Brain and Behavior

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Category archives for Brain and Behavior

Epilepsy in sea lions

According to a press release from Stanford University, California sea lions develop epilepsy from exposure to a toxin produced by algae called domoic acid. The animals develop seizures which can result in memory loss, tremors, convulsions and even death. The hippocampal region in the brain of the affected sea lions shows similar damage as humans…

Jell-O Brains

I have to admit I love the science section of The New York Times. The topic today: Dr. Karl Deisseroth and colleagues at Stanford University have developed a technique called CLARITY that uses hydrogel to make the brain look like it is made of Jell-O. They have successfully applied this technique to a whole mouse brain as well as part of…

Selective attention in dragonflies

Scientist Steven Wiederman from the University of Aukland (shown in image below) has recently published his work suggesting that dragonflies have the ability to focus on a target while blocking out other useless visual information. This is known as selective attention and his work is the first to demonstrate this ability in neurons from an…

What makes Rudolph’s nose so red?

Scientists have discovered just what makes Rudolph’s nose turn red:

Whoever thought that a brain-attacking fungus might actually be good for you? This particular type of fungus, cordyceps, is known for attacking and killing caterpillars and can be found in the mountains of Tibet. Touted as a cure for various ailments including cancer, asthma, and erectile dysfunction, it is sold in Chinese markets as the…

Clever cockatoo caught using tools

Check out this picture of a captive cockatoo (Cacatua goffiniana) in the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna using a tool: Figaro (shown above) was observed by a student using a piece of bamboo to try to retrieve a dropped pebble. This was the first documented evidence of a Goffin’s cockatoo attempting…

A study published in the European Journal of Personality suggests that humans infected with toxoplasmosis gondii are more extroverted compared to non-infected individuals. According to the CDC, roughly 22.5% of Americans over 12 are infected. The effects of the parasite are attributed to increased levels of dopamine in the brains of infected individuals. People can…

One step closer to restoring hearing

Damage to the auditory nerve connecting the inner ear and brain causes hearing loss in some individuals. Researchers Dr. Marcelo Rivolta from the University of Sheffield and colleagues have shown that human embryonic stem cells that were differentiated into auditory nerve cells can improve overall by ~45% hearing in gerbils that were treated with ouabain to damage the…

You may recall a prior post in which I talked about how intelligent crows are. In fact, there was a special on PBS demonstrating their ability to solve problems and even recognize human faces (HIGHLY recommended if you haven’t yet had a chance to see it): Watch A Murder of Crows on PBS. See more from Nature. In a…

Studies of guppies show that bigger brains may mean “smarter” fish, but less offspring. Credit: Marrabbio2/Creative Commons   …at least for guppies. Dr. Alexander Kotrschal and colleagues at Uppsala University (Sweden) either shrank or grew the brains of guppies over multiple generations to create animals with up to 8-10% variations in brain size. To test for “smartness” they had…