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Researchers: Starchy food may have aided human brain development

From ScienceDaily: A perennial topic in human evolution is, what gave humans an advantage? A logical response to the question is: Name just about anything and someone will make a case out of it. A little while ago, it was meat.  This time, it’s starch. People with more copies of the AMY1 gene — and corresponding higher concentrations of the amylase enzyme in their saliva — were found to digest starchy carbohydrates faster. They also displayed a higher blood glucose response to foods containing starch such as bread and pasta, but not sugary foods. As sugary foods shouldn’t be digested by amylase, the lack of an association indicates the difference in starch digestion observed was due to differences in the enzyme Read More ›

Michael Egnor: Does your brain construct your conscious reality?

Part I A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth’s recent TED talk Anil Seth’s talk is a breathtaking compendium of fallacies on the mind and the brain. We can learn a lot from him—by understanding the errors into which he falls and the way out of those errors. Part II Does your brain construct your conscious reality? In a word, no. Your brain doesn’t “think”; YOU think, using your brain The brain understands nothing, imagines nothing, sees nothing. It wills nothing. We understand, we imagine, we see, and we will, using our brains. See also: Can machines really learn? A parable of a book that learned Machine learning is a powerful and important tool that is likely to be of great Read More ›

New research: Human brains do not differ much from reptile brains

These findings don’t show that reptiles are secretly smart. They mainly deepen the mystery of the human mind, which traverses regions unknown to any of them without the brain being that much different. Read More ›

Newly discovered tiny tunnels run from skull to brain

They may be a shortcut for the immune system. From ScienceDaily: “We always thought that immune cells from our arms and legs traveled via blood to damaged brain tissue. These findings suggest that immune cells may instead be taking a shortcut to rapidly arrive at areas of inflammation,” said Francesca Bosetti, Ph.D., program director at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which provided funding for the study. “Inflammation plays a critical role in many brain disorders and it is possible that the newly described channels may be important in a number of conditions. The discovery of these channels opens up many new avenues of research.” Paper. (paywall) – Fanny Herisson, Vanessa Frodermann, Gabriel Courties, David Rohde, Yuan Read More ›

Mutations Degrade Inherited Intelligence

The remarkable “powers” of evolution are now shown to degrade (aka “mutate”) the human genes essential to intelligence.

Remarkably, they found that some of the same genes that influence human intelligence in healthy people were also the same genes that cause impaired cognitive ability and epilepsy when mutated, networks which they called M1 and M3.

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