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 ...
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5answers
1k 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 ...
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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 ...
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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).
27
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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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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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771 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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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8k 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.
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351 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 ...
16
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124 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 ...
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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 ...
15
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2answers
391 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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476 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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1answer
4k 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 ...
14
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1answer
106 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 ...
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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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219 views

Effect of pupil responses on the electroretinogram

The electroretinogram (ERG) is generally considered to reflect the retinal processing of a light stimulus, typically a photoreceptor response followed by secondary neuronal activity. I am wondering ...
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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 ...
13
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2answers
557 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 ...
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642 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 ...
12
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2answers
539 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 ...
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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 ?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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: ...
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1answer
902 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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
637 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 ...
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225 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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1answer
348 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
973 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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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
164 views

Why does getting certain chemicals in cuts hurt?

More specifically, shampoo. What are the mechanics of detecting a noxious chemical stimulus in terms of which receptors recognise what, how do they do it, and how is this information relayed to the ...
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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 ...
10
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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 ...
10
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1answer
341 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 ...
10
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1answer
294 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 ...
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1answer
203 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 ...
10
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1answer
203 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 ...
10
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1answer
154 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 ...
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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.
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1answer
515 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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633 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?
9
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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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?