All posts tagged with brain

Stone Age minds in internet time

1 minute read

The journalist Kenneth Miller has an article in the current Discover magazine on “How Our Ancient Brains Are Coping in the Age of Digital Distraction”. I mak...

Link: Profile of Tilly Edinger

less than 1 minute read

Smithsonian has done a nice profile of Tilly Edinger, one of the most important paleontologists of the twentieth century: “The Woman Who Shaped the Study of ...

Thalamus in the spotlight

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Knowable magazine, which covers research published in Annual Reviews journals, has a nice interview by writer Emily Underwod of Michael Halassa, an expert on...

Notable: Brain growth in Homo erectus

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Notable paper: Cofran, Z. and DeSilva, J. 2015. A neonatal perspective on Homo erectus brain growth. Journal of Human Evolution (in press) doi:10.1016/j.jhev...

Variation in cognitive traits and genetics

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A new study of more than 50,000 people has identified some of the genetic variations that underlie cognitive variation among middle-aged and older adults (Da...

To fish or not to fish

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This summer I pointed to an article about the FwJj20 locality at Koobi Fora, which provides the earliest known evidence of systematic fish exploitation in th...

Brain plasticity in adults and cognition

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I ran across a study from a couple of years ago by Rachel Brans and colleagues, which has an interesting result showing a genetic correlation between plastic...

Brains in a haystack

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An essay by Gary Marcus, in the new online science magazine, Nautilus: “Where uniqueness lies”.

Sahelanthropus brain

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Kate Wong has been reporting from the Paleoanthropology Society meetings in Honolulu. Today she describes a presentation about the endocast shape of the Toum...

Microchimerism and selection

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A recent article in Scientific American by Robert Martone explains some recent research on how fetal cells become integrated into mothers’ brains for the lon...

Speaking of Neandertal FOXP2

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Tomislav Maricic and colleagues from Svante Pääbo’s group have reported finding a regulatory change in the gene FOXP2 that may be of relevance to the evoluti...

Micro-RNA 941

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John Timmer covers the story of miR-941, a micro-RNA that may influence the expression of genes in human brains, and which appears to have taken on a novel r...

Einstein and Taung: two brains collide

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Dean Falk has a new article in the journal Brain, in which she and collaborators uncover the details within historical photographs of Albert Einstein’s brain...

Quote: Jerison on animal intelligence

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Harry Jerison, famous researcher of brain sizes across classes and orders of animals, commented on the relation of “encephalization” to the intelligence of a...

Building bigger dolphin brains

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Ed Yong reports on a new study demonstrating a history of positive selection on the gene ASPM in cetaceans. Bruce Lahn’s group previously showed that this ge...

Mouse brain mapping

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This merits some attention: “Neuroscientists reach major milestone in whole-brain circuit mapping project”.

Neuron theory

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Ferris Jabr has begun a series called “Know your neurons”, which will be a tour of the types of neurons. The first installment (“Know Your Neurons: The Disco...

Denisova APOE status

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I got thinking this evening about APOE, which includes a very well-known polymorphism of three alleles, where the most ancient (ApoE4) is associated signific...

The thrifty brainotype

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Andy Clark, a philosopher of the mind, has entered a useful essay in the NY Times online commentary section: “Do thrifty brains make better minds?”

Synchotron illustration

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In the supplement of Kristian Carlson and colleagues’ paper on the MH1 endocast Carlson:Malapa:2011, there’s a nice comparison of the medical CT versus synch...

Adapting evolutionary psychology

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I’ve been reading the new paper, “Darwin in Mind: New Opportunities for Evolutionary Psychology”, in PLoS Biology. The paper, by Johan Bolhuis and colleagues...

Brainy books

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I was in the local library this afternoon and browsing through the science section. There were quite a number of popular books on neuroscience published acro...

Joshua Foer's memory racket

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For Sunday morning (here in California, still, although it’s fading into afternoon in my native land), I can point you to a book excerpt by Joshua Foer, from...

Brain scans and gene scans

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Wray Herbert notes the fallacy of interpreting fMRI and other brain imagery as especially meaningful: “The Brain Is Not an Explanation”. I’m pointing to this...

The mystery of left lateralization

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This morning, a timely post by cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott addresses the localization of language functions on the left side of the brain:

Language bootstrapping the brain

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Marina Bedny and colleagues Bedny:2011 show that, to a remarkable degree, the visual cortex of blind subjects takes on language-specific processing tasks.

Denisova microcephalin status

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I’m still doing quick mining of the Denisova sequence for obvious things. One of the simplest is the polymorphism in microcephalin (MCPH1) that Evans and col...

Mirror macaques

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Carl Zimmer reports on last week’s study showing rhesus macaques apparently passing the “Gallup test” for mirror self-recognition. I was talking about this i...

Mental mismatches

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A Primate of Modern Aspect (“The sexuality wars, featuring apes”) writes about some of the reactions to the new book, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of...

Bitwise consciousness

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Carl Zimmer writes about theories of consciousness in today’s Science NY Times, and describes the work of my Wisconsin colleague, Giulio Tononi.

Einstein's brain

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NPR did a story this week on the “mysteries unlocked” by Einstein’s brain. Everybody loves to write about Einstein’s brain, it’s such an easy way to create a...

Misinformation about brain evolution

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Due to Jerry Coyne, I encountered an interview in the Guardian with Colin Blakemore: “Colin Blakemore: How the human brain got bigger by accident and not thr...

Chimpanzee and human FOXP2 compared

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A new paper in Nature (Konopka et al. 2009) reports on microarray expression comparisons of human and chimpanzee-specific versions of FOXP2. The change of tw...

Handedness in ancient hominins

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Michael Balter writes about the work of Liverpool archaeologist Natalie Uomini, who is studying the evolution of handedness by experiment and attempting to f...

Did an ice age boost human brain size?

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What is going on? I mean, the heat this summer seems to have gotten to people’s heads. Except, it hasn’t been that hot. Heck, nothing could be hot enough for...

Bigger brains, more cancer?

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Rachael Rettner reports on a hypothesis that human cancer risk may be a side-effect of brain evolution. The hypothesis emerges from studies of gene expressio...

How the FOXP2 transgenic mice squeak

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Nicholas Wade today covers a new study by Wolfgang Enard and colleagues, in which they generated transgenic mice expressing the human-derived version of FOXP...

Fossil fish brains from Kansas

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So, there’s this fossil fish from Kansas that has the brain – the actual brain, not the endocast – fossilized. There’s a LiveScience story about it.

Recent evolution in Newsweek

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I very much appreciate that Newsweek has started including a regular opinion column on science, written by Sharon Begley. I don’t always like it, but it plac...

Glucose metabolism and memory

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Roni Caryn Rabin reports on a study linking blood glucose spikes to age-related memory decline:

IQ, brain size and genetics in children

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Dienekes points to a study by Marieke van Leeuwen and colleagues, in which they assess the phenotypic correlation between IQ and brain volume in a sample of ...

An MAPT review

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Elizabeth Pennisi writes this week a news focus in Science about the genome region labeled 17q21.31. I’m probably one of the few people who would recognize t...

Eye and visual cortex development

less than 1 minute read

Neurophilosophy reviews an interesting paper that traces the directional preferences of visual cortex neurons in developing ferrets:

Biology of Mind: The Blog

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I am doing a unique experiment with my course this semester, “Biology of Mind.” The course has a history of collaborative peer review on writing assignments,...

Working out how smart brains work

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Scientific American Mind has an interesting article in the September issue, called “High-aptitude minds”. The article ponders explanations for how smart brai...

Worms do calculus

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Another sign I’m not expecting enough of my students: “Worms do calculus to find food”:

Cybernetics and the brain-controlled robot

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An interesting story from Popular Mechanics about progress in cybernetics, titled “Mind control stories.” It starts with the macaque controlling a robot arm ...

Acceleration's discontents

7 minute read

The June Scientific American (no link available) has an article on page 32 about the “therapeutic value of blogging.” That’s some relief, after the stories a...

The "amazing" Boskops

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I've gotten a couple of e-mail questions from readers about this new book, Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence. The authors are Gary Lyn...

Floodlight humaniqueness

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Michael Balter reports on a session at the AAAS meeting about human cognitive evolution:

Tool use linked to mirror neurons?

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Michael Balter reports on recent research by Giacomo Rizzolatti, of "mirror neuron" fame. They taught some macaques to use pliers, and recorded what their n...

Drugging brains, young and old

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I read two interesting articles today on brain performance-enhancing of one kind or another. Denise Grady of the New York Times contributes a long article a...

Nothing to fear but ghosts and leopards

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There's a house in my neighborhood that puts on a giant show every Halloween, with graves, ghosts, and horror-show music. We call it the "Halloween house", ...

The complex landscape of diabetes

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An Amanda Schaffer article, "In Diabetes, a Complex of Causes" in the Science Times covers recent research on Type 2 diabetes. The interesting part of the r...

Climbing holes into your brain

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I often lecture to my 100-level classes on human adaptations to altitude and the effects of hypoxia. Our picture of these adaptations and other physiologica...

Sleep on it

2 minute read

Another of the papers in PNAS online this week is this one:

The Spock lesion

7 minute read

You are the captain of a military submarine travelling underneath a large iceberg. An onboard explosion has caused you to lose most of your oxygen supply and...

Making mice see red

2 minute read

I just wrote about the alteration of a behavior pattern (decision-making) resulting from injury to the prefrontal cortex. That is the kind of functional spe...

Brain evolution on the march

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This PLoS Biology review, "Molecular insights into human brain evolution," is from 2005, but it's well worth reading. Here's the abstract:

Adult neuron migration

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Neurophilosophy has this nice post reviewing work by Curtis and colleagues in Science. The main idea of the paper is that a neural migratory pathway in rats...

"Altruism" in the brain

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One of those impressively short brief communications in Nature Neuroscience by Dharol Tankersley et al. claims to have spotted a brain correlate of altruism...

Gene expression in the mouse brain

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Last week's Nature included a report on the final draft of the gene expression atlas of the mouse brain. I wish this had come out last semester -- I could h...

Computing the missing 99 percent

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Science is running a brain-probing essay by Marcus Raichle, titled "The brain's dark energy." The basic idea is that most of the activity of the brain appea...

Mentally speaking in tongues

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OK, I think it cheapens the idea of "speaking in tongues" if people can do it on command in an MRI scanner!:

The persistence of KIBRA

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Gene Expression points me to this article by Andreas Papassotiropoulos and colleagues in Science (10/20/2006):

An brain atlas to the genes

less than 1 minute read

The news stories are all about how Paul Allen has money to burn, but the brain mapping project is actually really cool:

Baby monkey see…

5 minute read

This PLoS Biology paper by Pier Ferrari et al. is highly interesting:

A brain for music

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From Brainethics, I was pointed to this article in the Boston Globe about evolutionary explanations for music.

Developing that TV sensibility

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The Times had this article the other day discussing whether TV is good for preschool-age kids. It's not all that interesting, but this bit near the end caug...

Quote of the day

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Franz Weidenreich, in The Scientific Monthly 67, p. 106:

Domain of the Duff Man

3 minute read

People are trolling through the human genome looking for lots of things now. It's sort of like explorers trolling the coast of the Americas looking for game...

Math and language in the brain

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Semenza et al. (2006) examined the mathematical abilities of aphasics with hemispheral dominance to determine which side of the brain is used for mathematic...

Another fast-evolving brain gene

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This paper by Katherine Pollard and colleagues in the (execrable) Nature "online early" section examines a rapidly evolving region of the genome that, well,...

Does the primate brain follow the eye?

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In the same issue of Journal of Human Evolution that we find the snake paper, there is an article by Christopher Kirk proposing that neocortex sizes in diff...

Setting the neural path of development

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A really big problem in studying the evolution of the brain is that we have very little idea how the organ develops. So this paper by Bystron and colleagues...

Geometry, music and the brain

9 minute read

The lead report in Science this week was this paper by Dmitri Tymoczko, titled "The geometry of musical chords":

Encoding of scents by the brain

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I happen to be interested in smell right now -- it's a system in which chemical traces clearly function as iconic signs, but it's extremely ancient, and hum...

Time to ditch "short-term memory"?

3 minute read

A study by Ingrid Olson and colleagues in the Journal of Neuroscience examines feature memory (memory about objects and locations) and relational memory (me...

Primate neurogenomics

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James Sikela has a review in PLoS Genetics on genomics as applied to understanding human cognitive evolution (via Brainethics).

Molecular roots of plasticity

4 minute read

A Harvard Medical School press release (via Science Blog) describes a study by Majdan and Shatz in the current Nature Neuroscience:

Icons without the eyes

3 minute read

I've been keeping a few articles on my desktop that seem to follow a theme -- the notion of using technology to communicate visual signs through other sense...

Evidence-based medicine and education

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I've been reading the very interesting Brainethics blog. Yesterday they pointed to an article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience by Usha Goswami about interact...

Complex structure of whale song

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An interesting story from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (via Science Blog) about the information content of whale song. They don't know what the whales ar...

Waking memory consolidation

4 minute read

One of the proposed purposes of sleep is that the brain requires time to consolidate new learning, and requires an inactive consciousness to do it. But so f...

What is up with the prion gene?

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In 2003, Mead and colleagues (Full text) suggested that the prion protein gene (PRNP -- OMIM) in humans had been under long-term balancing selection in huma...

Mitochondriating your IQ

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Again, a completely unrelated search unearthed an interesting paper. This time it really is a piece of Google archaeology, since it has zero citations accor...

Probing the correlates of SLI

6 minute read

This week's (9/27/95) PNAS has an article by Johannes Ziegler and colleagues (Université de Provence) titled, "Deficits in speech perception predict ...

Why are organisms modular?

8 minute read

Modularity is a property of biological organization: organisms are composed of subunits that perform different functions. At the cellular level, the cell is...

Another brain gene: AHI1

2 minute read

Ferland et al. (2004) examined the genetic etiology of Joubert syndrome (OMIM), in particular the gene AHI1 (OMIM). From the paper:

Will Mozart make you smarter?

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As the new semester gets underway, it's a good time to think of ways to improve all those assignments I will soon be reading. Few are as pain-free as listen...

Brains and their changes

1 minute read

In Nature's "Progress" section (9/1/05): a paper by Robert Sean Hill and Christopher A. Walsh titled, "Molecular insights into human brain evolution."

Moving eyes, moving minds

5 minute read

A paper by Hannah Faye Chua and colleagues of the University of Michigan asserts that there are significant differences between Chinese and American graduat...

Brain gene powers … activate!

2 minute read

A literature search for another topic brought me this article from 2004 by Suk Jin Hong and colleagues (Johns Hopkins):

Fodor on Buller's Adapting Minds

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Jerry Fodor reviews David J. Buller's book, Adapting Minds: Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature in last week's Times Literary ...

Gene linkages with IQ

4 minute read

A paper by Danielle Posthuma and colleagues (2005) reports on a map survey of the human genome looking for loci that may be linked to IQ. They find two sign...

Language evolution update

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Carl Zimmer has put together this week's news about language evolution. In one paper, mice with knockout versions of the FoxP2 gene were found to have troub...

Deep, dark secrets of his and her brains

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An article of that title by Robert Lee Hotz of the LA Times is on the Yahoo News site. It is a profile of neuroscientist Sandra Witelson (McMaster Universit...

Now, here are some real brain mutations

4 minute read

This week's (June 16, 2005) Nature brings yet another example of the way brain function may be modulated (see earlier posts here and here). This time, the c...

MRG selection and the evolution of pain

2 minute read

I ran across a 2003 paper on the evidence of recent positive selection on the MRG gene family in humans. This gene family is specific to neurons in its acti...

Brain expansion in A. boisei

12 minute read

Elton and colleagues (2001) examined the record of brain size in early Homo with the following question in mind: we know that brain size increased in this l...

Lifting all boats

16 minute read

James R. Flynn is a social scientist at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Beginning in 1981, Flynn performed a series of statistical analyses on the res...