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Scientific American

MIT scientists have uncovered evidence that the different layers of the brain’s cortex generate different brain waves, reports Simon Makin for Scientific American. “The findings may have implications for understanding—and even treating—neuropsychiatric conditions,” Makin explains.

The Washington Post

Prof. Tali Sharot speaks with Washington Post reporter Kristyn Kusek Lewis about how to spark happiness and embrace novelty. “The neurons in our brains stop responding to things that don’t change,” says Sharot. “We need to make room for the new and unexpected, so our brain filters out the old and expected. We’ve all experienced this physically when jumping in a pool: The water feels cold at first, but then your body acclimates. In the case of a negative emotion, like grief, it’s good that we habituate, because the feelings lessen over time. But when it comes to positive things, we actually enjoy them less as we get used to them.”

The Next Big Idea Club

Writing for The Next Big Idea Club, Prof. Tali Sharot and Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein cite their new book “Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There,” to share five insights on how to incorporate more joy into life. “If you need to complete an unpleasant task (household chores, administrative work) complete them in one go,” they write. “Habituation will help you motor through the yukky bits of life, making them feel less unpleasant. Swallow the bad whole but insert short breaks into pleasant experiences to increase pleasure.”

The Economist

Research Scientist Robert Ajemian, graduate student Greta Tuckute and MIT Museum Exhibit Content and Experience Developer Lindsay Bartholomew appear on The Economist’s Babbage podcast to discuss the development of generative AI. “The way that current AI works, whether it is object recognition or large language models, it’s trained on tons and tons and tons of data and what it’s essentially doing is comparing something it’s seen before to something it’s seeing now,” says Ajemian.  

The Wall Street Journal

Alumnus Benjamin Rapoport co-founded Precision Neuroscience, a brain-computer interface company, that is developing technology that will allow “paralyzed patients the ability to operate a computer with their thoughts,” reports Jo Craven McGinty for The Wall Street Journal. “In order to be a citizen of the world in 2024, to communicate with loved ones, to make a living, the ability to work with a digital system is indispensable,” says Rapoport. “To operate a word processor is totally transformative.”


Will Dunham at Reuters writes about new research from Prof. Evelina Fedorenko and others, which found that polyglots “who spoke between five and 54 languages” used less brain activity when processing their native language. "We think this is because when you process a language that you know well, you can engage the full suite of linguistic operations - the operations that the language system in your brain supports," says Fedorenko.


Cognito Therapeutics, an MIT startup co-founded by Prof. Li-Huei Tsai and Prof. Ed Boyden, has developed a headset that uses light and sound to slow the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, reports Emily Mullin for Wired. “Cognito’s headset, dubbed Spectris, delivers flashing lights and sounds through a pair of connected glasses and headphones to stimulate gamma waves in the brain” writes Mullin. “Different types of brain waves have different paces, or frequencies. Gamma waves are fast-frequency brain waves associated with thinking skills and memory, and people with Alzheimer’s are known to have fewer of these fast brain waves.”


A new study by MIT researchers finds that an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment involving sound and light stimulation at a frequency of 40 Hz is associated with, “an increase in activity of the brain's own cleanup crew; the glymphatic system,” reports Pandora Dewan for Newsweek. The findings offer an, “exciting, non-invasive potential treatment option for patients with neurological disorders in the future,” Dewan notes.

New Scientist

MIT scientists have found that an experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease involving sounds and flickering lights appears to “ramp up the brain’s waste disposal networks, which boosts the clearance of beta-amyloid and other toxic proteins that contribute to memory and concentration problems,” reports Clare Wilson for New Scientist. “Once we understand the mechanism, we can probably figure out how to further optimize this whole concept and improve the efficacy,” explains Prof. Li-Huei Tsai.

Los Angeles Times

Senior lecturer Tara Swart speaks with Los Angeles Times reporter Deborah Netburn about healthy compartmentalization. Swart says “at its most useful, compartmentalization is the ability to acknowledge challenges in your personal circumstances or current events, and make a conscious decision to not allow those things to take over your thoughts and emotions,” writes Netburn. “But that doesn’t mean shutting out the world.”


MIT researchers have used machine learning to uncover the different kinds of sentences that most likely to activate the brain’s key language processing centers, reports Kyle Wiggers and Devin Coldewey for TechCrunch. The model, “was able to predict for novel sentences whether they would be taxing on human cognition or not,” they explain.


Cognito Therapeutics, founded by Prof. Ed Boyden and Prof. Li Huei Tsai, has developed a “specialized headset that delivers 40Hz auditory and visual stimulation” to the brain, which could potentially slow down the cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease, reports William A. Haseltine for Forbes. Prof. Li-Huei Tsai “and her team speculated that if gamma wave activity is reduced in Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps, artificially stimulating the brain may enhance synchronized firing and restore cognition,” writes Haseltine.


Cognito Therapeutics, founded by Prof. Ed Boyden and Prof. Li-Huei Tsai, is using a 40 Hzlight-flickering and auditory headset to help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and restore cognition, reports William A. Haseltine for Forbes. “A recent pilot clinical trial found that this technology is not only safe and tolerable for home use, but also has a positive impact on reducing symptoms associated with age-related neurodegeneration,” writes Haseltine.


Sloan Senior Lecturer Tara Swart Bieber speaks with Newsweek reporter Pandora Dewan about exercises that can help improve memory. "Memory is something that can be trained using neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to be malleable throughout life," said Bieber.