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Talking back

Talking back


A science blog, sans blague
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  • Profile

    Gary Stix, a senior editor, commissions, writes, and edits features, news articles and Web blogs for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. His area of coverage is neuroscience. He also has frequently been the issue or section editor for special issues or reports on topics ranging from nanotechnology to obesity. He has worked for more than 20 years at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, following three years as a science journalist at IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism from New York University. With his wife, Miriam Lacob, he wrote a general primer on technology called Who Gives a Gigabyte? Follow on Twitter @@gstix1.
  • U.S. Big Science Project Starts Search for Tools to Understand ALS, PTSD, PD, TBI, ALZ …

    A signature science program of the Obama administration’s second term—one intended to develop technologies and a base of knowledge to solve long-standing mysteries of the how the brain works—has finally reached cruising altitude. The Obama Administration’s Brain Initiative, which could stretch through the 2025 federal funding year if it gets continued funding from future administrations, [...]

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    MacArthur “Genius” Winner: Math Might Help Crack Mysteries of Schizophrenia

    At 32, a year beyond a postdoctoral fellowship, Danielle Bassett could only express unreserved astonishment when she learned that she was one of 21 winners of a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. Bassett was the youngest this year for one of the so-called “genius” prizes totaling $625,000. For 12 months, Bassett has held the position of the [...]

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    A New Idea for Treating Alzheimer’s

    If it’s good for the heart, it could also be good for the neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, cells that make up the main items on the brain’s parts list. The heart-brain adage comes from epidemiological studies that show that people with cardiovascular risk factors such as high-blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, may be more [...]

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    Get Smart by Using 10 Percent Less of Your Brain

    The movie Lucy has become a teaching moment in the last month or so for scientists and journalists to  remind the world—time and again—that we don’t just use 10 percent of our brains. All of the three pounds of jelly underneath our hardened domes is there for a good reason. It’s not just a terabyte [...]

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    The Brainwave That Lets You Recognize What’s New in the World

    A gamma wave is a rapid, electrical oscillation in the brain. A scan of the academic literature shows that gamma waves may be involved with learning memory and attention—and, when perturbed, may play a part in schizophrenia, epilepsy Alzheimer’s, autism and ADHD. Quite a list and one of the reasons that these brainwaves, cycling at [...]

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    DIY Brain Zapping Meets the World of Internet Marketing

    Going back a couple of millenia, Scribonius Largus, Pliny the Elder and Galen of Pergamum were all avid proponents of using the electric currents produced by torpedo fish to treat headaches. Physician Ibn Sidah tried to apply electric catfish to the forehead for epilepsy in the eleventh century. If these esteemed historical figures were still [...]

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    Gold Standard Trial Affirms Role of Diet, Exercise and Such to Prevent Dementia

    In 2010, the National Institutes of Health held a conference to determine what measures, including behavioral steps like exercise and diet, could be taken to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. A report prepared specifically for that conference by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) made an assessment of  the existing evidence for preventive [...]

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    Neuroplasticity: New Clues to Just How Much the Adult Brain Can Change

    Popular neuroscience books have made much in recent years of the possibility that the adult brain is capable of restoring lost function or even enhancing cognition through sustained mental or physical activities. One piece of evidence often cited is a 14-year-old study that that shows that London taxi drivers have enlarged hippocampi, brain areas that [...]

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    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 [...]

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    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 [...]

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