October 3, 2013 Matt Haimovitz is 42 and a world-renowned cellist. His mother took him to many concerts as a kid, but nothing in his family history explains where he got his extraordinary talent. And that's typical, says Ellen Winner, a psychology professor at Boston College who has spent much of her career studying prodigies.
September 23, 2013 It used to be that neuroscientists thought smart people were all alike. But now they think that some very smart people retain the ability to learn rapidly, like a child, well into adolescence. That means they have a longer period of time to learn from their environment — and maybe learn Chinese.
September 6, 2013 Ever wondered how Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man quickly counted all those toothpicks on the floor? Scientists have found a region of the brain that allows us to estimate quantities at a glance. Unlike Hoffman's Ray, though, most people are accurate up to only about five toothpicks.
September 5, 2013 A new study that relies on brain-imaging of cerebral blood flows suggests that human speech and complex tool-making skills emerged together almost two million years ago. Commentator Barbara J. King digs through the evidence and offers her own take on this age-old question.
August 30, 2013 In what they call "direct brain-to-brain communication in humans," researchers at the University of Washington say they've successfully passed signals from one mind to another via the Internet, without using surgical implants.
August 12, 2013 Researchers discovered what appears to be a momentary increase in electrical activity in the brain associated with consciousness. As the brain struggles to survive, it also struggles to make sense of many neurons firing in the survival attempt.
August 7, 2013 We don't know how the brain creates consciousness, the subjective you. So, can machines do it, too? Commentator Marcelo Gleiser confronts "the hard problem of consciousness" and finds a world in which what we can know may have its limits.
June 17, 2013 Scientists and parents have long been baffled by the fact that children with autism often don't pay attention to human voices. Researchers say that may be because speech doesn't activate a reward system in the brain for those children the way it does for typical children.
April 4, 2013 Philosophers, poets and psychologists have long shared a fascination with dreams. Now Japanese scientists have scanned the brains of dreaming volunteers to create a lexicon of imagery that can be used to detect and decode dreams while a person sleeps.
April 3, 2013 What can we say about how the brain creates our sense of self? A lot and yet surprisingly little, as it turns out. Commentator Marcelo Gleiser ponders the many challenges scientists face to make sense of our mind.
March 7, 2013 For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Now researchers say that when they placed human versions of another type of brain cell into mice brains, the mice grew up to be faster learners. This supports the hypothesis that these glial cells — and not just better-known neurons — play an important role in learning.
February 4, 2013 Some people with damage to a specific region of the brain called the amygdala do not feel fear. If you make them handle a snake or show them a scene from a scary movie such as The Shining, they won't be affected. But breathing in air with high levels of carbon dioxide can send them into a panic.