neuroscience

WATCH: Does This Thing Have Selfhood?

What is the self? The answer to the question, often explained away by religious thinkers and philosophers as “spirit” or “soul,” has long been science’s “big blind spot,” says Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and professor at UC Berkeley.  

People Are Strange When You’re Sleep Deprived

Got a lousy night’s sleep? Feeling kinda grouchy? Turns out waking up on the wrong side of the bed won’t just make you cranky. It will make others seem that way, too. A 2015 study from the UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory found that a single sleepless night can fundamentally alter the way we perceive others—making even the mellowest of fellows seem like the strangest of dangers.

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Unboggling Minds: New Brain Study May Impact Language Research

Scientists have long believed that the cortex, the outer layer of the brain, was responsible for figuring out the meaning in a sentence. But a new study out of UC Berkeley shows that the hippocampus, a brain structure long believed to act as a center for linking memories together, plays an active role in extracting meaning from language.

“This gives us a new insight into how memory works in humans, and how memory interacts with the rest of the brain to produce behavior,” says study co-author and Berkeley psychology professor Robert Knight.

Lack of Sleep May Lead to Dementia: New Research Finds It Makes Brain Vulnerable

It turns out that a sleepless night may cost you more than a morning of grogginess—it could be giving the proteins believed to cause dementia easier access to your brain.

Scientists at UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab have discovered evidence that missing out on deep non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep may leave the brain more vulnerable to the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Blind No More? Berkeley Neuroscientists’ Engineered Molecule Causes Mice to See Light

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, a blind character wore a visor that helped him to see the world. With any luck, that won’t be science fiction for long.

UC Berkeley Professor Richard Kramer and his colleagues, including graduate student Ivan Tochitsky, have engineered a molecule that, when injected into the eyes of blind mice, causes them to react to light. With a little extra hardware, Kramer says, this molecule could help humans suffering from diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.
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