There are many important things to be understood about how the brain works. Here are some important areas of study attempting to unlock the last secrets of the brain. When we think, move, speak, dream and even love, these all happen in the gray matter. But our brains are not simply one color. White matter matters too. Many researchers say that dementia has focused on the tell-tale plaques and tau protein tangles which occurs in the gray matter. But a British scientist says that the white matter and its blood supply may be equally important.
For years, caffeine was used to enhance alertness. A specialist in neuroscience of Cambridge University is investigating cognitive enhancers and drugs which make us smarter. She also studies how they can improve the performance of surgeons or pilots and requests if they could even be used to make us more entrepreneurial.
People need to be on top of their games when mastering skills like playing a musical instrument or detecting a bomb. But research suggests that our unconsciousness can be harnessed to help us excel. Repeatedly playing a tricky piece of music obviously helps develop a familiarity with the bits that are most difficult. The unconscious mind is really good at spotting patterns.
After hours of practice, a fluent musician's brain stores how to play the piece in an area at the back of the brain called the cerebellum. It has more brain cells than the rest of the brain put together. It helps to promote fluid movements. So the conscious effort of learning how to bow a cello is moved from the cortical areas.
It's just 60 years since scientists in Chicago first noted the “rapid eye movement” or REM sleep which we now associate with dreaming. But our fascination with dreams dates back at least 5,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia when people believed that the soul moved out of a sleeping body to visit the places they dreamed of. The nerve impulses are also directed to the spinal cord, including temporary paralysis of the limbs.
Excruciating chronic pain is one of medicine's most difficult problems to solve. Untouched by conventional treatments like painkilling drugs, surgeons are now testing their theory that deep brain stimulation could provide relief.
It is a brain surgery technique which involves electrodes being inserted to reach targets deep inside the brain. The target areas are stimulated via the electrodes which are connected to a battery-powered facemaker surgically placed under the patient's collar bone.