8 insights gleaned from brain science research

Publication:   Date: January 23, 2009   View Article

Does political bias distort rational thought? Can we teach ourselves compassion? Is technology overload rewiring our brains? These are some of the questions scientists are pursuing in the quest to understand how and why our noggins do what they do.

Brains of Bullies Light Up With Pleasure as People Squirm

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 7, 2008   View Article

The brains of bullies—kids who start fights, tell lies, and break stuff with glee—may be wired to feel pleasure when watching others suffer pain, according to a new brain scanning study.

Big Brains Arose Separately in Multiple Primate Groups

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 18, 2008   View Article

The ancestors of modern-day primates in the Americas had tiny brains just like their counterparts in Africa and Eurasia, according to a new study.

Because modern anthropoid, or humanlike, primates in both regions have large brains relative to their body sizes, the finding suggests that one of the hallmarks of primate biology—increasing brain size—happened independently in isolated groups.

Human Ancestor Had Lime-Size Brain

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 14, 2007   View Article

An extraordinarily complete skull of a 30-million-year-old human ancestor once held a brain about the size of a lime, according to a new study.

The skull—of a species related to apes, humans, and monkeys—is evidence that the more advanced and bigger brains of African primates developed later than previously believed, researchers said.

Fruit Flies Aerial Stunts Inspire Brain Study

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 20, 2006   View Article

Budding engineers often take apart common devices, such as toasters, and put them back together again to learn how the parts make up a working system.

But budding biologists have a harder time using this approach—once a living organism is taken apart it usually can’t be made to function again.

Now, using modern genetic engineering techniques, researchers are able to turn biological components on and off, in effect removing parts to see how each one affects the whole system.

Baboons, Birds Remember Hundreds of Photos

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 7, 2006   View Article

Pigeons and baboons can remember hundreds of images and store them in their brains for at least a year, according to a new study.

Over a five-year period pigeons in the test were able to learn and recall between 800 and 1,200 photographs before maxing out their thumb-sized brains.

Dominoes, Avalanches Give Insight Into Brain Function

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 6, 2006   View Article

How does the brain work?

For John Beggs, a biophysicist at Indiana University in Bloomington, this is science’s most fundamental question.

Our noggins store memories, generate new ideas, and allow us to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. In a sense, he says, our brains define who we are.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach