Neuroscience

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Neuroscience

You know that old phrase, “monkey see, monkey do”? Well, there might be something to it, except that chimpanzees aren’t monkeys. (Sadly, “ape see, ape do” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) A new paper published today in PLoS ONE has found evidence that chimpanzees have contagious yawning – that is, they can…

Welcome to the second installment of Animal Territoriality Week. Today, we’ll look at a case where differences in territory size can have implications for neuroanatomy. If you missed part 1 of Animal Territoriality week, check it out here. Let’s say you have two very very closely related species. You might even call them congeneric, because…

I’ve got an article that appeared in this week’s Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles about recent research from Hadassah University on the neurobiology of bilingual (English-Hebrew) reading. Is the English-reading brain somehow different from the Hebrew-reading brain? You might not expect any major differences; after all, both languages are alphabetic and are read more…

This talk, from last spring’s TEDxUSC (for those not in the know, USC held the first ever TEDx event, in 2009), is made of awesome, and worth watching in its entirety. It will be especially interesting for those who have read The Invisible Gorilla. As I’m always looking for good teaching tips, here are a…

Have you heard about NCBI ROFL? It’s a previously-independent blog that has been incorporated into “Discoblog,” one of the blogs at Discover Magazine. What they do is find amusing or funny abstracts by searching Pubmed (which is run by the NCBI – National Center for Biomedical Information) and just post the abstracts. No commentary, no…

From the archives… Figure 1: Does Mickey feel empathy? It probably depends on how you define empathy. Empathy, by any definition, implies emotional sensitivity to the affective state of another. Sometimes the empathy response is automatic or reflexive, like when babies start to cry upon hearing another baby crying. Sometimes a strong cognitive component is…

Imagine with me, for a moment, that the zombie invasion has begun. You try to escape, but the zombies are just too much to handle. You can’t run fast enough. They’re everywhere. Your favorite science bloggers have been turned into zombies and they’re coming for you. Figure 1: Thanks to Joseph Hewitt of Ataraxia Theatre…

There are some great questions coming in to Ask a Scienceblogger! If you (or your kids?) have a question you want answered by a scienceblogger drop by Page 3.14 (the blog of the SB overlordz) and leave your question in the comments on this post. Tyler asked: It’s said that the left hemisphere of the…

Yesterday afternoon, I watched the livestream of the “All Creatures Great and Smart” session of the World Science Festival in New York City. The session was absolutely fantastic, and featured Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods, Jeremy Niven, Patrick Hof and Klaus Zuberb├╝hler. The conversation challenged long-held assumptions about the differences between “animal” and “human”, and included…

It should not come as a surprise to the regular reader of this blog that a lot can be learned about animal cognition by simply observing animal behavior. But can observing animal behavior lead the observer to make inferences about brain anatomy? Can observing animal behavior tell us something about the evolution of the brain?…