Science for the People: Good Thinking


415z6goyhwl-_sl160_This week, Science for the People is trying to better understand our human brain, it’s quirky ways and unexpected processes, so we can use it better in daily life. We’ll speak with Guy Harrison, author of Good Thinking: What You Need to Know to be Smarter, Safer, Wealthier, and Wiser, about how to cope with our brain’s built-in pitfalls. And we’ll speak to Ben Lillie about The Story Collider, a podcast that blends science and storytelling to show how science touches everyone, scientist and layperson alike.

Science for the People is now part of the Skepchick Network.

Don’t forget to support the Science for the People on Patreon to keep the sciencey goodness flowing toward your ear holes.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.

Inception for Mice

fear1Inception is real. At least that’s what the interwebs have been saying this week. A lab at MIT headed by Nobel prize winner, Susumu Tonegawa, has implanted a memory in mouse’s brain. What they did was really cool but it’s definitely nothing like Inception. Continue reading “Inception for Mice”

Second fiddle, better fiddle

Fiddlin Bill Henseley, Mountain Fiddler, Asheville, North Carolina by Ben Shahn, 1937
Fiddlin Bill Henseley, Mountain Fiddler, Asheville, North Carolina by Ben Shahn, 1937

Sometimes you spend years working on a project and then, right as you are about to share your progress with the world, someone else beats you to it. I’d imagine Meng-Tsen Ke, Satoshi Fujimoto, and Takeshi Imai were feeling pretty disgruntled in June when the Deisseroth lab published their technique for making brain tissue optically clear.  The press coverage of CLARITY was immense, I even wrote a post about it. But it turns out while we were all drooling over clear brains, another group was coming up with a cheaper and easier way to make brain tissue see-through. Continue reading “Second fiddle, better fiddle”

Clear brains you say??

Karl Deisseroth
Karl Deisseroth

The interwebs have been abuzz this week about a new technique published in Nature coming from the Deisseroth Lab at Stanford (formerly of optogenetics fame). Now he’s the optogenetics guy AND the CLARITY guy, come on Karl leave something for the rest of us! Anyway, the new method allows entire brains, that have been removed from their respective skulls, to be processed into hydrogel hybrids that are optically clear and able to be labeled and observed all the way to their very center. This video is an example of a CLARITY processed mouse brain that is labeled with Thy1-GFP (green fluorescent protein expressed in ~10% of neurons). You can see individual neural cell bodies (the small round dots) and the projections from individual neurons (long thin fibers). Continue reading “Clear brains you say??”

Cell phones don’t cause blinding either

According to a preliminary study in the Journal of the American Medical Association –  “Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism” (Volkow et al. 2011) – the radio frequency emissions from cell phones can cause detectable changes in the metabolism of a specific brain region.

In healthy participants and compared with no exposure, 50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna. This finding is of unknown clinical significance.

While there has been a great deal of speculation in the media regarding the mechanism of this effect, we need to dedicated some thought to whether there is actually an effect that requires explanation.

Continue reading “Cell phones don’t cause blinding either”

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