The human brain has been called the most complex object in the known universe, and in many ways it's the final frontier of science. A hundred billion neurons, close to a quadrillion connections between them, and we don't even fully understand a single cell.

Neuroscience aims to understand how a person arises out of a clump of squishy matter. It's where psychology meets biology. And with new tools at our disposal—computer simulations, medical imaging—we double our knowledge every decade. Roll up your sleeves and poke around.

Recent Posts on Neuroscience

Fear and Anxiety Affect the Health and Life Span of Dogs

Research shows that increased levels of certain types of fearfulness in dogs may be associated higher susceptibility to skin diseases and to reduced life span.

Can Artificial Intelligence Make Us Stupid?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on July 29, 2015 in The Human Beast
Changing technology stimulates the brain and increases intelligence. But that may only be true if the technology challenges us. In a world run by intelligent machines, our lives could get a lot simpler. Would that make us less intelligent?

Brain Organoids Show Predicted Epigenetic Effects in Autism

New evidence from cultured brain cells of autistics shows that over-expression of a brain growth gene is critical, just as predicted by the imprinted brain theory.

Steps to Take Today for Better Brain Health Tomorrow

You may be taking proactive steps to support your body’s health, but are you taking similar steps to sustain your brain? When it comes to supporting brain health, the old adage is true: it’s better than never. There’s no time like the present to start supporting your brain.

When Music Becomes Language

By Eliezer J. Sternberg M.D. on July 28, 2015 in NeuroLogic
When jazz musicians achieve the highest levels of mastery, their brain processing undergoes a fundamental change, and they begin to perceive music in a way no one else can.

Music Training Improves Adolescent Brain Development

Music training during adolescence helps the teenage brain hone skills necessary for academic and life success.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 2)

By Michael Jawer on July 27, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
Evolutionary and behavioral science is giving credence to what Darwin observed and intuited 140 years ago. Studies indicate with a fair degree of certainty that animals have intense experiences comparable to human feelings of joy, anger, love, exuberance, delight, compassion, sorrow, and grief.

Attractiveness Changes Our Perception At an Early Age

Not only does attractiveness influence children's trustworthiness of a person, it even changes how the brain's neural system responds.

Don't Look Directly At The Problem

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on July 27, 2015 in Black Belt Brain
Our species has some special features but people are animals too. In the motor system, we monitor and superimpose on top of many base-level responses our intentions and wishes. By extension, when we are dealing with an issue or a problem, perhaps the best course of action is to not try and directly force a solution and instead allow the best course of action to emerge.

Abnormal Behaviour – What Does It Really Mean?

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on July 27, 2015 in A Sideways View
Most people like to think that they are "normal". But what does it mean to be normal? And if you are not normal does that mean you are abnormal?

News stories with the power of empathy

Depicting physical pain and discomfort may make for compelling journalism, but it also could undermine audiences' empathetic responses and perpetuate what neuroscientists call the 'empathy gap.' Instead, efforts to capture people's emotional suffering may be more likely to evoke empathy, even though that's much trickier for reporters trained to 'show, don't tell.'

An Invaluable Lesson From Elders

Although suffering in life is inevitable, we can mitigate it.

The Neuroscience of Savoring Positive Emotions

Neuroscientists have linked sustained activation of a brain region called the ventral striatum to savoring positive emotions. Ventral striatal activation is in the locus of your control. Researchers believe that regularly practicing loving-kindness meditation and compassion activates this brain region and increases the ability to savor positive emotions.

"The Feeling Brain" Like Disney/Pixar Movie "Inside Out"

As an expert in Psychology, when I saw Disney/Pixar's "Inside Out", I was happily surprised by its accuracy in its portrayal of emotions (aside from emotions being personified and sitting in a "control room"!) At the same time that I saw the movie, Norton Publishing asked me to review the book, "The Feeling Brain", and I found quite a few similarities between the two.

Why Sex and Violence Go Together: Insights of Other Species

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on July 24, 2015 in The Human Beast
In a recent post, I addressed links between violent crime and male sexual competition. Now, I want to ask whether animal analogies really illumine human aggression. If a young man kills an acquaintance in a Detroit bar, does this have anything to do with elephant seals battering each other to death in the breeding season?

Are You Tone Deaf?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on July 24, 2015 in Talking Apes
The musically gifted often foist the “tone deaf” label on those whose music production abilities aren’t up to their expectations, but most have music perception skills in the normal range.

Get Real About Teamwork

When a team mate is uncooperative, you may be tempted to ignore it to maintain the harmony. But if you do this all the time, fake cooperation gets confused with real cooperation. You shouldn't have to choose between team work and reality. Here's a way to have both.

The Quicksand of Self-deception: The Nocebo Effect

The placebo effect is a well-known phenomenon. Less well-known is the nocebo effect, placebo’s “evil twin.” Can physicians cause more harm than good when they give their patients too much information about a potential medication or therapeutic treatment, including those for weight-related disorders? What are the ethical considerations involved in withholding information?

Severe Migraine: Finding Answers in the Mind, Not in Pills

There are 45 million Americans with migraine and about 10% of those have frequent and severe headaches that are unresponsive to medications and other treatments. Most doctors would describe migraine as a genetic disorder, however this blog presents a different view. A patient with severe migraines is presented and her cure lay in her willingness to reappraise her life.

Your Brain and Health in Nature: Rewilding Is Good For Us

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 23, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Two new studies show how walking in nature changes the brain and how trees can make people healthier including cardio-metabolic conditions. For those whose frenetic lives leave little time for getting outside, this is good news. And, there don't appear to be any downsides to taking a short break and getting out in nature and rewilding our hearts.

Behavior Differences Between Smaller and Larger Dogs

Research shows that there are significant differences between the behaviors of smaller and larger dogs. Some of these differences have to do with the behaviors of their owners.

Social Anxiety Diminished by Brain Signals and Re-Thinking

Social anxiety and its treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy can be studied with advanced brain imaging. Both the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are involved.

Can Oxytocin Fortify Resilience Against Childhood Adversity?

A new study from Emory University reports that manipulating the oxytocin system has the potential to fortify a person's resilience against childhood adversity, abuse, or neglect.

Politics Or Performance?

As we enter organizations, we each face a simple choice: Do we primarily play politics, or do we try daily to perform at our best? Why do we often choose to play politics? Because the politics of the organization often appear to dictate who is hired, promoted and rewarded, and so playing politics seems to be our best chance to control our plight...

Am I Being Punished?

If we were punished for every mistake, it would for sure be a depressing world. None of us gets what we deserve, and that is usually a good thing.

Childhood Poverty Has Detrimental Impacts on Brain Structure

Evidence continues to mount that there is a link between growing up in a low-income household, brain development, and lower academic achievement. The majority of children attending public schools in the United States come from low-income households. We have a crisis on our hands. In this blog post, I summarize the findings of a wide range of recent studies on this topic.

Psychotherapy vs. Medications: The Verdict Is In

Both psychiatrists and psychologists devote their careers to helping people with mental health issues. As promising as neuroscience may be for helping researchers find clues to the brain, the real key to treatment lies in therapy, not drugs. Your best bet is to explore all options when you or your loved ones seek help.

Learning From the Inside Out

Learning from the inside out centers around the role of emotion in shaping our lives. Disney’s new film, Inside Out, presents current thinking in neuroscience in a format that allows animated characters to teach us how to live life.

Sexually Open Marraige

By Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D. on July 19, 2015 in Love Doc
“I’m not feeling well. I can’t get going.” Sharon said softly. I remarked, “You seem sad.” Her voice picked up as she said “I am but I don’t understand it. My life is great. I’m married to this wonderful man, have an adorable six year old daughter, a lovely home, and a satisfying career.”

Reviewing the Evidence for Mental Illness Being Epigenetic

The basic claim of the imprinted brain theory that gene expression is critical in neuro-development is vindicated by a new review of the data.