Mind Maps Have you ever got lost trying to navigate a dense…

Mind Maps

Have you ever got lost trying to navigate a dense city with a hopelessly vague map? Sometimes that’s what it’s like trying to unpick the complexity of the human brain. For example, transcranial magnetic stimulation is a treatment used for various mental illnesses such as depression and Alzheimer’s, but how exactly it works is a mystery. To investigate what the procedure – which involves firing small electric currents at regions of the brain – actually does, researchers looked at brain ‘orientation maps’ before and after the treatment (pictured – the left of each pair is before the procedure, right after). The colours reflect specific neurons’ orientations in response to visual cues, many of which have changed after the procedure. And visual ‘training’ after the treatment contributed to these updated neural ‘maps’, suggesting that post-treatment behaviour could help redirect misguided brain connections. A promising addition to our incomplete map of the brain’s vast complexity.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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Studying Sediments in Space

An International
Space Station
investigation called BCAT-CS studies dynamic forces between
sediment particles that cluster together.


For the study, scientists sent mixtures of quartz and clay particles to the space
station and subjected them to various levels of simulated gravity.


Conducting the experiment in microgravity makes it possible to separate out different forces that act on sediments and look at the function of


Sediment systems of quartz and clay occur many places on Earth, including rivers,
lakes, and oceans, and affect many
from deep-sea hydrocarbon drilling to carbon sequestration.


Understanding how
sediments behave
has a range of applications on Earth, including predicting and mitigating erosion, improving water
treatment, modeling the carbon cycle, sequestering contaminants and more accurately finding deep sea oil


It also may provide insight for future studies of the
geology of new and unexplored planets.


learn more.

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