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Brain Synapse Machinery Is Finely Tuned

The New York Times published a brief article on brain facts that is astonishing, when you think about all that goes on in thinking.  Nicholas Wade reported on a new inventory of the proteins involved in the synapses, the key junctions between neurons.  The research team, led by Seth Grant of the Sanger Institute near […]

News on the Mind

Here are a dozen recent stories dealing with brains, the mind, perception, motivation and other aspects of psychology and neuroscience. Nature and nurture:  PhysOrg claims that scientists at SMU have resolved the nature vs nurture debate with a hybrid approach.  Whether it satisfies critics remains to be seen.  Perhaps they are still thinking inside the […]

Boggle Your Brain

A new animation of a trip through a brain shows mind-boggling complexity in more detail than ever before.  The animation, posted by freelance journalist Elizabeth A. Moore on CNET News, represents years of work by Stanford University School of Medicine.  Using green fluorescent protein in a mouse brain to light up synapses, and photographing the […]

Windows into the Mind

What would it be like to see things for the first time?  You can watch the reaction on Live Science #1 and Live Science #2.  Blind patients were implanted with a microchip that allowed them, for the first time, to roughly sense the visual input of objects in front of them.  Amazing as it was, […]

Mind Matters

The conundrum of how reasoning could have emerged by an undirected evolutionary process persists.  Atheists and materialists are convinced that natural selection is up to the task, while theists strongly disagree and use human rationality as evidence for creation by an intelligent source (usually God).  Perhaps a few recent findings can illuminate on the options. […]

SETI: To the Unknown, Full Speed Ahead

This year marks the 50th year of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).  Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and one of its most outspoken spokesmen, made the cover of Sky and Telescope’s November 2010 issue.  He stands proudly over his Allen Telescope Array in his feature story, “Closing in on E.T.” celebrating […]

Brain Rewires for Lost Senses

Born without vision or hearing?  The brain can apparently rewire itself to accommodate the loss, reported the BBC News.  Dr Stephen Lomber, who led research published in Nature Neuroscience, said: The brain is very efficient, and doesn’t let unused space go to waste.     The brain wants to compensate for the lost sense with […]

The Evolution of Speech, and v.v.

The brain just got more complex – that is, the part that helps us speak.  “Complex brain landscape controls speech,” reported PhysOrg, discussing findings by German researchers that show Broca’s region, implicated in speech disorders when damaged, appears to be “a much more complexly structured centre of language than was previously believed.”  Not just a […]

More Neanderthal Promotion

It’s a good time to be a Neanderthal.  You’ll get more respect than ever before from paleoanthropologists.  The latest example, published in PhysOrg, is headlined, “Neanderthals more advanced than previously thought.”  Julien Riel-Salvatore [U of Colorado at Denver] says he is “rehabilitating Neanderthals” by challenging a half-century of “conventional wisdom” that portrayed them as numbskulls.  […]

Archer Fish See Like People

An archer fish can spit out a man’s cigarette.  That’s actually a humorous scene at the end of a video clip on The Scientist that talks about the amazing eyes of this underwater sharpshooter.  New research shows that these freshwater fish, known for their ability to spit bugs off bushes, have a mammal-like ability to […]

Nerve Traffic Cop Identified

What makes signals go in one direction in neurons?  It’s important, because a reflex signal from a bump on your knee needs to go in the direction of the controlling muscle and on to the brain, not any which way.  Is there some kind of traffic cop that directs the placement of “one way” signs […]

Evolution Storytellers Unrepentant

Evolutionists have been criticized for telling “just-so stories”1 for decades and decades, even by other evolutionists (see 08/08/2010), yet the storytelling continues, as recent examples in the news media illustrate. Blame Mom:  In its “Science News” category, Science Daily trumpeted the headline, “Acting Selfish?  Blame Your Mother!”  In the article, we are told, “The fact […]

Who Invited the Scientist in Here?

If you envision science in terms of white-coated lab chemists holding flasks, field biologists gathering bird eggs, astronomers peering through a telescope or geologists chipping rocks with hand picks, think again.  Today’s science sweeps everything into its domain, including the human mind, intellect, emotions, will, creativity, and our most sincere beliefs and actions.  When not […]

Is Our World Natural?

At first glance, the headline sounds absurd: is our world natural?  Of course the world is natural.  Nature is natural, isn’t it?  Often, though, we picture what humans do as unnatural – oil spills, landfills, pollution, nuclear waste, crime, war.  But if humans are a part of nature, then whatever they do is natural.  Some […]

Recapitulation Theory Gets Recap

The long-discounted “recapitulation theory” of Ernst Haeckel, the idea that the development of an embryo replays its evolutionary history, pops up every once in awhile in evolutionary explanations.  Evolutionary biologists (most notably the late Stephen Jay Gould) have long since disparaged the idea that evolutionary history would be preserved in embryos.  In addition, photos of […]
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