The study of the structure and function of the nervous system and its components.

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7k views

How does the brain's energy consumption depend on mental activity?

What is the impact of mental activity on the energy consumption of the human brain? I am most interested in intellectually demanding tasks (e.g., chess matches, solving a puzzle, taking a difficult ...
32
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5answers
947 views

Human perception of time depending on age

From what I can tell and what thus far all people with whom I discussed this subject confirmed is that time appears to "accelerate" as we age. Digging a little, most explanations I found basically ...
20
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1answer
13k views

How does cerebrospinal fluid circulate in the central nervous system?

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced in the choroid plexus of the lateral ventricles and in the 4th ventricle of the brain. CSF then circulates through the ventricles of the brain and the ...
18
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3answers
17k views

If the brain has no pain receptors, how come you can get a headache?

I've read many years ago in books, that the brain has no nerves on it, and if someone was touching your brain, you couldn't feel a thing. Just two days before now, I had a very bad migraine, due to a ...
18
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2answers
3k views

What actually happens when my leg 'falls asleep'?

Most people have experienced the temporary loss of feeling and tingling in their leg resulting from sitting in an abnormal position for a short while. Usually you get a loss of feeling in your leg ...
17
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2answers
392 views

How is temperature sensed?

Can anyone summarize the mechanism by which when an object of a given temperature is placed in contact with, say, the skin on a human fingertip, the average speed of the particles of the object is ...
16
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1answer
282 views

Why does regular exercise increase brain volume?

It has been shown in several studies that regular aerobic exercise increases brain volume in aging humans. The changes were observed in hippocampus and were correlated with dramatic reduction of ...
15
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2answers
4k views

How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?

I have heard that information is sent between the brain and peripheral nerves via electrical pulses or signals, but I don't understand how they create them in the first place.
15
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4answers
2k views

Why do the two hemispheres of the brain control the opposite sides of the body?

Why does the left hemisphere control the right and the right hemisphere control the left? I googled it but didn't find a good answer regarding this. Could someone explain? Does this adaptation help ...
14
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2answers
1k views

How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored?

Background I am a computer programmer who is fascinated by artificial intelligence and artificial neural networks, and I am becoming more curious about how biological neural networks work. Context ...
14
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1answer
98 views

What are the main mechanisms of interaction between the nervous and immune systems?

We know from pop science that our psychological states have an effect on our immune systems ("worrying ourselves sick", etc.), but what are the actual mechanisms through which our nervous systems pass ...
14
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2answers
1k views

What causes REM atonia to be lost in sleepwalking?

I understand that in normal REM sleep the voluntary muscles are in effect paralysed in order to prevent an individual acting out their dreams. This paper indicates that there are likley to be ...
13
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2answers
196 views

Can parts of a human brain be asleep independently of each other, or vary in the times required for them to fall asleep?

I know that some birds and marine animals can continue complicated activity (swimming, flying?) while one hemisphere of their brain is asleep. I'm interested if human brain has some parts of it that ...
12
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9answers
6k views

Why have humans evolved much more quickly than other animals?

Humans have, in a relatively short amount of time, evolved from apes on the African plains to upright brainiacs with nukes, computers, and space travel. Meanwhile, a lion is still a lion and a ...
12
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2answers
1k views

How does a brain distinguish stimuli?

If all the brain ever "sees" is action potentials, how do we know that one set of action potentials denotes a flash of light, another one signifies a loud sound, etc ?
12
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1answer
879 views

Why do neurons die so quickly (relative to other cells) when deprived of oxygen?

This question could be considered a follow-up question to Why is a lack of oxygen fatal to cells?, although the top answer there does not address why damage starts to pop in. The answer says this: ...
12
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1answer
3k views

How does Golgi's neural histological stain work?

What is known about the targets of Golgi staining of neurons? Are larger neurons more likely to be stained? Are specific cell types more susceptible than others? The current wikipedia article says ...
12
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1answer
338 views

Is it correct that the body only responds to the most painful stimulus?

I'm rather ashamed to say that this question is partly based on an episode of House. I have previously heard that, if there are multiple simultaneous painful stimuli, the mind will only feel the ...
11
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2answers
197 views

Under what conditions do dendritic spines form?

I'm looking for resources or any information about the formation of dendritic spines and synaptogenesis, especially in relation to how new connections are formed on a daily basis. Does the ...
11
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2answers
403 views

When did vision evolve for the first time?

Today I wondered what the first organism to evolve vision would have been. I assume that it would have been kind of primitive and basic, but of course extremely innovative and eventually useful to a ...
11
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2answers
466 views

Are there neurons that can sense light shining in your ears?

I know someone who bought earphones that shine light in you ears. According to what he was told, there are neurons that sense light and then make you feel wide awake when activated, which seemed like ...
11
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1answer
577 views

What limits the maximum spacing of Nodes of Ranvier and which organisms tend to have the widest gaps?

Assuming that a longer distance between gaps in the myelin sheath is beneficial for an organism due to the increased propagation speed, what is the limiting factor in determining the maximum spacing ...
11
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1answer
429 views

Why do we feel tired if we sleep excessively?

When we eat, finally we feel full. I know which mechanism causes the sensation of being full. But when we sleep excessively we often still want more sleep. Why does this happen? Is there a mechanism ...
10
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2answers
331 views

Could an “overactive” brain increase the chances of Alzheimer's Disease?

From Raichle ME. 2010. Two views of brain function. Trends in cognitive sciences 14: 180–90: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of progressive cognitive decline and dementia in ...
10
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2answers
875 views

Do human beings have pheromone receptors?

What is the current consensus on whether or not humans have receptors that detect pheromones? If there are purported receptors, in what anatomical areas are they located? With what organ systems do ...
10
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1answer
237 views

How old does a baby have to be before it can retain memories?

For most people (my earliest memories are of perhaps when I was 2 or so) their earliest memories would be when they were over a year old. How old does the average baby have to be before it can ...
10
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1answer
247 views

Is the minicolumn the unit of the neocortex?

There are many arguments for what the unit of the neocortex is. "Columns" seem to be the standard, but what exactly those are is extremely contradictory between individuals, cortical regions, and ...
9
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1answer
343 views

Why does this illusion work?

This is another image I found on Google+ All lines are absolutely straight, parallel and perpendicular but why does it appear to have a curvature? Related: How does this illusion work?
9
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3answers
682 views

Do men have more extreme variations than women?

This question was considered unsuitable for Skeptics and I think it is more suited to BIology than Cognitive Sciences I was reading this article which I found interesting. It is not supported with ...
9
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1answer
149 views

Systems identification in small neural network

When analyzing data from cortex, we often try to understand what each neuron does in terms of its inputs from other neurons - a specific kind of a systems identification strategy. Most current ...
9
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1answer
104 views

Are Schwann cells the sole source of myelination in PNS?

Are Schwann cells the only source of myelin for axons in the peripheral nervous system, or are there other neuroglia or other processes that result in myelination of PNS axons?
9
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2answers
1k views

What is Peter's rule in neuroscience?

I have heard and read about Peter's rule informally in the past, but never saw a formal definition or description. Informally I have learned to understand Peter's rule as the assumed correlation ...
9
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1answer
110 views

What portions of the brain have drastic changes in activation when we “sense” someone is there?

I was watching an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ("Commando") where he plays an elite soldier (surprise). An enemy tries to sneak up on him, and Arnold says that he smelled the other guy ...
9
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2answers
76 views

Can we disambiguate competing molecular mechanisms of learning and plasticity by measuring electrical activity of neurons?

I have been reading with fascination about the several molecular- and cellular-scale mechanisms and structural changes that underlie what we refer to as long-term plasticity. For instance, [1], [2], ...
9
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1answer
193 views

What would be the conduction speed of A-alpha fibers, were they unmyelinated?

It's known (Hursh 1939) that myelinated axons exhibit the behavior $v = 6d$, where $v$ is the propagation speed [m/s] and $d$ is the axon diameter [μm]. A related relation for unmyelinated axons is ...
9
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1answer
123 views

Is there a biophysical causation from local field potential (LFP) to spikes?

Many experiments showed that neurons tend to fire at some phase (usually trough) of local field potential (LFP) oscillations, such as theta or gamma rhythm. LFP is supposedly generated by a population ...
9
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1answer
165 views

Do taller people have larger somatosensory cortices than short people?

Do taller people have larger somatosensory cortices than short people? What about larger motor cortices? And if so, could this imply that they have less space devoted to other functions, like ...
8
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2answers
398 views

Do memories have mass?

If it were possible to live forever, would our brains grow infinitely with the number of memories that we store? Or would we remove old memories as we create new ones?
8
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2answers
1k views

Why is saltatory conduction faster than continuous conduction?

How does spacing apart sodium and potassium channels allow the action potential to travel faster down the axon? This is the reason always cited for saltatory conduction and myelination, but my mental ...
8
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2answers
129 views

Why are melodies/harmonies perceived as pleasurable by humans?

Is there any evolutionary advantage to finding melodies or harmonies pleasurable? Does the ear pick up these particular oscillating waves differently from other sounds, and if so, how does that affect ...
8
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1answer
471 views

What is a inhibitory tone when talking about neurons?

In this SE answer: Could an "overactive" brain increase the chances of Alzheimer's Disease? user @nico used the word inhibitory tone What does that ...
8
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3answers
297 views

Long-term-potentiation and memory. Where do we stand?

I was reading the answers to the question: How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored? and, as expected, LTP and LTD came out. Every time I read about LTP/LTD there is always something ...
8
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2answers
1k views

Why do neurones have only one axon?

I have just learnt about neurones. I wonder why neurones have only one axon. Can they transmit nerve impulses faster and more rapidly when they have more axons? Does having more axons help in ...
8
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1answer
195 views

Is the squid giant axon the fastest conducting unmyelinated axon known?

The conduction velocity of the squid giant axon can reach 30 m/s. Is there any known example of an even faster conducting unmyelinated axons?
8
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1answer
164 views

What are the “stars” we see after a bump on the head?

Sorry if this might appear funny. When I close my eyes for a longer time, and suddenly open it, I see some twinkling white small circles, and when i concentrate on anyone of them it disappears, as ...
8
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0answers
112 views

How reversible is DAT upregulation from long-term ADHD medication use?

A mechanism for ADHD stimulant medication tolerance has now been found. See http://neurosciencenews.com/adhd-medication-patient-brains-adapt-dat/. Here's the thing though: what exactly is the ...
7
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3answers
221 views

What alternatives are there to the amyloid hypothesis?

Given the recent failure of the Bapi clinical trial, there is a lot of questions that have arised from he amyloid hypothesis. However, I can't really think of many other mechanisms that don't involved ...
7
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1answer
866 views

How does this illusion work?

I found this image on Google+ If you shake your head you can see a portrait of a person. Can anyone explain how the image is constructed in the brain?
7
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1answer
95 views

Can one dendrite pass through another?

While tracing dendrites on EyeWire I encountered the following situation. They belong to an Orientation Selective Ganglion Cell. It's the first dendrite I've noticed with such a clear 'hole' in it, ...
7
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1answer
94 views

Soma-soma paired neurons

I'm reading this paper for a presentation I have to do. Since I have no real biology background I encountered a few questions and one I couldn't find an answer using my google-fu. It's about how ...