Skip Navigation

BrainFacts.org

A PUBLIC INFORMATION
INITIATIVE OF:

  • Kavli
  • Gatsby
  • SfN
Photo of Susan Perry

Susan Perry

  • Science Writer
  • Freelance

Susan Perry is a Minnesota-based medical and science writer with a special interest in neuroscience. A former writer and editor for Time-Life Books, she has been contributing educational and other materials to the Society for Neuroscience for almost two decades.

Articles by Susan Perry

A C Elegan worm

A Tiny Worm with a Mighty Scientific Impact

Source: Society for Neuroscience
It’s a very small worm — only one millimeter in length — with a big name: Caenorhabditis elegans. But few organisms have made as large a contribution to science.
Cells in the hypothalamus

Narcolepsy

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Scientists have identified some of narcolepsy’s underlying genetic and neurobiological causes — discoveries that reveal biological mechanisms of sleep disorders and potential treatments.
Brain illustration showing stroke area

Stroke Prevention and Treatment

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Stroke is a leading cause of disability around the world and the fourth leading cause of death. But what most people do not know is the same habits that help protect the heart may safeguard the brain.
A monkey watching a screen with a moving target

Decision-Making

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Decision-making is such a seamless process we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we wonder, “Why did I choose that option?”
A monkey feeds itself with a brain-controlled prosthetic arm.

Brain-Controlled Prosthetics

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Mind over matter is no longer the stuff of science fiction alone. Brain-computer interface technology now enables severely physically disabled people to independently compose and send emails.
Two birds

Birdsong

Source: Society for Neuroscience

By studying how baby birds learn to sing scientists hope to gain insight into the neural mechanisms by which humans learn to speak.

Protein structure

Genes and Language

Source: Society for Neuroscience

The discovery of genes directly related to language offers a new way to examine speech and communication disorders.

Grasping a cup, drinking from a cup, and cleaning around a cup exhibit different levels of mirror neuron activity

Mirror Neurons

Source: Society for Neuroscience

The ability to instinctively and immediately understand what other people are experiencing has long baffled neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers alike. Research now suggests a fascinating explanation: brain cells called mirror neurons.

A sketch of neuronal shapes by Santiago Ramon y Cajal

Neurons: A Curious Collection of Shapes and Sizes

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Neurons — the nerve cells that make up the brain and nervous system — look different from all other cells in the body. And from one another.
Three brains in panels

The Bilingual Brain

Source: Society for Neuroscience
As scientists unlock more of the neurological secrets of the bilingual brain, they're learning that speaking more than one language may have cognitive benefits that extend from childhood into old age.
Cells known as glia (Greek for “glue”) were long believed to provide nothing more than support to nerve cells.

Glia: the Other Brain Cells

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Scientists used to think glia cells were the nervous system’s supporting players, helping keep brain cell communication in working order. But recent studies suggest glia play a more vital role.
Retinal scan of LCA

The Value of a Virus

Source: Society for Neuroscience
With the right manipulations, scientists use viruses to investigate and treat brain diseases.
Positron emission tomography (PET) image of a brain

The Neural Regulation of Thirst

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Everybody gets thirsty. The urge to drink fluids is a natural instinct regulated by a negative feedback loop between the brain and other organs in the body.

Tiny, bubble-like compartments known as vesicles.

Neurotransmitters: How Brain Cells Use Chemicals to Communicate

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Neurons transmit signs to your brain every millisecond of every day, and facilitate almost everything you do. But what happens when this critical process goes wrong?
Memory Illustration showing the number of different processes carried out by the human brain on an daily basis. The brain is responsible for all cognitive function including calculation, learning and memory, path finding and landmark recognition, logical thinking etc. Digital artwork/Computer graphic 2008. Wellcome Images.

How Forgetting Helps Us Remember

Source: Society for Neuroscience
It can be frustrating to be unable to recall information when you need it. But forgetting is actually a good thing.
U.S. medics treat wounded soldiers.

The Power of the Placebo

Source: Society for Neuroscience
As many as one in three patients report feeling better after receiving a drug that has no active ingredients.
Image showing gradual aging of a young woman

Healthy Aging

Source: Society for Neuroscience
We all want to age well. Exercise, eating right, and avoiding stress help maintain a healthy body as we age, but what about the brain? New research indicates these same strategies also promote brain health.
A schematic showing how fMRI signals are used to reconstruct visual images.

Reading Minds: the Science, not the Fiction

Source: Society for Neuroscience
By combining advanced brain imaging techniques with computer software that can detect patterns of brain activity, neuroscientists are getting an unprecedented look into how the brain perceives, decides, and remembers. 
Sensory nerves form the connections between taste buds on the tongue

A Matter of Taste

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Why do some people enjoy the taste of broccoli while others find it bitter and unpleasant? Neurobiological and genetic sources of taste preferences can influence eating habits — and health.