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.
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.
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.
As we turn the page on 2014, here’s a list of some of the year’s highlights in neuroscience – along with a heavy dose of speculation about what they might mean for the future of the brain.
Marijuana use is legal in many states for medical purposes, most of them dealing with neurological conditions (pain, epilepsy, tremor, multiple sclerosis, and many others). From the perspective of a neuroscientist researcher, the situation with respect to “medical marijuana” is absurd. Continue reading
Typically we are introduced to the nervous system by analogy to an electrical circuit, like a door bell or a telephone line carrying a signal rapidly over long distances to activate a specific process. Never mind that electrical impulses are not transmitted through nerve axons anything like electrons flowing through a copper wire, this electronic circuit analogy is useful up to a point. If you want to understand how the brain works at a more complex level, you are going to need a new analogy, and if you play an acoustic guitar you’ll find it under your fingertips.
Dana Alliance member Gary Landreth, Ph.D., is a professor of neurosciences and neurology and the director of the Alzheimer Research Laboratory at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In recognition of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, he spoke to us about his career, clinical trials, and the pressures to find answers to the Alzheimer’s puzzle. Continue reading