Everyone knows a picky eater—a former classmate of mine ate only cereal, pasta and milk—but why does picky eating exist? Continue reading
On this episode we have Leanne Boucher from Nova Southeastern University and Nick Spitzer from UCSD. We discuss with Nick about his new discoveries recently published in Science. His article shows how certain neurons switch their neurotransmitters based on exposition of an animal to different schedules of light/dark cycles. You can view the full discussion here, it was fascinating! Continue reading
I was stopped at a red light. Through my rear view mirror I saw the car speeding toward me. The driver was looking down operating a cell phone in his lap. I considered putting my car in park because the rapid acceleration in a crash is what damages, but I did not want to limit my options. As the car barreled toward me at full speed I applied my brakes hard with both feet and braced for impact. Continue reading
Newborn infants can do lots of things. They can breathe, swallow, see, hear, startle, grasp, withdraw from noxious stimuli, taste, smell, cry and more. An experienced physician can elicit a broad range of behaviors. Perhaps surprisingly, the basic spinal circuitry for walking is present. If you take a neonate, support its weight, and put the feet on the ground, the infant will begin “stepping”; that is, take alternating steps, left-right-left, on the ground. How is this done? Does this suggest that an infant, with the right training, could walk?
Neurons in our brains have extended branches that allow them to send and receive signals to and from other neurons. However, every neuron starts as a rather round cell with no branches. To establish connections and become functional, cells must first grow branches, called dendrites or axons. These branches then need to reach their target and establish connections. Continue reading
Memory is our most prized human treasure. It defines our sense of self, and our ability to navigate the world. It defines our relationships with others – for good or ill – and is so important to survival that our gilled ancestors bear the secret of memory etched in their DNA. If you asked someone over 50 to name the things they most fear about getting older, losing one’s memory would be near the top of that list. There is so much worry over Alzheimer’s disease, the memory thief, that it is easy to forget that our modern understanding of memory is still quite young, less than one, very special lifespan.
Meet the Patient Zero of memory disorders, H.M.
A new study published by Izuma and Adolphs in Neuron asks what are the brain areas that undergo changes in activity when we modify our preferences to fit social context1. Imagine I show some people a shirt and ask them whether they like it or not. In some cases I tell people that this is the favorite shirt of a certain group of University students. In other cases I tell them that it is the preferred shirt of most criminals. What we get is a socially-manipulated preference – people tend to dislike the criminal’s favorite. Continue reading