OSU Researcher Finds That Lasting Memories Are a Little “Weird”

Per Sederberg, professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, has developed a theory of “peculiarity” when it comes to what we remember most. Life-long memories simultaneously have elements of both the familiar and the peculiar.

Sederberg states that the process of building life-long memories has to start with a “scaffolding” of things we already know or are familiar with, but something about the scenario has to “violate expectations.” In other words, “It has to be a little bit weird.”

The way to create a long-lasting memory is to form an association with other memories. For the mind to retrieve the memory it needs to connect to other memories in multiple ways. These associations create a map for the mind to find memories. The more connections or roads between them, the easier they are to find.

Sederberg says that there must be a balance between the strange and the familiar. The strange helps know what is important to remember, familiarity helps us know what to ignore. Something too out of place will find no home on the “cognitive map” and will be lost, similarly the too-familiar gets lost as well.

Sederberg’s co-presenters, all based in London, are Dominique Bonnafoux, a senior strategist at FITCH; Mike Reed, founder and creative director of Reed Words; and Jason Bruges, a multidisciplinary artist and designer.

OSU Researchers Uncover Positive News About Brain Tissue and Concussions

New research at the Ohio State University reveals details about sub-cellular change in the brain in a post-concussive state that might one day be used to provide better treatment to concussion sufferers and other patients with brain damage.

Researchers examined the changes in rodent brains when affected by laboratory induced mild traumatic brain injury. They found rapid microscopic swelling along the axons. The axons are the long, slender part of the nerve cell that sends vital messages to other parts of the brain. This same kind of swelling is also seen in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.

There is some guarded good news, though—the swollen axons are reversible. It remains, however, unclear how exactly all this plays out in a human brain and the degree to which people may respond differently to brain trauma and other neurological problems.

When Stars Go Gently Into That Sweet Night

For the first time in history, astronomers have been able to watch as a dying star was reborn as a black hole. The star, which was 25 times as massive as our sun, should have exploded in a very bright supernova. Instead it un-spectacularly became a black hole.

Quietly dying stars like this one in a nearby galaxy could explain why astronomers rarely see supernovae from the most massive stars, said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology.

As many as 30 percent of such stars, it seems, may quietly collapse into black holes with going super nova.

He leads a team of astronomers who have been using the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) to look for failed supernovae in other galaxies. They published their latest results in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The astronomers aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at the star’s location to see if it was still there but merely dimmed. They also used the Spitzer Space Telescope to search for any infrared radiation emanating from the spot. That would have been a sign that the star was still present, but perhaps just hidden behind a dust cloud.

All the tests came up negative. The star was no longer there. By a careful process of elimination, the researchers eventually concluded that the star must have become a black hole.

State-Wide Program Helps Prepare Future Buckeyes for Law School

The Law and Leadership Institute is a statewide program supported by the legal community and state law schools. LLI enrolls high school-aged students from under-served communities and prepares them for a career in law at schools like the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. The program was founded by a former OSU student, Ronald Birchfield.

Students participate in a four-year academic program while they are in high school. The course work focuses on law, leadership, writing, critical thinking and professionalism.

The program tests the students with mock trial experiences; creates opportunities for them to interact with lawyers and judges; and prepares them to take standardized tests. Kathy Northern and Moritz College of Law Dean Alan Michaels currently serve on the board of directors for the institute.

OSU Joins Effort to Address Food and Nutrition Crises

The university is part of the Challenge of Change Commission. The group of university, government, non-governmental organization and business leaders is committed to solving food and nutrition security challenges in the U.S. and abroad that pose significant humanitarian, environmental and national security risks. Leaders at The Ohio State University working to combat the growing problem of food insecurity have joined a comprehensive and coordinated effort to address global hunger.

The commission unveiled a report in Washington, D.C., Tuesday detailing how public universities and their partners can tackle seven specific challenges of food and nutrition security.

The numbers are startling: 42.2 million people in the Unites States faced food security issues between 2014 and 2016. Around the world, nearly 1 in 9 people deal with concerns such as hunger, obesity, malnutrition and poor sanitation.

The challenges identified in the commission report include: increasing yields, profitability and environmental sustainability simultaneously; developing the varieties and breeds needed for sustainable food systems; decreasing food loss and waste through more efficient distribution systems; creating and sharing resources that serve all populations; ensuring inclusive and equitable food systems; addressing the dual burdens of undernutrition and obesity to ensure full human potential; ensuring a safe and secure food supply that protects and improves public health.

The commission spent a year gathering information.