big, beautiful bird brains Animals Biology 

Big, Beautiful Bird Brains

By Emily Willoughby @eawilloughby It is probably not a coincidence that the verbs ape and parrot have such a similar meaning: to imitate an observed behavior. There is something suggestive of intelligence in the words, perhaps informed by knowing that babies mimic the behaviors of adults as their brains begin to mature. But the similarity may reflect something more fundamental.  Primates and certain birds—most notably parrots and corvids, the group that includes crows and jays—are well known as being among the smartest of animals. For apes this is no surprise,…

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Brain Health (Illustration courtesy of Dream Designs via freedigitalphotos.net) Biology Health 

Brain Health: Fight Brain Age with Civic Activity

Have you had a “senior moment” today? Do you worry about the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of brain atrophy in old age? These are common concerns. As we age, our brains can shrink, but a new study from John Hopkins University reveals that brain health can be improved with civic-minded activities such as volunteering and teaching. Our brains can do incredible things, such as control robotics such as this mind-controlled robotic arm, or learn to use other tools. Our brains are so amazing that we are even trying to…

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(Marie-Louise Brandi, TUM) Biology Health 

How Your Brain Learns to Use Tools

Scientists in Munich are examining the network in our brains that enables us to use tools.  Researchers from Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Klinikum rechts der Isar hospital have analyzed the brain networks that control the use of tools and utensils, such as car keys and chopsticks. Using MRI scans, they watched the areas of the brain that activate when a person first thinks about using a tool and then actually picks it up and uses it. After giving people some everyday items to use, including a hammer, a…

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