How the Neurotoxin in Dungeness Crab Causes Brain Damage

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Chemicals, Diet and Exercise, Diseases & Disorders, Epilepsy, Learning and Memory, Policymakers, Uncategorized
Posted by Douglas Fields        Comment

“You Don’t Have Time to Think.” Heroic Veteran Capt. Florent Groberg’s Selfless Action

 

Today it was announced that Army Capt. Florent Groberg will receive the Medal of Honor for instantly tackling a suicide bomber in a split-second reaction of self-sacrifice to save the lives of his comrades.  “You don’t have time to think.  You react,” he explains.  But how is that possible?

Continue reading

Posted in Awareness and Attention, by Douglas Fields, In Society, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Senses and Perception, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Stress and Anxiety, Uncategorized
Posted by Douglas Fields        Comment

New discovery explains why binge drinking leads to alcohol dependence and suggests new treatments

“Why can’t you stop drinking?” This week at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago announced a new finding that provides a fresh answer to this persistent question that plagues people addicted to alcohol. The discovery offers an entirely new approach to treatment.

Continue reading

Posted in Addiction, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Diet and Exercise, Learning and Memory, Neuroanatomy, Psychiatric Disorders
Posted by Douglas Fields        Comment

Why No One Helped

On Saturday, July 4, 2015, a horrifying bloodbath erupted before the eyes of passengers on the Red Line Metro subway train heading to Fourth of July festivities in Washington, DC. Wide-spread criticism in the press and social media erupted over the “apathetic” response of onlookers who reportedly said or did nothing to help the victim. But from the perspective of brain science, this scornful criticism is misguided.

Continue reading

Posted in Awareness and Attention, by Douglas Fields, Evolution, Mood, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Psychiatric Disorders, Senses and Perception, Stress and Anxiety
Posted by Douglas Fields        Comment

To Flee or Freeze? Neural Circuits of Threat Detection Identified

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?

Continue reading

Posted in Animal Research, Awareness and Attention, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Neuroanatomy, Psychiatric Disorders, Senses and Perception, Stress and Anxiety, Uncategorized
Posted by Douglas Fields        Comment