Welcome to the BrainFacts.org blog. We’re all about the brain. Join us to read, share, and learn about what’s new and notable in neuroscience. As the editor-in-chief of BrainFacts.org, I’m pleased to introduce you to the site.
Sometimes bigger really is better – but does the size of the brain, or brain bumps, mean what we think? When it comes to complex brain functions, it’s good to remember the old saying: “the map is not the territory”.
Passwords are private pieces of information that protect important aspects of our lives. They lose their main function when known by others, and they need to be complex enough not to be guessed too easily. A fascinating study published in Current Biology suggests that a species of birds has developed a system of communication between parents and offspring that resembles passwords. Families of Superb Fairywren use this system to recognize each other as a defense against an intruding parasite species. Continue reading
Our social environment is hierarchical and we can all guess roughly where we and others lie in this hierarchy. It rarely needs to be stated explicitly – a boss does not need to remind his employee that he’s the boss every day. Yet hierarchy acts in the background, like an invisible hand, modifying almost each of our interactions. It makes us more or less polite, familiar, or audacious with those people for whom each attitude is more or less appropriate. Continue reading
Like many animals, we thrive to repeat the behaviors that have paid off in the past and avoid those that did not. This principle is at the heart of most learning theories. It is also one of the most important functions of the brain: to adjust behaviors according to our experiences. Continue reading