Breaking Down Brains

The relationships between the different cellular objects which make up neural tissue in a human brain are largely unknown. To address this researchers have started to use electron microscopy as a technique to study neural tissue at nanometre resolution, managing to reconstruct a complete, but small, portion of a mouse neocortex – the part of a mammalian brain concerned with sensory information and conscious thought. Thousands of brain slices, each around 1 mm2, were studied and used to reconstruct a volume of brain tissue (as shown), which can be expanded to show all the cellular and sub-cellular components, such as axons and glia. More studies like this will be used to create an online database of information, providing insight into how the neural network is related to the physical properties of brain tissue, identifying any patterns which may correlate to psychological or development disorders.

Written by Helen Thomas

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Song Stuck in my Head?

Isn’t there a theory in psychology that the reason this happens is because we heard a part of the song and our brain is trying to finish it? Just curious because it’s happened to me a lot lately, all with partial songs I heard in vines or YouTube videos. This has been stuck all day thanks to Trolden. Need to listen to the whole thing now.

The common denominator of all jokes is a path of expectation that is diverted by an unexpected twist necessitating a complete reinterpretation of all the previous facts — the punch-line…Reinterpretation alone is insufficient. The new model must be inconsequential. For example, a portly gentleman walking toward his car slips on a banana peel and falls. If he breaks his head and blood spills out, obviously you are not going to laugh. You are going to rush to the telephone and call an ambulance. But if he simply wipes off the goo from his face, looks around him, and then gets up, you start laughing. The reason is, I suggest, because now you know it’s inconsequential, no real harm has been done. I would argue that laughter is nature’s way of signaling that “it’s a false alarm.” Why is this useful from an evolutionary standpoint? I suggest that the rhythmic staccato sound of laughter evolved to inform our kin who share our genes; don’t waste your precious resources on this situation; it’s a false alarm. Laughter is nature’s OK signal.
—  V.S. Ramachandran
Researchers identify specific neuron-type responsible for alcoholism.

Researchers identify specific neuron-type responsible for alcoholism. Thoughts health innovators?

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For several decades, addiction has come to be viewed as a disorder of the dopamine neurotransmitter system; however, this view has not led to new treatments.  Numerous studies suggest that stimulants increase striatal dopamine levels and some evidence that alcohol may have such an effect. Past studies also show that striatal dopamine receptor availability and dopamine release are diminished in…

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Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.