Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Mouse Party?

What would you see inside the brains of mice who were taking drugs? This interactive website gives you a glimpse inside the brains and synapses of mice on drugs including alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, ecstasy, and LSD.

Identify how each drug affects the brain. What neurotransmitter(s) does it affect? Is it inhibitory or excitatory? Does it block re-uptake or work some other way? Which parts of the brain are most affected?

You can explore other effects of drugs of abuse here

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Language Links

Without Language Numbers Don't Add Up

This story from National Public Radio shows how groups of people who don't have words or signs in their language for numbers can't actually tell the difference between numbers as small as four and five. It sheds some light on the debate about how language affects how we think.

You can watch this video clip on the National Public Radio site link at the top of the post.

From the story:

In one test, Spaepen (the researcher) would knock her fist against a study participant's fist a certain number of times and then ask them to respond with the same number of knocks.
"If I were to knock four times on their fist, they might knock my fist five times," she says."

What do you think?

 Look Inside a Baby's Brain. Why are They Such Language Geniuses?

Patricia Kuhl discusses her study of language in babies in this 10 minute "TED Talk" She discusses many important concepts in language acquisition such as critical period, babbling, and the importance of children interacting with real adults (not TVs or computer screens) to learn language. She also show the use of MEG (magneto-electroencephalography) imaging to see what parts of a baby's brain activate when hearing language.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can an fMRI read your mind?

This article on Discovermagazine.com features Jesse Rissman who is researching how fMRI technology can be used (or not) to see what people are thinking. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging can give us insights into our thought processes, but must be used with caution.