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Neuroscience

How the brain recognizes objects

When the eyes are open, visual information flows from the retina through the optic nerve and into the brain, which assembles this raw information into objects and scenes. Scientists have previously hypothesized that objects are…

How the brain encodes time and place

When you remember a particular experience, that memory has three critical elements — what, when, and where. MIT neuroscientists have now identified a brain circuit that processes the “when” and “where” components of memory. This circuit,…

Wired for habit

We are creatures of habit, nearly mindlessly executing routine after routine. Some habits we feel good about; others, less so. Habits are, after all, thought to be driven by reward-seeking mechanisms that are built into the brain. It turns…

MRIs for a more peaceful world

An MRI scanner is an unusual tool for resolving war and conflict, but an MIT collaboration now underway is deploying MRIs as an instrument for peace. The goal of the collaboration — among the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab; the…

Uncovering a dynamic cortex

Researchers at MIT have proven that the brain’s cortex doesn’t process specific tasks in highly specialized modules — showing that the cortex is, in fact, quite dynamic when sharing information. Previous studies of the brain have…

Researchers find “lost” memories

Memories that have been “lost” as a result of amnesia can be recalled by activating brain cells with light. In a paper published today in the journal Science, researchers at MIT reveal that they were able to reactivate memories that…

How we make emotional decisions

Some decisions arouse far more anxiety than others. Among the most anxiety-provoking are those that involve options with both positive and negative elements, such choosing to take a higher-paying job in a city far from family and friends,…

Seeing gender

How do primates, including humans, tell faces apart? Scientists have long attributed this ability to so-called “face-detector” (FD) neurons, thought to be responsible for distinguishing faces, among other objects. But no direct evidence has…

How the brain tells good from bad

Eating a slice of chocolate cake or spending time with a friend usually stimulates positive feelings, while getting in a car accident or anticipating a difficult exam is more likely to generate a fearful or anxious response. An…