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

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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 ...
48
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4answers
3k views

Why do smaller mammals move intermittently?

I was watching a nice little video on youtube but couldn't help but notice how snappy smaller animals such as rats and chipmunks move. By snappy I mean how the animal moves in almost discrete states ...
47
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5answers
2k 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 ...
35
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2answers
2k views

Can brain cells move?

I was discussing this with my brother. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they can move. Thanks EDIT: By movement I mean long distance migration (preferably within the brain only).
31
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2answers
6k 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 ...
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4answers
23k 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 ...
27
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3answers
45k 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 ...
25
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1answer
10k views

What do you see when your eyes are closed?

If you are in pitch black and you close your eyes, you sometimes can see strange shapes of various colors. A lot of the time these shapes and colors change as you observe them. This phenomenon still ...
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4answers
2k 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 ...
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5answers
12k 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 ...
22
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7answers
5k views

Why can't we see in low light if staring long enough?

For me it seems reasonable that if I kept my gaze on a fixed point in a room with low light, a progressively brighter and better picture would appear before my eyes, just like a camera can see in the ...
21
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2answers
1k 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 ...
19
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1answer
190 views

What is the mechanism responsible for the periodicity of hiccups?

Hiccups (singultus) are caused by involuntary spasm of the intercostal muscles and diaphragm, producing a sudden inspiration with associated glottic closure. It seems the neurobiology of the reflex ...
18
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1answer
530 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 ...
17
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8answers
12k 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 ...
17
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2answers
15k 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.
17
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3answers
2k 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 ...
17
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1answer
534 views

How does Sodium Valproate cause neural plasticity

I have been reading a fascinating paper: Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch 18 individuals were given Sodium Valproate (VPA) for a fortnight during which they trained on a ...
16
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2answers
514 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 ...
15
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2answers
703 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 ...
15
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1answer
122 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 ...
15
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1answer
714 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 ...
14
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2answers
2k views

How to make a fake auditory signal?

My question is about making fake auditory signals. The ear collects sounds from the environment, which are transformed into a neural signal by the hair cells in the inner ear. This signal is sent ...
14
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1answer
1k 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 ...
14
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1answer
759 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 ...
14
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2answers
2k 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 ...
14
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1answer
268 views

Effect of pupil responses on the electroretinogram

The electroretinogram (ERG) is a measure of electrical activity of the retina. It is typically recorded from the cornea with a wire electrode or gold-foil electrode. Generally, the the ERG is ...
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Is it possible to feel pain in some part of a body, but the pain “feeling” is introduced somewhere else?

Is it possible to feel pain in some part of a body, but that the cause of the pain is situated elsewhere in the body? For example, somebody feels pain in his toe, but it turns out that this pain is ...
13
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2answers
839 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 ...
13
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2answers
4k views

Why do neurons have only one axon?

I have just learnt about neurons. I wonder why neurons have only one axon. Can they transmit nerve impulses faster and more rapidly when they have more axons? Does having more axons help in ...
13
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2answers
360 views

How does an axon “know” it's not connecting to its own neuron?

I recently read about an experiment where they removed the dendrites and axons from rat neurons and placed them on a grid. After a while they started reconnecting and were able to learn things. Since ...
12
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2answers
266 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 ...
12
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1answer
2k 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?
12
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2answers
4k 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
188 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 ...
12
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2answers
615 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 ...
12
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1answer
1k 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
6k 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 ...
11
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2answers
2k 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 ...
11
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1answer
409 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 ...
11
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1answer
159 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 ...
11
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1answer
360 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 ...
11
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1answer
256 views

Do taller people have larger somatosensory cortices than short people?

When we assume that peripheral touch receptor densities are equal in tall and short people, then tall people should have more touch receptors than short people, given the larger amount of skin surface ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Do snakes get dizzy?

I've seen snakes get captured in sacks and I've wondered if the snake would get dizzy if the sack were twirled around. I have not done any tests (and don't plan to) because snakes scare me.
10
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5answers
1k views

Can the human brain be reduced to a binary system?

Does the brain really function like a computer as in, ultimately every response is related to a binary sequence based on whether particular neurons fire or not?
10
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1answer
663 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?
10
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1answer
1k views

What kind of memory is “keyboard/keypad memory”?

I work in IT and I have observed many people who cannot remember their iPhone passwords or computer passwords off the top of their head. However, if presented with a keyboard or a phone with a ...
10
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2answers
297 views

How can action potentials be generated through thoughts?

I think I understand how a signal is transferred from neuron to neuron (from How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?). My question, however, is not about the standard textbook material ...
10
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2answers
951 views

What happens once a brain is full?

I just read the answer to this question, and it got me thinking... If the human brain (or any other brain) has a finite amount of storage, what would happen once the brain has taken in its maximum ...
10
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1answer
2k views

Is it possible for any animals today to have more than one brain?

Is it possible for any organisms in the animal kingdom to have more than one brain?