Whether you’re listening through tinny iPhone headphones on your morning commute or crying at a John Mayer concert, there is a special place in our hearts for music. But what is the biological basis for that magical sensation we feel when listening to our favorite song?
“I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting…”
The old shepherd’s thoughts from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale resonate centuries later when we consider examples of stereotypical teenage behavior – emotional outbursts, angst, and recklessness just to name a few. But if we dismiss teenagers as lacking emotional discipline, we fail to understand the complex neural underpinnings that drive much of this behavior and allow a concerned adult to guide teens through this critical stage of brain development.Continue reading
First impressions are pivotal. While reading another person’s cues, an abridged version of them forms as we draw on complex social inferences in merely seconds of interaction. That is, if they are human. What if they only resemble a human, but are incapable of inner experience or independent thought? Is it possible to truly form an emotional connection with a robot?Continue reading
The adult human brain is comprised of approximately 86 billion neurons on average, with at least as many nonneuronal cells, networked together to create the substance and memories of a human being. Every skill that you’ve acquired, every memory that you’ve formed, and every experience you’ve ever had is contained and represented by these neural connections and networks. Continue reading
The human brain contains roughly eighty-six billion (~10^10) neurons, each of which forms approximately ten thousand (10^4) synaptic connections with other neurons. Therefore, on average, there are one hundred trillion (10^14) synapses in the brain! Maintaining the health of these synapses is essential for proper brain function and higher cognitive functions like learning, memory, and emotion. Dysfunction of synaptic function is thought to underlie many types of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and aging related dementia. Those affected with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have severe learning and memory impairments, impaired judgment, severe anxiety and other mood disruptions.Continue reading