Neurophilosophy

Archives for August, 2009

Nature’s fibre optics

THE retina has an inverted structure which seems ill-suited to its function: the rod and cone cells, which are sensitive to light, and which convert light energy into electrical impulses, point backwards and are located at the back of the retina, so that light entering the eye has to pass through several layers of irregularly…

The star-nosed mole’s amazing appendages

THIS weird and wonderful creature is the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata), a small, semi-aquatic mammal which inhabits the low wetlands of eastern North America. Like other moles, it ekes out an existence in a network of narrow underground tunnels, and digs shallow surface tunnels where it forages for insects, worms and molluscs. Living as it…

Connectome? Not so fast…

AS Seed’s Featured Blogger of the week, I have written a short article about the Human Connectome Project, in response to a news story on the magazine’s website, called Mapping the brain’s highways, by Azeen Ghorayshi. Several weeks ago, the National Institutes of Health announced the Human Connectome Project, an ambitious $30 million five-year initiative,…

Those clever corvids

NOT so long ago, the idea that birds might possess some form of what we call intelligence seemed quite ridiculous. Yet this view has changed dramatically in recent years, with numerous studies showing that some bird species are capable of complex cognition. Members of one family of birds in particular – the Corvidae, which includes…