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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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.

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Posted in Aging, Awareness and Attention, by Dwayne Godwin, Childhood, Evolution, Neural Network Function, Neuroeducation, Policymakers, Press, Senses and Perception, Technologies, Uncategorized
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NEURO.tv 16 – Memories, false memories and consciousness

Felipe de Brigard is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Arts & Sciences at Duke University. His research, at the intersection of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, explores the neural mechanisms of false memories and consciousness. He joined us to discuss the nature of memory and the hard problem of consciousness. Continue reading

Posted in Across the Lifespan, Aging, Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, by John Kubie, by Leanne Boucher, Diseases & Disorders, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Psychiatric Disorders, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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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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Big Brain Stories of 2014

As we turn the page on 2014, here’s a list of some of the year’s highlights in neuroscience – along with a heavy dose of speculation about what they might mean for the future of the brain.

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Posted in About Neuroscience, Aging, Animal Research, Brain Basics, Brain Development, by Dwayne Godwin, Childhood, Degenerative Disorders, Diet and Exercise, Diseases & Disorders, Epilepsy, Movement Disorders, Neuroeconomics, Policymakers, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Sleep, Stress and Anxiety, Technologies
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