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




Monday, 22 August 2022
Neurons as Works of Art

If you visit the website that I’m going to tell you about today, you’re likely to kill a lot of time there, as I just did. But if visiting a museum to enjoy beautiful art isn’t really killing time, then neither is visiting NeuroArt® —an online gallery of gorgeous images of neurons and the brain, produced with dyes, tracers and a variety of other technical methods.

NeuroArt invites scientists from all over the world to submit images of the brain in all of its wondrous complexity and resulting visual beauty. Not only will you be blown away by all the fascinating shapes and psychedelic colours, but you can also learn a lot about the brain and nervous system, because for each image, you can display a brief description by either hovering your mouse over its thumbnail or clicking the “i” icon beneath the enlarged version.

The Image Gallery is the part of this website that most closely resembles a museum experience; it must contain pretty close to 400 images! Which reminds me about two scientists whose artworks I’ve discussed before on this blog. In a 2012 post, I wrote about Greg Dunn and his highly precise, shimmering “reflective microetchings”, created using data generated by various imaging techniques. And in 2020, I wrote about the intricate pastel-coloured paintings of David Goodsell, which interpret electron-microscope images of the inside of human cells in a way that makes their complexity intelligible as well as enchanting to the eye.

We tend to have relatively few mental images of the complex world inside our bodies. We say, “Yeah, it’s complex,” and leave it at that. But technologically generated images of living cells, like those on NeuroArt, as well as artworks created by scientists like Dunn and Goodsell, help us truly take in all this complexity and realize that complexity and beauty very often go together.

 

From the Simple to the Complex | Comments Closed


Friday, 15 July 2022
Who Fact-Checks the Fact-Checkers?

That’s not so simple a question as it may seem, because although we are often rightfully warned against people who claim to have “done their research” on some subject or other and to have discovered unbelievable secrets about it, we are also often asked to accept fact checkers as sources of absolute truth, when they’re really not. They’re just ordinary journalists who are being paid to do their jobs as best they know how while dealing with complex, specialized disciplines and concepts with which they are no more familiar than you or I. So in the end, what do fact checkers offer us? Their own subjective accounts of small slices of reality that they think they have understood and that we hope most of them are presenting in a responsible way—in other words, a far cry from what is suggested by the categorical labels of “true” and “false” that all too often litter fact checkers’ articles on complex subjects such as the human brain, or Covid-19. (more…)

From the Simple to the Complex | Comments Closed


Monday, 20 June 2022
Rediscovery of the traces of another hominin species from the same time as Lucy

The earliest traces of bipedalism are associated with Australopithecus afarensis, the species of the famous fossil Lucy. But if a study published recently in the journal Nature is accurate, scientists have just authenticated different traces of another bipedal species that lived at exactly the same time. (more…)

Evolution and the Brain | Comments Closed


Monday, 30 May 2022
Ultrasound localization microscopy provides unprecedented view of blood flow in the brain

The technologies that can now be used to image various aspects of the anatomy and physiology of the brains of living human beings are triumphs of scientific and technical inventiveness. One of the newest of these techniques is ultrasound localization microscopy, which was recently used to provide the first-ever dynamic images of blood flowing through the capillaries of the brain. This new ability to view blood circulation in the brain so rapidly and precisely opens opportunities for a better understanding of the irrigation of the brain and the problems that can arise with it, such as aneurysms. (more…)

Uncategorized | Comments Closed


Monday, 25 April 2022
Our brain: neither hardware nor software, but “liveware”!

This week I’d like to tell you about a book by David Eagleman, entitled Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain. This book discusses several subjects related to brain plasticity, which is one of Eagleman’s research areas. In this book, one of Eagleman’s main ideas, which he attempts to conceptualize with the term “livewired”, is that the human brain is a machine that spends its time reconfiguring itself. In contrast, computers are “hardwired” with predefined electronic circuits that run software—computer programs that use this computer hardware to perform mathematical calculations and logic operations. The human mind or human thought has often been erroneously compared to a software program that needs the “hardware” of the human brain to manifest itself. This is a very poor metaphor for many reasons, of which the one cited by Eagleman is not the least. (more…)

From the Simple to the Complex | Comments Closed


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