Questions tagged [neuroscience]

For questions on the structure and function of the nervous system.

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52 votes
4 answers
3k views

What are current neuronal explanations and models of 'consciousness'?

I would like to understand more about consciousness from a neuroscientific perspective. I have a limited understanding of it in the philosophical/psychological sense through lectures. Although it is ...
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46 votes
5 answers
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Why would the brain flip the images perceived by your eyes?

The following is a common scientific statement, which you don't have to google long for to find: The eye views images upside-down in the manner of a camera lens, but our brains reinterpret this ...
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31 votes
2 answers
842 views

How are newly created neurons recruited into existing networks?

As far as I understand, the basics of neurogenesis (abstracted down to the level that makes sense to a computer scientist) is as follows: Neural progenitor cells differentiate into new neurons that ...
30 votes
1 answer
2k views

How long should I work before taking a break?

I'd like to work as effectively as possible for 8-9 hours a day, whether at work or studying. At some point in completing my major in psych I remember hearing about the importance of taking breaks ...
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28 votes
1 answer
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Have the abilities of John Lorber's patients with limited cortical mass been further evaluated in adulthood?

Short of minor lesions or infarcts, most high-functioning adults have an intact cerebral cortex. Yet, a surprising result published anecdotally in Science in 1980 caused a lot of scientists to take ...
21 votes
4 answers
689 views

Is serotonin conclusively linked to depression?

Some highlights from the article "The Depressing News about Anti-Depressants": ever since a seminal study in 1998, whose findings were reinforced by landmark research in The Journal of the ...
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21 votes
2 answers
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Why does neuroplasticity decrease in adults?

Although adult brains are malleable and even undergo limited neuorgenesis, the extent of the neuroplasticiy is much lower than in children. This is most obvious in language acquisition, and recovery ...
20 votes
5 answers
2k views

If someone becomes a split-brain patient, which side will "maintain" the continuity in their consciousness?

The brain injury might apparently produce two "independent" consciousnesses, and I'm wondering where the original person's "consciousness" would "transfer". We had a debate on this over at Reddit ...
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19 votes
1 answer
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Is there a region of cortex which over a period of development becomes the seat of self?

Background Mountcastle's hypothesis, which is based on the observation of uniform cortical anatomy, suggests that the there might be a uniform cortical "algorithm". The only reason that some cortical ...
18 votes
3 answers
736 views

Do we understand the non-subjective mechanisms behind pleasure and pain?

If we are to view pleasure and pain as being essentially synonymous with the more mechanistic concept of reward and punishment (i.e. as a part of learning and motivation system) then do we understand ...
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17 votes
2 answers
3k views

What form might Jungian archetypes take in the brain?

Modern psychology and psychiatry are very well grounded in scientific principles. Both, however, have a history in various analytical philosophies. Jung had the notion of an archetype, a universally ...
16 votes
3 answers
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Is there a better way to describe brain activity than EEG "brain waves"

I've been reading about EEG brain waves, which are specific waveforms that are observed on the EEG output, and are usually scored by humans. This concept has been around for quite some time. Is there ...
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16 votes
3 answers
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Research suggesting conscious control over brain region activation?

Has there been any research proving, disproving, or exploring the concept of conscious activation of specific brain regions? To elaborate on this: I've read that performing processing tasks causes ...
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16 votes
3 answers
917 views

What are the key examples of the use of computational methods in the study of biological neural networks?

In an upcoming postdoc, I'm going to be looking through biological neural network data in the hopes of finding some interesting "patterns". I'm coming at this field from a mathematics/computer ...
16 votes
2 answers
47k views

How is fasting related to insomnia?

Yesterday I started a new diet using intermittent fasting. For this reason I only ate one meal all day. I was pretty surprised how well I passed that day: I studied a lot, did some sports and ...
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16 votes
1 answer
427 views

What causes laughter?

I was looking at this video from VSauce: "Why did the chicken cross the road?", where several facts about this old joke are exposed and explained. At some point, (6:59) Michael explains that there is ...
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15 votes
3 answers
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In what ways can neurons fire randomly?

When developing a model of a biologically-plausible neural network, it is important to know all the circumstances under which neurons can fire. But, I am limiting this question to random firing. In ...
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15 votes
2 answers
9k views

Folding (wrinkles) in cortex: Why is surface area more important than volume?

When we look at the cortex of the brain, it has a folded structure. It is said that this is because this enables a greater number of neurons to exist, which is obviously advantageous. However, we ...
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15 votes
2 answers
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What can we learn from the neural networks of C.elegans to understand human brains?

Recently I am reading some works about Caenorhabditis Elegans. A C.elegans has 302 neurons and we already know the function and connection of every one of their neurons so that we can exactly ...
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15 votes
3 answers
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What do the super-large brains of whales and elephants map to?

Elephants and whales have brains that are much larger than those of humans. It is presumed that much of their brain is used up for their larger bodies (after all, there is a allometric scaling between ...
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15 votes
1 answer
785 views

Biological plausibility of bayesian models of cognition

Inspired by this question: What are some of the drawbacks to probabilistic models of cognition? I would like to know more about the biological plausibility of Bayesian models of cognition. Is there ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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How much power, in watts, does the brain use?

When IBM's Watson won on Jeopardy a few years ago, it did so using a room full of servers with a cooling system and a fat power feed, competing against a couple of humans powered by the equivalent of ...
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14 votes
5 answers
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Is a neuron's information processing more complex than a perceptron?

I've been researching the relationship between brain neurons and nodes in neural networks. Repeatedly it is claimed neurons can do complex information processing that vastly exceeds that of a simple ...
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14 votes
1 answer
435 views

What evidence is there that the adult brain can produce new neurons?

At school I was taught that the adult brain did not produce new neurons. That we had the maximum number of neurons and this would only diminish over time due to events, like head injuries, drinking ...
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14 votes
1 answer
492 views

How does neural spiking begin in the fetus?

I'm interested in modeling human brain spiking activity. How does the very first spiking activity begin in the fetus? I imagine all spiking activity is initiated by the senses and internal ...
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13 votes
3 answers
676 views

How does the brain learn what something is for the first time?

I'm trying to understand how the idea of what a thing is originates in humans. For example, in computer science, it is possible to know what an object is and what it does, by examining its "parent/...
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13 votes
2 answers
804 views

The computer model of the brain

I am a computer programmer or computer engineer, and am interested in comparing the brain to a classical computer in some way. How well does this comparison hold up? This is a general introduction ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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What structures in the brain are called upon to strengthen coupling between bilateral movements?

It is very difficult for the normally-coordinated person to be able to pat his/her head and rub his/her stomach at the same time (or pick a similar activity). It seems to be possible to maintain the ...
13 votes
1 answer
287 views

What explains variability in the mean firing rate across biological neurons?

Biological neurons have a trade-off between high information transfer (high firing rate) and energy conservation (low firing rate). One would suspect that the maximization of this function has a ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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Neurotransmitter based imaging techniques

All the brain imaging techniques I know fall into two categories: Tracking blood Either by looking at the magnetic (fMRI), or near-infared absorption (diffuse optical imaging, NIRS) properties of ...
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the "static" in human vision called?

Sort of like a cheap digital Camera, the human eye has certain feedback that's perceived but doesn't actually exist in the real world; a little layer of Static that's especially noticeable in pitch ...
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12 votes
2 answers
13k views

Which neurotransmitters can be measured in a living human brain?

I'm interested in learning more about the modern techniques that are used for scientific studies of neurotransmitters in the living human brain. As far as I know, there are 4 neuromodulator systems ...
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12 votes
2 answers
983 views

What causes short-term dysphoria following intense pleasure?

I'm interested in the phenomenon of short term Dysphoria: Dysphoria is a state of feeling unwell or unhappy; a feeling of emotional and mental discomfort as a symptom of discontentment, ...
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12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Modern replacement for Panksepp's "Affective Neuroscience" book?

Jaak Panksepp's book (Amazon link here) is a phenomenal and highly readable systems-based introduction to not only affective neuroscience, but the neuroscience of motivation in general. The problem ...
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12 votes
2 answers
914 views

What are different ways to determine centroids of fMRI activation, their drawbacks and perks?

I'm reading an older article on bilingualism (Kim, Relkin, Lee, & Hirsch, 1997) for a seminar. They were interested in the spatial separation of two languages in early and late bilinguals. They ...
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12 votes
1 answer
186 views

Is a network of neurons the only factor in memory?

Background I'm actually writing a science fiction novel set a couple decades in the future. Brains are not my field. I've done as much research as I could. In the story, the protagonist finds out he ...
12 votes
1 answer
131 views

Has an upper-limit on the physical spacing represented by grid cells in Entorhinal cortex been probed?

There is considerable research reporting activity of unit recordings from grid cells in the Entorhinal cortex (e.g. [1]) - typically of rats running around in enclosed spaces. Is there any ...
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12 votes
1 answer
567 views

Does cognitive training enhance dopamine release?

Joe Hardy reports on a study by Backman et al (2011) in Science, where from the authors report: Updating of working memory has been associated with striato-frontal brain regions and phasic ...
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12 votes
1 answer
242 views

What is the mechanism behind unihemispheric sleep in animals?

It is known that dolphins have the ability to sleep with only one half of their brain at a time. According to this popular science source: Dolphins sleep by resting one half of their brain at a ...
12 votes
1 answer
164 views

What is the role of traveling waves in circuit formation during cortical development?

Propagating waves of activity have been characterized in various regions of the brain such as the visual cortex (Nauhaus et al., 2012). Recently they have been reported for the first time to occur ...
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12 votes
0 answers
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What are the neurological differences between varying types of love?

It stands to reason that the biochemical cascade involved when a person experiences love, gives a feeling of well-being and drive. Studies in neuroscience have involved chemicals that are present ...
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12 votes
2 answers
159 views

What are some known roles or correlations of glucocorticoid receptor function to behaviour?

The NR3C1 gene encodes for a neuron-specific glucocorticoid receptor (GR), of which methylation levels have been shown to relate to altered maternal care and stress response in rodents (Weaver et al., ...
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11 votes
2 answers
710 views

Which are the multisensory brain areas?

What would be an example of a multisensory brain area, where multiple senses (e.g. smell and taste) are combined to decode the corresponding stimuli from more than one sensory organ? I was thinking ...
11 votes
3 answers
356 views

What neural mechanism explains the tendency to visually attend to the whole scene before attending to details?

I have the intuition that human vision first attends to large-scale objects and then small-scale details. Is there any mechanism in the visual cortex that will explain this phenomenon? Is there a ...
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11 votes
3 answers
524 views

What is the term for a psychological effect which does not have a neurobiological/genetic basis?

When a psychological condition is the result of irregular brain structures or neurotransmitter imbalances we say the condition has a neurobiological basis; this is analogous to the classic Nature in ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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Why is sensory substitution not that successful?

By successful, I mean made it out to the large world market or being massively funded. After looking online it seems that the most relevant research is the one done by Bach-y-Rita about the seeing ...
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11 votes
1 answer
466 views

Hebbian Learning Rule, Local or Global?

I just learned about the Hebbian Learning Rule. It essentially says "Neurons that fire together, wire together". I'm wondering if the learning rule is affected by the spatial distance of the two ...
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11 votes
2 answers
846 views

Long term effect of using noise generators

Some people use noise generators as http://playnoise.com/ to reduce distraction by background noise. Is there any research on the long term effects of this? Does this affect the neuronal connections ...
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11 votes
2 answers
297 views

How is tone volume encoded?

I am wondering whether increasing the volume would result in (a) a neuron that was already firing to now increase its spike rate, (b) a different group of neurons to add their activity to the ...
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11 votes
2 answers
589 views

What computerized EEG analysis algorithms are there?

I got a commercial-grade EEG headband and am trying to look at the data it outputs. The headband quantifies raw EEG signal from a single forehead dry sensor into a range of EEG bands (alpha, beta, etc)...
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