Although a flying pig doesn't exist in the real world, our brains use what we know about pigs and birds — and superheroes — to create one in our mind's eye when we hear or read those words.
This image shows a human glial cell (green) among normal mouse glial cells (red). The human cell is larger, sends out more fibers and has more connections than do mouse cells. Mice with this type of human cell implanted in their brains perform better on learning and memory tests than do typical mice.
Courtesy of Steven Goldman
Movies like The Shining frighten most of us, but some brain-damaged people feel no fear when they watch a scary film. However, an unseen threat — air with a high level of carbon dioxide — produces a surprising result.
Chances are they already speak more languages than you: children from Papua New Guinea's Andai tribe of hunter-gatherers wait for their parents to vote in the village of Kaiam. Over 800 languages are spoken in PNG, a country of about six million people.
Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images
A visitor to the Wellcome Collection's 2012 exhibition "Brains: The mind as matter" looks at a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI) showing a human brain as it listens to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Kant's third Critique.
Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
Matt Langione, a subject in the study, reads Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Results from the study suggest that blood flow in the brain differs during leisurely and critical reading activities.
L.A. Cicero/Stanford University
Megan Lutz, left, and Justin Chun react to amateur comedian Robert Lynch at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan, N.Y. Lynch is an anthropologist researching what laughing reveals about us.
Melanie Burford for NPR