The Kathmandu earthquake will alter brain structure of survivors

The disastrous earthquake in Kathmandu has killed hundreds of people and brought grievous tragedy to thousands. Even among the survivors, the earthquake will leave its mark in the form of altered brain structure, according to neuroimaging research performed on survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008.

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Posted in Awareness and Attention, by Douglas Fields, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Press, Psychiatric Disorders
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Snakes on the Brain

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

Posted in About Neuroscience, Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Evolution, Neuroanatomy, Senses and Perception, Uncategorized
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Humpback whale

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

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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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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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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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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The Absurdity of “Medical Marijuana”

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

Posted in Addiction, Animal Research, Brain Development, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Chemicals, Degenerative Disorders, Diseases & Disorders, Epilepsy, Immune System Disorders, Movement Disorders, Neural Network Function, Neuroethics, Neurolaw, Policymakers, Psychiatric Disorders, Technologies, Uncategorized
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