Brain Scene Investigation

/Brain Scene Investigation
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The Neurobiology of Voodoo Death

We have probably all said at some point in our lives that some­thing nearly scared us to death. A roller coaster, a haunted house, a near-missed traffic accident, a sensitive text that was sent to the wrong person, an exam that we had somehow forgotten—our lives seem to be filled with stressful experi­ences. If you […]

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The Frozen Addicts

In the summer of 1982, six individuals found themselves in emergency rooms in the San Jose, California, area with odd symptoms. Although these patients were young adults, they were “frozen” as if they had advanced Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that limits movement and typically affects older individuals. In these mysterious cases, the movement restriction […]

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The Experimental Wedding

When science writer Linda Geddes met fellow science writer Nic Fleming, it was the beginning of a life-changing neuroendocrine experiment. Their interactions and emotional ties became more serious over time, leading to dating and, finally, a marriage proposal. To celebrate their union, they decided that the ceremony would take place in the beautiful countryside of […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: Runaway Motivation

As a graduate student, I ran across a motivational mystery involving some odd rat behavior: a series of articles by William Pare at the Maryland Veterans Hospital on the topic of activity-stress (Pare, 1975, 1976, 1977). I’ve been conducting research on this topic and considering the underlying motivational factors ever since.

The activity-stress research condition involved […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: Traumatic Brain Injury and an Unlikely Neurochemical Intervention

The car crash that sent Marc Baskett by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia left no trace in his memory. The hospital staff listed him in critical condition due to blunt force trauma to his brain. The news wasn’t encouraging when his parents hurried to his side. Marc was just 19 years old, […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: Methamphetamine “Tweaks” the Brain

After more than a decade of drug abuse, including a run with methamphetamine, 20-year-old college dropout Nic Sheff wrote in his journal:

How the hell did I get here? It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was on the water-polo team. I was an editor of the school newspaper, acting in the spring play, obsessing […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: Intuition, Hunches, and Self-Awareness: Potential Role of von Economo Neurons?

We have all been in situations in which we decided to do something and then had trouble explaining our decision to someone else. A business owner may feel confident about her hiring decision for the job of sales representative, even though all of the candidates had similar credentials and experience. After meeting with the candidates, […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: David Blaine’s Breath-Defying Act

David Blaine, a self-declared endurance artist, has pushed his physiological limits to unprecedented extremes. He was buried alive for a week and frozen in a block of ice for three days. As a child, he was captivated by stories of Houdini holding his breath for over three minutes and started practicing this feat himself. According […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: Clive Wearing’s Fleeting Memory

As Deborah Wearing entered the room, her husband Clive ran to her, passionately calling her name and kissing her as soon as they embraced. To a casual onlooker it would have seemed obvious that the couple had been apart from one another for a long time. However, in this case, Deborah had just stepped out […]

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Brain Scene Investigation: The Sleep-Murder Legal Defense

After falling asleep on the couch, 23-year-old Kenneth Parks got up in the early morning hours, put on his shoes and jacket, and drove his car for 20 minutes, through traffic lights and down a winding road, to his in-laws’ home. He grabbed the tire iron from his car and a knife from the kitchen […]