The brain is arguably the most complex organ in the human body and understanding its structure could help explain a fundamental mystery of human existence: consciousness. The brain is composed of billions of specialized cells called neurons, which communicate with each other via electrical and chemical signals. Neurons are responsible for processes ranging from vital life functions to the ability to walk, talk remember, … Continue reading One Neuron to Rule Them All?
by Katherine Wu figures by Tito Adhikary In 1993, Haddaway asked the world, “What is Love?” I’m not sure if he ever got his answer – but today, you can have yours. Sort of. Scientists in fields ranging from anthropology to neuroscience have been asking this same question (albeit less eloquently) for decades. It turns out the science behind love is both simpler and more … Continue reading Love, Actually: The science behind lust, attraction, and companionship
For decades now, scientists have believed that working memory, a form of short term memory, can be accessed only through the sustained firing of neurons. Working memory is used constantly in our day to day lives — from remembering the name of someone you just met while carrying on a conversation, to mixing the right ingredients in a recipe – it allows us to access … Continue reading New method successfully recovers lost short-term memories
Researchers have created the most detailed general map of the brain to date by scanning the brains of 1200 people. After recording detailed imaging of the subjects’ brain activity as they performed a variety of mental tasks, the information was used to ‘teach’ a computer to identify spatial ‘regions’ of related activity. These regions span the brain, creating a 3D, puzzle-like map. Also called a … Continue reading New Detailed Brain Map Could Aide Future Understanding
by Marie Siwicki figures by Anna Maurer At this time of year, researchers, doctors, and recreational nerds alike turn to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for the list of the past year’s most important scientific breakthroughs . 2015 saw many significant advances that gained flashy and well-deserved press. The world witnessed the creation of an Ebola vaccine, the first fly-by of … Continue reading How a newly discovered body part changes our understanding of the brain (and the immune system)
by Danielle Heller Proteins are molecular machines. They perform an incredible diversity of tasks that enable all living cells to function. Like any machine, a protein must be properly assembled in order to carry out its specific task, and if something goes awry, the cellular consequences can be dire. Take Alzheimer’s disease for example. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting over 5 … Continue reading The spreading confusion: Rethinking Alzheimer’s disease