The human brain consists of highly complex circuitry which is wired to elicit a synchronous pattern of electrical signals. This allows for communication between differing regions of the brain. When this electrical activity is disrupted, neurons begin to fire in a hypersynchronous fashion, which can result in a seizure. Continue reading
You are more than who you think you are! Yes, that is correct. If you are still thinking of yourself as a single intelligent organism, then think again! I am referring to the 1013 (10 trillion) bacteria in your body, most of them living in your gut, feeding on you, and shown to protect your brain from different inflammatory diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).Continue reading
Brain damage is a major concern for us humans – car accidents, football, falling backwards. It’s pretty easy to cause a concussion. Woodpeckers, however, pound away daily using much more force than would cause brain damage for us. How are they able to protect their little noggins?
I’m trying to concentrate on writing this piece, but my two grandchildren in the room next door have stopped making paper aeroplanes and started arguing. ‘You kicked me,’ yells Freya. Her brother Ben insists it was an accident. ‘I didn’t mean to,’ he cries.Continue reading
What’s in a brain? That which we call a voxel by any other name would sound far less confusing.
Imagine all of the atoms in your brain. Now imagine how these atoms might behave inside of a giant magnet. Fortunately, there’s a technique that makes this thought experiment possible. Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses the behavior of basic building blocks—like atoms and their protons within—to form a truly interdisciplinary technique that spans physics, biology, and computer science in order to “photograph” the brain.
Scientists studying pond scum discovered its peculiar ability to sense light, even without eyes. This discovery would eventually lead to a technique called optogenetics, one of the most powerful techniques for mapping the human brain. Find out how in this original video from BrainFacts.org:
Note: Ketamine is a controlled substance in the US and many other countries. Do not use ketamine illicitly.
Imagine an injection that briefly gives you schizophrenia. Now imagine that this injection is all at once the same drug once abused by Steve-O of MTV’s Jackass, the same drug popped in karaoke bars in East Asia, the same drug given as anesthesia to animals and children, and the same drug that holds promise as an emergency antidote to suicidal thoughts.
The tuatara lizard is called a “living fossil” because it is the last surviving member of the Rhynchocephalia order. Learn more about the tuatara in the infographic below!
A military veteran who survived a gunshot wound to the head suffers from frequent seizures and memory problems. A motorcycle crash survivor experiences chronic depression and is unable to hold a job. A 7-year-old boy who fell down the stairs as a toddler now has behavioral problems and difficulty focusing at school.
What do these people have in common? All these individuals are all afflicted with the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries, or TBI.
In the early 1980s, a few batches of contaminated synthetic heroin triggered severe Parkinson’s disease symptoms among the drug addicts who used it. The tragedy would lead to a new therapy that alleviates some of Parkinson’s most disabling symptoms.
Biologist Marston Bates once described research as “the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.” Bates was referring to the inherent uncertainty in predicting and managing the scientific process. Research funding, particularly for fundamental science, can be a seemingly risky investment because of the uncertainty of a study’s impact. However, it is imperative that fundamental science is not viewed as a luxury, but as a necessary investment that has the potential to yield significant returns.
From bird songs to frog ribbits, animals engage in countless forms of vocalization. However, no other species in the animal kingdom matches humans in complexity of language. The versatility of human speech allows us to discuss anything from what we ate for breakfast to the nature of the universe, and our ability to communicate is essential in all aspects of our lives. Because of this, it is natural for neuroscientists to search for an evolutionary explanation showing us how our unique language capabilities came about. One potential answer to this complicated question lies in the gene FOXP2.Continue reading