Do you know what creativity is? Can you measure it? Last week the well-known neuroscientist Dr. Ysbrand van der Werf chose the setting of Utrecht University Hall (a former Chapter House from 1462) to give an inspiring lecture on the subject. As soon as he started, van der Werf grabbed the attention of everyone in the packed room by showing a live experiment with FaceReader. A FaceReader webcam was aimed at Ruud Abma, one of the coordinators of the Studium Generale lectures. The entire room filled with laughter when Dr. Abma enlarged several facial expressions, such as happiness, anger, and sadness. Van der Werf explained that measuring facial expressions is only one way to gain insight. By combining facial expression analysis with physiological measurements and brain activity measurements, scientists get a quite complete overview of responses to stimuli.
After Albert Einstein died, his brain was preserved and in the following decades scientists have studied it to try and see if there was anything exceptional about it. It is hard to draw conclusions from just one subject, but one clear difference is that he had an exceptionally large number of glial cells in the area of the brain responsible for incorporating and synthesizing information from other brain regions . Glial cells are important for a number of brain functions, including signal transmission.
To find out more about human and animal learning and memory, we might just have to go to sleep. Ahem – research on sleep, I mean.
Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, animal behavior research, exploratory behavior, learning and memory, open field test, anxiety research, elevated plus maze, home cage, PhenoTyper, cognition, brain waves, REM sleep