Chapter 1. Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.
By Alan Boyle Slides containing thin slices of Albert Einstein's brain will go on display at Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, thanks to a donation from a neuropathologist who has been holding onto the samples for decades. Lucy Rorke-Adams of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia received the box of 46 slides in the mid-1970s from the widow of a physician who helped arrange the preparation of the brain samples, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Thomas Stoltz Harvey, a doctor at Princeton Hospital, conducted the autopsy on the famed physicist just hours after his death in 1955. Apparently without the family's permission, Harvey preserved Einstein's brain and sectioned it into hundreds of specimens on microscope slides for study. The controversy, as well as the strange journey of Einstein's brain, are detailed in Michael Paterniti's book "Driving Mr. Albert." Harvey and other researchers found nothing unusual about the brain's size, but there was evidence that Einstein's brain contained more than the expected proportion of glial cells, which play a role in supporting connections between neurons. Rorke-Adams, whose research focuses on comparisons of brain cells at different ages, said Einstein's brain looks remarkably youthful under a microscope: "“It does not show any of the changes that we associate with age," CBS Philly quoted her as saying. © 2011 msnbc.com
Link ID: 16059 - Posted: 11.21.2011
By R. Douglas Fields Children breast-fed longer than six months scored a 3.8-point IQ margin over those who were bottle-fed, according to a seven-year study by researchers at Jagiellonian University Medical College in Poland. Medical epidemiologist Wieslaw Jedrychowski and colleagues followed 468 babies born to nonsmoking mothers. The children were tested five times at regular intervals from infancy through preschool age. The data showed that cognitive abilities of preschoolers who were breast-fed scored significantly higher than bottle-fed infants, and IQ score was directly proportional to how long the infants had been breast-fed: IQs were 2.1 points higher in children who were breast-fed for three months; 2.6 points higher when babies were breast-fed for four to six months; 3.8 points higher in children breast-fed longer than six months. The results were published in the May 2011 issue of the European Journal of Pediatrics. This research confirms observations reported 70 years ago by Carolyn Hoefer and Mattie Hardy in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association, as well as many subsequent studies. This body of research provides the scientific basis for the World Health Organization's recommendation that all infants should be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life. But what is the missing ingredient that undermines the cognitive development of bottle-fed babies? Chemists searching for a specific compound in mother's milk have been overlooking the obvious difference between breast-feeding and bottle-feeding—something that could easily account for the difference in cognitive development, wrote Tonse Raju, a pediatrician and neonatalogist at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the current issue of Breastfeeding Medicine, October 2011. (Raju was not involved in the Jedrychowski study.) © 2011 Scientific American,
By JAMES GORMAN NEW IBERIA, La. — In a dome-shaped outdoor cage, a dozen chimpanzees are hooting. The hair on their shoulders sticks straight up. “That’s piloerection,” a sign of emotional arousal, says Dr. Dana Hasselschwert, head of veterinary sciences at the New Iberia Research Center. She tells a visitor to keep his distance. The chimps tend to throw pebbles — or worse — when they get excited. Chimps’ similarity to humans makes them valuable for research, and at the same time inspires intense sympathy. To research scientists, they may look like the best chance to cure terrible diseases. But to many other people, they look like relatives behind bars. Biomedical research on chimps helped produce a vaccine for hepatitis B, and is aimed at one for hepatitis C, which infects 170 million people worldwide, but there has long been an outcry against the research as cruel and unnecessary. Now, because of a major push by advocacy organizations, a decision to stop such research in the United States could come within a year. As it is, the United States is one of only two countries that conduct invasive research on chimpanzees. The other is the central African nation of Gabon. “This is a very different moment than ever before,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. “Now is the time to get these chimps out of invasive research and out of the labs.” © 2011 The New York Times Company
Keyword: Animal Rights
Link ID: 16038 - Posted: 11.15.2011
By BENEDICT CAREY ST. HELENA, Calif. — The scientists exchanged one last look and held their breath. Everything was ready. The electrode was in place, threaded between the two hemispheres of a living cat’s brain; the instruments were tuned to pick up the chatter passing from one half to the other. The only thing left was to listen for that electronic whisper, the brain’s own internal code. The amplifier hissed — the three scientists expectantly leaning closer — and out it came, loud and clear. “We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine ....” “The Beatles’ song! We somehow picked up the frequency of a radio station,” recalled Michael S. Gazzaniga, chuckling at the 45-year-old memory. “The brain’s secret code. Yeah, right!” Dr. Gazzaniga, 71, now a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is best known for a dazzling series of studies that revealed the brain’s split personality, the division of labor between its left and right hemispheres. But he is perhaps next best known for telling stories, many of them about blown experiments, dumb questions and other blunders during his nearly half-century career at the top of his field. Now, in lectures and a new book, he is spelling out another kind of cautionary tale — a serious one, about the uses of neuroscience in society, particularly in the courtroom. Brain science “will eventually begin to influence how the public views justice and responsibility,” Dr. Gazzaniga said at a recent conference here sponsored by the Edge Foundation. © 2011 The New York Times Company
Link ID: 15971 - Posted: 11.01.2011
By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News The idea of making brain cancers glow to help surgeons operate is being tested in the UK. Patients will be given a drug, 5-amino-levulinic acid (5-ALA), which causes a build-up of fluorescent chemicals in the tumour. The theory is that the pink glow will clearly mark the edges of the tumour, making it easier to ensure all of it is removed. More than 60 patients with glioblastoma will take part in the trial. They have cancerous glial cells, which normally hold the brain's nerves cells in place. On average patients survive 15 months after being diagnosed. No room for error In some cancers, such as those of the colon, some of the surrounding tissue can be removed as well as the tumour. Removing a brain tumour needs to be more precise. Dr Colin Watts, who is leading the trial at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC that surgeons "don't want to take too much functional tissue away". BBC © 2011
Link ID: 15967 - Posted: 11.01.2011
Paul Vallely A sad-eyed, mournful-mouthed beagle stares out from a poster on a bus shelter by the front door of the Ear Institute of University College London. Below the melancholy dog blares the legend 'Boycott Vivisection'. It is clearly intended to be a reprimand to the scientists passing through the door into one of the world's leading research centres on hearing and deafness. Not that there are any experiments on dogs going on in the Institute, but then facts are not always the first currency when it comes to the emotive subject of experiments on animals. The number of research procedures on animals carried out in the UK rose by 3 per cent last year. The figure has risen steadily over the past decade to just over 3.7 million in 2010. 'Procedures' is the term used by the Home Office, which is looking at ways to meet a commitment in the Government's coalition agreement to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. And it is a significant word, for behind it lies a major shift in animal experimentation. The headline figure disguises considerable changes. Experiments on many of the kind of animals which most inspire protest among animal rights activists were down: dogs by 2 per cent, rabbits by 10 per cent and cats by 32 per cent. Even the eponymous guinea pigs were down 29 per cent. There was also a fall of 11 per cent in the number of animals used in toxicity trials, as thanks to rule changes one test can now be used to satisfy several requirements. Where there was an increase was in mice and fish – the latter up a whopping 23 per cent. What that reveals is a switch to animals whose genes can be easily modified. An extraordinary 44 per cent of those 'procedures' turn out not to be what most members of the public imagine as an 'animal experiment' but merely the act of breeding transgenic creatures, mostly done by allowing mice to do what male and female mice do naturally anyway. But the nature of the experiments has undergone a notable change. ©independent.co.uk
Keyword: Animal Rights
Link ID: 15933 - Posted: 10.22.2011
By Laura Sanders The roller-coaster teenage years can take IQs along for the ride. A person’s IQ can nosedive and climb sky-high during adolescence, while corresponding brain regions wax and wane in bulk, researchers report online October 19 in Nature. The results suggest that the IQ number given to a child is not immutable, as many researchers believe, says neuroscientist Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine. “This is an extremely interesting paper.” Back in 2004, Cathy Price of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London and colleagues tested the IQs of 33 healthy participants who were, on average, 14 years old. While the teens were in the lab, structural MRI brain scans measured particular brain regions. About four years later, Price and her team invited the teenagers back for a redo. Overall, IQ scores held steady: Average IQs were 112 in 2004 and 113 four years later. But when the researchers zoomed in on individual teens, they found that about a third of the teenagers had meaningful changes in IQ, and a handful showed dizzying climbs or plunges. One such plunge was 18 IQ points — which would be enough to demote a person from genius status to merely above average. The retest also turned up an IQ gain of 21 points — which would elevate a below-average person to above average. Some people who scored high the first time around scored even higher later, and some low scorers scored even lower. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. An Australian man has been hospitalized for more than a month in serious condition as a result of eating two garden slugs on a dare, according to Australian news media and ProMED , an online service that tracks disease outbreaks. The 21-year-old Sydney man apparently contracted a rat lungworm parasite from the slugs, which pick it up from rodent droppings. The parasite, a nematode called Angiostrongylus cantonensis, can cause fatal brain swelling. The ProMED moderator who reported the case said the life cycle of the nematode was described in Australia 50 years ago. It infects not just slugs, rats and humans but also dogs, horses, flying fox bats and marsupials like kangaroos. It can also be caught from unwashed vegetables. “We hope this will help to remind others to avoid eating raw slugs,” the moderator, Eskild Petersen, said. The disease is more common in Thailand, where koi-hoi, a dish with raw snail meat, is eaten; residents of Hawaii have been infected by eating improperly washed lettuce with tiny slugs on it. Escargots — snails baked in a garlic butter sauce — are generally safe, although they can trigger shellfish allergies. Snails “ranched” for restaurants (like those pictured above) are raised on clean feed and purged. Garden snails may contain poisons, including snail bait. There has been at least one report of people who developed erratic heart rhythms after eating stew made from snails that had eaten oleander leaves, which contain digoxin, a cardiac drug. © 2011 The New York Times Company
Link ID: 15921 - Posted: 10.18.2011
By Rachael Rettner How fast a baby's brain grows, rather than how large it is, predicts the child's mental abilities later in life, a new study of preterm infants suggests. The faster the brain's cerebral cortex grew during the first months of life, the higher the children scored at age 6 on intelligence tests designed to measure their abilities to think, speak, plan and pay attention, the researchers found. The cerebral cortex is an outer layer of the brain that is critical for language, memory, attention and thought. The study found no relationship between the size of a baby's brain and the child's later test scores. While it's not clear whether the results would also apply to babies born full-term, researchers said the findings are helping them understand what might go wrong in the brains of preterm babies that causes many of those infants to experience cognitive problems later in life. "It points us to the fact that the period before normal birth is a critical time for brain growth," said study researcher David Edwards, a professor of neonatal medicine at Imperial College in London. Anything that disrupts this growth, including preterm birth or certain illnesses, may reduces cognitive abilities, Edwards said. © 2011 msnbc.com
Heidi Ledford A widely touted — but controversial — molecular fountain of youth has come under fire yet again, with the publication of new data challenging the link between proteins called sirtuins and longer lifespan. In a paper published today in Nature1, researchers report that overexpressing a sirtuin gene in two model organisms — the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster — does not boost longevity as had been previously reported. Instead, the authors argue that the longer lifespan originally seen was the result of unrelated mutations lurking in the background of the experimental strains. Some see the results as clearing the air, and freeing the field to focus on other effects of sirtuins, such as regulating metabolism and responding to environmental stress. "The field has been overfocused on overhyped claims of longevity," says Johan Auwerx, a researcher at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, who has worked with the proteins but was not involved with the new study. "I don't think that's the main function of the sirtuins." “It's like discovering a landmine. If you walk by, a lot of other people will get blown up.” But Leonard Guarente, a sirtuin researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who published the original C. elegans work in 20012, argues that the longevity link is real and that the new paper is just "a bump in the road". "Our data are rock solid," he says. "I stand by them, and they have been replicated in other labs." © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,
Link ID: 15825 - Posted: 09.22.2011
by Ferris Jabr Slimy and often sluggish they may be, but some molluscs deserve credit for their brains – which, it now appears, they managed to evolve independently, four times. The mollusc family includes the most intelligent invertebrates on the planet: octopuses, squid and cuttlefishMovie Camera. Now, the latest and most sophisticated genetic analysis of their evolutionary history overturns our previous understanding of how they got so brainy. The new findings expand a growing body of evidence that in very different groups of animals – molluscs and mammals, for instance – central nervous systems evolved not once, but several times, in parallel. Kevin Kocot of Auburn University, Alabama, and his colleagues are responsible for the new evolutionary history of the mollusc family, which includes 100,000 living species in eight lineages. They analysed genetic sequences common to all molluscs and looked for differences that have accumulated over time: the more a shared sequence differs between two species, the less related they are. The findings, which rely on advanced statistical analyses, fundamentally rearrange branches on the mollusc family tree. In the traditional tree, snails and slugs (gastropods) are most closely related to octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and nautiluses (cephalopods), which appears to make sense in terms of their nervous systems: both groups have highly centralised nervous systems compared with other molluscs and invertebrates. Snails and slugs have clusters of ganglia – bundles of nerve cells – which, in many species, are fused into a single organ; cephalopods have highly developed central nervous systems that enable them to navigate a maze, use tools, mimic other species, learn from each other and solve complex problems. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
Mo Costandi Research showing that action video games have a beneficial effect on cognitive function is seriously flawed, according to a review published this week in Frontiers in Psychology1. Numerous studies published over the past decade have found that training on fast-paced video games such as Medal of Honor and Grand Theft Auto that require a wide focus and quick responses has broad 'transfer effects' that enhance other cognitive functions, such as visual attention. Some of the studies have been highly cited and widely publicized: one, by cognitive scientists Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green of the University of Rochester in New York, published in Nature in 20032, has been cited more than 650 times, and was widely reported by the media as showing that video games boost visual skills. But, say the authors of the review, that paper and the vast majority of other such studies contain basic methodological flaws and do not meet the gold standard of a properly conducted clinical trial. "Our main focus was recent work specifically examining the effects of modern action games on college-aged participants," says Walter Boot, a psychologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, and lead author of the review. "To our knowledge, we've captured all of these papers in our review, and all of the literature suffers from the limitations we discuss." © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,
by Celeste Biever HOW intelligent are you? I'd like to think I know how smart I am, but the test in front of me is making me reconsider. On my computer screen, a puzzling row of boxes appears: some contain odd-looking symbols, while others are empty. I click on one of the boxes. A red sign indicates I made an error. Dammit. I concentrate, and try again. Yes, a green reward! Despite this small success, I am finding it tough to make sense of what's going on: this is unlike any exam I've ever done. Perhaps it's not surprising that it feels unfamiliar - it's not your average IQ test. I am taking part in the early stages of an effort to develop the first "universal" intelligence test. While traditional IQ and psychometric tests are designed to home in on differences between people, a universal test would rank humans, robots, chimps and perhaps even aliens on a single scale - using a mathematically derived definition of intelligence, rather than one tainted by human bias. What's the point? The idea for a universal test has emerged from the study of artificial intelligence and a desire for better ways to measure it. Next year, the most famous test for gauging the smarts of machines will be widely celebrated on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, its creator. The Turing test is, however, flawed. To pass it, a machine has to fool a human judge into believing he or she is conversing with another person. But exactly how much smarter are you than the cleverest robot? The test cannot tell you. It also cannot measure intelligence greater than a human's. Machines are getting smarter - possibly smarter than us, soon - so we need a much better way to gauge just how clever they are. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
By Christopher Eppig Being smart is the most expensive thing we do. Not in terms of money, but in a currency that is vital to all living things: energy. One study found that newborn humans spend close to 90 percent of their calories on building and running their brains. (Even as adults, our brains consume as much as a quarter of our energy.) If, during childhood, when the brain is being built, some unexpected energy cost comes along, the brain will suffer. Infectious disease is a factor that may rob large amounts of energy away from a developing brain. This was our hypothesis, anyway, when my colleagues, Corey Fincher and Randy Thornhill, and I published a paper on the global diversity of human intelligence. A great deal of research has shown that average IQ varies around the world, both across nations and within them. The cause of this variation has been of great interest to scientists for many years. At the heart of this debate is whether these differences are due to genetics, environment or both. Higher IQ predicts a wide range of important factors, including better grades in school, a higher level of education, better health, better job performance, higher wages, and reduced risk of obesity. So having a better understanding of variations in intelligence might yield a greater understanding of these other issues as well. Before our work, several scientists had offered explanations for the global pattern of IQ. Nigel Barber argued that variation in IQ is due primarily to differences in education. Donald Templer and Hiroko Arikawa argued that colder climates are difficult to live in, such that evolution favors higher IQ in those areas. © 2011 Scientific American,
by Michael Marshall Anyone who has used an in-car satnav will be familiar with Jane, the calm voice that tells you to turn around because you've gone the wrong way. Many users will also be familiar with the response: yelling "Shut up, Jane!" while performing illegal turns. Bumblebees, it turns out, could give Jane a run for her money. Despite having a brain the size of a poppy seed, these insects can solve a fiendish navigational problem that modern supercomputers struggle to crack. Not so bumbling Bumblebees have been changing their name for centuries. From Shakespeare through to Darwin they were known as "humblebees", because of the humming sound they make. Then in the 20th century, for no good reason, they became "bumblebees". Like honeybees and ants they are social insects, with a queen who controls hordes of sterile workers. Among other ingenious behaviours, they keep their nests at a constant temperatureMovie Camera, avoid foraging close to homeMovie Camera for fear of leading predators to it, and become paranoid when camouflaged predators are aboutMovie Camera. Buff-tailed bumblebee workers fly from flower to flower in search of nectar and pollen. But each flight costs energy and time, so they need to minimise the distance they fly. To do that, they have to solve one of the hardest problems in mathematics: the travelling salesman problem. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
By Maria Popova Far from a mere motherboard, the brain has swollen into one of humanity's greatest obsessions. We have been trying to visualize it since antiquity, we have written countless books about it, we've even enlisted it in our pop culture satire. The brain, in fact, has become a pop culture fixture in and of itself. That's exactly what Davi Johnson Thornton explores in Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media -- a fascinating account of the rhetoric and sociology of cognitive science, exploring our culture's obsession with the brain and how we have elevated the vital organ into cultish status, mythologizing its functions and romanticizing the promise of its scientific study. The brain, it seems, has become a modern muse. (As Jonah Lehrer brilliantly notes in his Wired interview with Thornton, "If Warhol were around today, he'd have a series of silkscreens dedicated to the cortex; the amygdala would hang alongside Marilyn Monroe.") From the media's propensity for pretty pictures like PET and fMRI scans, often misinterpreted or presented out of context to the misappropriation of the language of neuroscience in simplistic self-help narratives to the "anxious parenting" triggered by the facile findings of developmental cognitive science, Thornton offers a refreshing lens on the many contradictions in how we think about the brain as we continue to hope that making the brain calculable and mappable would also make it manipulable in precisely the ways we need it to be. What makes Thornton's take most compelling is the lucidity with which she approaches exactly what we know and don't know about the brain. Every day, we're bombarded with exponentially replicating headlines about new "sciences" like neuromarketing, which, despite the enormous budgets poured into them by the world's shortcut-hungry Fortune 500, remain the phrenology of our time, a tragic manifestation of the disconnect between how much we want to manipulate the brain and how little we actually know about its intricately connected, non-compartmentalizable functions. © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group
Link ID: 15686 - Posted: 08.20.2011
David Cyranoski Mu-ming Poo leads a double life. For three weeks every month, he works in a cramped, cluttered office at the University of California, Berkeley. Looking drab in his dark-green pullover, olive trousers and black Adidas sports shoes, the 62-year-old neuroscientist slumps slightly in his chair. In the adjoining laboratory, half a dozen postdoctoral researchers, expected to work independently, go quietly about their business. Cut to Shanghai, China, where Poo spends the remaining quarter of his time. In the director's office at the Institute of Neurosciences (ION), he sports a pressed, light-blue shirt neatly tucked into belted trousers (same trainers). With few books and papers about, the room seems more spacious than its Californian counterpart; mangoes and other fruit in a bowl provide a tasteful flourish. Here, Poo supervises only one postdoctoral researcher, but a dozen chattering graduate students are stuffed into an office, waiting for the hour that he sets aside for each one during his whirlwind visits. Poo sits straighter, talks faster and seems more alert, alive — younger, even. As stimulating as he finds his research in the United States, where he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Poo finds a sense of mission in China. "It's more exciting, exhilarating here," he says. "They need me. I feel it's the best use of my life." China is alive with possibilities in science, but realizing them is a complicated affair. The country's fondness for speed — for short-term achievements and, increasingly, short-term profits — has worked relatively well in the chemical and physical sciences and in large-scale genomics, where researchers can systematically tick off the chemical compounds or genetic sequences that they have produced (see 'Eastern promise'). © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,
Link ID: 15648 - Posted: 08.04.2011
By Judith Burns Science reporter, BBC News Humans living at high latitude have bigger eyes and bigger brains to cope with poor light during long winters and cloudy days, UK scientists have said. The Oxford University team said bigger brains did not make people smarter. Larger vision processing areas fill the extra capacity, they write in the Royal Society's Biology Letters journal. The scientists measured the eye sockets and brain volumes of 55 skulls from 12 populations across the world, and plotted the results against latitude. Lead author Eiluned Pearce told BBC News: "We found a positive relationship between absolute latitude and both eye socket size and cranial capacity." The team, from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, used skulls dating from the 1800s kept at museums in Oxford and Cambridge. The skulls were from indigenous populations ranging from Scandinavia to Australia, Micronesia and North America. Largest brain cavities The largest brain cavities came from Scandinavia, while the smallest were from Micronesia. BBC © 2011
Link ID: 15619 - Posted: 07.28.2011
by David DeGusta and Jason E. Lewis Stephen Jay Gould claimed unconscious bias could affect even seemingly objective scientific measurements. Not so TRUTH is hard to come by, as personal lives and politics readily illustrate. Since science lays claim to providing some form of truth, it is bound to draw criticism on that count. Surprisingly, one of the sharpest attacks came from within, and from one of the giants, Harvard University's Stephen Jay Gould. Gould was a man of many parts - invertebrate palaeontologist, evolutionary theorist, historian of science, crusader against creationism and a prolific populariser of science with a slew of bestselling books. He was an iconic scientist of the late 20th century, a stature confirmed by that arbiter of cultural relevance, The Simpsons, in which he was a featured guest star in one episode. Even so, Gould harboured grave doubts about the ability of science to remain free from social pressures and bias. He made a series of statements in a 1978 Science paper that are startling given his role as a spokesperson for science: "...unconscious or dimly perceived finagling, doctoring, and massaging are rampant, endemic, and unavoidable in a profession [science] that awards status and power for clean and unambiguous discovery"; "unconscious manipulation of data may be a scientific norm"; "scientists are human beings rooted in cultural contexts, not automatons directed toward external truth". This was blasphemy from the pulpit. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
Link ID: 15608 - Posted: 07.26.2011
By Laura Sanders Almost a minute after a rat’s head is severed from its body, an eerie shudder of activity ripples through the animal’s brain. Some researchers think this post-decapitation wave marks the border between life and death. But the phenomenon can be explained by electrical changes that, in some cases, are reversible, researchers report online July 13 in PLoS ONE. Whether a similar kind of brain wave happens in humans, and if so, whether it is inextricably tied to death could have important implications. An unambiguous marker could help doctors better decide when to diagnose brain death, knowledge that could give clarity to loved ones and boost earlier organ donation. In a PLoS ONE paper published in January, neuroscientist Anton Coenen and colleagues at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands described this wave of electrical activity in the rat brain occurring 50 seconds after decapitation. The Nijmegen team, which was exploring whether decapitation is a humane way to sacrifice lab animals, wrote that this brain activity seemed to be the ultimate border between life and death. They dubbed the phenomenon the “wave of death.” But neurologist Michel van Putten of the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, wasn’t convinced. “We have no doubt the observation is real,” he says. “But the interpretation is completely speculative.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011
Keyword: Animal Rights
Link ID: 15596 - Posted: 07.25.2011