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Complex, unfamiliar sentences make the brain’s language network work harder

With help from an artificial language network, MIT neuroscientists have discovered what kind of sentences are most likely to fire up the brain’s key language processing centers. The new study reveals that sentences that are more complex, either because of unusual grammar or unexpected meaning, generate stronger responses in these language processing centers. Sentences that […]


Deep neural networks show promise as models of human hearing

Computational models that mimic the structure and function of the human auditory system could help researchers design better hearing aids, cochlear implants, and brain-machine interfaces. A new study from MIT has found that modern computational models derived from machine learning are moving closer to this goal. In the largest study yet of deep neural networks […]


Season’s Greetings from the McGovern Institute

This year’s holiday greeting (video above) was inspired by research conducted in John Gabrieli’s lab, which found that practicing mindfulness reduced children’s stress levels and negative emotions during the pandemic. These findings contribute to a growing body of evidence that practicing mindfulness can change patterns of brain activity associated with emotions and mental health. Coloring […]


A mindful McGovern community

Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a state of complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. McGovern researchers have shown that practicing mindfulness reduces anxiety and supports emotional resilience. In a survey distributed to the McGovern Institute community, 57% of the 74 researchers, faculty, and staff who responded, said that they […]


K. Lisa Yang Postbaccalaureate Program names new scholars

Funded by philanthropist Lisa Yang, the K. Lisa Yang Postbaccalaureate Scholar Program provides two years of paid laboratory experience, mentorship, and education to recent college graduates from backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience. This year, two young researchers in McGovern Institute labs, Joseph Itiat and Sam Merrow, are the recipients of the Yang postbac program. Itiat moved […]


What does the future hold for generative AI?

Speaking at the “Generative AI: Shaping the Future” symposium on Nov. 28, the kickoff event of MIT’s Generative AI Week, keynote speaker and iRobot co-founder Rodney Brooks warned attendees against uncritically overestimating the capabilities of this emerging technology, which underpins increasingly powerful tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. “Hype leads to hubris, and hubris […]


Tuning the mind to benefit mental health

This story also appears in the Winter 2024 issue of BrainScan. ___ Psychiatrists and pediatricians have sounded an alarm. The mental health of youth in the United States is worsening. Youth visits to emergency departments related to depression, anxiety, and behavioral challenges have been on the rise for years. Suicide rates among young people have […]


A new way to see the activity inside a living cell

Living cells are bombarded with many kinds of incoming molecular signal that influence their behavior. Being able to measure those signals and how cells respond to them through downstream molecular signaling networks could help scientists learn much more about how cells work, including what happens as they age or become diseased. Right now, this kind […]


Search algorithm reveals nearly 200 new kinds of CRISPR systems

Microbial sequence databases contain a wealth of information about enzymes and other molecules that could be adapted for biotechnology. But these databases have grown so large in recent years that they’ve become difficult to search efficiently for enzymes of interest. Now, scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the McGovern Institute for Brain […]


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