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A large amount of information constantly flows into our brain via the eyes. Scientists can measure the resulting brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The precise measurement of eye movements during an MRI scan can tell scientists a great deal about our thoughts, memories and current goals, but also about diseases of the brain. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim have now developed software that uses artificial intelligence to directly predict eye position and eye movements from MRI images. The method opens up rapid and cost-effective research and diagnostic possibilities, for example, in neurological diseases that often manifest as changes in eye-movement patterns.
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Mental training that promotes skills such as mindfulness, gratitude or compassion reduces the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol in hair. This is what scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and the Social Neuroscience Research Group of the Max Planck Society in Berlin have found out. The amount of cortisol in hair provides information about how much a person is burdened by persistent stress. Earlier positive training effects had been shown in acutely stressful situations or on individual days - or were based on study participants’ self-reports. The current study thus provides the first objective evidence that mental training reduces physical signs of long periods of stress, even in healthy people. more

As we get older, we find it increasingly difficult to have the right words ready at the right moment - even though our vocabulary actually grows continuously over the course of our lives. Until now, it was unclear why this is. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the University of Leipzig have now found out: It is the networks in the brain that change their communication over time. This makes them more inefficient. more

An artificial neural network (AI) designed by an international teamlead by MPI CBS can translate raw data from brain activity, paving the way for new discoveries and a closer integration between technology and the brain. more

During the COVID pandemic masks have been an important way to protect ourselves from contracting the virus. But besides this positive effect, they could also have a negative one. In a recent Perspective Paper, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) suggest that the mouth-nose coverings impair social cognition, i.e. the ability to recognize emotions and mental states of other people. According to the hypothesis, this could accelerate mental deterioration processes. The elderly and people with certain forms of dementia could be particularly affected. more

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft honours young scientists and researchers each year with the Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements. This year, Stephanie Theves and Matthias Nau from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) won two of the coveted awards. more

Smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases also increase the likelihood of suffering from depressive mood or depression. Until now, however, it was unclear whether this influence changes over the course of life or is independent of age. A study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the University of Münster shows: Among those over 65, these risk factors play a smaller role in relation to depression than among younger. more

In order to find our way in the world, we classify it into concepts, such as "telephone" or "cat". Until now, however, it was unclear how the brain retrieves these when we only encounter the word, that is when we do not see, hear, or feel the objects directly. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now developed a model of how the brain processes abstract knowledge. They found that depending on which features one concentrates on, the corresponding brain regions go into action. more

Successful navigation requires the ability to separate memories in a context-dependent manner. For example, to find lost keys, one must first remember whether the keys were left in the kitchen or the office. How does the human brain retrieve the contextual memories that drive behavior? J.B. Julian of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University, USA, and Christian F. Doeller of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, found in a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience that modulation of map-like representations in our brain's hippocampal formation can predict contextual memory retrieval in an ambiguous environment. more

Language, empathy, attention - as different as these abilities may be, one brain region is involved in all these processes: The inferior parietal lobe (IPL). Yet until now it was unclear exactly what role it plays in these profoundly human abilities. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have now shown that the IPL comes into play when we need to interpret our environment. more

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