brain

Tag archives for brain

Ceramides are a type of sphingolipid composed of both fatty acids and sphingosine that are important in maintaining the structure of cell membranes and cell signaling pathways. Given their structure, it is perhaps not surprising that levels of ceramide are increased in the brains of mammals after eating a diet high in fats as well as in individuals who are obese.…

Big-brained birds

Birds get such a bad rap when it comes to intelligence. Sure they have relatively small brains, but scientists have known they are similar to primates with respect to their cognitive abilities. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents data showing how this apparent dichotomy is possible. They found…

How woodpeckers avoid concussions

I just read an interesting blog entry from I Spy Physiology describing how woodpeckers avoid getting concussions even though they routinely bang their heads. By routinely, I mean an impressive 12,000 times a day approximately. I was amazed to learn that each time a woodpecker taps a tree, the impact is about 10 times that of an…

Sleeping with one eye open

Researchers from La Trobe University and Max Planck Institute for Ornithology recorded young crocodiles and found that while the animals typically sleep with both eyes closed, in the morning hours they will sometimes open one eye periodically. If they placed another crocodile in the tank or stood nearby however, the animal would open one eye and look at…

The wonders of melatonin

  In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse were interested in understanding how thirteen-lined ground squirrels protect their brains during arousal from hibernation. This is a period of time in which the animals experience major changes in their body…

Congratulations to Mallory Ballinger, a graduate student from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who is the 2015 recipient of the Dr. Dolittle Travel Award! The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding graduate student or postdoctoral fellow involved in comparative and evolutionary research and to provide assistance for them to attend the annual American Physiological Society…

I recently received the following question from a reader based on a prior blog entry on how a medication used to treat epilepsy also helps reverse memory loss with Alzheimer’s disease. You can see the original blog here Question: “I find it a little confusing as to how it is possible that this medication can improve…

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Researchers at Duke University are interested in understanding the metamorphosis of fruit flies from larvae to adult stage in an effort to understand how the insects grow new nerve endings as they undergo this transition. What is interesting is that the flies lose neurons they will not need as an adult and will grow new…

Cure to fear of cats discovered

…for rodents and men at least. A team of researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered that mice infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii lose their innate fear of cats, even months after the infection is cleared. In fact, infected mice were mildly attracted to the odor of cats. This side effect likely evolved because the parasite…