Pigeons are capable of switching between two tasks as quickly as humans — and even more quickly in certain situations. These are the findings of biopsychologists who had performed the same behavioral experiments to test birds and humans. The authors hypothesize that the cause of the slight multitasking advantage in birds is their higher neuronal density.
The pallium of birds does not have any layers comparable to those in the human cortex; but its neurons are more densely packed than in the cerebral cortex in humans: pigeons, for example, have six times as many nerve cells as humans per cubic millimetre of brain. Consequently, the average distance between two neurons in pigeons is fifty per cent shorter than in humans. As the speed at which nerve cell signals are transmitted is the same in both birds and mammals, researchers had assumed that information is processed more quickly in avian brains than in mammalian brains.
A team of researchers led by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has discovered a conserved molecular pathway that controls lifespan and healthspan in mice and nematode worms Caenorhabditis elegans, a common model organism in biological research.
“We find that by artificially increasing or decreasing the levels of a family of proteins called Kruppel-like transcription factors (KLFs), we can actually get C. elegans to live for longer or shorter time periods.” “Since this same family of proteins also exists in mammals, what is really exciting is that our data suggests KLFs also have similar effects on aging in mammals, too.”
Posted in Aging
We all know that a poor diet is unhealthy, but a new BYU study finds that stress may just as harmful to our bodies as a really bad diet.
In a new paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, BYU professor of microbiology and molecular biology Laura Bridgewater found that when female mice were exposed to stress, their gut microbiota — the microorganisms vital to digestive and metabolic health — changed to look like the mice had been eating a high-fat diet.
While I was sitting there, I observed a lot of ants walking along the windowsill, mainly moving towards each other in two single-file lines (they always move in extremely disciplined fashion). I couldn’t help but notice that almost every ant was touching the oncoming ant head-on before continuing with their journey.
It wasn’t the first time I had observed ants displaying such behavior; in fact, they do it every time they move in opposite directions.
Posted in Ants
While death is inevitable, the quality of life you experience until death is often within an individual’s control.
This is what our team at the Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research chose to focus on by developing a rigorous measure of quality of life. How many healthy years of life do you have ahead before you become unhealthy?
Everyone understands the benefits of living a long healthy life, but this also has implications for industry and society. Medical costs, financial planning and health support services are directly related to the state of health of an individual or community.
A neuroimaging study reveals city dwellers who live closer to forests were more likely to have healthier amygdala structure and were better able to deal with stressful situations.
A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers’ homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban planners among others.
Researchers report the thalamus plays a critical role in regulating how the brain learns to integrate binocular input during development.
During childhood, the brain goes through critical periods in which its learning ability for specific skills and functions is strongly increased. It is assumed that the beginning and ending of these critical periods are regulated in the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain. However, scientists from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience discovered that a structure deep in the brain also plays a crucial role in the regulation of these critical periods. These findings, published today in the leading journal Nature Neuroscience, have important implications for understanding developmental problems ranging from a lazy eye to intellectual disability.
The greatest discoveries in art history, as in so many fields, tend to come from those working outside the box. Interdisciplinary studies break new ground because those steadfastly lashed to a specific field or way of thinking tend to dig deeper into well-trodden earth, whereas a fresh set of eyes, coming from a different school of thought, can look at old problems in new ways. Interviewing Eric Kandel, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and reading his latest book, “Reductionism in Art and Brain Science,” underscored this point. His new book offers one of the freshest insights into art history in many years. Ironic that it should come not from an art historian, but a neuroscientist specializing in human memory, most famous for his experiments involving giant sea snails. You can’t make this stuff up.
Read also: Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures