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, 30 September 2020
The expertise account, or, why the brain’s face-recognition area can be activated by the sight of a chessboard

In a 2017 article on the chess website chessable, entitledBeating Magnus after a month of training: the neuroscience of why learning chess is so much harder than learning a language”, author David Karmaley writes: “A fascinating finding from neuroscience is that your brain starts using the fusiform face area to store chess positions! This is the part of the brain usually responsible for human face recognition.”

Karmaley seems surprised that a part of the brain associated with face recognition is also used to recognize the positions of pieces on a chessboard, and at first glance, the connection may seem puzzling. But a theory known as the expertise account offers a highly plausible explanation. (more…)

From the Simple to the Complex, From Thought to Language | Comments Closed


Tuesday, 22 September 2015
Seeing without knowing it : the strange phenomenon of blindsight

This week I’d like to share some information about the fascinating phenomenon of blindsight, along with links to other articles on this subject. People can become blind as the result of damage to the retina, but in rarer cases blindness can occur when both sides of the visual cortex are damaged. The latter situation can lead to the strange phenomenon known as blindsight or unconscious vision, in which people believe that they can’t see anything, but can nevertheless correctly identify the positions of objects in space. If you ask these people where a certain object or point of light is, they will say they don’t know, but if you insist and ask them to take a chance, guess, and point in the direction where they think the object or light might be, most of the time, they’ll point in the right direction. (more…)

The Senses | No comments


Tuesday, 29 April 2014
A “cyborg” which hears more than what we see

Since 2004, Neil Harbisson has regarded himself as the first “cyborg” to be recognized as such by the government of a country—in his case, the United Kingdom, which has given him permission to appear in his passport photo with the small portable camera that he always wears on his forehead. This camera enables him not only to see colours, but also to hear them!

Harbisson was born in 1982 with a rare congenital vision disorder called achromatopsia—the inability to see colours. This disorder can also arise following a brain injury, as neurologist Oliver Sacks reported in his writings. But Harbisson has seen the world only in black and white ever since he was born. (more…)

The Senses, Uncategorized | Comments Closed


Monday, 3 June 2013
Seeing What’s in Your Eye

The structure of your eye is a lot like that of a traditional film camera. The lens of your eye is like the camera’s lens. Your iris is like the diaphragm, and your retina, at the very back of the eye, acts like the light-sensitive film.

However, there is a hole in your retina that lets the axons of its ganglion cells (a kind of neuron) exit the eye while letting blood vessels enter to irrigate all of the retina’s neurons. This hole creates a true “blind spot” in your field of vision. You don’t notice this blind spot in your daily life. (more…)

The Senses | Comments Closed


Monday, 4 February 2013
Adelson’s Checkerboard

Optical illusions are always a humbling experience for people who think that they see the world “the way it really is”. Often, when such people are confronted with optical illusions induced by context, the context has to be removed and then restored several times before these people can be convinced that, for example, two lines that appear to be different lengths are actually the same.

The world that we see is often ambiguous, and our visual system tries to give it a meaning on the basis of certain recurrent clues. Scientists today are familiar with some of these clues and can combine them to produce some truly astounding optical illusions. One famous example is Adelson’s checkerboard, in which one square is perceived as black and another as white, even though both are actually the same shade of grey! (more…)

The Senses | Comments Closed


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