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, 18 June 2012
Memories: Always a Work in Progress

faux-souvenirsPeople tend to think that their memories are reliable and bear no resemblance to the false ones invented by people who suffer from confabulatory hypermnesia (severe false memory syndrome). But experiments using morally complex scenarios, such as those developed by psychologist Jonathan Haidt, have shown that normal subjects are surprisingly quick to invent explanations to justify intuitive moral stances, such as accepting the taboo against incest.

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Memory and the Brain, The Emergence of Consciousness | 1 comment

Monday, 11 June 2012
The Phi Effect Is Not the Beta Effect!

illusionScience is not immune to historic errors that can be passed along for decades. One such error was the confusion of the phi effect with the beta effect, which persisted until Robert M. Steinman and his colleagues published their clarification in 2000.

The phi effect was first described in Experimental Studies on the Seeing of Motion, a book published in 1912 by Max Wertheimer, one of the fathers of Gestalt psychology. The problem was that in his book, Wertheimer did not describe the conditions for the appearance of the phi effect precisely. He said that this phenomenon occurs when two lines are projected on a screen in very close chronological succession, thus creating the impression (under certain observation conditions that he left undefined) that a fuzzily defined area the same colour as the background is moving between these two lines. (more…)

The Senses | No comments

Monday, 4 June 2012
Stress, Prefrontal Cortex Inhibition, and Depression

stressExposure to chronic stress has many harmful effects, including effects on our cognition and mental health. The June 2009 edition of Nature Reviews Neuroscience presents several articles summarizing the most recent research findings on this subject.

One of these articles, by Amy F. T. Arnsten, shows how stress inhibits thinking, planning, and control activity in the prefrontal cortex, while strengthening the activity of the rapid reflex pathways connected to the amygdala and the subcortical structures associated with it. (more…)

Mental Disorders | Comments Closed

Monday, 28 May 2012
Playing Chess at School Improves Learning

chessAccording to America’s Foundation for Chess, an organization that promotes the use of chess in the schools, this age-old game is an ideal learning tool. When children are around age 8 or 9, the brain’s analytical abilities are developing rapidly, and playing chess seems to stimulate this development. In any case, studies show that children who play chess do better in most of their school subjects. (more…)

Memory and the Brain | Comments Closed

Monday, 21 May 2012
The Neurobiology of Charity

mendiant As the holiday season approaches, a traditional time for charitable giving, what do we know about this behaviour from a neuroscientific standpoint? Well, first of all, we know that it activates the brain’s dopaminergic reward circuits. We also now know that the old saying “It’s better to give than to receive” has a neurobiological basis: these reward circuits are typically activated more when you give money, for example, than when you receive it. (more…)

Pleasure and Pain | 4 comments »