neuron

This episode of NOVA scienceNOW delves into some pretty heady stuff, examining magic and the brain, artificial intelligence, magnetic mind control, and the work of neuroscientist and synesthesia researcher David Eagleman. Can we really believe our own eyes? Will machines one day think like us? Can magnetic wands effectively control brain functions and treat depression? Explore this and more. (www.youtube.com)

Chemistry of neurotransmission

In the quest to map the brain, many scientists have attempted the incredibly daunting task of recording the activity of each neuron. Gero Miesenboeck works backward -- manipulating specific neurons to figure out exactly what they do, through a series of stunning experiments that reengineer the way fruit flies percieve light.

Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines -- about a hundred millions of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the "hidden brain" in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel.

Sebastian Seung is mapping a massively ambitious new model of the brain that focuses on the connections between each neuron. He calls it our "connectome," and it's as individual as our genome -- and understanding it could open a new way to understand our brains and our minds.

Google Tech Talks November 21, 2008

Personal Growth Series: Cracking the Neural Code: Speaking the Language of the Brain with Optics

The technological seeds of a Manhattan project-style scientific enterprise, the optical reverse-engineering of brain circuits to crack the neural code, have recently been planted at Stanford.

Thomas M. Jessel, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, explores the human brain, the sophisticated product of 500 million years of vertebrate evolution, assembled during just nine months of embryonic development. The functions encoded by its trillion nerve cells direct all human behavior. Yet the brain is a biological organ made from the same building blocks as skin, liver and lung. How does the brain acquire its remarkable computational power?

Eric R. Kandel, HHMI Investigator, examines whether the brain's two major memory systems, implicit and explicit, have any common features. Implicit and explicit memory both have a short-term component lasting minutes, such as remembering the telephone number you just looked up, and a long-term component that lasts days, weeks, or a lifetime, such as remembering your mother's birthday. Short-term memory is mediated by modifications of existing proteins, leading to temporary changes in the strength of communication between nerve cells.

Thomas M. Jessell, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, examines the neural circuits that control our movements. Neural circuits give us a glimpse of how brain wiring and circuit activity control specific behaviors, including the movement of our limbs. Consider baseball player Lou Gehrig's remarkable hand-eye coordination, or the purity of cellist Jacqueline du Pré's tone. Yet, both examples also remind us of the fragility of the motor system: Gehrig succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and du Pré to multiple sclerosis.

Amazing neurological expedition.

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