Neurophilosophy

Neurophilosophy now hosted by The Guardian

AFTER four years here at ScienceBlogs.com, Neurophilosophy is moving to a new home. As of today, it will be hosted by The Guardian. During its time here, the blog has grown from strength to strength. It has received over 2.5 million page views, was featured regularly on the New York Times science page, and has…

WE all know that bats and dolphins use echolocation to navigate, by producing high frequency bursts of clicks and interpreting the sound waves that bounce off objects in their surroundings. Less well known is that humans can also learn to echolocate. With enough training, people can use this ability to do extraordinary things. Teenager Ben…

A whiff of early brain evolution

Skull of Hadrocodium wui. (Image courtesy of Mark Klinger and Zhe-Xi Luo, Carnegie Museum of Natural History) THE question of how mammals evolved their exceptionally large brains has intrigued researchers for years, and although many ideas have been put forward, none has provided a clear answer. Now a team of palaeontologists suggests that the mammalian…

Sleepy brain waves predict dream recall

THE patterns of brain waves that occur during sleep can predict the likelihood that dreams will be successfully recalled upon waking up, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research provides the first evidence of a ‘signature’ pattern of brain activity  associated with dream recall. It also provides further insight…

THE United States military funded research into using networks of ‘spy crows’ to locate soldiers who are missing in action, and extended the work to see if the birds might be useful in helping them to find Osama bin Laden. The idea may seem far-fetched, but unlike some military research programs (such as the Stargate…

YOUR brain has a remarkable ability to extract and process biological cues from the deluge of visual information. It is highly sensitive to the movements of living things, especially those of other people – so much so that it conjures the illusion of movement from a picture of a moving body. Although static, such pictures…

Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature) was a landmark in biological illustration. Published in 1904, it was lavishly illustrated with 100 exquisitely detailed lithographic plates, including this one, showing nine different species of cubomedusae, or box jellyfish. It has been known, since around the time that Haeckel’s masterpiece was published, that box jellyfish…

THE human gut contains a diverse community of bacteria which colonize the large intestine in the days following birth and vastly outnumber our own cells. These intestinal microflora constitute a virtual organ within an organ and influence many bodily functions. Among other things, they aid in the uptake and metabolism of nutrients, modulate the inflammatory…

Looking into Ramachandran’s broken mirror

I visited Vilayanur S. Ramachandran‘s lab at the University of California, San Diego recently, and interviewed him and several members of his lab about their work. Rama and I talked, among other things, about the controversial broken mirror hypothesis, which he and others independently proposed in the early 1990s as an explanation for autism. I’ve…

EVERY year, hundreds of thousands of people suffer from paralyzed limbs as a result of peripheral nerve injury. Recently, implantation of artificial nerve grafts has become the method of choice for repairing damaged peripheral nerves. Grafts can lead to some degree of functional recovery when a short segment of nerve is damaged. But they are…