A new edition of Scientific American Mind has been released and includes two web-published articles: one on recent research on grandmother cells (or ‘Halle Berry neurons’ as they’re becoming known) and another on the use of neurofeedback as a therapy and cognitive enhancer.
‘Halle Berry neurons’ are brain cells that supposedly activate in response to a single face, and are so named because a photo of Ms Berry was used in a recent experiment experiment that seemed to support this “one neuron – one face idea”, that was previously derided as being unrealistic.
The jury is still out on whether they exist or not, but the article considers evidence for and against the hypothesis.
Neurofeedback is a technique where brain activity is measured and shown to the subject, who can then attempt to control it by altering their mental state.
The brain activity can be measured from areas that could be linked to problems a person has (such as poor attention or concentration) and so the technique can be supposedly used to ‘train the brain’ to work more efficiently.
The article considers the evidence that it can be effective, although it is still not a mainstream treatment, partly because there are no widely agreed standards for how it should be administered.