Category Archives: the brain

Ep 201: Beyond the neuron



Beyond the neuron

The neuron is not the only type of brain cell. From a celebrity missing body parts, to human cells in a mouse brain, we take a look at your glia.

Here’s a video about the brain, that includes the animation I mentioned in the episode, and information on your Glia.

A Blueprint for the Human Brain

Here’s a simple and quick article about human Glia being placed into mice.

The smart mouse with the half-human brain

Here’s a less simple, less quick article about the same experiments.

Forebrain engraftment by human glial progenitor cells enhances synaptic plasticity and learning in adult mice

Here are a couple of articles about Einstein’s brain.

The Tragic Story of How Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen and Wasn’t Even Special

The strange afterlife of Einstein’s brain

I said that myelinization is an invention of the vertebrates. Well, there are exceptions. It wasn’t in the show, but it’s interesting—something on the evolution of myelination that includes a couple of invertebrates who’ve come up with the same trick.

Myelin Evolution


Ep 200: will robots rule the world?



will robots rule the world?

If we were to create an artificial intelligence that’s more intelligent than we are, would it take over and force us into extinction? Can a machine have a mind equal to or even better than our own? Today, we take a look at such questions, along with some side trips to sharks and whales and monkeys, and rocks and chocolate. I swear the candy thing really was relevant; I just got distracted.
Continue reading Ep 200: will robots rule the world?


Ep 199: Unconscious learning, your brain, and savant syndrome



Unconscious learning, your brain, and savant syndrome

Today we talk about your brain and unconscious mechanisms of learning. From losing a skill for no apparent reason, to acquiring languages, to unfortunately learning paralysis and pain, to savants who apparently learn without consciously attempting to, we cover some oddities about the way your brain works and how you learn.
Continue reading Ep 199: Unconscious learning, your brain, and savant syndrome


Ep 198: A rough sketch or two, of you, inside of you.



A rough sketch or two, of you, inside of you.

Inside your brain, there are individual neurons that correspond to specific places on your body. If you figure out which cell goes to what part, you’ll notice that the map in your brain looks like a nightmare sketch of you, drawn by a mad artist who’s only heard of humans by rough description. The body and legs are way too small, the hands are huge, your lips are oversized, and your face is upside-down. Today, Phil and I talk about these parts of the brain, with many side trips and much confusion.
Continue reading Ep 198: A rough sketch or two, of you, inside of you.


Ep 197: right brain, left side body; left brain, right side body… why?



right brain, left side body; left brain, right side body… why?

Our brains have crossed wires. Each cerebral hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. When I move my left hand, it’s my right brain that’s doing it. Today, Phil and I look at a theory about how and why that’s true for us, and every other animal with a spine.
Continue reading Ep 197: right brain, left side body; left brain, right side body… why?


Ep 196: How neurons find their home



How neurons find their home

Even before birth, billions of brain cells have to figure out what sort of cell to be, where to be, and which other neurons to connect to. Today we talk about the complicated processes that help neurons find their home.
Continue reading Ep 196: How neurons find their home


Ep 195: Baby’s brain before birth



Baby’s brain before birth

As we continue our close look at the human brain, we take some time to look at how it grows and develops. The story starts before you are born, when a man and woman love each other very much, and…
Continue reading Ep 195: Baby’s brain before birth


Ep 194: The lowly, yet complex, neuron



The lowly, yet complex, neuron

Finally done with natural history, today we start talking about the brain. It is extremely complicated. Even a single brain cell, one neuron, is an intricate little machine. Today we take a look at the neuron, and how it sends signals.