Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 24th 2017 Contents mands the eye muscles to make the needed
From a big-picture perspective, if we didn't
possess this powerful oculomotor mechanism,
particularly when blinking, our surroundings
would appear shadowy, erratic and jittery, re-
"We perceive coherence and not transient
blindness because the brain connects the dots
for us," said study co-author David Whitney, a
psychology professor at UC Berkeley.
"Our brains do a lot of prediction to com-
pensate for how we move around in the world,"
said co-author Patrick Cavanagh, a professor of
psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth
College. "It's like a steadicam of the mind."
A dozen healthy young adults participated
in what Maus jokingly called "the most boring
Study participants sat in a dark room for long
periods staring at a dot on a screen while in-
frared cameras tracked their eye movements
and eye blinks in real time.
Every time they blinked, the dot was moved
one centimeter to the right. While participants
failed to notice the subtle shift, the brain's oc-
ulomotor system registered the movement and
learned to reposition the line of vision squarely
on the dot.
After 30 or so blink-synchronised dot move-
ments,participants' eyes adjusted during each
blink and shifted automatically to the spot
where they predicted the dot to be.
"Even though participants did not con-
sciously register that the dot had moved, their
brains did, and adjusted with the corrective
eye movement," Maus said.
"These findings add to our understanding
of how the brain constantly adapts to changes,
commanding our muscles to correct for errors
in our bodies' own hardware."
In addition to Maus, Whitney and Cavanagh,
co-authors of the study are Marianne Duyck,
Matteo Lisi and Therese Collins of the Univer-
sité Paris Descartes.
(University of California, Berkeley)
A22 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Why the lights don't dim when we blink
Every few seconds, our eyelids automatically
shutter and our eyeballs roll back in their sockets.
So why doesn't blinking plunge us into intermit-
tent darkness and light? New research led by the
University of California, Berkeley, shows that the
brain works extra hard to stabilize our vision despite
our fluttering eyes.
Scientists at UC Berkeley, Nanyang Technological
University in Singapore, Université Paris Descartes and
Dartmouth College have found that blinking does more
than lubricate dry eyes and protect them from irritants.
In a study published in today's online edition of the jour-
nal Current Biology, they found that when we blink, our
brain repositions our eyeballs so we can stay focused on
what we're viewing.
When our eyeballs roll back in their sockets during a
blink, they don't always return to the same spot when we
reopen our eyes. This misalignment prompts the brain to
activate the eye muscles to realign our vision, said study
lead author Gerrit Maus, an assistant professor of psychol-
ogy at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
He launched the study as a postdoctoral fellow in UC
Berkeley's Whitney Laboratory for Perception and Action.
"Our eye muscles are quite sluggish and imprecise, so
the brain needs to constantly adapt its motor signals to
make sure our eyes are pointing where they're supposed
to," Maus said.
"Our findings suggest that the brain gauges the differ-
ence in what we see before and after a blink, and com-
Meditation, music may help
reverse early memory loss
In a recent study of adults with early memory
loss, a West Virginia University research team lead
by Dr. Kim Innes found that practice of a simple
meditation or music listeningprogramme mayhave
multiple benefits for older adults with preclinical
In this randomised controlled trial,60 older adults with
subjective cognitive decline (SCD), a condition that may
represent a preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease, were
assigned to either a beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya)
or music listening programme and asked to practice 12
minutes/day for 12 weeks.
As detailed in a paper recently published by the Journal
of Alzheimer's Disease, both the meditation and music
groups showed marked and significant improvements
in subjective memory function and objective cognitive
performance at three months. These included domains
of cognitive functioning most likely to be affected in
preclinical and early stages of dementia (eg, attention,
executive function, processing speed, and subjective
memory function). The substantial gains observed in
memory and cognition were maintained or further in-
creased at six months (three months post-intervention).
As explained in the research team's previous paper (J
Alzheimer's Dis. 52 (4): 1277-1298), both intervention
groups also showed improvements in sleep, mood, stress,
well-being and quality of life, with gains that were that
were particularly pronounced in the meditation group;
again, all benefits were sustained or further enhanced at
three months post-intervention.
The findings of this trial suggest that two simple mind-
body practices, Kirtan Kriya meditation and music lis-
tening, may not only improve mood, sleep, and quality of
life, but also boost cognition and help reverse perceived
memory loss in older adults with SCD.
Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening, may not
only improve mood, sleep, and quality of life, but also
boost cognition and help reverse perceived memory
loss in older adults with SCD.
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