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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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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The Absurdity of “Medical Marijuana”

Marijuana use is legal in many states for medical purposes, most of them dealing with neurological conditions (pain, epilepsy, tremor, multiple sclerosis, and many others).  From the perspective of a neuroscientist researcher, the situation with respect to “medical marijuana” is absurd.  Continue reading

Posted in Addiction, Animal Research, Brain Development, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Chemicals, Degenerative Disorders, Diseases & Disorders, Epilepsy, Immune System Disorders, Movement Disorders, Neural Network Function, Neuroethics, Neurolaw, Policymakers, Psychiatric Disorders, Technologies, Uncategorized
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The gauntlet has been thrown

On the second day of classes, I polled my students to find out how many had taken the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. About half of them raised their hands; the other half looking on either smugly (they hadn’t done it…yet) or embarrassed (they had done it, but they didn’t want to admit it).

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Posted in Aging, by Leanne Boucher, Caregivers, Cell Communication, Degenerative Disorders, Movement, Movement Disorders, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy
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In Science, Slow and Steady Wins the Race


Multiple sclerosis
(MS) is a devastating neurological disease where the protective layer around nerves begins to die off, attacked by the body’s own immune system. Without this insulation, the nervous system begins to shut down. Eventually, many people with MS lose the ability to move, speak and control basic bodily functions. Patients usually get their diagnosis in the prime of life and there is nothing to be done besides taking drugs that will postpone the progression of symptoms. These treatments are associated with side effects that can be as debilitating as the disease itself and they are hugely expensive. So, in 2006 when an Italian physician, Dr Paolo Zamboni, announced a simple method for treating MS, it received international attention. Continue reading

Posted in by Emily Jordan, Degenerative Disorders, Immune System Disorders, Movement Disorders, Neuroethics
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