It’s a Mess: Attempt to Connect the Messy Dots of Messy, Hard-to-Define Phenomena

What happens when you try to use new technological tools to measure and map things that are tough to define — so tough to define that people go half-crazy if they try to agree on the details of any of the definitions? The results can be messy, this paper suggests. Very messy: “Fledgling pathoconnectomics of […]

A Quick Peanut Butter Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

Peanut butter again tempts researchers who seek medical insight: “A brief olfactory test for Alzheimer’s disease,” Jennifer J. Stamps, Linda M. Bartoshuk, Kenneth M. Heilman, Journal of the Neurological Sciences, vol. 333, 2013, pp. 19–24. (Thanks to investigator Holly Brothers for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Florida, explain: “Methods. […]

Effect of James Bond on Macaque Brains

This study tests previously untested extremes of the power of James Bond movies: “Functional Connectivity of the Macaque Brain across Stimulus and Arousal States,” Sebastian Moeller, Nambi Nallasamy, Doris Y. Tsao, and Winrich A. Freiwald, Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 29, no. 18, May 6, 2009, pp. 5897-5909. (Thanks to investigator Neil Martin for bringing this to […]

A metaphor for fMRI studies of thought?

A new study contains a poetical phrase that maybe, just maybe, is a metaphor for the severe difficulty and beauty of a great scientific quest: learning how the heck the brain manages to think. Many brain scientists use a complex technology called  “fMRI” (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to make rough pictures of activity (many sorts of […]

Extraocular Phototransduction: more than meets the eye? (part 2)

We recently drew attention to the 1998 discovery at Cornell regarding the possibility of tweaking one’s cicadian rhythms by shining a bright light at the back of one’s knees. But continuing research into extraocular (outside the eye) light stimuli has turned to the possibility of a more direct route. Why not shine a light directly […]

Following in the wingbeats of the Star Wars locusts…

Newly reported research with dragonflies follows, at least in spirit, in the wingbeats of the Ig Nobel Prize-winning locust/Star Wars research. Greg Miller reports on the new work, in Wired: Scientists Put Backpacks on Dragonflies to Track Their Brains in Flight The brain of a dragonfly has to do some serious calculations — and fast […]

“Known to cause” Claim of the Month: sleepy sexual perception

Brain research takes many forms. Here is one such form, announced in a May 30, 2013 press release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Sleep deprived men over perceive women’s sexual interest and intent Due in part to frontal lobe impairment, sleep deprivation negatively influences cognitive variables that play a role in sexual decision-making …According to […]