neurosci , calm

96 posts · 60,950 views

Sort by Latest Post, Most Popular

View by Condensed, Full

  • November 22, 2015
  • 10:30 PM

History of neuroscience: The mystery of trepanation

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

In 1867, an archaeologist and diplomat named Ephraim George Squier sought out the help of Paul Pierre Broca, the esteemed anatomist and surgeon. He was trying to solve a mystery about an ancient Incan skull that had been given to him by a wealthy artifact collector in Peru. In addition to its age, the Neolithic skull had a unique feature: on the top of the cranium a rectangular piece of bone had been removed. The presence of several cross-cuts surrounding the hole suggested that it was not a sim........ Read more »

  • November 15, 2015
  • 06:51 AM

Know your brain: Vestibular system

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the vestibular system?The vestibular system is comprised of several structures and tracts, but the main components of the system are found in the inner ear in a system of interconnected compartments called the vestibular labyrinth. The vestibular labyrinth is made up of the semicircular canals and the otolith organs (all discussed below), and contains receptors for vestibular sensations. These receptors send vestibular information via the vestibulocochlear nerve to the cerebellum and to........ Read more »

Khan S, Chang R. (2013) Anatomy of the vestibular system: A review. NeuroRehabilitation, 32(3), 437-443. info:/

  • November 7, 2015
  • 06:50 AM

Capgras delusion

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Think for a moment about the people in your life whom you are closest to and most familiar with---those whom you see, talk to, and maybe share intimate moments with on a regular basis. Perhaps this would be your spouse, partner, parents, siblings, or friends. Now, try to imagine waking up tomorrow and, upon seeing one of these people, being overcome with an unshakable feeling that it is not really them you are seeing. Even though you know it sounds crazy, you can't stop yourself from thinking th........ Read more »

Young, G. (2008) Capgras delusion: An interactionist model. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(3), 863-876. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2008.01.006  

  • October 9, 2015
  • 06:41 AM

The neuroscience of traumatic brain injury

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 1.7 million people in the United States experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, over 15% of which are thought to be sports-related. Despite the relatively high prevalence of these injuries, however, it seems we are just beginning to appreciate the true extent of the effects they can have on the brain. Awareness of previously unrecognized consequences to TBI and repeated TBI--along with the realization that........ Read more »

  • September 15, 2015
  • 02:52 PM

Know your brain: Blood-brain barrier

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the blood-brain barrier?The blood-brain barrier surrounds most of the blood vessels in the brain. It is a structure that is formed primarily due to the establishment of tight junctions between endothelial cells (i.e. cells that line the walls of blood vessels). There are also several other cells and proteins contributing to the blood-brain barrier complex; for example, processes called astrocytic end-feet extend from astrocytes to surround blood vessels and provide support to the endoth........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2015
  • 03:13 PM

Microbes and the mind: Who's pulling the strings?

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

There are many examples throughout nature of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites influencing the neurobiology and behavior of their hosts. For example, the rabies virus enters the nervous system almost immediately after a bite or scratch and travels to the brain, where it influences neural activity to make aggressive behavior more likely. This, of course, is beneficial for the virus as it increases the probability its infected host will make contact with another susceptible host........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2015
  • 03:50 PM

The powerful influence of placebos on the brain

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

The term placebo effect describes an improvement in the condition of a patient after being given a placebo--an inert substance (e.g. sugar pill) the patient expects may hold some benefit for him. The placebo effect has long been recognized as an unavoidable aspect of medical treatment. Physicians before the 1950s often took advantage of this knowledge by giving patients treatments like bread pills or injections of water with the understanding that patients had a tendency to feel better when they........ Read more »

  • June 16, 2015
  • 10:23 PM

Know your brain: Default mode network

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the default mode network?The default mode network (sometimes called simply the default network) refers to an interconnected group of brain structures that are hypothesized to be part of a functional system. The default network is a relatively recent concept, and because of this there is not yet a complete consensus on which brain regions should be included in a definition of it. Regardless, some structures that are generally included are the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate........ Read more »

Buckner RL, Andrews-Hanna JR, & Schacter DL. (2008) The brain's default network: anatomy, function, and relevance to disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1-38. PMID: 18400922  

  • June 3, 2015
  • 10:03 PM

Deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease: Uncovering the mechanism

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Parkinson's disease (PD) belongs to a group of diseases that are referred to as neurodegenerative because they involve the degeneration and death of neurons. In PD a group of structures called the basal ganglia, which play a role in facilitating movement, are predominantly affected. The substantia nigra, one of the basal ganglia nuclei as well as one of the most dopamine-rich areas in the brain, is severely impacted; by the end stages of the disease patients have often lost 50-70% of the dopamin........ Read more »

de Hemptinne, C., Swann, N., Ostrem, J., Ryapolova-Webb, E., San Luciano, M., Galifianakis, N., & Starr, P. (2015) Therapeutic deep brain stimulation reduces cortical phase-amplitude coupling in Parkinson's disease. Nature Neuroscience, 18(5), 779-786. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3997  

  • May 13, 2015
  • 12:38 PM

Know your brain: Orbitofrontal cortex

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Orbitofrontal cortex (in green)

Where is the orbitofrontal cortex?The orbitofrontal cortex is the area of the prefrontal cortex that sits just above the orbits (also known as the eye sockets). It is thus found at the very front of the brain, and has extensive connections with sensory areas as well as limbic system structures involved in emotion and memory.What is the orbitofrontal cortex and what does it do?The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a poorly underst........ Read more »

Stalnaker, T., Cooch, N., & Schoenbaum, G. (2015) What the orbitofrontal cortex does not do. Nature Neuroscience, 18(5), 620-627. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3982  

  • May 6, 2015
  • 10:06 PM

Limitations of the consensus: How widely-accepted hypotheses can sometimes hinder understanding

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

To those who believe strongly in the scientific method, it really is the only approach to understanding the relationship between two events or variables that allows us to make assertions about such relationships with any confidence. Due to the inherent flaws in human reasoning, our non-scientific conclusions are frequently riddled with bias, misunderstanding, and misattribution. Thus, it seems there is little that can be trusted if it hasn't been scientifically verified.The scientific method, ho........ Read more »

  • April 20, 2015
  • 09:49 PM

Know your brain: Cochlea

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the cochlea?

cochlea and cochlea in cross-section. image courtesy of openstax college.

The cochlea is a coiled structure that resembles a snail shell (cochlea comes from the Greek kochlos, which means "snail"); it is found within the inner ear. It is a small--yet complex--structure (about the size of a pea) that consists of three canals that run parallel to one another: the scala vestibuli, scala media, and scala tympani.What i........ Read more »

Møller, A. (1994) Auditory Neurophysiology. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 11(3), 284-308. DOI: 10.1097/00004691-199405000-00002  

  • April 13, 2015
  • 06:43 AM

Let there be light: how light can affect our mood

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

If you're looking for an indication of how intricately human physiology is tied to the environment our species evolved in, you need look no further than our circadian clock. For, the internal environment of our body is regulated by 24-hour cycles that closely mirror the time it takes for the earth to rotate once on its axis. Moreover, these cycles are shaped by changes in the external environment (e.g. fluctuating levels of daylight) associated with that rotation. Indeed, this 24-hour cycle regu........ Read more »

LeGates, T., Fernandez, D., & Hattar, S. (2014) Light as a central modulator of circadian rhythms, sleep and affect. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(7), 443-454. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3743  

  • March 28, 2015
  • 08:20 PM

The neurobiological underpinnings of suicidal behavior

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

When you consider that so much of our energy and such a large portion of our behavioral repertoire is devoted to ways of ensuring our survival, suicide appears to be perhaps the most inexplicable human behavior. What would make this human machine--which most of the time seems to be resolutely programmed to scratch, claw, and fight to endure through even the most dire situations--so easily decide to give it all up, even when the circumstances may not objectively seem all that desperate? Suicide i........ Read more »

Turecki, G. (2014) The molecular bases of the suicidal brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(12), 802-816. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3839  

  • March 14, 2015
  • 11:54 PM

New approaches to epilepsy treatment: optogenetics and DREADDs

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Epilepsy refers to a group of disorders that are characterized by recurrent seizures. It is a relatively common neurological condition, and is considered the most common serious (implying that there is a risk of mortality) brain disorder, affecting around 2.2 million Americans.The seizures associated with epilepsy are not homogenous; they can have a drastically different presentation depending on the patient, the part of the brain the seizure originates in, and how much of the brain the seizure ........ Read more »

  • March 3, 2015
  • 10:36 PM

Know your brain: Pineal gland

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the pineal gland?

Pineal gland (in red). Image courtesy of life science databases.

The pineal gland is considered part of the epithalamus, which is one the main structures that makes up the diencephalon. The pineal gland was so named because it has a pine-cone like appearance. Unlike many structures in the brain, the pineal gland is unpaired; in other words, many brain structures like the hippocampus or amygdala are symmetrical........ Read more »

Dora Sapède,, & Elise Cau. (2013) The Pineal Gland from Development to Function. Current Topics in Developmental Biology. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-416021-7.00005-5  

  • February 22, 2015
  • 09:57 AM

Associating brain structure with function and the bias of more = better

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

It seems that, of all of the behavioral neuroscience findings that make their way into popular press coverage, those that involve structural changes to the brain are most likely to pique the interest of the public. Perhaps this is because we have a tendency to think of brain function as something that is flexible and constantly changing, and thus alterations in function do not seem as dramatic as alterations in structure, which give the impression of being more permanent.After all, until relativ........ Read more »

Lazar, S., Kerr, C., Wasserman, R., Gray, J., Greve, D., Treadway, M., McGarvey, M., Quinn, B., Dusek, J., Benson, H.... (2005) Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. NeuroReport, 16(17), 1893-1897. DOI: 10.1097/01.wnr.0000186598.66243.19  

  • February 9, 2015
  • 02:28 PM

Is tanning addictive?

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

In Walden, his masterpiece about noncomformity and simple living, Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new." And while Thoreau was specifically talking about society's capriciousness in embracing new styles of clothing, his quote applies just as well to our preference for one shade of skin color over another. For, while many now consider a medium-dark tan to be both healthier-looking and more attractive than pale skin, only 100 year........ Read more »

Petit, A., Karila, L., Chalmin, F., & Lejoyeux, M. (2014) Phenomenology and psychopathology of excessive indoor tanning. International Journal of Dermatology, 53(6), 664-672. DOI: 10.1111/ijd.12336  

  • February 1, 2015
  • 10:06 AM

Know your brain: Ventricles

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Ventricles, image courtesy of bruce blaus via wikimedia commons

Where are the ventricles?The ventricles are four interconnected cavities distributed throughout the brain that produce and contain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The two lateral ventricles are C-shaped chambers found in the cerebral hemispheres (one in each hemisphere). They are connected to the third ventricle by an opening called the interventricular foramen. The third ventricle is a very narrow ........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2015
  • 03:41 PM

The unsolved mysteries of protein misfolding in common neurodegenerative diseases

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Throughout the 1970s, biochemist Stanley Prusiner was obsessed with trying to find the causative agent for a mysterious group of diseases. The diseases, which included kuru and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans and scrapie in sheep, were characterized by slowly-developing symptoms and neurodegeneration so severe it eventually caused the brain to take on the appearance of a sponge (due to myriad little holes that developed where grey matter was lost). By the time Prusiner began studying these........ Read more »

Brettschneider, J., Tredici, K., Lee, V., & Trojanowski, J. (2015) Spreading of pathology in neurodegenerative diseases: a focus on human studies. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(2), 109-120. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3887  

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit