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, 27 January 2015
Functions of the amygdala : more diverse than previously thought

Science in general, and neuroscience in particular, are constantly evolving. So even though our knowledge of a given brain structure may not have undergone a scientific revolution or a paradigm shift at any given time, when we compare what we know about it now with what we knew, say, 10 years ago, we may find that things have changed a lot. That’s certainly the case for the amygdala, a small but very important piece of the brain. And since we first described the amygdala on this website just about 10 years ago, we’d like to give you a little update now. (more…)

Emotions and the Brain | No comments

Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Literary Activity and the Default Mode Network

In every human culture, much of life revolves around the stories that we tell—about the world around us, about other people, and about ourselves. When you come right down to it, just like traditional oral storytelling, that is all that modern literature and film do today. There must be something in the brain that resonates especially strongly with the narrative process.

That something might well resemble what neuroscientists call the the brain’s default mode network: the particular set of brain structures whose activity increases by default, when someone is doing absolutely nothing. (more…)

From Thought to Language | No comments

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Infinitely Large, Infinitely Small, and Infinitely Complex

This week, we’re going to talk about nothing less than the place that the human brain occupies in the known universe. Let’s begin by recalling that, as stated often elsewhere on The Brain from Top to Bottom, the brain that each of us possesses is one of the most complex objects in that universe, which is already saying a lot.

The complexity of the human brain is one of the reasons that this website is organized the way it is. (more…)

From the Simple to the Complex | No comments

Monday, 24 November 2014
Persistence of social signatures in human communication

No need to be impressed anymore by people who have 600 or 1400 “friends” on Facebook. Just like you and I, they are not really discussing their true feelings or anything else important with more than one or two dozen people at most. And for every individual, the size of this limited “hard core” of relationships seems to persist over time, even though the friends who compose it may change. These fascinating cognitive data come from a study entitled “Persistence of social signatures in human communication”, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in January 2014. (more…)

From Thought to Language | No comments

Wednesday, 5 November 2014
A Brain Circuit That Links Two Events in Time

If you’re out in a storm and you see a bolt of lightning streak across the sky, you tend to pull your head down between your shoulders for the next few seconds, fearing the big thunderclap that you expect to come next. This kind of association between a stimulus and a potential danger is something that the human brain retains easily, because it has always had an obvious importance for our survival.

A study co-ordinated by MIT professor Susumu Tonegawa and published in the journal Science in January 2014 reveals the neuronal bases of this association between a stimulus and the timing of a potential danger, about which relatively little was previously known compared with the association with the other essential property of a danger: its location. In the latter case, the hippocampus, the key brain structure for encoding memories, makes use of place cells, which are activated when you are in or are remembering a specific location. (more…)

Memory and the Brain | No comments