Tag: brain

Chemical Keys to Brain Function

According to both popular science and drug commercials, the brain is a mess of chemicals.  Imbalances in these chemicals are responsible for a variety of ailments from depression to addiction. However, there’s rarely any mention of how these chemicals are related to neural activity. For instance, why is dopamine often rewarding, and why is serotonin… Read more »

A moving target: How reliable are dementia assessments?

“We’re going to do a few tests to see whether your mother is showing typical signs of dementia.” The word conjures chilling images of loved ones’ lives reduced to confusion and fear as memories and independence slip away. While loss of physical independence is unfortunate, it can be more devastating to lose a loved one’s… Read more »

Teaching an old dog new tricks: Neuroscience research at IU combines centuries-old methods with modern technology

A photograph of a neuron (left panel) is shown next to an illustration of the same neuron (right panel). Left panel: The image background is brown. A single neuron is shown. The cell body is black and ovular, and dendritic branches look like sinuous lines extending from the cell body. A single dendrite extends from the top of the cell body, and multiple dendrites extend from the base. Right panel: A multicolor illustration of the neuron pictured in the left panel. The image background is black. The cell body and each dendritic tree is shown in a different color (dark blue, light blue, pink, green, and yellow). Parts of the dendritic tree that were out of focus in the left panel are clearly reconstructed in the right panel; the size and shape of each dendrite is otherwise identical between the two panels.

This post is the second installment in a two part series. Check out last week’s post here. Thanks to modern technology, the field of cellular neuroscience has become illuminated with brightly colored images – tissue samples, cells, and individual molecules have been stained, photographed, colorized, and even reconstructed in three dimensions. A Google Image search… Read more »

Catching Brainwaves

If your family is anything like mine, you have that one crazy uncle with his tin foil hat, purportedly to prevent the aliens from electromagnetically manipulating his brain or to prevent his precious brain waves from being read by the government. While few take such fears seriously, significant confusion persists regarding ‘brain waves.’ What are… Read more »

The Brain Science of Cognitive Control

Ever wonder how your brain knows exactly what to do to achieve the goal of acquiring a cup of coffee, even if you’ve just stumbled out of bed? You need to take a number of steps in the correct order, including putting in the filter, adding the water, adding the coffee and turning on the… Read more »