How the Brain Seeks Pleasure and Avoids Pain

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Neuroscientist Kay Tye tackles the physical basis of emotions and behavior. As a child, Kay Tye was immersed in a life of science. “I grew up in my mom’s lab,” she says. At the age of five or six, she earned 25 cents a box for “restocking” bulk-ordered pipette tips into boxes for sterilization as … Read More

New method could take a snapshot of the whole brain in action

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Imagine being able to take a crystal-clear snapshot of an entire brain, recording what every single neuron was doing at a particular moment as an animal experienced fear or pleasure or any other emotion. Today, that’s just a dream — neuroscientists have to choose between seeing the entire brain in low resolution or seeing a … Read More

New tool offers snapshots of neuron activity

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FLARE technique can reveal which cells respond during different tasks. Many cognitive processes, such as decision-making, take place within seconds or minutes. Neuroscientists have longed to capture neuron activity during such tasks, but that dream has remained elusive — until now. A team of MIT and Stanford University researchers has developed a way to label … Read More

Brain circuit enables split-second decisions when cues conflict

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New findings shed light on how we quickly assess risks and rewards before acting. When animals hunt or forage for food, they must constantly weigh whether the chance of a meal is worth the risk of being spotted by a predator. The same conflict between cost and benefit is at the heart of many of … Read More

Interstellate: Celebrating the the beauty of neuroscience

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Caitlin Vander Weele, a graduate student in brain and cognitive sciences, launches a collaborative neuro-art pictorial magazine. “Scientists take beautiful images of the brain every day, and for the most part no one gets to see them,” says Caitlin Vander Weele, a graduate student in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. “Experiments fail … Read More

Kay Tye Receives the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award

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Picower Neuroscientist recognized for her work on emotional circuitry of the brain. On Nov. 5, the Society for Neuroscience named Kay M. Tye the recipient of its Young Investigator Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions by a young neuroscientist. Tye, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT and a member of the … Read More

Kay Tye Receives Young Investigator Award

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WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will present the Young Investigator Award to Kay Tye, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Established in 1983, the $15,000 award recognizes the outstanding achievements and contributions of a young neuroscientist who has recently received an advanced professional degree. The award will be presented during Neuroscience … Read More

Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness

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BLACKPOOL, England — The woman on the other end of the phone spoke lightheartedly of spring and of her 81st birthday the previous week. “Who did you celebrate with, Beryl?” asked Alison, whose job was to offer a kind ear. “No one, I…” And with that, Beryl’s cheer turned to despair. Her voice began to … Read More

New Evidence for the Necessity of Loneliness

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A specific set of neurons deep in the brain may motivate us to seek company, holding social species together. As social animals, we depend on others for survival. Our communities provide mutual aid and protection, helping humanity to endure and thrive. “We have survived as a species not because we’re fast or strong or have … Read More

Questions for Kay Tye: How loneliness drives social behavior

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Most people are wired to seek pleasure in the company of others, but individuals with autism appear to lack this drive. The chemical messenger dopamine may rouse the brain’s reward center differently in autism, dulling the pleasure from social interaction. A new study suggests that social contact is more than just a reward — it may … Read More

Neuroscientists pinpoint brain cells that represent loneliness

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Contact with other humans isn’t just psychologically beneficial: it also provides us with evolutionary advantages. Historically, it was easier to find food and shelter as a group than it was alone, and so an instinct to seek comfort in groups has been deeply ingrained. When we’re deprived of this contact, we often become lonely, distressed and … Read More

Pinpointing loneliness in the brain

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Scientists identify cells that represent feelings of isolation. Humans, like all social animals, have a fundamental need for contact with others. This deeply ingrained instinct helps us to survive; it’s much easier to find food, shelter, and other necessities with a group than alone. Deprived of human contact, most people become lonely and emotionally distressed. … Read More

Brain circuitry of positive vs negative memories discovered in mice

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Prior to the new study, scientists suspected involvement of the circuits ultimately implicated, but were stumped by a seeming paradox. A crossroads of convergent circuits in an emotion hub deep in the brain, thebasolateral amygdala, seem to be involved in both fear and reward learning, but how one brain region could orchestrate such opposing behaviors … Read More