As if the damn headache wasn’t bad enough…

About two weeks ago, I read a research report in one of our best fundamental neuroscience research journals, Nature Neuroscience, that documented neurological consequences of migraine headaches in a mouse model. This is one of those animal models of a human vascular/neurological condition that appears to relatively faithfully reproduce the physical, chemical and electrical sequelae…

Jack’s hippocampus is bigger than yours

My dog Jack, thinking, has a proportionally larger hippocampus than you do. If I had a pet bunny, its hippocampus would be (proportionally) larger, still!! You’ve probably heard a lot about the crucial role that the hippocampus plays in recording our “episodic” (historic, serial, ‘long-term’) memories. Does this mean that we should revise that age…

Ultrasound and autism

A former UCSF medical student, Carolyn Rees, now a doc in rural Idaho, wrote me a very informative letter — and raised several interesting questions — that are definitely worth a little discussion here. Dr. Rees asked: Is there any evidence that ultrasound examination can affect brain development? In fact, that evidence is mixed. Over…

Why we do research

Why do we study autistic or dyslexic or schizophrenic or other subjects, in our scientific experiments? That is a question that was asked, rather impolitely, by “dyslexic in LA”, who challenged the “arrogance” of a perspective that engages such individuals as “scientific guinea pigs”. There are two simple answers to this question. We want to…

The brain and the law, when Bobby goes bad

Each year I deliver a “guest lecture” in a medical ethics course at Stanford. My friend Bill Hurlbut, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, is the course director. The issues that I raise in this course were addressed in part by an interesting cover story in the March 11th New York Times Sunday…

How can the same brain plasticity-based training programs help individuals with cognitive losses arising from normal aging, exposure to IED explosions, or chemotherapy?

Over the years, I have specifically discussed the potential value of intensive brain plasticity-based brain fitness training for individuals with ALL of these (and other, related) personal histories. How in the heck can “one size fit all”? How on earth can the losses in mental faculties stemming from an explosion of little bubbles in the…

Why science can be confusing, just another example

A provocative article in an Issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Columbia researchers (Saxe, Malleret, et al.) described a study in which scientists documented the consequences of blocking neurogenesis (the birthing of new neurons) on maze-learning in mice. Since we already know that the magnitude of neurogenesis in this brain…