Another Monday, another round of interesting papers from the world of neuroscience.
Today, I only have a few, but all are worth checking out!
In relation to my post yesterday about the evolutionary origins of language I want to direct your attention to another interesting paper forthcoming in Brain and Language. Its topic is pretty well captured by the authors' – Francisco Aboitiz and Ricardo R. Garcia – abstract: "In this paper, we suggest that other linguistic phenomena like semantic and syntactic processing also rely on the activation of transient memory networks, which can be compared to active memory networks in the primate. Consequently, short-term cortical memory ensembles that participate in language processing can be phylogenetically tracked to more simple networks present in the primate brain, which became increasingly complex in hominid evolution. This perspective is discussed in the context of two current interpretations of language origins, the “mirror-system hypothesis” and generativist grammar." [Link to paper.]
As we all know, obesity is a growing health problem in the Western world. Its cause is pretty straightforward: We eat more than we need. But why? The key to that answer lies in the brain's reward system and how it works to promote food intake through the feeling of hedonic pleasure. In the next issue of Brain Research Reviews Daniela Cota and her colleagues have a great review of what is today known about this hugely important system. [Link to paper.]
Deductive reasoning is probably a unique human ability, so of course there is a natural interest in understanding the neuronal processes underlying this special form of reasoning. In the March issue of Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience Thomas Fangmeier and colleagues present evidence for a three-stae model of deductive reasoning. They write: "We specifically focused on three temporally separable phases: (1) the premise processing phase, (2) the premise integration phase, and (3) the validation phase in which reasoners decide whether a conclusion logically follows from the premises. We found distinct patterns of cortical activity during these phases, with initial temporooccipital activation shifting to the prefrontal cortex and then to the parietal cortex during the reasoning process. Activity in these latter regions was specific to reasoning, as it was significantly decreased during matched working memory problems with identical premises and equal working memory load." [Link to paper.]
More highlights from the literature next Monday!