Neurobiology

Pharyngula

Category archives for Neurobiology

Virginia Hughes tells us about techniques to look inside the zebrafish brain. The gang at HHMI are using two photon imaging and clever image analysis to get very clear, sharp images of fluorescent neurons. Oy, that’s pretty. This old codger did some of that stuff, many years ago, but you know what we had to…

Frugal to the point of vacuity

What does it take to get Carl Zimmer to review your research in the New York Times? I suppose it helps to be at Harvard. It also helps to have a combination of subjects — evolution and the human brain — that Zimmer has written about in the past. It helps to have a paper…

A cautionary note about fMRI studies

I’ve been distracted lately — it’s end of the world semester time — and so I didn’t have time to comment on this recent PNAS paper that reports on dramatic sex differences in the brains of men and women. Fortunately, I can just tell you to go read Christian Jarrett, who explains most of the…

Cloning brains with Science

While we’ve been waiting and waiting for the physicists to get their act together and deliver on Mr Fusion home energy sources and flying cars, the biologists have been making great progress on the kinds of things that turn biologists on. The latest development: growing tiny little human brains in a bucket. Only let’s not…

Wow. Talk about major failure. A new study out correlates levels of Foxp2 with levels of vocalization in rats: basically, male rats squeak more than female pups when they’re stressed by separation from their mothers, and mothers tend to rescue the rat who squeaks the loudest. They then found higher levels of Foxp2 in males,…

Newsweek panders to the deluded again

I’ve got to wonder who is responsible for this nonsense, and how it gets past the staff at Newsweek. Every once in a while, they’ve just got to put up a garish cover story touting the reality of Christian doctrine, and invariably, the whole story is garbage. This time around, the claim is proof of…

The mirror test is a well known indicator for some degree of self-awareness: surreptitiously mark an animal’s face, show it a mirror, and see if it recognizes that the reflected image is of itself by whether it reaches up to touch or remove the mark. We see that behavior and infer that the animal has…

Who’s conscious?

A recent meeting of neuroscientists tried to define a set of criteria for that murky phenomenon called “consciousness”. I don’t know how successful they were; they’ve come out with a declaration on consciousness that isn’t exactly crystal clear. It seems to involve the existence of neural circuitry that exhibits specific states that modulate behavior. The…

A poll on kitty experimentation

There is an extremely common sort of experiment to understand plasticity of the developing brain. These are important experiments to understand an important phenomenon: the brain does not simply unfold ineluctably to produce a fully functional organ, but actually interacts constantly with its environment to build a functioning organ that is matched to the world…

Near-death, rehashed

The story so far: Mario Beauregard published a very silly article in Salon, claiming that Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) were proof of life after death, a claim that he attempted to support with a couple of feeble anecdotes. I replied, pointing out that NDEs are delusions, and his anecdotal evidence was not evidence at all. Now…