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  1. By the Way, Scientists Know How to Delete Your Bad Memories

    But you're super secure and never upset over things that happened in the past, right?

    You've probably got a few moments from your life that you'd like to Eternal Sunshine right out of your head, and it turns out science can actually help you with that.

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  2. Science Has Figured out Why You Don’t Have Total Recall and How Your Brain Deletes Information on Purpose

    So that means—wait, where was I going with this?

    We know a decent amount about how the brain works, but forgetting was a fittingly mysterious process until now. New research shows that forgetting isn't just something that happens accidentally and unfortunately and leaves you locked out of your apartment. No, it's something your brain does deliberately, because it's apparently a complete jerk.

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  3. DARPA And The Pentagon Are Working On Tiny Brain Robots To Help Soldiers With Memory Loss

    We look forward to the day when we all have tiny DARPA robots in our brain!

    Not content with only building gigantic horror-bots that will one day rule your city with a literal iron fist, DARPA has teamed up with the Pentagon to get a little smaller - implantable-brain-robot smaller. Hopefully, this new project will help treat memory loss in soldiers injured in combat (and not turn them into weird DARPA-slavebots).

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  4. Flatworms Can Retain Memories After Having Their Heads Cut Off

    Dear flatworms, Sorry We know this is a rough way to treat something, but it's nothing personal. Sincerely, Science

    Planarian flatworms are simple creatures, but they have some some amazing biological characteristics that have long fascinated scientists. A new study by researchers at Tufts University suggests shows that some flatworms can remember things -- like training that makes them less averse to light -- even after having their heads cut off and allowed to regrow. The new brain the worms develop when they regenerate, it seems, remains the same as the brain they had, down to recollections of the time before their head was rudely separated from their body.

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  5. From Bad to Worse: Herpes Virus Damages Memory, Cognition

    Today, a study in the journal Neurology brings the surprising news that having herpes could be even worse than you think it is. The chronic, cold sore-causing virus may also wreak havoc on the brain, with a recent study conducted by Columbia University and the University of Miami suggesting that people suffering from high levels of infection with herpes and other common viruses may be more likely to suffer cognitive decline as they age than their uninfected peers.

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  6. For the First Time, Creature Without Brain Demonstrates Memory

    The slime mold Physarum polycephalum is not traditionally regarded as exactly the brightest of life forms. Much of this perception has to do with the fact that a slime mold is a single-celled organism that has no brain or neural structure, which is really a pretty solid reason not to give a creature much credit in the intellect department. Despite this, though, slime mold has proven surprisingly capable of solving simple tests and mazes in lab settings. Now, researchers have even uncovered evidence that the mold doesn't need a brain to demonstrate that it uses memory as a problem solving tool, a feat you can check out in a video after the break.

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  7. You Remember That Wrong: Brain Distorts Memories Every Time It Recalls Them

    Got a treasured memory? It's okay to get a little sappy, we all do, whether it's that perfect night with a special someone or that dungeon crawl that finally went exactly according to plan. If you're remembering that thing right now, for the love of God, stop! It just won't be the same the next time you recall it. In research that should surprise no one, our brains are constantly betraying us, transforming our memories every time we think about them.

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  8. Scientists Input Total Recall-Like Short Term Memory In Mice


    In the 1990 film Total Recall (and its 2012 reboot), the main character signs up for a procedure that will implant pleasant or thrilling memories in his brain. It's used as a type of vacation for the mind but now, scientists have discovered how to do almost that exact same thing in mice. What are the implications of this discovery for memory disorders? I think the more important question is, how did they know the mice remembered what they planted?

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  9. Test Tube Brain Can Hold Memory for Ten Seconds, Probably Just Remembers How to Be Terrified

    Today in "They can, but should they?" news, science has learned how to create memories in a piece of brain tissue isolated in a test tube, which sounds exactly like the plot of a science fiction nightmare because it totally is. Neuroscientists at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine isolated fragments of rodent brain tissue in vitro, and, by stimulating neural pathways in the tissue, were able to induce a variety of simple memories in it. Those memories were only persistent for 10 seconds or so, but to a living piece of brain in a jar, that 10 seconds probably felt like a billion lifetimes, so there's that.

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  10. Green Tea Chemical Helps Grow Brain Cells, Could Improve Brain Function

    Green tea is among the healthiest things you can drink -- certainly better for you than the dishwater coffee with cream and sugar we wake up to all too many mornings. It's jam-packed with anti-oxidants, can aid in weight loss, and even shows some promise in single-handedly lowering cholesterol levels. Now, a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that a chemical in the popular drink could improve brain function by encouraging the growth of new brain cells, and may even be capable of improving some general functions of the brain.

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  11. This is a 5MB Hard Disk, the Best 1956 Has to Offer

    Just to remind you about how far we've come technologically, this is a 5 MB hard disc from 1956. It weighs over a ton. The hard disc was originally part of the IBM 305 RAMAC, the first commercial computer to feature a hard disc at all. Amazingly, it was not rendered obsolete until 1962 and stayed on the market until 1969. The cost of storing data on this monster was $3,200 per month, which is over $160,000 in today's dollars. Now, remember how you can get many times that storage space for free on DropBox.

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  12. IBM is Building the World's First, Record-Shattering 120-Petabyte Hard Drive

    Researchers at IBM's Almaden researcher lab in California are working on a 120 petabyte hard disk array. For those of you playing along at home, that's 120 million gigabytes spread out over 200,000 hard drives. The array is being assembled for an as-of-yet unnamed client, and will be used to run complex modeling simulations, like those used in meteorology. Here's some stats to drool over: With 120 petabytes of storage size, Technology Review says that the array could store a trillion files, 24 billion 5 megabyte MP3s, or 60 copies of the 150 billion page Internet Archive WayBack Machine. The largest arrays currently available are around 15 petabytes, about a tenth the size of the IBM array. Bruce Hillsberg, the lead on the project, must be very proud of his water-cooled memory monstrosity. Beyond its voluminous size, the IBM array has a few software tricks up its sleeve.

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  13. Study: Interrupted Sleep Harms Memory Development

    New research from a group at Stanford University has found that broken or interrupted sleep has a negative effect on the ability to build memories in mice. The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that disrupting the sleep of mice made it harder for them to recognize and identify objects that should have been familiar to them. To study the mice, the researchers interrupted their sleep but made sure that the amount of time sleeping was no shorter than normal. Using optogenetics, a technique where certain cells are genetically engineered to be controlled by light, the researchers targeted cells in the brain. The cells on which the researchers focused plays a critical role in switching the brain between the sleep and awake states. Light pulses were sent into the brains of the mice while they slept, to disrupt their sleep but not change their total sleep time or the quality or intensity of their sleep. The researchers then tested the mice memory by putting them in front of two objects, one new and one familiar. Mice whose sleep had been disrupted did not recognize either object, while mice who had slept undisturbed focused all their attention on the new object.

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  14. Study: Neural Prosthesis Restores Long-Term Memory

    By embedding electrical probes in the brains of rats, researchers have demonstrated for the first time that memory can be turned on and off by manipulating the signals sent between distinct regions of the hippocampus. Researchers successfully built a neural prosthesis that was capable of turning long-term memory formation on and off. Previous research has shown the the hippocampus plays a role in converting short-term memories to long-term memories. Researchers from the University of Southern California and Wake Forest University used embedded electrical probes to record the activity of the rat's brain as the two major internal divisions of the hippocampus (sub regions CA3 and CA1) interacted while the rat was learning. These divisions interact to form long-term memories. The rats participated in experiments to teach them which of two levers to press to receive a reward. The researchers drugged the rats to block the normal interactions between CA3 and CA1.

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  15. Scientists Create Molecular “Switch”

    French scientists have announced their success in manipulating a molecule to change both its charge and its physical shape, effectively creating a "switch" that could have applications for ultra-small electronics. The experimenters used a scanning tunneling microscope to both observe and manipulate the molecule. By applying a small electrical charge, the molecule gained an electron. Because of the repelling force of electrons, the other atoms shift position from a flat square to that of a pyramid. By reversing the charge applied, the electron can be removed, and the shape changes back to that of a flat square. Most importantly, the scientists confirmed that that geometric shape of the molecule seems to be linked to its charge. That's all well and good for pure science, but for regular folks like us, this research could someday lead to smaller, higher capacity memory. Because the molecule changes shape with its charge, it can be thought of as either "off" or "on." This binary relationship means that someday, this type of molecular manipulation could be used to store the ones and zeroes that make up digital data with a molecule as a single binary bit. With flash memory becoming more and more expensive and many facing the need for larger and larger amounts of personal data storage, breakthrough techniques like this will probably be needed to continue fueling the world's computing power. (image and story via Physorg)

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  16. “Memory” Stored in Lab-Grown Neural Network for 12 Seconds

    The brain poses an interesting problem to researchers: Because of its complexity, observing and learning about some of its basic functions is extremely difficult. To better understand the process of short-term memory, scientists with the University of Pittsburgh created a simple neural network of some 40-60 neurons. According to their study, the scientists created the tiny neural network by first stamping adhesive proteins in the shape of a ring onto glass. Neurons from rat brains attached themselves to the proteins, creating connections between neurons as they would in a brain. Once the living cells were connected, an electrical pulse was applied, and the researchers observed the pulse looped through the system. This signal loop is similar to how brains store short-term memory, or "working memory," where the signal exists long after the stimulus that created it is gone. In the natural world, this action lasts about a quarter of a second, but the cells in the ring-shaped model looped the signal for a full 12 seconds. This extra time gave the researchers an excellent opportunity to clearly observe the activity of the cells while looping the signal. Though it may be small, this donut-shaped "brain" could shed light on the very nature of memory. (Popsci, University of Pittsburgh News)

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  17. We’re Closer to Erasing Memories, Thanks to Snails

    Most people try to hold on to their memories, but for those suffering from trauma or drug addiction, memory is a terrible burden. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers think they have made great strides in targeting and destroying memories. Their work focuses on the protein kinase M (PKM). By blocking the activity of PKM, the researchers found they could erase long-term memories. And here's where the snails come in: When attacked by a predator, they become acutely sensitive to outside stimuli, learning about the situation. By targeting individual neurons, scientists say they were able to erase these memories. David Glanzman, who authored the study, says that the snails are a valuable analogue for the study.
    Almost all the processes that are involved in memory in the snail also have been shown to be involved in memory in the brains of mammals[.]
    The researchers hope that their neuron-by-neuron approach could give them greater control over memory erasure, perhaps one day helping those whose memories continue to hurt them. (Livescience via io9, image via Wikipedia)

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  18. New MacBook Pro Benchmarks Reveal Serious Performance Boost

    Yesterday, we noted that the new MacBook Pros mark an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, change to Apple's lineup -- they look the same as the past generation of MacBook Pros, weigh the same, have the same battery life, still don't come with SSDs by default, and haven't moved towards the great iPad convergence predicted by Apple-watchers. The main changes here are performance boosts and the addition of the new Thunderbolt data transfer technology. But lest we sweep them under the rug, those performance boosts are very real, thanks in large part to new Sandy Bridge quad-core processors from Intel. PrimateLabs looked through Geekbench benchmarking scores for the new MBPs (shown above), and had this to say:

    The performance of the new MacBook Pros is amazing. The slowest MacBook Pro performs on par with the fastest previous-generation MacBook Pro, and the fastest MacBook Pro is 80% faster than the fastest previous-generation MacBook Pro. In fact, if you look at our Mac Benchmark charts, you'll see that the fastest MacBook Pro is faster than a lot of Mac Pros (including the current generation of Mac Pros). The new MacBook Pros truly are portable workstations.
    Note that these tests measure CPU and memory performance, and do not reflect the additional muscle provided by video cards or external storage devices. If you want to run the same tests on your Mac, you can download Geekbench and git 'er done in a matter of one or two minutes. My early 2008 MacBook Pro got a 3200. (PrimateLabs via MacRumors)

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  19. Laptop Thief Considerately Returns Victim’s Data on USB Memory Stick

    Losing your laptop is a pretty awful fate -- most of us around here break into a cold sweat when we're separated from ours for about 15 minutes. In addition to being pricy devices, our laptops contain our most personal data, which can rarely be easily or fully replaced.  One professor at Sweden's Umeå University recently had his laptop stolen after carelessly leaving his backpack in a stairwell for just a few minutes. He never got the laptop back, but a week later, he was surprised to find that the thief had backed up all of his documents and personal files and mailed them to him in a USB stick:

    The professor was shocked to discover the thief had copied all the documents and personal files from his laptop to the memory storage device, a process which likely took hours. All things considered, the professor is delighted at the outcome, despite the loss of his computer. He hopes, however, that other thieves can learn to be as compassionate. "Often when people lose their computers and cameras, it is understandably not the gadget itself that is the most important. The content is often irreplaceable."
    (The Local via Neatorama. title pic via Flickr user Ambuj Saxena)

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