After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen

Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Lasting Effects of Meditation

A brain-imaging study published in the November 2012 issue of the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience seems to confirm past brain-imaging studies which found that meditation can help people pay better attention and manage stress more effectively. But the November 2012 study goes a bit further: it also shows that such measurable positive effects of meditation seem to continue even when the individual in question is not meditating. (more…)

The Emergence of Consciousness | Comments Closed

Monday, 3 February 2014
Glial Cells Too Are Sensitive to the Environment

For a long time, the brain’s glial cells were assumed to be mere “filler” between the neurons. For a while after that, the glial cells were assumed to serve primarily nutritive functions. But now, year after year, research findings are showing glial cells to be more and more complex. For example, recent studies have shown their role in brain plasticity and how social isolation can disrupt it.

More and more studies indicate that people who experience severe neglect and social isolation as children display cognitive and social impairments as adults. To examine this phenomenon, two research teams recreated these unfavourable conditions for baby mice by placing them in isolation for several weeks. (more…)

From the Simple to the Complex | No comments

Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Human Frontal Cortex Differs Even Genetically

The basic goal of many neuroscientific studies is to determine what makes human brains so different from those of other animal species, and in particular those of our cousins, the great apes. One such study was conducted recently by geneticist Genevieve Konopka and her team, and it yielded some very interesting findings about the frontal lobe of the brain.

One difference that scientists already knew about was that the frontal lobe accounts for a greater proportion of the total surface area of the cortex in humans than in other species (29%, compared with 17% in rhesus monkeys, 7% in dogs, and 3.5% in cats). But Konopka and her team studied differences in the expression of the genes for the various neurons that compose the frontal cortex. Specifically, the team compared the genes that are expressed (and therefore, active) in the frontal cortex of humans with those expressed in the frontal cortex of chimpanzees and macaques. The geneticists found that many of these genes are expressed differently in humans compared with these two other primate species. (more…)

Evolution and the Brain | No comments

Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Junk Food and Alzheimer’s: Closer Links Than Once Believed

For most parents, packing their kids’ school lunches in the morning may seem like just a routine task, but it turns out to be a really important one. Not only can it influence children’s future eating habits, but it may also have a major impact on their quality of life when they are old enough to be grandparents themselves.

Or at least that’s what many recent studies on Alzheimerb s-type dementia seem to suggest. What’s the connection? Children may be more likely to develop obesity and diabetes—established risk factors for Alzheimer’s—if their parents fill their lunch bags with junk food because it’s easier than arguing with them about the virtues of eating a balanced diet! (more…)

Mental Disorders | 1 comment

Monday, 9 December 2013
Links About Our Evolutionary Inheritance

This week, as we have before in this blog, we are posting a set of links to pages on other web sites that discuss a subject covered in The Brain from Top to Bottom, along with brief descriptions of the content of those pages.

The subject this week is the sub-topic “Our Evolutionary Inheritance”, under the topic “Evolution and the Brain”—an important topic indeed, for as the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) wrote, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” And when it comes to neurobiology, that assertion is especially apt. (more…)

Evolution and the Brain | No comments