Big Brains/Little Brain: Whale Brains Provide Clues to Cognition

Humpback whale

The size of the cerebellum of whales gives clues to higher level cognition. Photo by the author.

A fascinating report on NPR by science correspondent Jonathan Hamilton yesterday (March 16, 2015) tells the story of Jonathan Keleher, a rare individual born with a major portion of his brain missing:  the cerebellum.  The name in Latin means “little brain,” because the cerebellum sits separately from the rest of the brain looking something like a woman’s hair bun. Neuroscientists have long understood that the cerebellum is important for controlling bodily movements, by making them more fluid and coordinated, but researchers have also long appreciated that cerebellum does much more.  Exactly what these other functions are, have always been a bit mysterious.

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Posted in Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Evolution, Learning and Memory, Mood, Movement, Movement Disorders, Neuroanatomy, Senses and Perception
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dress original

What Color is Distress?

Social media has been on fire with a debate – not over ISIS, healthcare or global warming – but over the perceived color of a dress. The dress provides a unique opportunity to consider two big questions at the interface of philosophy, neuroscience and psychophysics: is there an objective reality, and do we all experience it the same way? You may see the dress differently when you see it next.

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Posted in Aging, Awareness and Attention, by Dwayne Godwin, Childhood, Evolution, Neural Network Function, Neuroeducation, Policymakers, Press, Senses and Perception, Technologies, Uncategorized
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NTV16

NEURO.tv 16 – Memories, false memories and consciousness

Felipe de Brigard is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Arts & Sciences at Duke University. His research, at the intersection of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, explores the neural mechanisms of false memories and consciousness. He joined us to discuss the nature of memory and the hard problem of consciousness. Continue reading

Posted in Across the Lifespan, Aging, Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, by John Kubie, by Leanne Boucher, Diseases & Disorders, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Psychiatric Disorders, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Brian Williams

Brian Williams ‘False Memory’ – a Neuroscience Perspective

NBC News anchor Brian Williams apologized for his erroneous account of being aboard a helicopter forced to make an emergency landing after being hit by enemy fire while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003.  Williams blames the fallibility of human recall for the error.  How can the neuroscience of memory (and false memory) provide insight?

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Posted in by Douglas Fields, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Neuroeducation, Press, Sleep
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ale

Poisoned Synapses not Crocodile Bile the Likely Killer of Mozambique Beer Drinkers

On January 11, 2015 news swept the globe reporting that scores of people died and 200 were sickened by drinking beer poisoned with crocodile bile in Mozambique.  Thinking is now shifting to the possibility of poisoned synapses, not reptilian bile as the cause of these deaths.

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Posted in About Neuroscience, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Chemicals, Childhood, Childhood Disorders, Diet and Exercise, Injury, Pregnancy and Parenting
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John Morrison

An Introduction From the New Editor-in-Chief of BrainFacts.org

Hello and welcome to BrainFacts.org. It is a great pleasure to introduce myself as the site’s new Editor-in-Chief. I believe scientists have a responsibility to provide credible, easy-to-understand science information to the public that funds their research, and I am thrilled to help guide BrainFacts.org to new heights, while maintaining the integrity and authority established through the leadership of my predecessor, Nick Spitzer.

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Posted in by John Morrison, Policymakers, Press
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UnderSkin

Neuroscience of ‘Under the Skin,’ Starring Scarlett Johansson

In the eerie science fiction film, Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien vixen clothed in human skin, roaming the earth in search of single men for nefarious purposes, a turning point comes when she offers a hooded man on a dark road a ride in her vehicle.  When the man takes off his hood we see his shockingly disfigured face.  It is not make up.  The disfigurement is caused by a genetic condition, neurofibromatosis, affecting actor Adam Pearson.  Pearson’s brother has the same disorder, but no disfigurement.  Instead he suffers memory problems.  The film is a head scratcher–in the best possible way–but neurofibromatosis is not.  Let’s have a look.

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Posted in by Douglas Fields, Degenerative Disorders, Genetics, Learning and Memory, Neuroanatomy, Press, Uncategorized
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