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Gaines, on Brains introduces recent discoveries in neuroscience, translated to language we can all understand.
Hold out your hand in front of you (it doesn't matter which one). Take a look. Which is longer—your index finger, or ring finger? Look closer—how about the loops on your fingerprints?... Read more »
When you walk into a room full of strangers—new class, a job orientation, the doctor's waiting room—what is your criteria for choosing next to whom you will sit? According to a study published this past summer in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, chances are that you may find yourself subconsciously sitting next to someone who physically resembles you in some manner.... Read more »
Mackinnon SP, Jordan CH, & Wilson AE. (2011) Birds of a feather sit together: physical similarity predicts seating choice. Personality , 37(7), 879-92. PMID: 21467540
Anybody with a pet wonders whether their animals can feel emotion. Scientific studies have reported signs of joy in rats, empathy in mice, and anger in baboons. We've all heard about pets who stand vigil over sick or dying owners, dogs who adopt extreme levels of responsibility for the blind or disabled, and my friend has a cat who is particularly affectionate when she isn't feeling well, physically or emotionally. Elephants, in particular, demonstrate particularly high levels of grief........ Read more »
Hakeem, A., Hof, P., Sherwood, C., Switzer, R., Rasmussen, L., & Allman, J. (2005) Brain of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana): Neuroanatomy from magnetic resonance images. The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology, 287A(1), 1117-1127. DOI: 10.1002/ar.a.20255
Check out the dog, Barley, in this video. Notice how he doesn't seem interested in the food on the left side of his bowl. Perhaps he's blind in his left eye?... Read more »
Koch G, Bonnì S, Giacobbe V, Bucchi G, Basile B, Lupo F, Versace V, Bozzali M, & Caltagirone C. (2012) Theta-burst stimulation of the left hemisphere accelerates recovery of hemispatial neglect. Neurology, 78(1), 24-30. PMID: 22170878
If you're within the 32% of Americans that made a resolution for 2012, chances are you're still going strong. Nearly a week in, you've been faced with the temptation, the test of willpower, and likely some teasing from loved ones. And you've only got 360 days left to call your resolution a success? Easy as pie...... Read more »
Montel Williams and 400,000 other Americans face it everyday. Richard Pryor was confined to a wheelchair in the last few years of his life because of it. Symptoms range from weakness to bladder problems to difficulty talking. Indeed, multiple sclerosis, or MS, is one of the most well-known yet mysterious neurological conditions we know about.... Read more »
Ruckh JM, Zhao JW, Shadrach JL, van Wijngaarden P, Rao TN, Wagers AJ, & Franklin RJ. (2012) Rejuvenation of regeneration in the aging central nervous system. Cell stem cell, 10(1), 96-103. PMID: 22226359
Hallucinating a pug while examining a midbrain transverse section, combined with me missing my 11-year old greyhound and best friend Patrick back home and my upcoming orientation at the Humane Society prompted me to find out: what is it about pets that, simply put, makes us feel good?... Read more »
McConnell AR, Brown CM, Shoda TM, Stayton LE, & Martin CE. (2011) Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of personality and social psychology, 101(6), 1239-52. PMID: 21728449
My college rowing team probably doesn't miss the uncharacteristic grunts and wheezes coming from my position in 4 Seat during the final 500 meters of a 2K sprint, a result of every last cell in my body pumping out its last reserves of energy—coursing with lactic acid and pleading for mercy—as I could see our rival teams inching closer out of the corner of my eye. New research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that the ability of an athlete........ Read more »
Corbett J, Barwood MJ, Ouzounoglou A, Thelwell R, & Dicks M. (2011) Influence of Competition on Performance and Pacing During Cycling Exercise. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. PMID: 21900846
Call me a prude, but I'm not so thrilled about the announcement made yesterday by British Columbia's top health official that ecstasy is "safe."... Read more »
Hatzidimitriou G, McCann UD, & Ricaurte GA. (1999) Altered serotonin innervation patterns in the forebrain of monkeys treated with ( /-)3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine seven years previously: factors influencing abnormal recovery. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 19(12), 5096-107. PMID: 10366642
You know what they say about people with big brains...
Big Facebook friends lists.
That's not entirely true. But a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B has neuroscience junkies abuzz this week: the number of Facebook friends we have may be linked to certain brain structures.... Read more »
Kanai R, Bahrami B, Roylance R, & Rees G. (2011) Online social network size is reflected in human brain structure. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. PMID: 22012980
Did you know that Botox—the quick fix solicited by 6 million Americans each year and 75% of celebrities over the age of 35—is composed of the same deadly toxin responsible for botulism poisoning that can cause paralysis and respiratory failure? ... Read more »
Arnon, S. (2001) Botulinum Toxin as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 285(8), 1059-1070. DOI: 10.1001/jama.285.8.1059
Frevert J. (2010) Content of botulinum neurotoxin in Botox®/Vistabel®, Dysport®/Azzalure®, and Xeomin®/Bocouture®. Drugs in R, 10(2), 67-73. PMID: 20698714
Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York examined the neural correlates of intense, long-term love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 10 women and 7 men. fMRI measures brain activity as a function of changes in blood flow. The participants, married an average of 21 years, underwent imaging while viewing either an image of their partner's face, or a familiar acquaintance.... Read more »
Acevedo BP, Aron A, Fisher HE, & Brown LL. (2012) Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 7(2), 145-59. PMID: 21208991
When I was in elementary school, my teacher told my class that the full moon makes people crazy. She said it was caused by the gravitational tug of the moon on the Earth—the same forces that cause high and low tides—the argument being that our bodies are more than 60% water. I was impressionable and fascinated by weird science—who isn't at that age?—and have long since stored that "fact"oid in my ever-developing hippocampus. The full moon last week (which, ........ Read more »
Fernández-Duque E, de la Iglesia H, & Erkert HG. (2010) Moonstruck primates: owl monkeys (Aotus) need moonlight for nocturnal activity in their natural environment. PloS one, 5(9). PMID: 20838447
Levy O, Appelbaum L, Leggat W, Gothlif Y, Hayward DC, Miller DJ, & Hoegh-Guldberg O. (2007) Light-responsive cryptochromes from a simple multicellular animal, the coral Acropora millepora. Science (New York, N.Y.), 318(5849), 467-70. PMID: 17947585
Rotton, J., & Kelly, I. (1985) Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy research. Psychological Bulletin, 97(2), 286-306. DOI: 10.1037//0033-2909.97.2.286
Sábato MA, de Melo LF, Magni EM, Young RJ, & Coelho CM. (2006) A note on the effect of the full moon on the activity of wild maned wolves, Chrysocyon brachyurus. Behavioural processes, 73(2), 228-30. PMID: 16814488
Yesterday I was scanning through my iPhoto library when I came across some photos I had taken of my friends' eyes—just their eyes—from my freshman year of undergrad (it was finals week, and we were playing pool. I can't claim the best study habits, but I got into grad school, alright?). I turned to my boyfriend and had him identify whose eyes they were. To my surprise, he didn't get all of them correct, and he hesitated on most. Aren't a person's eyes their most identifying feature?As it tur........ Read more »
Ueli Rutishauser, Oana Tudusciuc, Dirk Neumann, Adam N. Mamelak, A. Christopher Heller, Ian B. Ross, Linda Philpott, William W. Sutherling, & Ralph Adolphs. (2011) Single-Unit Responses Selective for Whole Faces in the Human Amygdala. Current Biology. info:/10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.035
We've all heard that "yawning is contagious"—but why? In this busy world, we don't sleep as much as we should. Gallup Polls in recent years have found that 56% of Americans report drowsiness as a daytime problem, and 34% of us are "dangerously sleepy." Does seeing someone yawn remind us that we, too, are exhausted are must follow suit? That may be part of it, but the true reason may go much deeper. As it turns out, yawning may have ancient roots in social bond........ Read more »
Helt MS, Eigsti IM, Snyder PJ, & Fein DA. (2010) Contagious yawning in autistic and typical development. Child development, 81(5), 1620-31. PMID: 20840244
Is there any scientific evidence behind mediums and psychics, or are they just another type of illusionist?... Read more »
Lynn, S., & Rhue, J. (1986) The fantasy-prone person: Hypnosis, imagination, and creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(2), 404-408. DOI: 10.1037//0022-3522.214.171.1244
The end of Daylight Savings Time occurs at 2 a.m. this Sunday. For most of us, changing our clocks back an hour is no big deal—in fact, it has its perks over "spring forward" in that we get an extra hour of sleep. But for others, changing the time can have a big impact on our circadian rhythm.... Read more »
Moore RY. (1997) Circadian rhythms: basic neurobiology and clinical applications. Annual review of medicine, 253-66. PMID: 9046960
A study by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky of Norwestern University observed an interesting phenomenon: wear a white coat you believe belongs to a doctor, and you'll be more focused. Wear a white coat you believe belongs to a painter, and you won't see that improvement. In other words, clothes may literally make the man (or woman).... Read more »
Déjà vu is a French term that literally means "already seen" and is reported to occur in 60-70% of people, most commonly between the ages of 15 and 25. The fact that déjà vu occurs so randomly and rapidly—and in individuals without a medical condition—makes it difficult to study, and why and how the phenomenon occurs is up to much speculation. Psychoanalysts may attribute it to wishful thinking; some psychiatrists cite mismatching in the brain ca........ Read more »
Chances are you've been in a quiet, peaceful place, such as a library or work cubicle, concentrating intently on a task at hand, when suddenly someone's obnoxious ringtone goes off. That's bad enough. But then they answer it, and you're subjected to five or ten minutes of one-sided conversation, giggles, and abject, torturous curiosity. Don't you just want to shoot that person? Well, now you can.... Read more »
Corey DM, & Cuddapah VA. (2008) Delayed auditory feedback effects during reading and conversation tasks: gender differences in fluent adults. Journal of fluency disorders, 33(4), 291-305. PMID: 19328981
Tourville JA, Reilly KJ, & Guenther FH. (2008) Neural mechanisms underlying auditory feedback control of speech. NeuroImage, 39(3), 1429-43. PMID: 18035557
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