Some of us sing, and some of us just mouth the lyrics, but we all rely on our brain to coordinate even the simplest motor behaviors. Scientists interested in the brain activity behind motion often use birdsong as a model because certain songs are sung the same way every time, providing a naturally controlled setting for investigation. Now researchers have solved a long-standing mystery about the hierarchy of brain regions essential for birdsong using a chilly technique that could tease out the interconnected processes behind many complex actions. Continue reading Brain Freeze
Category Archives: Scientific American MIND
Duct Tape for the Brain
Kirsten Timmons was navigating a frozen overpass one night when a passing car skidded out of control and slammed into her vehicle. As her car came to a stop, Timmons’s head probably snapped around its own axis, decelerating sharply when it struck the seat-belt holder next to her. Continue reading Duct Tape for the Brain
With A Little Help
The walk to and from school can’t be uphill both ways, but going it alone might make it seem that way. When judging the steepness of a hill, people overestimated its angle more when alone than when they were accompanied by—or even thinking about—a friend, reports an international group of researchers led by Simone Schnall of University of Plymouth in England in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in May. The longer the volunteers had been friends with their companions, the less steep the hill seemed.
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The brain looks forward
The brain takes nearly one tenth of a second to consciously register a scene. But the scenery changes far more quickly than that when we move. How does our brain cope? By constantly predicting the future, posits Mark Changizi, now at Rensselaer Polytechnic University.
[See pdf for illustration and the rest of the text.]