One of the fundamental questions motivating neuroscientists is to understand the relationship between brain activity and lived experience: how the different parts of the brain work together to produce the key ingredients for behavior: memory, feeling, thinking and imagination. These motivating issues have been pretty much inaccessible for most of the history of neuroscience, because we could not observe very much of the brain in action in enough detail to identify individual circuits or on the time scale on which they work. That is starting to change.
Cochlear implants have restored hearing to thousands of deaf people, but what about when deafness is caused by a damaged cochlea or nonfunctional auditory nerve? A possible solution is to bypass the cochlea and stimulate the brain directly. Scientists are developing a new technology that uses laser light instead of electricity to stimulate brain cells to restore hearing.
We are on the brink of a new understanding of the neuroscience of violence. Like detectives slipping a fiber optic camera under a door, neuroscientists insert a fiber optic microcamera into the brain of an experimental animal and watch the neural circuits of rage respond during violent behavior. Continue reading
No, not that President! Thousands of people are captivated by the live video stream of a pair of bald eagles, named Mr. President and The First Lady, nesting on top of a Tulip Poplar tree at the U.S. National Arboretum. The reality peek into the life of a pair of breeding eagles, together with new research just published in the journal Nature Communications, show how parents decide which of their hungry chick gets fed. Begging is important, but sometimes begging is ignored and the parents feed their favorite. Now we know why . . .
The Zika virus is a global health threat. Despite renewed urgency because of the evidence suggesting that Zika causes birth defects, science has known of the virus for some time. It’s a deadly and debilitating virus for some newborns, so it’s important to have an accurate picture of the science behind it, the risks of infection and how it affects developing brains. Continue reading
A neuroscience demonstration.
At the east end of the University of Arizona’s 7.5 acre grass mall is a Carolina sphinx moth fit snug in a blue plastic tube with its insect head sticking out. Two electrodes, one placed on the left eye and the other in a tiny clear plastic tube surrounding the moth’s right antenna. The electrodes are hooked up to a portable screen that displays the measured electrical activity of the moth’s antenna. Each antenna houses a quarter million primary sensory neurons that allow the moth to sense its environment. In this case, the environment happens to be engulfed in the smoky smell of barbecued ribs coming from the BrushFire’s BBQ co. tent next door. Continue reading