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The Universe Inside Your Head

Though the human brain is only about the size of two fists, it contains roughly 100 billion neurons! Learn more about your amazing brain and the different ways that neuroscientists study it.  More »

Image of the Week: Local Connections

How do nerve cells in the brain influence their neighbors?

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Introduction

In the brain, nerve cells never work alone. In a neural circuit, the activity of one cell directly influences many others. To gain insight into how these interactions control brain function, researchers are exploring the connections between nerve cells and how they change over time. This insight could lead scientists to a better understanding of how the nervous system develops and the ways disease or injury disrupts the natural rhythms of brain cell communication. With new imaging technology, scientists are now better able to visualize circuits connecting brain regions in humans. In addition, advances in genetic engineering, microscopy, and computing are enabling scientists to begin to map the connections between individual nerve cells in animals better than ever before. These findings may one day shed light on disorders scientists suspect arise from errors in neural network development, including autism and schizophrenia.

Discoveries

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.


Captivating Rhythm

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Rhythm is universal — all over the world, people respond to a steady tempo. Our hearts beat rhythmically, and we wake and sleep to circadian rhythms. These intrinsic rhythms are associated with rhythmic activity in the brain.

Mapping Brain Circuits

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Neuroscientists are diligently working to create detailed maps of the major routes — or neural circuits — in the brain.

Neuroscience in the News

Neuroscience: Tuning the brain

Source: Nature
Date: 19 March 2014
Deep brain stimulation has shown promise in treating conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

The Unlikely Network at the Core of Your Brain’s Internet

Source: WIRED
Date: 29 Oct 2013
A growing body of evidence suggests that a network of highly interlinked brain regions exists that could prove essential in facilitating higher-order tasks.

Famous "Trolley Problem" Exposes Moral Instincts

Source: Scientific American
Date: 19 Oct 2013
A trolley is hurtling down a track, and if nobody intervenes it will hit and kill five people. Psychologists use variations on this hypothetical situation to gauge people's gut reactions about morality.