Neurophilosophy

Archives for August, 2007

A fundamental question for neuroscientists is how the activity in neuronal circuits generates behaviour. The nematode worm Caenhorhabditis elegans is an excellent model organism for studying the neural basis of behaviour, because it is small, transparent, and has a simple nervous system consisting of only 302 neurons. Typically, an organic glue is used to permanently…

A caricature of me

A caricature of me, aged about 4, by Bahgat Osman (1931-2001). Osman was Egypt’s most prominent political cartoonist during the 1960s and ’70s. He was a close friend of my father’s, and I have vivid memories of him from my early childhood in Cairo. I even vaguely remember posing for this portrait, which was completed…

A blog by a brain injury survivor

I was contacted by Craig J. Phillips earlier this year, but neglected to mention the comment he posted at my old blog. Craig posted this comment here several days ago: I am a traumatic brain injury survivor and a master’s level rehabilitation counselor. I sustained an open skull fracture with right frontal lobe damage and…

A rocket-powered prosthetic arm

This mechanical prosthetic arm, developed by Michael Goldfarb and his colleagues of the Center for Intelligent Mechatronics at Vanderbilt University, is powered by a pencil-sized rocket that burns pressurized liquid hydrogen peroxide. The reaction, which is catalyzed by iridium-coated alumina granules, generates steam that forces the pistons in the arm to move up and down.…

An interview with Martin Seligman

Beliefnet.com has an interview with Martin Seligman. (Don’t click on the link if you can’t bear promises of finding “eternal joy with Jesus’ word,” or – worse – ads for live psychic readings.) Seligman is a highly influential psychologist. A former president of the American Psychological Association, he is perhaps best known for his theory…

Gene therapy for Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of age-related dementia, affecting an estimated 25 million people worldwide.The pathological hallmarks of this condition, which were described 100 years ago by the German pathologist Alois Alzheimer, consist of plaques of amyloid beta protein and neurofibrillary tangles made of tau protein. These insoluble deposits accumulate within the brain,…

Phantom erection after penis amputation

This paper appeared in the February 1999 issue of the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences: Phantom erection after amputation of penis. Case description and review of the relevant literature on phantoms. Fisher C. M., Neurology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA. BACKGROUND: Perception of a phantom limb is frequent after an amputation of an…

Post a comment, win a holiday

To celebrate the fast-approaching 500,000th reader comment, ScienceBlogs is running a contest. To enter, all you need to do is post a comment on any of the blogs in the SB network, using a valid email address. Alternatively, you can sign up to the new weekly newsletter. When the 500,000th comment is posted, the contest…

Drinking from a spiny penis

(Fleur Champion de Crespigny) Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that female bruchid beetles (Callosobruchus maculatus, above) mate when they are thirsty. Evolutionary biologist Martin Edvardsson kept some female bruchids with, and others without, access to water. All the females were given the opportunity to mate with a new male every day. In…

How the brain limits our ability to multitask

Multitasking refers to the simultaneous performance of two or more tasks, switching back and forth between different tasks, or performing a number of different tasks in quick succession. It consists of two complementary stages: goal-shifting, in which one decides to divert their attention from one task to another, and rule activation, by which the instructions…