Patient Zero: What We Learned from H.M.

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.

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Posted in About Neuroscience, Across the Lifespan, Aging, by Dwayne Godwin, Educators, Learning and Memory, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Neuroeducation, Neuroethics, Senses and Perception
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Brain activity tracks the preferences of others.

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

Posted in Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, In Society, Learning and Memory, Neuroanatomy, Neuroeconomics, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Chemical Synapse

Study identifies a novel role for a protein related to synaptic vesicles.

I often write on this blog that neurons in our brain are linked to each other by multiple connections. We call those connections synapses, but I never took the time to explain in detail how they work. It is a fascinating subject which constitutes an enormous field of research by itself. Here is an illustration of such a synapse and how one neuron sends signals to the next neuron. Continue reading

Posted in About Neuroscience, Animal Research, Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Neuroanatomy
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The New Neuron Connectome

You know what’s nuts? That we still don’t know the basics. Forget patch clamping thousands of neurons in vivo during awake behaviour. Simultaneously. In humans. In outer space. I just want to know exactly which other neurons my neuron is talking to. Not even. Which neurons is my neuron touching, intimately, in a putative synaptic contact sort of way? WHICH NEURONS MY NEURON DONE BEEN TOUCHING, YA DIG?? Continue reading

Posted in by Jason Snyder, Cell Communication, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy
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PET imaging

Brainy stuff of the month.

I thought I would share some of the interesting stuff I read this month on the web. Continue reading

Posted in About Neuroscience, Authors, Brain Basics, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, Degenerative Disorders, Diseases & Disorders, Evolution, Immune System Disorders, In Society, Language, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Press, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Letters to a young scientist

Born scientist.

It is a quite modest title that Edward O. Wilson has chosen for the book he published this month, Letters to a Young Scientist. As I began to read, I was expecting to find a list of more or less useful tips and tricks on how to become a scientist. What I instead found in this book is a deep personal reflection on what science really is and how scientists come to do it. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, by Jean-Francois Gariepy, In Society, Neuroeducation, Policymakers
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On Boylston Street

The last time I was on Boylston Street it was to give a lecture in November at a scientific meeting in the Weston Hotel.  Today, Sunday, I’m looking out onto an empty street, barricaded.  An eerie modern-day ghost town festooned with yellow police tape rippling in the cold Boston wind.  Continue reading

Posted in Brain Development, by Douglas Fields, Childhood, Childhood Disorders, In Society, Neuroethics, Neurolaw, Psychiatric Disorders, Senses and Perception, Stress and Anxiety, Uncategorized
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