Understanding criticality and the brain’s neural networks

Understanding criticality and the brain’s neural networks

New research from Washington University in St. Louis confirms that the brain tunes itself to a point where it is as excitable as it can be without tipping into disorder, similar to a phase transition. The new research from Keith Hengen, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, is published Oct. 7 in the journal Neuron.
Arts & Sciences dean search committee appointed

Arts & Sciences dean search committee appointed

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Interim Provost Marion Crain have appointed a 16-member committee to identify candidates for the position of dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences. Aaron F. Bobick, dean of the McKelvey School of Engineering, will chair the search committee.
Big brains or big guts: Choose one

Big brains or big guts: Choose one

A global study comparing 2,062 birds finds that, in highly variable environments, birds tend to have either larger or smaller brains relative to their body size. New research from Carlos Botero, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, finds birds with smaller brains tend to use ecological strategies that are not available to big-brained counterparts.
The fractal brain, from a single neuron’s perspective

The fractal brain, from a single neuron’s perspective

Physicists studying the brain at Washington University in St. Louis have shown how measuring signals from a single neuron may be as good as capturing information from many neurons at once using big, expensive arrays of electrodes. The new work continues the discussion about how the brain seems to function in a “critical” state. The research was reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.
How team sports change a child’s brain

How team sports change a child’s brain

Adult depression has long been associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain region that plays an important role in memory and response to stress. Now, new research from Washington University in St. Louis has linked participation in team sports to larger hippocampal volumes in children and less depression in boys ages 9 to 11.
New maps hint at how electric fish got their big brains

New maps hint at how electric fish got their big brains

Washington University researchers have mapped the regions of the brain in mormyrid fish in extremely high detail. In a study published in the Nov. 15 issue of Current Biology, they report that the part of the brain called the cerebellum is bigger in members of this fish family compared to related fish — and this may be associated with their use of weak electric discharges to locate prey and to communicate with one another.
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