Brain & Behavior

In the midst of another national debate over gun safety regulations, some argue that higher rates of gun ownership will protect people from dangerous strangers with deadly intentions. Physician and public health researcher Michael Siegel set out to study that argument. He ultimately found no relationship between gun ownership and stranger-related firearm homicides. But he did find that gun ownership levels translated into higher homicide risks for one group in particular — women.

The whisking of a rat’s whisker is a classic example of “active sensing” – in other words, sensing that involves movement. Prof. Ehud Ahissar studies rat whisking in order to understand how mammals perceive through all types of active sensing; without the continuous movement of whiskers, fingertips or eyes, our perception of our surroundings would…

Beware of freezing hearts

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) are really cute when they hibernate (above). During torpor bouts, their body temperature decreases to a few degrees Celsius and their metabolism drops by as much as 95% with heart rates ranging from only 3-10 beats per minute. These bouts of torpor are interrupted by periodic arousals every couple of weeks during which their…

Learning new songs

New research shows that premotor neurons are activated in the brains of adolescent male zebra finches whenever a young bird hears their father (a tutor) sing. These are the same neurons that are usually activated in anticipation of movement. What is special about this, is that as the birds learned new songs or pieces of new songs,…

Scientists are finding that night shift work comes with a range of particular health risks, from heart disease to diabetes to breast cancer. This month, another study joined the pack — this one on the risk of traffic crashes among those who head home from work at sunrise.

These days, there’s a lot of attention on finding new and creative ways to turn around the nation’s opioid abuse and overdose problem. And it’s attention that’s very much needed because the problem is only getting worse.

Why does infection with bacteria or viruses make you feel sick? Prof. Guy Shakhar and Dr. Keren Shakhar have proposed that your symptoms are not just a byproduct of your body’s attempt to get rid of the infection. It is your genes’ way of ensuring they are passed down. The long and short of their…

Man’s best…empathizer?

If you own a dog you may agree that it seems as if they understand our feelings. While some may call this anthropomorphizing, you know ascribing human emotions to animals, new research may vindicate the feelings of many pet owners. A study recently published in Royal Society Open Science provides evidence to suggest that dogs can mimic the emotional state…

Polar bears vs Grizzly bears

I read an interesting article in the Alaska Dispatch News which examined interactions between arctic grizzly bears and polar bears. They found that although polar bears are larger, they tend to leave food sources when grizzly bears are around. This may be because polar bears typically spend a lot of time on sea ice without the need to…

Researcher Douglas Wiebe first started studying gun violence as a doctoral student, investigating how having a firearm in one’s home affected the risk of injury. The work only heightened his interest in exploring gun violence from a public health perspective. Eventually, he decided to officially take on a question he’d been mulling over for almost a decade: Among people who’ve experienced a violent assault, are there any commonalities in their experiences just prior to the incident, and can we map those experiences in a way that reveals optimal intervention opportunities?