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Octopus brains may have become complex the same way human brains did

New Scientist

A study of the activity of RNA, a type of genetic material, in the bodies of octopuses suggests that the brains of cephalopods evolved greater complexity in the same way as vertebrate brains did – by using a lot more regulatory RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs) to control gene activity. "We show that the major RNA innovation of soft-bodied cephalopods is a massive expansion of the miRNA gene repertoire," states a study yet to be formally peer reviewed, led by Nikolaus Rajewsky at the Max Delbrück …


Tiny human brain grown in lab has eye-like structures that 'see' light

New Scientist

Small blobs of human brain grown in a dish have been coaxed into forming rudimentary eyes, which respond to light by sending signals to the rest of the brain tissue. The pairs of eye-like structures create tissues similar to those in real eyes, including a round lens, which normally focuses an image, and a retina, the patch of tissue at the back of the eye that senses light. In a way, the brain tissue is "seeing" light, says Jay Gopalakrishnan at Heinrich Heine …


Machine Brains Advance Towards Human Mimicry

#artificialintelligence

Computer brains are becoming more intelligent -- we've been trying to work out who is smartest and sharpest since since the dawn of video games if not before. Computer'brains' in the world of Artificial Intelligence don't actually function organically, like a human brain, obviously. But as we continue to build new and ever more powerful layers of functionality into the machine brain, they can start to'ape' some of our human imperfections and nuances in an attempt to be more like us. Software application developers (and their IT'Ops' operations buddies) are working hard to move statistical models into computer brains and advance not just AI, but the inextricably closely related area of machine learning which helps feed the practice of'automation', which in and of itself has become the darling buzzword of the IT industry in recent times. Data intelligence firms like Elastic are building machine learning functions into their software as fast as they can.



Brain Evolution: Environment May Not Be An Important Factor In Size

International Business Times

Humans, specifically Homo sapiens, have entrenched themselves at the top of the food chain, something most people take for granted and ascribe to the powers of the human brain. But for all that, scientists don't really understand why our brains evolved to be as large and powerful as they are. A popular theory, which has been around for a long time, is called the cognitive buffer hypothesis, and it says large brains evolved to deal with fast or unexpected changes to the environment, thereby helping with survival. In other words, a variable environment would lead to larger brains among species that live there. But it is difficult to verify this theory using humans, since us modern humans are the only survivors of the Homo genus, and we have nothing to compare with.