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Toxins and Venoms

Simple curiosity about the sting of a scorpion or the toxicity of food poisoning has yielded unexpected results — novel research tools and drug targets.

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A Tiny Worm with a Mighty Scientific Impact

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.

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Image of the Week: Sensing Movement

The primate retina passes information about rapid movement to the brain.

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Introduction

Weighing in at about three pounds, the human brain is the largest and most complex of any living primate. But just as most human genes are nearly identical among mammals, so too does the human brain bear major similarities in structure and function to the brains of those species most closely related to us on the tree of life. However, even nervous systems from the simplest organisms offer clues about the function of the human brain. Researchers are also working to identify the key brain differences that endow humans with unique cognitive abilities, like speaking and abstraction. Neuroscientists study a variety of animal models, from zebrafish to songbirds. The simplicity of the nervous system in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans allowed scientists to trace all its neural connections. This insight could one day offer clues about connections in the human brain. Researchers also study chemicals in the animal world in hopes of finding new drug targets in the human.

Discoveries

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.

Toxins and Venoms

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Simple curiosity about the sting of a scorpion or the toxicity of food poisoning has yielded unexpected results — novel research tools and drug targets.

Evolution in the News

Who's Got A Pregnant Brain?

Source: National Public Radio
Date: 14 Jan 2014
"Who's the brainiest critter on this planet? Relative to body size, who's got the biggest brain?" The answer, 2 million years ago, would not have been us.

In the Human Brain, Size Really Isn’t Everything

Source: New York Times
Date: 26 Dec 2013
There are many things that make humans a unique species, but a couple stand out. One is our mind, the other our brain.

Scientists Create Detailed Map of Dinosaur Brain

Source: The Guardian
Date: 13 Nov 2013
Ancient beasts such as Tyrannosaurus rex had faculties for complex behaviour, according to findings based on studies of brains of alligators and birds.

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