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DARPA’s Plan to Scan the Brains of Dogs Sounds Suspiciously Like Fallout

How do you pick the dogs that are chosen for military and law enforcement service? Training is an expensive proposition, so it's in the best interest of everyone to only train those dogs that will do an excellent job. There's nothing worse than a dud dog, even if that's a thing I just made up. There's still nothing worse than that. Thankfully, DARPA is looking into scanning the brains of dogs in order to determine which ones to train, which sounds an awful lot like something out of the Fallout universe.

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Feeling No Pain? Researchers Discover How Pot Provides Pain Relief

Medicinal marijuana has been gaining wider acceptance throughout the United States, but there are still plenty of things we don't understand about the effects of the drug. We may be a step closer on at least one angle, though -- the ability of cannabis to dull pain. Using brain imaging technology, researchers at Oxford University suggest that the drug doesn't actually lessen the intensity of pain that patients are feeling. Instead, it seems to change the perception of the sensation, helping patients find the same amount of pain more tolerable.

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Gene For Dementia Risk Might Make Carriers More Clever During Youth

In news that makes us glad our memories are, as a team, pretty terrible, a team of researchers led by the University of Sussex has found evidence suggesting that a gene variant associated with dementia late in life is also associated with improved memory, math skills, and verbal abilities earlier in life. It's a troubling reminder that, sometimes, the candle that burns twice as bright really may burn half as long.

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Scientists Use MRI To Record Childbirth, Among Other Things

In 2010, a woman in Germany gave birth in an MRI machine, allowing scientists to see live cross-sectional childbirth. Now, finally, the video is released, and we can all watch the awe and nausea-inducing wonder that is the human birth. Of course, if you're interested, we've also found some other things done in MRI machines. Pre-childbirth, if you get what I mean.

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IQ Still Malleable In Teenage Years, Contrary to Popular Belief

There's a pretty common misconception that IQ is something that is innate, or even that it's something established early on in life and then doesn't change. There's also the common misconception that IQ is a consistent, established, and testable unit of measurement, but that's a whole different can of worms. Cathy Price of University College London and her team conducted a study to try and dig into the real story behind IQ. What they found was that, however you measure it, it's a number that's in flux well into the teenage years.

The study involved testing 33 teenagers between the ages of 12-14 in 2004 and the same 33 again in 2008 when they were 16-20. Along side standard IQ tests measuring verbal and non-verbal intelligence, the researchers took MRI images of the kids' brains during the tests in order to get deeper results. What they found was that the teens could drop or rise up 20 points, and not just in a specific area, but in all areas or any combination thereof.

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Researchers Reconstruct Observed Videos from Resulting Brain Activity

Thanks to research by Professor Jack Gallant and a crack team of researchers at UC Berkeley, we are now one step closer to using our brains to record and store actual visual media. When we see things (or think about things for that matter), our brains naturally activate in very specific ways considering what we're seeing or imagining. Gallant's most recent paper in Current Biology outlines the results of an experiment that tried to decode brain activity and convert it back into video. It's astounding how well it worked.

The experiment went a little something like this. Subjects were placed in an MRI and watched a series of movie trailers. While they watched, the MRI tracked the blood flow to certain parts of the brain and a computer parsed these parts of the brain into voxels (volumetric pixels). The first round of trailer-viewing gave the computer a chance to get a feel for the way the sections of the brain should be mapped. Its results were then compared against the actual trailers to try and match the voxels of activity with the footage that created them, a calibration round of sorts.

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