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, 4 May 2021
Neuroscientifically Challenged: a highly educational website about neuroscience

This week I want to tell you about a highly educational website that offers a wealth of information about neuroscience. Its name is buy brand name provigil online Neuroscientifically Challenged, and its author is Marc Dingman. Dingman began blogging about neuuroscience in 2008, as his interest in the subject was growing. He took a break from writing the site in 2010 to concentrate on finishing his doctorate in neuroscience, which he received in 2014, when he also accepted a teaching assignment at his university. Neuroscientifically Challenged is aimed at the general public, but Dingman draws his references directly from peer-reviewed scientific articles and monographs on neuroscience.

Neuroscientifically Challenged offers various kinds of content, all of it written by Dingman. There are, of course, blog posts (over 100, as of this writing). Several of them deal with the history of neuroscience, such as one post on http://heavenlyplastics.com/45983-tugain-solution-price.html “the mystery of trepanation” and others on famous neuroscientists such as Binghamton Paul Broca and less famous ones such as http://counsellingarena.co.uk/the-bettors-playbook-nfl-week-6-lessons-in-live-betting-underdogs-and-missed-points/feed Gustav Theodor Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig and their groundbreaking work on the motor cortex.

The site also offers a section called “Know your Brain”, which contains over 70 articles about brain structure, function and pathology. Presented in alphabetical order, the topics range from Alzheimer’s disease, the amygdala and aphasia to ventricles, the vestibular system and Wernicke’a area. (The Brain from Top to Bottom also cover many of these subjects, but not all of them, so this site and Dingman’s complement each other nicely.)

Like The Brain from Top to Bottom, Neuroscientifically Challenged has the intrinsic limitation that scientific theories and scientific paradigms are constantly changing. Whenever you consult Dingman’s content, you should therefore take the time to check what year it was published. One example is his 2015 video on the limbic system, a concept that has since evolved so much that some neuroscientists even reject it entirely and say they would never buy a book that referred to the limbic system as the neuronal substrate of the emotions. Dingman’video does present some reservations about this concept, but in The Brain from Top to Bottom, I have tried to show that there are more.

Neverthless, the 2-minute neuroscience videos like this one are one of the big attractions of the site. There are over 120 of them, explaining numerous basic mechanisms of the human nervous system, such as those of reward, sleep and sensory perception, as well as the effects of neurotransmitters and drugs. These videos show Dingman drawing and labelling diagrams and writing down his bullet points in fast motion as he explains the concepts concerned, somewhat like the more elaborate RSA Animate lecture aboout the divided brain, which I discussed in an earlier post in this blog.

From the Simple to the Complex | Comments Closed


Monday, 19 April 2021
Evolution : a branching pattern like a bush, not a linear one

The word “hominids” is often used to refer to the human line that diverged from chimpanzees some 6 or 7 million years ago. It includes not only all the species of the genus Homo, bus also some related genera, such as Australopithecus, that are now extinct. The evolutionary history of our human line has been determined from findings of fossils, some consisting of just a few bone fragments or teeth. These fossils have shown that human evolution has followed a branching pattern, like a bush, and not a linear pattern like you see above, where the chimpanzee starts losing hair, walking more upright, and becomes Homo sapiens, only to end up working hunched over again, first with an industrial tool and then at a computer. There are various versions of this image—some show Homo sapiens in a suit and tie, or riding a bicycle—but all of them convey several false ideas about human evolution. (more…)

Evolution and the Brain | Comments Closed


Thursday, 1 April 2021
The incredible speed of synaptic transmission

Sometimes you think you know all about a subject because you’ve been making presentations about it for years, or even decades. But then you read one article that makes you realize just how much you didn’t know. That’s what just happened to me. The subject was synaptic transmission, and the article was Synaptic vesicles transiently dock to refill release sites, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience in September 2020. The principal authors of this study, Grant F. Kusick and Shigeki Watanabe of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States, used a cell-imaging technique called “zap-and-freeze” to analyze how neurons release neurotransmitters into synapses. What these authors specifically wanted to understand was how the synaptic vesicles near the tip of an axon (the synaptic button), which fuse with its plasma membrane to release neurotransmitters into the synaptic gap, subsequently form again so that the neuron can be ready to handle the next nerve impulse. Because several tens or even several hundreds of nerve impulses can all arrive at the same synaptic button at one time, the authors reasoned, these vesicles must re-form extremely rapidly for there to be enough of them ready to release neurotransmitters again as soon as the next impulse arrives. (more…)

From the Simple to the Complex | Comments Closed


Tuesday, 9 March 2021
Two very different approaches to identify functional connections between brain areas

Two recent studies have shown yet again that many more different parts of the brain are often involved in a given mental phenomenon than was once believed. In the brain, nothing is really isolated, and there are no “centres” of anything. Instead, we’re always dealing with multiple interconnected areas of the brain that form networks as demanded by the situations faced or the tasks to be performed. What’s most interesting about these two particular studies is that the researchers used two very different approaches to identify functional connections between brain areas: in one study, they visually traced the path of the axons projected by certain neurons, while in the other, they used genetic methods to isolate a new kind of membrane receptor. (more…)

Emotions and the Brain, Memory and the Brain | Comments Closed


Thursday, 11 February 2021
Revisiting an optical illusion in terms of predictive processing

I recently came across a little experiment that I posted years ago on this website to show how the blind spot in each of your eyes works. The blind spot is a part of the retina where there are no photoreceptors, because it is where the axons of the retina’s ganglion cells converge and exit the eye, forming the optical nerve. As a result, there’s a corresponding area in your field of vision that doesn’t register on the retina. Hence, in theory, you shouldn’t see anything there. But in reality, you don’t see any such blank spot in your field of vision.

To find out why not, let’s revisit this optical illusion from the standpoint of predictive-processing theory, which has become more and more accepted in cognitive science over the past 10 years or so. (more…)

The Senses | Comments Closed