Category Archives: Neuroscience

Perineuronal nets play unexpected role in chronic pain

R. Douglas Fields writes: Neuroscientists, being interested in how brains work, naturally focus on neurons, the cells that can convey elements of sense and thought to each other via electrical impulses. But equally worthy of study is a substance that’s between them — a viscous coating on the outside of these neurons. Roughly equivalent to… Read More »

Who dreams?

Antonio Zadra writes: My fascination with dream characters began while I was in college. That’s when, in the midst of a dream in which I knew I was dreaming (a ‘lucid dream’), I had my first encounter with an older gentleman, who tried to convince me that, actually, my experience wasn’t a dream. Over the… Read More »

Ant colonies resemble neural networks when making decisions

ZME Science reports: New research from the Rockefeller University suggests that colonies of ants make decisions collectively, with outcomes dependent both on the magnitude of the stressor requiring a decision as well as the size of the ant group. The findings suggest that ants combine sensory information about their environment with parameters of their colony… Read More »

People vary in how well they recognize, match or categorize the things they see – an ability researchers call ‘o’

Some people are inherently better at tasks like reading X-rays. SDI Productions/E+ via Getty Images By Isabel Gauthier, Vanderbilt University and Jason Chow, Vanderbilt University Like snowflakes, no two people are exactly the same. You’re probably used to the idea that people differ substantially in personality and in cognitive abilities – skills like problem-solving or… Read More »

The brain has a ‘low-power mode’ that blunts our senses

Allison Whitten writes: When our phones and computers run out of power, their glowing screens go dark and they die a sort of digital death. But switch them to low-power mode to conserve energy, and they cut expendable operations to keep basic processes humming along until their batteries can be recharged. Our energy-intensive brain needs… Read More »

Why the mind is more than a machine

Bobby Azarian writes: Before Kurt Gödel, logicians and mathematicians believed that all statements about numbers — and reality more generally — were either true or false, and that there must be a rule-based way of determining which category a specific statement belonged to. According to this logic, mathematical proof is the true source of knowledge.… Read More »

Video: Covid and the brain — a neurological health crisis

  Brain fog. Memory lapses. Difficulties focusing or sustaining attention. All these cognitive issues have plagued some who have otherwise recovered from a bout of Covid-19. In this video, Stanford neurologist Michelle Monje describes her work showing how even mild respiratory infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus may lead to lingering problems with the brain. Monje,… Read More »

Brain-signal proteins evolved before animals did

Viviane Callier writes: Our human brains can seem like a crowning achievement of evolution, but the roots of that achievement run deep: The modern brain arose from hundreds of millions of years of incremental advances in complexity. Evolutionary biologists have traced that progress back through the branch of the animal family tree that includes all… Read More »

How a special immune system protects the brain

Nature reports: The brain is the body’s sovereign, and receives protection in keeping with its high status. Its cells are long-lived and shelter inside a fearsome fortification called the blood–brain barrier. For a long time, scientists thought that the brain was completely cut off from the chaos of the rest of the body — especially… Read More »

Why your white matter matters

The brain’s neural network, which includes both gray and white matter. Pasieka/Science Photo Library via Getty Images By Christopher Filley, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Who has not contemplated how a memory is formed, a sentence generated, a sunset appreciated, a creative act performed or a heinous crime committed? The human brain is a… Read More »

Could gut microbes regulate appetite and body temperature?

Science reports: With more microbes than cells in our body, it’s not surprising that bacteria and other invisible “guests” influence our metabolism, immune system, and even our behavior. Now, researchers studying mice have worked out how bacteria in the mammalian gut can ping the brain to regulate an animal’s appetite and body temperature—and it involves… Read More »

Can brain scans reveal behavior? Bombshell study says not yet

Nature reports: In 2019, neuroscientist Scott Marek was asked to contribute a paper to a journal that focuses on child development. Previous studies had shown that differences in brain function between children were linked with performance in intelligence tests. So Marek decided to examine this trend in 2,000 kids. Brain-imaging data sets had been swelling… Read More »