Category Archives: Neuroscience

Consciousness science needs to study less complex organisms

Kristin Andrews writes: Twenty-five years ago, the burgeoning science of consciousness studies was rife with promise. With cutting-edge neuroimaging tools leading to new research programmes, the neuroscientist Christof Koch was so optimistic, he bet a case of wine that we’d uncover its secrets by now. The philosopher David Chalmers had serious doubts, because consciousness research… Read More »

The value of wild ideas

Anil Seth writes: Earlier this month, the consciousness science community erupted into chaos. An open letter, signed by 124 researchers—some specializing in consciousness and others not—made the provocative claim that one of the most widely discussed theories in the field, Integrated Information Theory (IIT), should be considered “pseudoscience.” The uproar that followed sent consciousness social… Read More »

Why do we dream?

Amanda Gefter writes: In the late nineteen-nineties, a neuroscientist named Mark Blumberg stood in a lab at the University of Iowa watching a litter of sleeping rats. Blumberg was then on the cusp of forty; the rats were newborns, and jerked and spasmed as they slept. Blumberg knew that the animals were fine. He had… Read More »

Mitch McConnell may be experiencing focal seizures, doctors suggest

The New York Times reports: A four-line letter, signed by the attending physician of Congress and released by Senator Mitch McConnell on Thursday, suggested that his recent spells of speechlessness were linked to “occasional lightheadedness” perhaps brought on by his recovery from a concussion last winter or “dehydration.” But seven neurologists, relying on what they… Read More »

Another path to intelligence

James Bridle writes: It turns out there are many ways of “doing” intelligence, and this is evident even in the apes and monkeys who perch close to us on the evolutionary tree. This awareness takes on a whole new character when we think about those non-human intelligences which are very different to us. Because there… Read More »

Tickled rats reveal brain structure that controls laughter

Science reports: Do rats like to be tickled? The furry rodents can be quite fun-loving, scientists say. And yes, under the right circumstances, they do enjoy a bit of rough-and-tumble play, letting out high-pitched squeaks akin to human laughter. Now, researchers say they have identified the area of the brain responsible for this playfulness. The… Read More »

Interesting brains

Meghan Rosen writes: You’d never guess that Elyse G. has a black hole in her brain. Meet her on the street, and it’d be impossible to tell she’s lacking a chunk of neural tissue about the size of a small fist. Looking at her brain scans is a different story. It’s as if someone has… Read More »

Brain waves synchronize when people interact

Lydia Denworth writes: Neuroscientists usually investigate one brain at a time. They observe how neurons fire as a person reads certain words, for example, or plays a video game. As social animals, however, those same scientists do much of their work together—brainstorming hypotheses, puzzling over problems and fine-tuning experimental designs. Increasingly, researchers are bringing that… Read More »

Intelligent brains take longer to solve difficult problems, shows simulation study

Medical Xpress reports: Do intelligent people think faster? Researchers at the BIH and Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin, together with a colleague from Barcelona, made the surprising finding that participants with higher intelligence scores were only quicker when tackling simple tasks, while they took longer to solve difficult problems than subjects with lower IQ scores. In personalized brain… Read More »

Our brain prefers positive vocal sounds that come from our left

PsyPost reports: Researchers have shown that the brain’s primary auditory cortex is more responsive to human vocalizations associated with positive emotions and coming from our left side than to any other kind of sounds. This bias can be explained by the way our brain is organized, but its evolutionary significance is not yet known. Sounds… Read More »

Why color is in the eye of the beholder

James Fox writes: In February 2015, a Scottish woman uploaded a photograph of a dress to the internet. Within 48 hours the blurry snapshot had gone viral, provoking spirited debate around the world. The disagreement centred on the dress’s colour: some people were convinced it was blue and black while others were adamant it was… Read More »