November 25, 2013 Developmental psychologists are trying to figure out what very small children know and when they know it. The answer: a lot, and a lot earlier than you think. One experiment finds that 18-month-olds can reason abstractly when sorting blocks, well before they are able to explain it.
November 15, 2013 President Obama has launched basic research to help scientists peer deep into the individual nerve circuits in the brain. There's also a more practical effort to restore the memories of injured soldiers by outfitting them with specialized brain implants.
November 1, 2013 Using special eye-tracking cameras, researchers at the University of Rochester found that many people can perceive their own bodies moving, even in total darkness. Our minds instinctively fill in images when there aren't any real ones to see.
October 29, 2013 Prescription painkillers don't work for many people, and some people are helped by treatments like meditation that don't rely on drugs. The varied responses may stem from fundamental differences in how people's brains react to pain. Some minds can wander away from pain, while others just can't turn away.
October 28, 2013 Humans and other primates have really good vision. One scientist thinks that ability evolved in part to help monkeys and humans quickly recognize venomous snakes. When monkeys see photos of snakes, neurons in a specific part of the brain light up. The neurons respond to photos of the reptiles more than to monkey faces.
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.