How much does the brain know about itself? In this Ask a Neuroscientist, Guillaume Riesen considers three different types of "knowledge" that the brain might have about itself: physical sensations, energy usage, and abstract thought.Read More
What classes should undergraduates interested in a career in science take?
We asked a bunch of Stanford neuroscientists, and their answers will probably surprise current/aspiring Biology majors. (Hint: Statistics. Definitely statistics.)
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.Read More
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. ...Read More
What if our brains had too many neurons? What would happen? In this Ask a Neuroscientist response, we discuss how making too many neurons is a natural part of brain development, and the (controversial) theory that overgrown brains are a marker for autism spectrum disorders.
Image Source: Wellcome TrustRead More
An engineering student named Mollie asks how feasible it will be for her to go to graduate school in neuroscience. To help answer, I repost a conversation with the Director of Stanford's Neuroscience PhD program. Also: So you want to be a Research Assistant in the lab - how do you find a job opening?Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
"If the brain is recalling a flash bulb memory, what would the average firing rate of neurons be in a human?"
The answer is: more than zero, (probably) less than a grand mal seizure.
A more compelling version of this question might be: "What is the neural process that underlies an "ah ha!" moment?" Or, in other words, what is our brain doing when we leap out of our baths yelling "eureka"? To help answer this question, I dig up a video of Dr. Mark Beeman, who studies the cognition of insight and creativity.Read More
How do brains generate randomness? We’ll talk about what randomness means in the brain - does it mean generating random numbers, much like a computer, or something more? We will then talk about why, when and finally, how the brain generates randomness.Read More