Neurobiology

Category archives for Neurobiology

Not everyone gets their research written about by this week’s Nobel Prize winners: All mammals face the challenge of navigating in complex, three-dimensional (3D) environments, whether they are swinging from branch-to-branch in forests or burrowing underground tunnels. How does the brain maintain a sense of place and direction in 3D? In a beautiful study published…

Get rid of your addictions while you sleep? Weizmann Institute researcher Dr. Anat Arzi is not promising this yet, but she and Prof. Noam Sobel have shown that changing bad habits through sleep conditioning could someday be possible. After just one session in the Neurobiology Department’s sleep lab, volunteers reported smoking on average 30% fewer…

Since mental health problems are estimated to affect some 10% of the world’s population, it stands to reason that if you don’t suffer from depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder yourself, you are probably close to someone who does. So you might be pleased to read about a new finding that could eventually lead to a…

Science Haiku 3×3

More science-themed haikus. I seem to keep writing them because we tend to put out three “mini press releases” at a time (a relic of the days when they were printed on two sides of a fold-up page and mailed). So I could pick just one to blog about, or I could try to fit…

What effect does a constant stream of engaging stimuli have on our relationships? On our social structure as a whole? What percentage of our actions is influenced by others, and how does this translate, at some point, into group behavior? Neurobiologists Prof. Alon Chen and Dr. Elad Schneidman of the Weizmann Institute and their team…

Mice on Camera

Take a bunch of peculiar individuals, put them all together in one setting; film their every move, every second of the day. Sound familiar? Dr. Tali Kimchi is explicit about the resemblance of her experiments to a well-known reality TV show. The difference, of course, is that Kimchi’s subjects are mice. She places large groups…

To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day. Lao Tsu Apparently our nervous systems develop according to the Chinese philosopher’s principle of being and not being. As our nerve cells grow, they send out long extensions – axons – throughout the developing tissues. And as they reach out, some…

When we navigate through our environment, do we track mostly in two dimensions or in three? Clearly, we can move in all three dimensions, but does our internal map relate to the vertical direction in the same way as it does to the horizontal axes on the ground? That question has not yet been definitively…

What’s that Smell?

Weizmann Institute scientists have created a “white smell.” Think about white light or white noise: Each mixes a bunch of different waves together from various parts of the visual or audible spectrum. Those wavelengths combine such that we perceive that unobtrusive light or sound we call “white.” How do smells fit into this scenario? Prof.…

What a Rat Feels

We have been told what it’s like to be a bat or a bird; now Prof. Ehud Ahissar and Dr. Avi Saig are getting people to experience what it’s like to be a rat. Specifically, they want the participants in their studies to learn what it’s like to locate things in the dark by twitching…