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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.
  • 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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    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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