system. Theories are accepted because we believe we have a handle on the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and biophysics of the nervous systems. But the ‘facts’ change regularly. This time it is connections between the gut and the brain – a direct […]... Read more »

Bohórquez, D., Shahid, R., Erdmann, A., Kreger, A., Wang, Y., Calakos, N., Wang, F., & Liddle, R. (2015) Neuroepithelial circuit formed by innervation of sensory enteroendocrine cells. Journal of Clinical Investigation. DOI: 10.1172/JCI78361  

  • January 13, 2015
  • 07:44 PM

Questioning oxytocin research

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

“You may have heard of oxytocin as the “moral molecule” or the “hug hormone” or the “cuddle chemical”. Unleashed by hugs, available in a handy nasal spray, and possessed with the ability to boost trust, empathy and a laundry list of virtues, it is apparently the cure to all the world’s social ills. Except it’s […]... Read more »

  • December 29, 2014
  • 10:42 AM

Echo-location in humans

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

We can echo-locate but it is only possible to master well if blind. This is because, to be well done, echolocation uses parts of the visual cortex. A few years ago Thaler et al published the details (see citation below). Here is their description of this natural ability. “The enormous potential of this ‘natural’ echolocation […]... Read more »

  • December 23, 2014
  • 08:15 AM

Ways to navigate

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

When I was a little girl, my father stood me on the door step and pointed across the yard and said, “that’s north”. He went on that the house behind me was south, the village was west and the grove of trees was east. To this day when I think of north I see the […]... Read more »

  • December 8, 2014
  • 01:02 PM


by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

I think it is time to look at crows again. There are three interesting papers want to commented on. What reminds me of crows is that I stumbled across a few years old blog by a linguist (he has probably changed his tune – so no references) who ridiculed the idea that birds were at […]... Read more »

  • December 5, 2014
  • 07:56 AM

Reading patterns

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

There is a paper (citation below) that takes a different look at language. It attempts to examine what happens in the brain when we read a story. There is the act of reading, the processing of the language, and the engagement in the story, all going on at the same time. “One of the main […]... Read more »

  • November 26, 2014
  • 03:01 PM

Synesthesia can be learned

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

Synesthesia is a condition where one stimulus (like a letter) automatically is experienced with another attribute (like a colour) that is not actually present. About 4% of people have some form of this sensory mixing. It has been generally assumed that synesthesia is inherited because it runs in families. But it has been clear that […]... Read more »

Bor, D., Rothen, N., Schwartzman, D., Clayton, S., & Seth, A. (2014) Adults Can Be Trained to Acquire Synesthetic Experiences. Scientific Reports, 7089. DOI: 10.1038/srep07089  

  • November 17, 2014
  • 09:15 AM

Habits and learning

by Janet Kwasniak in Neuro-patch

Habits allow us to perform actions without attending to every detail; we can do complex things and more than one action at a time without overloading our cognitive and motor systems. They are goal-directed macro actions made up of a sequence of simple primitive actions. A habit allows a complex action to be launched as […]... Read more »

Balderas, G. (2014) Habits as learning enhancers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00918  

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