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Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science

Emile Bruneau
While early research focused on the political roots of terrorism, many of today's investigators are probing the psychological factors that drive adherents to commit their deadly deeds. Are terrorists mentally ill or do they rationally weigh the costs and benefits of their actions and conclude that terrorism is profitable? Our author traces recent advances in using imaging and experimental research to determine what motivates monstrous acts.
November 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Moheb Costandi
Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and solitary confinement were some of the tactics outlined and authorized in a series of Bush Administration secret legal documents, known as the "torture memos," which were made public in 2009. Shane O'Mara's new book casts morality aside to examine whether torture produces reliable information. He reviews existing research in psychology and neuroscience to highlight the impact of torture methods on brain function.
November 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Michael Anderson
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a mythic figure in science and recognized as the father of modern anatomy and neurobiology, was largely responsible for the modern conception of the brain. The first to publish on the nervous system, he sought to educate the novice scientist about how he thought science should be done. We asked an accomplished young investigator to take a fresh look at this recently rediscovered classic, first published in 1897.
September 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Philip G Haydon
Did you know that glial cells are more numerous than neurons in the brain? Scientists have found that one type of glial cell that is prevalent in the cortex-the astrocyte-communicates with its brethren, sends information to neurons, and controls blood flow to regions of brain activity. Because of all these properties, and since the cortex is believed responsible for cognition, the role of astrocytes in sleep, learning, and memory is being determined.
September 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Patricio V Marquez, Shekhar Saxena
At a conference in April in Washington, D.C., the World Bank Group (WBG), together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners kick-started a call to action to governments, international partners, health professionals, and others to find solutions to a rising global mental health problem. Our authors write that mental disorders account for 30 percent of the non-fatal disease burden worldwide and 10 percent of overall disease burden, including death and disability, and that the global cost-estimated to be approximately $2...
July 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Ellen K Silbergeld
While the problem of unsafe tap water in Flint, Michigan fueled outrage and better awareness in regard to the hazards of lead in tap water, the problem has existed in city after city for years in the US and in other countries. Our author, a winner of the MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant for her work in identifying preventable causes of human disease related to environmental exposures, points out that problems extend well beyond lead. Many potentially harmful contaminants have yet to be evaluated, much less regulated...
July 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Ray Dingledine, Bjørnar Hassel
About one-third of the 65 million people worldwide affected by epilepsy are treatment-resistant, and the degree to which they suffer from seizures and convulsions can vary widely. Problems occur when nerve cells in the brain fail to communicate properly. A new study has found that inhibiting an enzyme that is critical in metabolic communication has an anti-seizure effect in epileptic mice. These findings, the authors believe, may very well initiate a shift to new therapeutic approaches.
May 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Harry M Tracy
Compared to the money dedicated to cancer and cardiology, funding for neuroscience research has lagged behind for decades. But things are starting to change. From the White House's Brain Initiative to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS to some recent sizeable gifts to universities, money for brain research appears to be on the rise. But, as our author explains, research and development funding from private and corporate lenders for cognitive neuroscience-an area that he has spent years tracking-is also vital to the quality of life for millions of people...
May 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Karel Svoboda
Since the start of the new millennium, a method called two-photon microscopy has allowed scientists to peer farther into the brain than ever before. Our author, one of the pioneers in the development of this new technology, writes that "directly observing the dynamics of neural networks in an intact brain has become one of the holy grails of brain research." His article describes the advances that led to this remarkable breakthrough-one that is helping neuroscientists better understand neural networks.
March 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Lary C Walker, Mathias Jucker
When most people hear the words malignant and brain, cancer immediately comes to mind. But our authors argue that proteins can be malignant too, and can spread harmfully through the brain in neurodegenerative diseases that include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, CTE, and ALS. Studying how proteins such as PrP, amyloid beta, tau, and others aggregate and spread, and kill brain cells, represents a crucial new frontier in neuroscience.
March 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Bradley E Alger
With legal cannabis sales at $5.4 billion in 2015 and expected to rise by another billion this year in the United States, legalization and marijuana's impact on health is a hot topic of national debate. Casarett, a physician at the University of Pennsylvania, immerses himself in the culture, science, and smoke of medical marijuana in order to sort out the truth behind the buzz. Our reviewer, who has authored more than 120 research papers and reviews on the regulation of synaptic inhibition and endocannabinoids, tell us what the author got right, but also overlooked on his journey to learn more about a complex and controversial subject...
March 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Michael H Baumann
Our author writes that recent data from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime indicate that 540 different drugs classified as new psychoactive substances (NPS) have been identified worldwide as of 2014, and this number is expected to rise. His article describes the complexity of the NPS problem, what is known about the molecular mechanisms of action, and the pharmacological effects of NPS. It also highlights some of the considerable challenges in dealing with this emerging issue.
January 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Richard S Jope, Charles B Nemeroff
Lithium, an element that Mother Nature has put in some drinking water sources, has been used for its curative powers for centuries. Today, it's given in capsule form as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder and depression. New research, however, reveals its role as a neuroprotector, and suggests that a better understanding of the role enzymes modulated by lithium play could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
January 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Alan A Stone
From trauma to amnesia to senior moments, memory has been a major plot line in films since the 1942 classic, Random Harvest. John Seamon, an author and professor of psychology whose research includes how a camera aids memory and the impact of storytelling on memory, has shifted his lens to focus on how memory has been portrayed in one of the world's most beloved art forms.
January 2016: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
John P A Ioannidis
Science has always relied on reproducibility to build confidence in experimental results. Now, the most comprehensive investigation ever done about the rate and predictors of reproducibility in social and cognitive sciences has found that regardless of the analytic method or criteria used, fewer than half of the original findings were successfully replicated. While a failure to reproduce does not necessarily mean the original report was incorrect, the results suggest that more rigorous methods are long overdue...
November 2015: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Theodor Landis
Our brain has two hemispheres that specialize in different jobs-the right side processes spatial and temporal information, and the left side controls speech and language. How these two sides come together to create one mind is explained by pioneering neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga in his new book, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain : A Life in Neuroscience (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2015). Gazzaniga is director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Dana Alliance member...
November 2015: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Marisa M Silveri
The unpredictable and sometimes incomprehensible moods and behaviors of a teenager can be a head-scratching mystery-especially to parents. Hormones, boredom, social media, peer pressure, and drugs and alcohol are just a few of the factors to consider. Frances E. Jensen, M.D., professor and chair of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and the mother of two sons who are now in their twenties (along with Washington Post health and science reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Ellis Nutt) look at the emerging science of the adolescent brain and provide advice based on Jensen's own research and experience as a single mother...
November 2015: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Diane B Howieson
Whether it's a special episode on the PBS series, "The Secret Life of the Brain" or an entire issue dedicated to the topic in the journal Science, a better understanding of the aging brain is viewed as a key to an improved quality of life in a world where people live longer. Despite dementia and other neurobiological disorders that are associated with aging, improved imaging has revealed that even into our seventies, our brains continue producing new neurons. Our author writes about how mental health functions react to the normal aging process, including why an aging brain may even form the basis for wisdom...
November 2015: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Alice V Ely, Anne Cusack
Who hasn't dipped into that pint of Häagen-Dazs with the best of intentions and ended up finishing the entire container? Knowing where the line is when it comes to out-of-control impulse consumption is at the heart of binge-eating disorder (BED), a newly recognized mental condition that effects affects millions of people and that we are just beginning to better understand-from both a neurobiological and clinical standpoint.
September 2015: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
Theodore J Cicero
From teenagers dying from heroin overdoses to crime tied to Vicodin and OxyContin addiction to road fatalities in which sedatives and muscle relaxants are involved, 20,000 deaths in the United States in 2014 were attributed to problems associated with narcotics and prescription drug use. Our author, whose research involves the neurobiological basis of drug addiction, traces the history and evolution of narcotics and leans on his clinical experience to discuss why certain drugs are powerful, addicting-and dangerous...
September 2015: Cerebrum: the Dana Forum on Brain Science
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