Some myths about the brain, such as the idea we only use 10% of our grey matter, are notorious, especially among neuroscientists. These myths crop up every now and then (look at the premise of the Lucy movie this summer), but they are quickly shot down by those in the know.

In contrast to these enduring stories, other misconceptions are stealthier and slip beneath the radar unrecognised. One of these is the idea that the human brain is served by five senses. This belief is so ingrained that even the scientifically literate will treat it as taken-for-granted common knowledge.

From Christian Jarret at the BBC, “How many senses do we have?”

Perceptual psych folks often talk about how we have more than five senses; I think this is the first time I’ve seen someone put forth a hypothetical grouping in which we have fewer.

Does all this new knowledge about the brain undermine our natural ability to restrain ourselves?

The larger point is that our beliefs about biology – those stupid cliches about sex hormones, for instance – often overwhelm the actual effects of biology. Thanks to some evolutionary innovations (like that overhang of brain called the prefrontal cortex), we're able to suppress our aggressive feelings and turn off our anger. We can resist even the most primal urges. And yet, all it takes is a whiff of imaginary testosterone before we start behaving like selfish hominids, imitating what we assume is our "natural" state.


Jonah Lehrer, rocking as usual

Flibanserin – “Viagra for Women” … or not?

Dr. Petra:

At the same time, concern has been growing within healthcare, therapy and education about the medicalisation of sexual functioning. FSD in particular is a diagnosis with a controversial heritage, with concerns expressed that common (but often upsetting) female problems around lack of desire and difficulty experiencing orgasm have been repackaged within a illness-based model.

A very good post by Dr. Petra on some of the background of flibanserin, and her experience with the company producing it.

GluA2, or, Why we care about the protein structure.

So knowing the glutamate receptor could be very useful down the line, for formulations of new pharmacotherapies to treat different disorders. If you know the structure of a receptor, you can figure out how it can be changed, how it can be activated, and how it can be blocked. So mastering the structure of the glutamate receptor could open the door to a lot of important discoveries and treatments for diseases.

from Neurotopia

Scicurious gives a quick overview of the glutamate receptor structure that was just published.

The Cat Brain Cliff Notes

Modha is working on SyNAPSE, a project that couldn't be more different. With SyNAPSE, DARPA wants to create electronics that take a page out of the brain's book. The stated purpose is to "investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in neuromorphic electronic devices that are scalable to biological levels.

At IEEE Spectrum, via Mind Hacks

A very clear and straightforward discussion of the "Scientists have simulated a cat brain!" "Did not!" "Did too!" kerfuffle of the last week or two