A New Yorker article featuring JHU research on an artist with amnesia.
Tilak Ratnanather is one of 14 recipients of Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring
In a paper that will be published Friday in the journal Science, cognitive psychologists Aimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigenson demonstrate for the first time that babies learn new things by leveraging the core information with which they are born. When something surprises a baby, like an object not behaving the way she expects it to, she not only focuses on that object but ultimately learns more about it than from a similar yet predictable object.
A neuroscientist, an electrical engineer, a surgeon, and an education researcher walk up to a bar. This could be the start of a joke, or it could be a scene from a recent Science of Learning Institute event at Johns Hopkins University. At the institute's four-times-yearly Belgian Beer Events, scientists from far-flung fields—and often from far-flung parts of the university itself—present their research to each other in short, digestible chunks. Their creativity and conviviality stimulated by a cup of ale or lager, the researchers strike up conversations and form connections that range widely across disciplinary boundaries, from classroom learning to machine learning, from recovery from stroke to memory formation in the brain.
Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and fellow members of the Northern California community of Johns Hopkins came together for fun, networking, and a fascinating glimpse into the Science of Learning last October. Institute Director Dr. Barbara Landau led a group of faculty experts from across Johns Hopkins in a discussion about new approaches and tools for improving learning throughout the lifetime, and some of the opportunities and challenges ahead (links to video footage and photo gallery).
Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found that a gene already implicated in human speech disorders and epilepsy is also needed for vocalizations and synapse formation in mice. The finding, they say, adds to scientific understanding of how language develops, as well as the way synapses — the connections among brain cells that enable us to think — are formed.
Many of us—particularly as we age—find our memories betraying us. But for Lonni Sue Johnson, an accomplished artist and musician in her 60s, this betrayal is far greater than most of us can imagine. Johnson suffers from what's called profound amnesia. She can't form new memories. She can't remember things that happened to her only minutes before, and she can't bring up old memories, either. But while her brain doesn't work the way it should, it does give us meaningful clues about how our brains work and can be improved.
What is it like to live life without being able to create new memories? New experiences gone in seconds, others in minutes, but next to nothing endures. JHU Science of Learning researchers Barbara Landau and Mike McCloskey are learning from an artist who has lost her power of recall.
The Science of Learning Institute discovers we know little about how we learn. The institute's creation could be regarded as formal recognition of a paradox. Many life forms learn. Some of them learn well. But they do not approach the ability of humans to learn.
Dr. Dwight Bergles, professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is featured in Scientific American MIND Guest Blog discussing research advances in the study of glial cells and the roles they play in the brain.