The colors that letters and numbers appear to a synesthete
What’s the News: For most of us, our senses stay relatively separate: that is, we hear what we hear and see what we see. People with synesthesia, however, actually see words as colors, taste a particular flavor when they hear a familiar song, or experience other strong, automatic linkages between senses. The neurological underpinnings of the condition—how the brain connects two usually distinct senses—have remained a mystery. But researchers have now found a possible cause, they reported yesterday: neurons in the area responsible for the second sensation, such as the color that goes with the word, may be unusually excitable.
One of IBM’s prototype cognitive computing chips
What’s the News: Researchers at IBM have developed a new “cognitive computing” microchip inspired by the brain’s computational tricks. These new chips, the researchers say, could make processors that are more powerful and more efficient than today’s computers—and better at the flexible learning and responses that are a struggle for current AI systems but a breeze for the human brain.
What’s the News: Researchers have simulated the symptoms of schizophrenia using a language-learning computer program, in a recent study published in Biological Psychiatry. The computer started showing schizophrenia-like symptoms when it was set to learn too much and forget too little. This study lends support to the hyperlearning hypothesis, that the brains of people with schizophrenia have trouble forgetting or filtering out irrelevant information.