Neuroscience

Bling, foreclosures, rising credit card debt, bank and auto bailouts, upside down mortgages and perhaps a mid-life crisis new Corvette---all symptoms of compulsive overspending.   University of Michigan researcher Daniel Kruger says the answer lies in evolution and mating. He theorizes that men overspend to attract mates.

It all boils down, as it has for hundreds of thousands of years, to making babies. 

Kruger, an assistant research scientist in the School of Public Health, tested his hypothesis in a community sample of adults aged 18-45 and found that the degree of financial consumption was directly related to future mating intentions and past mating success for men but not for women.
Can radiation from cell phones affect memory?

The debate continues but in rat experiments done at the Division of Neurosurgery, Lund University, in Sweden, Henrietta Nittby studied rats that were exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a week for more than a year and says these rats had poorer results on a memory test than rats that had not been exposed to radiation.

The memory test consisted of releasing the rats in a box with four objects mounted in it. These objects were different on the two occasions, and the placement of the objects was different from one time to the other.
If you need more proof of how easy the human brain is to fool, hop over to Scientific American's 60 second science and read about how a group of mad scientists used virtual reality goggle to get subjects to 'body-swap' with a mannequin.

I'm waiting for the Wii version.
What color is the number 7? How does a symphony taste? What temperature is a muted television? A synesthete could tell you, with great certainty and consistency, the answers to the above questions, and describe many more sensory associations that seem irrelevant to most people.

Approximately 1 in 1000 people experience synesthesia - the elicitation of a sensory response independent of the stimulus itself. For instance, viewing a number or hearing a phonetic sound may elicit a colored response in the visual field, or a certain visual stimulus may elicit an auditory response.
As you gorge on food this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, you might not want to think about the fat content of all the goodies you've indulged in. Nevertheless, your brain will be keeping tabs directly, suggests a report in the issue of Cell. 

Researchers have discovered in studies of rats that one type of lipid produced in the gut rises after eating fatty foods. Those so called N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines or NAPEs enter the bloodstream and go straight to the brain, where they concentrate in a brain region that controls food intake and energy expenditure. 

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic studying Parkinson’s disease have made a breakthrough therapy that could slow progression of the disease or even halt its onset.

Previous research has discovered that patients with Parkinson’s have an abnormal abundance of alpha-synuclein, a protein, which is believed to be the cause of the disease. Targeting this protein has since taken forefront of their studies and researchers have developed a method to reduce the expression of alpha-synuclein in the brain.

Were you first in line to buy a new iPhone?   Or are you still using your handy Motorola StarTAC from 1998?    Do you like changing jobs now and again because you get bored?

These personality traits may be hard-wired in your brain, according to scientists at the University of Bonn.   They say the neural connection between the ventral striatum and the hippocampus is what makes the difference. Both of them are reward centers in the brain. The reward system which urges us to take action is located in the striatum, whereas the hippocampus is responsible for specific memory functions.
Running out of excuses for not hearing the request to take out the trash or do the dishes? Rejoice, you who avoid sharing common household chores - a new excuse has emerged.

Avoid drinking any liquid while reading this - I almost spit out my coffee, laughing.
For as long as she could remember a 60-year-old British woman, known only as KH, has been unable to recognize voices, not even the voice of her own daughter. Unless she sees the face of the person speaking, she often has no idea who is talking to her. If her daughter calls on the phone, or an unseen colleague from work says something to her, it’s as if she’s hearing the voice for the first time.

Except when Sean Connery speaks.
People who have lost the ability to interpret emotion after a severe brain injury can regain this vital social skill by being re-educated to read body language, facial expressions and voice tone in others, according to a new study.

The research, published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, reveals that appropriate training can result in significant gains in "emotional perception", which is crucial for successful social communication.

The study involved 18 participants recruited from an outpatient service at the Liverpool Hospital Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, in Sydney, Australia. All had experienced a severe traumatic brain injury at least six months earlier and had significantly impaired ability to interpret emotions in others.
BEATNIKS   &   DREAMACHINES

Almost fifty years ago, the beat poet Brion Gysin (1916 - 1986), described a visual hallucination that he experienced while riding a bus: