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.
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.
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
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
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
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