ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "brain"

Anthropology in Practice

This Is Your Brain on Disney

I’ve only been to Disney World once. A few years ago, S and I went for the first time and while I may go back, I’m definitely still recovering. Disney marketing isn’t kidding when they say it’s the happiest/most magical place on earth—it’s intense. And the experience stays with you. The promise of the experience [...]

Keep reading »
@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American MIND Launches a New Home Page and Blog Network

I am thrilled to announce two big developments for Scientific American MIND today. We are launching a new home page, mind.scientificamerican.com, so that fans of the magazine can find our print and online articles, as well as multimedia, in one convenient location. Starting today, you’ll start to see several new contributors in the mix, which [...]

Keep reading »
@ScientificAmerican

No Silly Love Songs? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Our Latest E-Book: Love, Sex and Science

eBook - Disarming Cupid: Love, Sex and Science

Will “Love Will Keep Us Together” or is it true that “Love Is a Battlefield”? Whereas the topic of romance has provided limitless inspiration for artists, writers and musicians, scientists are just as fascinated by affairs of the heart, though they seldom sing about it. Cupid’s unpredictable arrow explains little, so it can be more [...]

Keep reading »
Bering in Mind

Sex, Sleep and the Law: When Nocturnal Genitals Pose a Moral Dilemma

It may seem to you that, much like their barnyard animal namesake, men’s reproductive organs the world over participate in a mindless synchrony of stiffened salutes to the rising sun. In fact, however, such "morning wood" is an autonomic leftover from a series of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) episodes that occur like clockwork during the [...]

Keep reading »
Bering in Mind

Natural homophobes? Evolutionary psychology and antigay attitudes

Consider this a warning: the theory I’m about to describe is likely to boil untold liters of blood and prompt mountains of angry fists to clench in revolt. It’s the best—the kindest—of you out there likely to get the most upset, too. I’d like to think of myself as being in that category, at least, [...]

Keep reading »
Bering in Mind

Armpit Psychology: The Science of Body Odor Perception

Researchers explore how other people’s smells are processed by our brains

Keep reading »
Brainwaves

Searching For The Elephant’s Genius Inside the Largest Brain on Land

African elephant

  Many years ago, while wandering through Amboseli National Park in Kenya, an elephant matriarch named Echo came upon the bones of her former companion Emily. Echo and her family slowed down and began to inspect the remains. They stroked Emily’s skull with their trunks, investigating every crevice; they touched her skeleton gingerly with their [...]

Keep reading »
Brainwaves

Catching Ourselves in the Act of Thinking

rodin-thinker

From 1934 to 1970, Louie Mayer worked as a cook and housekeeper for writers Virginia and Leonard Woolf at their home in Rodmell, England. Her very first day on the job, she noticed something strange. As Louie worked in the kitchen, voices poured through the ceiling from the upstairs bathroom, where Virginia was soaking in [...]

Keep reading »
Brainwaves

Why We Need to Study the Brain’s Evolution in Order to Understand the Modern Mind

In the September 17th issue of The New Yorker, Anthony Gottlieb analyzes Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, a new book by David Barash, a psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Gottlieb’s article is more than just a book review—it’s also the latest in a long line of critiques of evolutionary [...]

Keep reading »
Brainwaves

The Mysterious Brain of the Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur, the World’s Only Hibernating Primate

fat-tailed dwarf lemur

In the 18th century Carl Linnaeus named them lemurs, after the Latin lemures—spirits of the dead, wandering ghosts. He knew the primates roamed Madagascar’s forests at night, their large eyes brimming with moonlight, their shrill cries crashing through the treetops. One of the smallest lemurs on the island, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur, resembled a phantom [...]

Keep reading »
Brainwaves

Know Your Neurons: How to Classify Different Types of Neurons in the Brain’s Forest

illustrations-of-neurons

Previously, on Know Your Neurons: Chapter 1: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron Chapter 2: How to Classify Different Types of Neurons, or The Dendrology of the Neuron Forest Scientists have organized the cells that make up the nervous system into two broad groups: neurons, which are the primary signaling cells, and glia, which [...]

Keep reading »
Brainwaves

Know Your Neurons: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron

selection-of-neuron-types

Over the years, I have taught my copy of Microsoft Word a lot of neuroscience terminology: amygdala, corpus callosum, dendritic spines, voxel. But it always knew what neuron meant. I thought I did too. Neurons—the electrically excitable cells that make up the brain and nervous system—first fascinated me in high school. In college, like so [...]

Keep reading »
Food Matters

Is your nose making you overeat?

Fruit flies overeat when they smell something tasty; what about you?

Some people are drawn to the thick smell of bacon, sizzling and crackling in the skillet on a Saturday morning.  For others, it’s the aroma of freshly baked cookies on a Friday night or the smell of McDonald’s fries creeping in through the car window.  At this time of year, I find the scent of [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

The Potential of LSD, Heroin, Marijuana and Other Controlled Substances in Brain Research

no drugs sign

Imagine being an astronomer in a world where the telescope was banned. This effectively happened in the 1600s when, for over 100 years, the Catholic Church prohibited access to knowledge of the heavens in a vain attempt to stop scientists proving that the earth was not the center of the universe.  ‘Surely similar censorship could [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Serotonin and sexual preference: Is it really that simple?

Last week, Nature issued a new paper. The paper used two different strains of mice, one lacking all serotonin neurons (called Lmx1b knockouts), and one lacking the rate limiting enzyme for the production of serotonin (called TPH2 knockouts). The authors demonstrated that these mice, lacking serotonin, did not distinguish between sexual partners, mounting male and [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential

"One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts." —Albert Einstein While Einstein was not a neuroscientist, he sure knew what he was talking about in regards to the human capacity to achieve. He knew intuitively what we can [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

A pill to remember

It has happened to everyone. You can’t recall a name or you forget your credit card PIN number. Rather than waiting two weeks for a new one to arrive in the mail, wouldn’t it be great if there were a pill you could swallow to pop that lost memory back into your head? That is [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Pleasure, reward…and rabbits! Why do animals behave as they do?

My wife and I keep pet rabbits. Observe their cuteness: We feed Jackson (he’s the black one) and Dutchess (she’s the big one) once each morning and once each night, and usually give them a few treats in between. A month or so ago, we noticed that when we open the refrigerator door they hop [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

The antidepressant reboxetine: A “headdesk” moment in science

Every so often there comes a truly "headdesk" moment in science. A moment where you sit there, stunned by a new finding, and thinking, blankly…"OK, now what?" For psychiatry and behavioral pharmacology, one of those moments came a few weeks ago with the findings of a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal (Eyding et [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Michelangelo’s secret message in the Sistine Chapel: A juxtaposition of God and the human brain

At the age of 17 he began dissecting corpses from the church graveyard. Between the years 1508 and 1512 he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Michelangelo Buonarroti—known by his first name the world over as the singular artistic genius, sculptor and architect—was also an anatomist, a secret he concealed by destroying [...]

Keep reading »
Illusion Chasers

Remembering David Hubel (February 27, 1926 – September 22, 2013)

David Hubel

Hubel had an irreverent attitude towards science “with a capital S”.

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

Brain-Wide Map of “Neural Highways” Is First of Its Kind

For the first time ever, neuroscientists have completed a comprehensive roadmap of the top-trafficked communication highways in the human brain. This  white-matter map not only charts the geography of these neural highways – it also plots out which of them interact with the most other paths, which are most crucial for supporting key brain functions, [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

To Patch a Visual Gap, Turn That Text Around

Fixation maps

Reader, be proud. You’re a perceptual expert. As you read, your eyes alternately focus and move along each line of text in a seamless sequence honed over years of practice. Reading, recognizing faces and distinguishing colors or musical tones are all forms of perceptual expertise. To appreciate the visual skill involved in reading, turn a [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

The Search for a Nobel Prize-Winning Synapse Machine

In the cellular machinery that Rothman, Schekman and Südhof all helped reconstruct, a SNARE complex - made of synaptobrevin, syntaxin and SNAP-25 - zips together to bind a synaptic vesicle to the surface of a receiving neuron. Courtesy of Danko Dimchev Georgiev, M.D. via Wikimedia Commons.

2013’s Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine honors three researchers in particular – but what it really honors is thirty-plus years of work not only from them, but also from their labs, their graduate students and their collaborators. Winners James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof all helped assemble our current picture of the cellular [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

Plenty of Pheromones in the Sea

As we sat in my car outside a silent movie theater in Los Angeles, my friend anxiously opened a plastic bag containing a white T-shirt she’d slept in for the past three nights. “Does it smell like me?” she asked nervously, gesturing the open end toward my face. I stuck my nose into the bag [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

Can Synesthesia in Autism Lead to Savantism?

Daniel Tammet has memorized Pi to the 22,514th digit. He speaks ten different languages, including one of his own invention, and he can multiply enormous sums in his head within a matter of seconds. However, he is unable to hold down a standard 9-to-5 job, in part due to his obsessive adherence to ritual, down [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

How to Erase Bad Memories

Courtesy of R. Douglas Fields.

I’ll never forget it. They strapped electrodes to my wrist, cranked up a black dial on a frightening electronic device encrusted with switches and knobs, and shocked me repeatedly with jolts of electricity. No, this was not torture and the memory is not a traumatic one. I was inside the laboratory of Dr. Daniela Schiller, [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

Read the Thoughts of a Boy with Autism

Reprinted with permission from SFARI.org, an editorially independent division of the Simons Foundation. (Find original story here.) The autism described in The Reason I Jump is quite different from the mostly social disorder that I, as a researcher and clinician, find in textbooks and journal articles. The new bestselling book, featuring the remarkable testimony of [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

The Ancient Marriage between Music, Movement and Mood

Think back to that moment when you first heard your favorite song. What about it made you stop in your tracks? Was it the incessant buildup, soaring high, filling you with a sense of elation? The flirty high notes, light as wings, bringing a bounce in your step? Or the rumbling base drop, furiously cascading, [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

How I Recovered My Social Skills after Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can seriously impair the ability to relate to people, but with effort, a degree of normalcy can be attained. As someone who lives with schizophrenia, this is glaringly obvious to me. When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually [...]

Keep reading »
MIND Guest Blog

Emotional Needs in Teens May Spur the Growth of New Brain Cells

Until recent decades, the brain was viewed as static. The accepted scientific view was that after early childhood few changes occurred in the connections between neurons and no new brain cells appeared. A new, dynamic model of the brain has emerged from this fixed model. This transition was marked, first by scientific acceptance of the [...]

Keep reading »
Not bad science

The right smell: dogs sniff more with their right nostrils

Have you ever wondered what makes you right- or left-handed? Well, in humans and other mammals, the brain is divided down the middle, or ‘lateralized’. One of the effects of this is that people can be right-handed or left-handed (having better motor skill with one hand or the other). This is because one half of [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Firstborn Girls Most Likely to Succeed

Hillary Clinton

Bossy, know-it-all older sisters everywhere now have something else to lord over their younger siblings: Researchers have found that firstborn girls are the most ambitious and successful children in their families. A slew of real life examples appear to back this up: Beyonce, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Sheryl Sandberg are all firstborns. Oldest children [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Brains in Boston: Weekend Recap of Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s Annual Meeting

poster at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting

Greetings from Boston where the 21st annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society is underway.  Saturday and Sunday were packed with symposia, lectures and more than 400 posters.  Here are just a few of the highlights. The bilingual brain has been a hot topic at the meeting this year, particularly as researchers grapple with the [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Are “Big Brain” Projects Really Worth Billions?

When does it make sense to throw vast sums of money at a single problem? The question animates a lot of debate in science policy circles, and it was a topic of discussion among scientists and policymakers at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. The question is particularly topical as the United States [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Why Do Antidepressants Take So Long to Work?

Kate wanted to die. She remembers the moment the psychiatrist said “the antidepressant isn’t going to work right away. Can you promise to be here next week and not kill yourself?” “I told her no,” Kate says. “I couldn’t promise my doctor I’d make it a week. That’s how bad my life had to be [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Taking a Closer Look at How Meditation Improves Our Brains [Video]

final_sa_wo.Still001

The practice of meditation can sharpen our attention, strengthen memory and improve other mental abilities. In our latest Instant Egghead video, Scientific American editor Ferris Jabr examines the changes in brain structure behind some of these benefits. More to explore (via Ferris Jabr): Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

The Continuing Mystery of the Moon Illusion [Video]

The harvest moon is almost upon us—specifically, September 19. It’s the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it has deep significance in our cultural histories. Namely, it enabled our ancestral farmers to toil longer in the fields. (Today, electricity enables us to toil longer in the office—thanks, Tom Edison.) One enduring belief is [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Can You Trust Your Eyes? A Video of Illusions

If you’re a fan of optical illusions and perceptual tricks, check out this AsapSCIENCE video. As usual, producers Michael Moffitt and Gregory Brown do a great job distilling the essential ideas and presenting them in a fun, entertaining and informative way. Here, they show you how your brain judges brightness and color in context. Visit [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Lasker Awards to Honor Neuroscience, Hearing and Philanthropy Work

Image: Lasker Foundation

  Let the Nobel Prize watch begin. Two areas of major medical discovery and two leading public health philanthropists were announced this morning as the winners of the prestigious Lasker Awards. The awards, currently in their 68th year, are typically looked to as a precursor for the Nobel Prize and are informally dubbed the “American [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Integrating Left Brain and Right, on a Computer

ibm,cognitive,computer,processor,brain

As computers have matured over time, the human brain has no way of keeping up with silicon’s rapid-fire calculating abilities. But the human cognitive repertoire extends far beyond just fast calculations. For that reason, researchers are still trying to develop computers that can recognize, interpret and act upon information—like the kind pulled in by eyes, [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Pigeons, Like Humans, Can Behave Irrationally

Courtesy of Joseph Baranowski/dragontoller via flickr

Gambling may seem like a uniquely human activity. Twinkling slot machines and croupiers in starched white shirts may be about as far from the natural world as we can get. Yet one team of researchers, led by psychologist Thomas Zentall at the University of Kentucky, has taken a particular interest in how animals gamble. The [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

How Lil Wayne, the NYC Octopus, Will Help Scientists Understand the Brain

BROOKLYN—It wasn’t hard to name Lil Wayne. He actually volunteered to take the rapper’s moniker. On April 2, Frank Grasso, director of the Biomemetic and Cognitive Robotics Lab at Brooklyn College, showed me around his lab spaces—from where they build mobile robots to where they keep their axolotls and fiddler crabs to the crown jewel: [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

New Views into the Octopus’s Bizarre Moves

octopus swim move

We’ve known for centuries that octopuses get around one of two ways: one, by crawling over surfaces with their arms, or, two, swimming with the help of their siphon’s jet. But a new study (pdf) shows us that their movement is not quite so simple—and is far more fascinating. A team of researchers has been [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

How a Video Game Can Help Us Understand What It’s Like to Be an Octopus [Video]

octodad

You have one brain. Which controls two jointed arms. And ten jointed fingers. All of which are going to have a very hard time keeping up with the protagonist in the new video game Octodad: Dadliest Catch. In this game (out January 2014), which is a sequel to the freebie Octodad, players must command a [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

8 Awesome Octopus Facts for World Oceans Day

octopus facts world oceans day

Octopuses are amazing. In honor of World Oceans Day, here are eight facts about these incredible creatures. 8. Octopuses are masters of camouflage. However, research suggests that octopuses don’t try to blend into their entire environment—to look like coral, sand and seaweed all at once. A study published last year  found that octopuses, instead, picked [...]

Keep reading »
Octopus Chronicles

Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists’ Declaration)

octopus consciousness declaration

Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach youngsters to make tools. Even octopuses seem to be able to plan. So should we humans really be surprised that “consciousness” probably does not only exist in us? This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens, according to the new Cambridge Declaration on [...]

Keep reading »
Oscillator

Smellspace and Olfactory White

brain_odor_map

White is a mixture, made by a combination of signals at equal intensity across a perceptual space. White light can be split up into all the colors of the visible spectrum, and white noise covers a range of frequencies within the audible range. Our other senses don’t have as clearly defined ranges of perception. We [...]

Keep reading »
SA Visual

Beyond Classic Brain Illustrations That Make Us Drool

From The Anatomy of the Brain Explained in a Series of Engravings, by Sir Charles Bell, 1802 (Courtesy of Wellcome Library, London)

I threw down a bit of a challenge last month at the Association of Medical Illustrators Conference in Minnesota. But first, I had to—somewhat unexpectedly—accept some challenges presented by others. And face the reality that some of us simply do not have the constitution of an anatomist. I love classic anatomical illustrations such as the [...]

Keep reading »
SA Visual

How Do You Visualize the Brain? [Contest]

brain_detail

Here at Scientific American, we develop lots of infographics about the brain. From classic neural pathway diagrams, depictions of medical breakthroughs, and maps of the brain’s genetic activity, there are as many solutions for visualizing the brain as there are questions about how it works. Now it’s your turn. MIT’s EyeWire, FEI and Visually are [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Parents of Young Athletes: Protect Your Child’s Brain in 8 Steps

When I was kid, I remember my dad scolding my brother and me when one of us decided to hold the other one upside-down. In that position, he reasoned, we could fall on our head. As a cognitive psychologist, my dad was always thinking about the brain. Despite his concern with all things cerebral, my [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Do Actions Speak Louder than Feelings? [Video]

    // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the tenth video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in New York [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Multitask at Your Own Risk

unicycle_Elsie esq

        // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the eighth video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Is Your Sense of Humor in Your Genes? Geneticists Crack the Code

          // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the seventh video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Acts of Kindness Explained [Video]

helping_Donald_Lee_Pardue

        // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the sixth video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

The Hidden Power of Others Over You [Video]

Courtesy of brizzle born and bred via Flickr.

        // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the third video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Cultivate Your Character [Video]

The term “character” has numerous and widely varied meanings. It defines each of these letters and symbols I am typing. It can be used to refer to features of wines, and it captures fictional folks in movies in books. I often call funny or stand-out individuals “characters,” too. In psychology, however, “character” most often adheres [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Who Needs Stimulants for ADHD?

Ritalin. Courtesy of en:User:Sponge via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1970, 150,000 U.S. children were taking stimulant medications. By 2007, that number had risen to 2.7 million, according to pediatrician Sanford Newmark of the University of California, San Francisco. In the video embedded in this post, titled “Do 2.5 Million Kids Really Need Ritalin?” Newmark analyzes the reasons behind the rise in prescriptions, which [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

How To Coach Parents [Audio]

Most moms and dads are not taught how to parent. We are supposed to just know what to do, I suppose. But even if you have a relatively calm and obedient child, moments inevitably arise when you could really use an owner’s manual. Belatedly, I think I’ve found one. Parent-child interaction therapy is a kind [...]

Keep reading »
Streams of Consciousness

Take Care of Your Brain—and Your Friendships

Courtesy of Alexms22 via Wikimedia Commons

Fighting back emotion, Tony Dorsett, the former Dallas Cowboys’ running back, told ESPN last fall: “It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me…it’s painful.” Dorsett said he suffers from memory problems, depression and difficulty controlling his emotions. He said he has even thought about suicide. The likely cause of Dorsett’s distress [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Start 2014 in Style With These ScienceArt Exhibits

13-055FEATURE

All in all, 2013 was a bang-up year for science art. It seems the genre is gaining ground as more and more exhibits tackle the fascinating possibilities that exist at the intersection of science and art. 2014 seems to be continuing the trend with a wide array of notably longer exhibits. Enjoy! EXHIBITS: NORTHEAST REGION [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Puzzling out Brain Iconography

Michelle_Hunter_200_SDC1255

Artists who obsess about a subject can fall prey to repetition, and build a career out of what splattered-paint canvas or bowl of fruit after another. But artists like Michelle Hunter instead find a never-ending cascade of images worth exploring. Her obsession? The brain. We’ll be doing an interview with Hunter in the days ahead, [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Tuesday Update: Will Leading Scientists Boycott the Humonguous Human Brain Project?

Scientists don’t usually lodge a protest against projects funded to the tune of 1.2 billion euros. They usually try to make nice with the organizers to get in on the action. No one is taking to the streets this time, but more than 200 people (and climbing), among them prominent scientists, are using the megaphone [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Brainomics: Hacking the Brain (and Autism) with Gene Machines

Tony Zador Tony Zador is a professor of biology at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory who studies auditory processing, attention and decision-making in rodents. He spoke recently at the laboratory’s 79th annual symposium on quantitative biology, which focused this year on the topic of cognition. Zador talked about his recent work trying to demonstrate how [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

U.S. Big Brain Project Takes Next Big Step

The group of neuroscientists  that is advising the Obama administration’s Big Science brain project delivered to the NIH its final report on June 5 with a recommendation that $4.5  billion be spent through the 2025 federal fiscal year to develop a set of advanced technologies that will enhance understanding of how neural circuitry works. If [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Why Language and Thought Resemble Russian Dolls

Michael Corballis is a professor emeritus at the University of Auckland, who has written extensively on the evolution of language and the origins of thought. In his 2011 book The Recursive Mind, he wrote about how the structure of human language allows for recursion—in which ideas are nested within each other: “He thinks that I [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

What’s Special, or Not, about Human Brain Anatomy

As a teenager, Chet Sherwood, a biological anthropologist at George Washington University, did not know he was destined to become a scientist. “I wasn’t the kind of kid who collected National Geographic or watched Nova,” he says. During the mid-1990s, Sherwood was  a member of Speedking, a Brooklyn punk group described by AllMusic.com as “an [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Statistical Flaw Punctuates Brain Research in Elite Journals

Neuroscientists need a statistics refresher. That is the message of a new analysis in Nature Neuroscience that shows that more than half of 314 articles on neuroscience in elite journals   during an 18-month period failed to take adequate measures to ensure that statistically significant study results were not, in fact, erroneous. Consequently, at  least some [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Map of Brain’s Speech Centers May Help “Locked-In” Patients Talk

Wilder Penfield’s famous homonculus map of the brain had a large area on one side capped by a gaping cartoon mouth labeled simply “vocalization.” During the 1930s,  Penfield stimulated that same area, but was unable to elicit any recognizable utterances. A group of researchers led by Edward F. Chang of the University of California San [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Remember It Well: A New Type of On-Switch for Memory

Nicotine enhances the ability to focus and remember. The alkaloid acts in a similar manner to the brain’s own signaling molecule, acetylcholine. It interacts with eponymous receptors on the surface of nerve cells to regulate signaling in the brain. The role of the nicotinic-acetylcholine receptors throughout the central nervous system is so wide-ranging that new [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X