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

Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Links on Pleasure and Drugs

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. For each link, I also provide a brief description of the relevant article or other content on the site in question.

The subject this week is the sub-topic “Pleasure and Drugs” under the topic “Pleasure and Pain”, and the sites in question all provide insights into the way that various drugs affect our brains. As you see, the first two sites deal with alcohol. It is worth remembering that however legal alcohol may be, it too is a psychoactive substance—in other words, a drug. (more…)

Pleasure and Pain | Comments Closed

Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Humans Have No Monopoly on Empathy

One rat springs another rat from prison, then shares some chocolate with him. Sounds like a Saturday-morning cartoon, but that’s what actually happened in a laboratory experiment showing that real live rats can display empathetic behaviour.

These findings, published in the December 7, 2011 issue of the journal Science by Peggy Mason and her colleagues, got a huge amount of media play, because this was the first time that scientists had shown that an animal other than a primate can take action to relieve the distress of a member of its own species. And this suggested the possibility that empathy, previously regarded as unique to human beings and some of the great apes, might instead have far older origins in the animal kingdom. (more…)

Emotions and the Brain | Comments Closed

Monday, 6 May 2013
What Are People’s Deepest Motivations?

Economists have long regarded financial gain as one of the primary motives that drive human beings. But research in the cognitive sciences increasingly shows that while money may induce people to work harder physically, it seems to have no effect at all where mental tasks are concerned.

As author Daniel Pink describes in an illustrated talk to which a link is provided below, studies in various countries have shown that giving people more money does not stimulate creative thought, even when the amounts offered are the equivalent of several weeks’ pay. (more…)

Pleasure and Pain | Comments Closed

Monday, 29 April 2013
A Microprocessor That Simulates a Synapse

For decades now, cognitive scientists across the entire range from cognitivists to connectionists have been trying to use computers to model the learning abilities of the human brain. A team at MIT, headed by Dr. Chi-Sang Poon, has just taken a major step in this direction by designing a microprocessor that can simulate the functioning of a single synapse in the part of the human brain known as the hippocampus. (more…)

Memory and the Brain | Comments Closed

Monday, 22 April 2013
“I have it at the tip of my tongue!”

Having a word “at the tip of your tongue” is a familiar but frustrating sensation. There it is, not very far, you know it, you can feel it, but you can’t find it! To make matters worse, very often another word keeps popping into your mind—you know it’s not the right one, but it keeps getting in the way so that you can’t find the one you’re looking for.  

Scientists say that all of us experience this phenomenon at least once per week, and more often as we get older. They also know that more than 9 times out 10, we end up finding the right word, although often in unexpected ways, and that this is an example of meta…you know, when you make judgments about your own thought processes…mmm, metempsychosis? No. Metencephalon? No, that’s not it either. Oh yeah—metacognition! (more…)

From Thought to Language | Comments Closed