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
Songbirds are one of the few known species who learn to speak (or sing) like we do. That makes them the perfect case study to learn about the origins of language in the brain.Continue reading
A new paper published this month in the journal Cell describes an unexpected finding about memory. Researchers used to think that memory required specific activity from the same brain cells over time. This new result shows something different. Check out the infographic to learn more!
What are you doing right now? I’m no psychic, but I can say for certain one thing that you’re doing: reading. You’re reading this sentence, word by word, and extracting meaning from little black lines of orthography, a fancy term for the rules of written language. If you really think about it, what you’re doing right now is quite difficult. What are the neural processes that enable us to read?
Brittle stars are covered in protective outer plates, but they also have another structure of internal plates. A particular species of brittle star seems to be able to use these internal plates for vision: it reacts to visual stimuli, like the presence of a predator or a safe place to hide.
The phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” seems especially true for scientists. What we study becomes not only intellectually beautiful, but also literally beautiful: the form is pleasing to the eyes. Appreciation and endearment develops over time as scientists gaze on their subject for hours, days, years. In fact, research by the psychologist Robert Zajonc shows that the more familiar you are with something, the more likely you are to enjoy it.
Epigenetics change which genes are active and which are inactive. Research over the past few years has shown that these changes are important for protecting the brain from neurodegeneration and injury. A review paper came out on May 18th in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience that summarizes this research. Check out the infographic for a description of the review paper.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand why scientists do what they do. Why spend a career studying cells, fungus, or flies? Other than being nerdy and wanting to learn about our world, what’s the point?Continue reading
“Do you know what you did yesterday?” asks the doctor.
“No, I don’t,” responds the patient.Continue reading