Most Popular in 2015

  • Published31 Dec 2015
  • Reviewed30 Dec 2015
  • Author Juliet M. Beverly
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN
Close up of a girl smelling a flower.

Making Sense of Scents: Smell and the Brain

Scientists studying olfaction have learned how our sense of smell works and discovered that it might be more sophisticated than previously thought.

Courtesy, with permission: Dennis Wong.
Close up of a girl smelling a flower.
In this illustration of a neuron, myelin is shown in yellow. In the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, myelin is produced by support cells called Schwann cells. The nuclei of the Schwann cells are shown here in pink.

Myelin: An Overview

Research into how myelin insulates nerves is shedding light on diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Courtesy, with permission: Quasar Jarosz.
In this illustration of a neuron, myelin is shown in yellow. In the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, myelin is produced by support cells called Schwann cells. The nuclei of the Schwann cells are shown here in pink.
In this image, the brain of an obese individual shows fewer dopamine receptors than a control subject. Lower dopamine  levels can increase cravings for fatty foods.

Let’s Eat: How Diet Influences the Brain

The contents of your dinner plate can have profound effects on your brain and nervous system.

Courtesy, with permission: National Institute on Drug Abuse
In this image, the brain of an obese individual shows fewer dopamine receptors than a control subject. Lower dopamine  levels can increase cravings for fatty foods.
spinal cord injury

Recovering From Spinal Cord Injuries

Advances in spinal cord injury research offer hope for recovery.

Courtesy, with permission: Frank Galliard.
spinal cord injury
Painting by William Powell Frith, "Sleep" - 1873.

The Secret to Memory? A Good Night’s Sleep

A good night’s sleep can strengthen memories and promote creative thinking.

William Powell Frith
Painting by William Powell Frith, "Sleep" - 1873.
The stress caused by bullying can negatively  affect the developing brain. Stressed animals can show increased levels of corticosterone in the regions of the brain where reward stimuli are processed, increasing the risk for substance abuse.

Bullying and the Brain

Bullying is more than a painful experience — it can have lasting repercussions on the developing brains of young people.

Courtesy, with permission: National Institutes of Mental Health.
The stress caused by bullying can negatively  affect the developing brain. Stressed animals can show increased levels of corticosterone in the regions of the brain where reward stimuli are processed, increasing the risk for substance abuse.
Image of a lollipop.

Sweet Talk: The Brain and Sugar

Your favorite sweet treat activates complex reactions within the brain. Hear how it happens in this podcast from BrainFacts.org.

Image of a lollipop.
Photo of a girl sleeping in a bed, heading resting on a pillow.

Roundup: Sleep and the Brain

Sleeping is key for a healthy brain, but it’s still a mysterious part of life.

Photo of a girl sleeping in a bed, heading resting on a pillow.
This image shows the cingulate cortex in a mouse, with individual neurons stained in red. The basal forebrain, an area on the underside of the frontal lobe, sends nerve fibers (green) to regulate activity in the cingulate cortex.

Image of the Week: Mind Mapping

Scientists map the organization of nerve fibers, which may offer new clues about their roles in cognition and behavior.

Bloem, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience 2014.
This image shows the cingulate cortex in a mouse, with individual neurons stained in red. The basal forebrain, an area on the underside of the frontal lobe, sends nerve fibers (green) to regulate activity in the cingulate cortex.
Human skull and brain size compared to a chimpanzee's skull and brain size.

Brain Evolution: Searching for What Makes Us Human

Studying brain evolution sheds light on the unique features of the human brain.

Courtesy, with permission: Aida Gómez-Robles and José Manuel De La Cuétara.
Human skull and brain size compared to a chimpanzee's skull and brain size.

This year, BrainFacts.org explored what people were most curious about: the science of ourselves. It was a year of exploration of the brain and how it determines what we all do every day, from what we eat to when we sleep. You were also interested in our higher functions, like memory, behavior, and what makes us human. Browse through the images and their descriptions to look through our most popular posts in 2015, and click on the link in each caption to read the full articles.


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