Table of Contents The Brain Fall 2011

brain fall

Our brains are nearly three times the size of our earliest ancestors’, and it took just 3 million years to super-size them — a short timespan evolutionarily speaking. But does size really matter? Maybe not. Rather than bulk, the key to our intellectual prowess could be hidden in the way our neural connections are wired.

In this special issue of Discover, we explore the ways scientists are mapping our brains’ circuitry. Peering into the brain’s wiring has already led to a radical new treatment for depression, which we will explore in this issue. We’ll meet the scientists who are building maps that reveal the landscape of our grey matter in unprecedented detail.

Also in this issue, we take a trip to Harvard’s brain bank where thousands of specimens are waiting to be studied, and we take on a burning question of human evolution: If our brains our shrinking, are we more efficient, or just not as bright?

This special issue is not part of the subscription package but is available here exclusively for subscribers.

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FEATURES

stone-age-skull

Our Stone Age ancestors had more gray matter than we do. Are we more efficient, or are we not as bright?

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The injured brain reveals a secret: Our minds fabricate an artificial sense of place.

stopwatch

The sense of time is crafted by our neurons, which deploy cunning tricks to measure the moments as they pass.

insanity-virus

Schizophrenia may not be just a matter of bad genes or bad luck. A growing group of psychiatrists says the real culprit is a virus entwined in every person’s DNA.

the-whole-story

Maps that encompass the complete brain bring new depth and detail to neuroscience—and create gorgeous views of the landscape inside your head.

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Five controversial ideas that might finally explain this increasingly common disorder.

THE CRUX

Humans and dogs may be distant relatives, but they connect like brothers. A Duke University anthropologist explores how our canine friends learned to talk our language, and what that says about us.

Take a tour of the animal kingdom’s second-most remarkable brain.
The strange case of Dr. Charcot and the science of hysteria.

One neuroscientist wants to treat the bleakest depression with implanted electrodes.

Harnessing enormous computer firepower, Henry Markram is creating the first artificial brain.

The surprising smarts of crows and jays are forcing scientists to reconsider how they define intelligence.

A peek inside the Harvard brain bank, where thousands of specimens await scientific study.

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