Posts Tagged ‘brain activity’

ASL and the Brain

April 23, 2012 7 comments

As someone who is hard-of-hearing, I’ve been fascinated for a long time by sign languages and have been learning American Sign Language (ASL) for awhile now.  I find myself constantly trying to dispel misconceptions and increase awareness about the third most spoken language in the United States.  For example, many think that you must spell every word out, that it is just English on the hands and not an independent language, or that there is a universal sign language that deaf people everywhere use–but these are all false.  One aspect I find particularly interesting about sign languages is that even though they are visual and not auditory-based, there are studies that suggest signing uses the same parts of the brain as spoken language.

This article explains that the regions of the brain, Broca’s and Wernike’s areas, are respectively vital to language production an comprehension.  Despite using completely different senses and muscles, stroke damage to these areas in hearing and deaf people had similar negative effects on their ability to communicate.  One possible difference between the brain usage of talkers and signers might exist in the right hemisphere, according to the article.  ASL may use the right hemisphere more due to the spatial processing and facial expression interpreting required.

This and other studies are not conclusive, but it’s fascinating to think how the same areas of the brain may be responsible for such different means of communication!


More Friends, Bigger Brain

April 5, 2012 3 comments

Researchers have suggested that there is a link between the number of friends you have the size of your prefrontal cortex. This study shows that this part of the brain is bigger for the people who have more friends.

This study was led by a professor of the University of Oxford. The study shows that we need a certain set of cognitive skills to maintain friends, especially a lot of friends. The terms friends in this study

doesn’t mean the people we know, for example, all of your Facebook friends do not count. The ability to have these skills is determined by the size of the

different parts of our brain. I thought it was also very interesting that this particular part of the brain is right above the eyes. I believe this also has to do with the reason for this link.

Of course the study didn’t use many volunteers which could make this a little skeptical but if you want to find out more just use the link below. I won’t bore you with all the details, I just found this article very interesting. Too bad we can’t do our own experiments on each others’ brains and figure this out for ourselves.

The professor of this study has done the same experiment with different species but this study looks at differences within just one species: humans.

What do you guys think? Could this be possible or is it just coincidence? Have youever thought about how many friends you have and if there could be a scientific reason for that?

Watching ballet makes your brain move

March 27, 2012 4 comments

    Throughout the years, anytime I watched a ballet recital, I actually felt like I was moving with the dancers. I always wondered why or how I had this feeling. Only by chance, I saw an article under the science section of The New York Times about this feeling.

Apparently, researchers did find that ballet lovers who watch ballet performances actually feel like they are dancing.  Researchers came to this conclusion by studying the brain activity of spectators who watch performances often.

The spectators showed muscle-specific responses in their brain as if they had been dancing all their lives. Researchers focused most of their time on the specific muscle called extensor carpi radialis. This connects the upper arm to the hand, which is the muscle ballet dancers usually rely on.

Researchers also focused on spectators of another type of dance performances. They focused on an Indian dance form. But when they studied the brain activity of these spectators they didn’t find any muscle response.

Loving ballet myself, I found this article very interesting. I really do feel like I’m also dancing when I watch a ballet performance and now I know why. My brain was “dancing” instead of my feet. Who else is a ballet lover in this class or is it just me? Does anyone feel like they are playing or dancing the sport or performance they watch?