Brain Waves and Beta Buzz: The Wild Story of Neural Oscillations

What are brain waves?  It’s no wonder the term sounds like science fiction.  In the 1920s, a German psychiatrist embarked on a highly personal quest to discover the supposed medium of telepathy.  By placing electrodes on the human scalp, Hans Berger found waves of electrical brain activity using a tool called electroencephalography, or EEG.  Physicists had recently shown that electromagnetic waves could propagate through space to carry information.  If the brain had its own waves, could they transmit thoughts to others like a radio broadcast?Continue reading

How Do We Know? The Value of Scientific Models.

Last month, astronomers announced the prediction of a new giant planet in our solar system dubbed Planet IX, a genuine ninth planet with ten times the mass of Earth.  The announcement lead to some confusion on the Internet as to the whether the planet had actually been discovered.  In fact, no direct observation of this planet has been made. Rather, the planet has been predicted by a model, a simplified description of a system which often incorporates hypothetical elements to explain the variance in data.  Because many models use equations to describe a system, a model can often be thought of as a theory with a mathematical backbone.Continue reading

What is Pain Cover Spinal Cord Knowing Neurons Neuropathic Dorsal Root Ganglia C-fiber

What is Pain?

For many, pain is an indescribably awful feeling that causes suffering and emotional distress.  It is a sensation that is so unpleasant – so unbearable – that most people will go to great lengths to avoid it.  For others, enduring pain has become a rite of passage (tattoo, anyone?) that signifies mental strength and discipline.  The ceremony, however, does not diminish the pain itself or one’s primal urge to avoid it.  Regardless, many people live a relatively pain-free life, and those that choose to endure pain do so on their own free will.  For those that suffer from neuropathic pain, however, pain has become an unavoidable specter that haunts every moment of their lives.Continue reading