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Talking back

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    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.
  • Brainfest 2014: Will Football Players Be Tested for Magnetic Polarity as Well as Anabolic Steroids?

    Virginia Commonwealth University is not exactly known as a big football school. A former president once commented that a football team would not be fielded by VCU “on my watch.” The campus bookstore, at least at one time, has sold T-shirts with the slogan: “VCU Football, Still Undefeated.” The school now has a club team. [...]

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    Learning About Your Family’s Elevated Alzheimer’s Risk—as Early as Age 8

    A Colombian university is providing regular workshops on brain basics and genetics to grade schoolers from families who face a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the prime of life from a rare genetic mutation. The “talleres” set up by the University of Antioquia in Medellin attempt to prepare these youngsters for the all-too-frequent possibility [...]

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    Anarchic Autism Genetics Gain a Touch of Clarity

    Two new studies demonstrate the promise and pitfalls of the industrial-scale gene-processing technologies that define the meaning of the much-ballyhooed Big Data. Bad news first. One of the two reports published in Nature provided a four-digit estimate of the number of genes involved with autism. [I’m obligated to break here to say that Scientific American [...]

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    Cocoa Constitutents Fend Off Senior Moments—the Memory of a 30-Year-Old?

    Scott Small, a professor of neurology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, researches Alzheimer’s, but he also studies the memory loss that occurs during the normal aging process. Research on the commonplace “senior moments” focuses on the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with formation of new memories.  In particular, one area [...]

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    Baby Prep School: A Brain Game or a Mama’s Coo-Cooing?

    Baby’s first robot If  you could only learn a language with the innocent receptivity of a young child. That adage, repeated ad nauseam, once an adult has decided to learn French or Tagalog engenders endless debate.  Is it possible to create a teaching method or mental state that rewires the brain in a way that [...]

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    2014 Nobel in Medicine for Uncovering Brain’s Navigation System

    The discoveries that the brain has defined systems that track an animal’s whereabouts as it makes its way about the world were honored on Oct. 6 with the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine going to three researchers. John O’Keefe of University College London discovered in 1971 the aptly named “place cells”—a term that [...]

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    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 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, now [...]

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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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