Neurophilosophy

Archives for October, 2008

Brain surgery with a banjo

The BBC has film footage of the legendary Bluegrass musician Eddie Adcock playing the banjo whilst having his brain operated on. Adcock is suffering from essential tremor, a progressive neurological condition characterised by tremors in the arms which appear during voluntary movements and which are thought to occur as a result of degeneration of cerebellar…

Awesome movies of zebrafish embryogenesis

This reconstruction, produced by researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany using a technique called digital scanned laser light sheet fluorescence microscopy, shows the movements of all 16,000 cells in an 18-hour-old zebrafish embryo. To make the film, the researchers injected a fluorescent protein into an embryo at the one cell stage.…

In his 1941 book Man on His Nature, the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Sir Charles Sherrington described the brain as “an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern.” Little could he have known that within 50 years neuroscientists would have at their disposal techniques for visualizing this pattern. These techniques are collectively…

Prion protein infection mechanism identified

The transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which include variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans, “Mad Cow” Disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep, are progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the accumulation within nerve cells of an abnormally folded and insoluble form of the prion protein. The infectious agent which causes these diseases is generally believed…

The Enigma of Op Art

Cataract 3, Bridget Riley, 1967. In the 1960s, the British artist Bridget Riley began to develop a distinctive style characterised by simple and repetitive geometric patterns which create vivid illusions of movement and sometimes colour and often have a disorientating effect usually described by observers as “shimmering” or “flickering”. With her explorations of the dynamic…

Knife plunged 5 inches into skull

These X-rays show a knife plunged into the skull of a 16-year-old boy from southeast London. Fortunately, his injuries were nowhere near as serious as they might have been – according to a police officer quoted in The Times, “the blade was a kitchen knife and because of that it was flexible and went around…