2013 News

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  • October 31, 2013

    Seeing in the Dark

    Find a space with total darkness and slowly move your hand from side to side in front of your face. What do you see? If the answer is a shadowy shape moving past, you are probably not imagining things. With the help of computerized eye trackers, a new cognitive science study finds that at least 50 percent of people can see the movement of their own hand even in the absence of all light.

    Seeing in total darkness? According to the current understanding of natural vision, that just doesn't happen, says Duje Tadin, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester who led the investigation. But this research shows that our own movements transmit sensory signals that also can create real visual perceptions in the brain, even in the complete absence of optical input.

  • August 7, 2013

    NGP Students Christina Cloninger and Colin Lockwood Awarded Graduate Fellowship

    Christina Cloninger and Colin Lockwood have been awarded a Hearing, Balance, and Spatial Orientation Training Grant by the National Institutes of Health. The Hearing, Balance, and Spatial Orientation Training Grant (T32) is funded by the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The grant involves the collaborative efforts of the Departments of Otolaryngology, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurobiology & Anatomy. The grant supports PhD students, MD-PhD students, Post-doctoral fellows and Medical Residents in BME, Neuroscience, and Otolaryngology who are involved in research related to the auditory and vestibular systems. This Training Grant is an important resource for the University of Rochester's Center for Navigation and Communication Sciences, which provides technical and administrative support for 25 faculty members who are conducting research in this area. The grant provides financial support for several trainees each year. In association with the Training Grant, a graduate-level course entitled Hearing and Balance: Structure, Function and Disease is offered.

  • May 23, 2013

    Motion Quotient

    A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose brains are better at automatically suppressing background motion perform better on standard measures of intelligence.

    The test is the first purely sensory assessment to be strongly correlated with IQ and may provide a non-verbal and culturally unbiased tool for scientists seeking to understand neural processes associated with general intelligence.

    Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can't really track it back to one part of the brain, says Duje Tadin, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. But since this task is so simple and so closely linked to IQ, it may give us clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and, consequently, more intelligent.

  • May 10, 2013

    Kids With Autism Quick To Detect Motion

    Children with autism see simple movements twice as fast as other children their age, a new study finds. Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Rochester were looking to test a common theory about autism which holds that overwhelming sensory stimulation inhibits other brain functions. The researchers figured they could check that by studying how kids with autism process moving images.

    One can think of autism as a brain impairment, but another way to view autism is as a condition where the balance between different brain processes is impaired, says Duje Tadin, a co-author of the study out this week in the Journal of Neuroscience. That imbalance could lead to functional impairments, and it often does, but it can also result in enhancements.

  • May 9, 2013

    Autistic Children See Movement Twice as Quickly as Those Without Condition

    Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, according to a new study. Scientists think this this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to what causes the disorder. The findings may explain why some people suffering with autism are sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.

    We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses. Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication, says Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

    Although previous studies have found that people with autism possess enhanced visual abilities with still images, this is the first research to discover a heightened awareness of motion. The findings were reported in the Journal of Neuroscience by Tadin, co-lead author Jennifer Foss-Feig, a postdoctoral fellow at the Child Study Center at Yale University, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University.

  • May 8, 2013

    Enhanced Motion Detection in Autism May Point to Underlying Cause of the Disorder

    Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, and this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to a fundamental cause of the developmental disorder, according to a new study.

    Such heightened sensory perception in autism may help explain why some people with the disorder are painfully sensitive to noise and bright lights. It also may be linked to some of the complex social and behavioral deficits associated with autism, says Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

    We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses. Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication.

  • May 1, 2013

    Richard Aslin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Dr. Richard Aslin

    Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging at the University of Rochester, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

    Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Aslin will be inducted into the academy next April during its 151st annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

    This honor is richly deserved. Dick is a pioneer in the field of cognitive development, said Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. His work has opened up a major new field and has transformed our understanding of how infants learn.

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