Heisenberg Uncertainty and the Baltimore Riots

Yesterday I encountered a colleague outside the elevator. He was profoundly troubled, as are many, anguished by the violence in Baltimore this week. The looting, burning, and scores of injured from angry youths hurling bricks at police were sparked by the violent death of a black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody.

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Posted in by Douglas Fields, Policymakers, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Stress and Anxiety, Uncategorized
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Snakes on the Brain

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

Posted in About Neuroscience, Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Evolution, Neuroanatomy, Senses and Perception, Uncategorized
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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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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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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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How is the brain like a guitar? Hint: It is all about rhythm

Typically we are introduced to the nervous system by analogy to an electrical circuit, like a door bell or a telephone line carrying a signal rapidly over long distances to activate a specific process.  Never mind that electrical impulses are not transmitted through nerve axons anything like electrons flowing through a copper wire, this electronic circuit analogy is useful up to a point.    If you want to understand how the brain works at a more complex level, you are going to need a new analogy, and if you play an acoustic guitar you’ll find it under your fingertips.

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Posted in About Neuroscience, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Educators, Epilepsy, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Psychiatric Disorders, Senses and Perception, Sleep, Technologies, Uncategorized
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