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Mindful : December 2016
Things that spark our minds, touch our hearts, make us smile— or roll our eyes. Keep up with the latest in mindfulness. Top of Mind Ever looked at a map, and the street you’re standing on isn’t there? Time for an update! Until recently, neu- roscientists relied on a 100-year-old brain map. Now researchers at Wash- ington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, have published a much more detailed map of the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer responsible for sense perception, attention, language, tool use, and abstract thinking. The new map emerged from the Human Connectome Project, a five- year effort to map the brains of 1,200 young adults using MRIs. While the previous map showed 50 regions, the new map presents 180, based on physical differences, functional dif- ferences (e.g., differing responses to a stimulus), and connectivity to other regions. On the surface, regions look identical, so the brain map “is more akin to a map showing state borders than topographic features; the most important divisions are invisible from the sky but extremely important all the same,” says the university’s Tamara Bhandari. According to lead author Mat- thew Glasser, “In the past, it was not always clear when the results from two separate neuroimaging studies referred to the same area.” It is hoped that the new, more precise map, together with an algorithm developed at Oxford University, will allow the results of separate studies to be more accurately compared. The researchers also expect ongo- ing work will further subdivide the regions identified in this map. The fact that the prestigious journal Nat ure, which published the map, agreed to include 200 extra pages of detailed information about the brain regions will allow neuroscientists to “dive down and get these maps onto their computer screens and explore as they see fit,” according to coauthor David Van Essen. Soon after the new map was published, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, published an open-access digital atlas of the human brain in The Journal of Comparative Neurology. It’s derived from scanning and analyzing one brain. The atlas is more detailed, while the map is more generalizable because it incorporates data from many brains. When it comes to mapping the brain, it seems, the job is never done. This is the map that never ends... Resisting the Call of the Potato Chip Winning the battle against obesity typically requires overriding “mindless” urges to indulge in the pleasures of junk food. In a recent study, Evan For- man and colleagues at Drexel Uni- versity in Philadelphia recruited 119 snack-loving undergrads to test different strategies for resisting salty treats. An hour of training in mindful decision-mak- ing—aimed at replacing automatic reactions to junk-food cravings with more deliberate, restrained eating responses—resulted in decreased snack consumption in the week afterward. what’s new PHOTOGRAPHBYADOBESTOCK,FREEIMAGES