Bite-sized Brain Science: The 30-Second Brain, reviewed

Bite-sized Brain Science: The 30-Second Brain, reviewed

How does the brain produce thought? Where is memory encoded in the brain? How do we reconstruct images in our brain?

These are some brain questions that fascinate my neighbor Rob, who has studied engineering and now works in photonics. He has no background in neuroscience, but wants to learn about it. Sure, he has the Internet, but it's really a jungle out there. I think a compact book is always a better map to begin exploring uncharted territory, so I suggested him to check out the 30-Second Brain. Although brief on content, it is a book with a wide and riveting helicopter view of neuroscience.

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Concentrating to Jog Your Memory

Concentrating to Jog Your Memory

What are the brain mechanisms at work when playing the children's game "Concentration"? Do adults benefit from playing it?

Kids seem to remember the tiniest of details from everywhere. But as adults we’ve all had our blurry moments – when all that information gets lost in the jungle of neurons and refuses to leave the tip o’ the tongue, driving us a little crazy. Tinkering with memory using simple card games and extensive brain training has been under the lens lately. But could a game like Concentration help you concentrate? Let’s find out.

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Can chewing gum improve my test scores?

Can chewing gum improve my test scores?

Does chewing gum help with memorization? Can chewing gum during a test improve your test scores?

Well ... maybe.

There is a strong effect of context on memory recall. You'll probably perform better on a test if you take it in the same room where you memorized the information included in the test. The same holds true for chomping on a stick of Juicy Fruit. ...

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New in Neuroscience: Pericytes are Novel Players in Fueling the Brain

New in Neuroscience: Pericytes are Novel Players in Fueling the Brain

The brain is a gas-guzzler. Weighing in at only 2% of the mass of your body, the brain consumes over 20% of the body’s energy. The idea that high-activity regions of the brain need more blood is the principle behind human neuroimaging techniques like PET and MRI, but how do neurons ask for more blood when they need it?

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Neurotalk S4E13 Carl Hart

Today, our guest is  Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University and author of the 2013 book, High Price: A neuroscientist’s Journey of Self Discovery That Challenges Everything you Know about drugs and society. We’ll be speaking with him about surprising discoveries about psychoactive drug use, and how neuroscience can better inform policy

Ask a Neuroscientist: Restless Legs Syndrome

Ask a Neuroscientist: Restless Legs Syndrome

Is restless leg syndrome a neurological disorder? What could be the root cause and is there any cure?

I fell deep into a rabbit hole of RLS and related research in writing this article. RLS is a neurological disorder, and we have some tantalizing clues about its cause--but there are far more questions than answers at this point. But two candidates are dopamine and iron. 

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New in Neuroscience: Understanding ALS

New in Neuroscience: Understanding ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is finally in the spotlight. As a rare neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of a subset of motor neurons, ALS has often been overshadowed by other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  However, thanks to events such as the viral Ice Bucket Challenge last summer and Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, ALS has entered the public consciousness. In parallel, the scientific field has also experienced major growth, with new disease-causing mutations being reported on a regular basis. Labs have rushed to understand how these genetic mutations cause neurodegeneration, but a fundamental question remains unanswered: why do only certain motor neurons die in the course of ALS? After all, genetic mutations are global, and yet in ALS and most neurodegenerative diseases, only a subset of neurons die.

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Ask a Neuroscientist: Thinking Beyond the Halle Berry Neuron

Ask a Neuroscientist: Thinking Beyond the Halle Berry Neuron

Is it possible to measure the occurrence of a thought and its corresponding firing neuron - does the thought have to be present in a firing neuron, for it to exist? If so, which comes first - or are they one and the same thing?

These questions cut right to the heart of what many neuroscientists find fascinating about the brain and why we choose to study it. Essentially all neuroscientists believe that thoughts are purely an effect of firing neurons. But which one comes first? And can individual neurons be responsible for individual thoughts? 

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