The California Fish and Game Commission has banned crab fishing until further notice after detecting high levels of a neurotoxin in Dungeness and rock crabs. The toxin, domoic acid, is produced by certain types of planktonic algae, and it becomes concentrated in tissue of crabs and other marine organisms during plankton blooms. People who consume sufficient quantities of the toxin develop amnesic shellfish poisoning, so named because it kills neurons in a part of the brain that is critical for memory. Here’s how it works.
Upload your consciousness into a computer with these 5 easy steps.
We are time surfers, riding a wave made of ephemeral moments toward a future of our own imagining.
Suddenly something streaks into your peripheral vision. Instantly, you jump back and raise your arms defensively. “What was that!” You exclaim in shock. Only then do you realize that the blurred streak you just dodged was a wayward basketball zinging like a missile on a collision course for your face. A rush of adrenaline flushes through your blood setting your heart pounding and muscles twitching, but there is nothing left to do. Your brain’s rapid response defense system has already detected the threat and avoided it before your conscious mind is even engaged. How is that possible, scientist, Peng Cao and colleagues of the Chinese Academy of Sciences wondered?
Pop culture is full of superheroes with incredible powers, especially in the summer. But none of these are as amazing as the superpower within your brain. Continue reading
After repeated encounters with a friendly rattlesnake last week I have snakes on the brain. Serpents are a storehouse of fascinating neuroscience. Infrared vision, venom, fast-twitch muscles to energize its “warning buzzer,” and more… Continue reading
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.