Monday, 25 February 2013
Links on Pleasure-Seeking Behaviour
This week, as I have before in this blog, I am posting a set of new links to other web sites that discuss a subject covered in The Brain from Top to Bottom. The subject this week is the sub-topic “Pleasure-Seeking Behaviour”, under the topic “Pleasure and Pain”. For each link, I also provide a brief description of the content on the site in question. (more…)
Monday, 18 February 2013
4 New RSS Feeds for Recent News About the Brain
As you may have noticed, last week we added a new feature to The Brain from Top to Bottom Blog to help you follow the latest news in the vast field of neuroscience. I’m talking about the four RSS feeds now appearing in the left-hand column under the heading “RECENT NEWS ABOUT THE BRAIN”. (more…)
Monday, 11 February 2013
Neurons with Surprising Properties
Just when scientists thought they had a pretty good understanding of how neurons communicate, along comes a new set of seemingly abnormal data that overturn the official paradigm (such upheavals are not uncommon in the world of science). Any good neuroscience textbook will tell you that neurons are stimulated or inhibited by input signals that they receive through the synapses between their dendrites or cell bodies and other neurons. As a neuron receives all these signals, it integrates them, and then fires one or more action potentials into its axon. These action potentials travel down to the tip of the axon, where they cross synapses to other neurons, and so on.
But as a team of researchers from Northwestern University, in Illinois in the United States, discovered and reported in the February 2011 issue of Nature Neuroscience, the process just described is clearly not the only way that nerve impulses travel through neurons. (more…)
Monday, 4 February 2013
Optical illusions are always a humbling experience for people who think that they see the world “the way it really is”. Often, when such people are confronted with optical illusions induced by context, the context has to be removed and then restored several times before these people can be convinced that, for example, two lines that appear to be different lengths are actually the same.
The world that we see is often ambiguous, and our visual system tries to give it a meaning on the basis of certain recurrent clues. Scientists today are familiar with some of these clues and can combine them to produce some truly astounding optical illusions. One famous example is Adelson’s checkerboard, in which one square is perceived as black and another as white, even though both are actually the same shade of grey! (more…)
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