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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Aging, Awareness and Attention, by Dwayne Godwin, Childhood, Evolution, Neural Network Function, Neuroeducation, Policymakers, Press, Senses and Perception, Technologies, Uncategorized
Posted by Dwayne Godwin        4 Comments

Why do nervous systems use slow voltage changes rather than fast electric currents along wires?

Richard Dawkins used his Twitter account to ask some unanswered questions about biology that he finds fascinating, inviting others to share ideas about hypothetical life forms that may or may not have evolved. By nature, these questions can only be addressed using some degree of speculation, but I find this one particularly interesting and I will attempt to answer it. He asks: Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Cell Communication, Chemicals, Evolution, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Uncategorized
Posted by Jean-François Gariépy        Comment

NEURO.tv Episode 11 – Moral decision-making and the brain, with Joshua Greene.

What experiments do psychologists use to identify the brain areas involved in moral decision-making? Do moral truths exist? We discuss with Joshua D. Greene, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of Moral Tribes. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, by John Kubie, by Leanne Boucher, Diseases & Disorders, Evolution, In Society, Language, Neural Network Function, Neuroeconomics, Psychiatric Disorders, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
Posted by Jean-François Gariépy        Comment

What is animal communication?

It seems quite easy to grasp, but the definition of animal communication creates a certain degree of controversy among biologists. One can easily come up with many examples of what looks like communicative signals between pairs of animals – the barking of a dog, the alarm calls of monkeys, the courtship display of Betta splendens – but when we try to define what a communication signal is, it gets slightly more complicated. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Evolution
Posted by Jean-François Gariépy        Comment
Everything is Awesome!

Where Do Brains Come From? Part II: Everything is Awesome!

Stories about evolution are compelling because they fit with our very human need for a linear narrative, but evolution possesses distinctive non-linearities driven by its agent, natural selection. Continue reading

Posted in About Neuroscience, Brain Basics, by Dwayne Godwin, Evolution, Genetics, Neuroanatomy, Policymakers, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
Posted by Dwayne Godwin        Comment