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November 28, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, For the Booster Shots blog
At the time of his death of an aortic aneurysm at age 76, Albert Einstein's brain was no bigger, and weighed no more, than the brain of an average older male. But beneath that unique organ's external folds and fissures, our universe was re-conceived. So not surprisingly, when photographs of Einstein's postmortem brain unexpectedly came to light recently, scientists were keen to find evidence of the genius that lay within. The result is a remarkably detailed look at the surface of Einstein's brain, published recently in the journal Brain.
July 22, 2010 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Irritable bowel syndrome has been a tough disorder to understand. Studies have failed to show any structural problems in the gut that would account for the symptoms of pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. However, the disorder is real, affecting as many as 15% of Americans. A new study has found a possible connection between IBS and the brain. Researchers at McGill University and UCLA used MRI scans to reveal changes in the brains of women with the disorder. The researchers took MRI scans of 55 IBS patients and 48 healthy women for comparison.
June 19, 2009 | Richard Farrell, Richard Farrell produced and directed the HBO documentary "High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell" and is the author of a forthcoming memoir, "What's Left of Us."
I killed my dad. I didn't blow him away with a gun. Instead, I let him die. I pulled a kitchen chair up next to him and watched him struggle to breathe on the floor. The skin on his face turned a reddish-purple. His neck took on a bluish tint. Both his hands clutched tightly at his chest. And suddenly, the white in his eyes became spider-web etched, in blood-red lines. Why did I do it? It's complicated. I loved the son of a bitch more than anything on the planet.
October 16, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Scientists have discovered the fossilized brain of an animal that lived 520 million years ago. It is the oldest mostly intact nervous system to have ever been found. The incredible ancient brain and nervous system, described in the journal Nature, belongs to an Alacomenaeus , a member of the mega-claw family. These animals earned the name "mega-claw" ( megacheiran ), because they have two large scissor-like appendages that protrude from the top of their heads. Megacheirans lived in the early Cambrian-era ocean, swimming and scuttling around with nearly one dozen little legs, or swimmerettes.
June 19, 2012 | By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
The Florida teen whose brain was impaled by a fishing spear survived because the spear, which entered his skull above the right eye and exited the back of his skull, missed the main blood vessels in his brain, news reports said Tuesday . Though one might not imagine the brain could take such abuse and survive - and the extent of recovery of 16-year-old Yasser Lopez is still to be determined - there are remarkable stories of those who...
February 26, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Does being bilingual give young children a mental edge, or does it delay their learning? It depends on who you ask. Bilingual education is regarded by some in education policy circles as little more than a half-baked technique of teaching students whose native language is not English. Though it takes many forms, bilingual education programs usually involve teaching students in both their native languages and in English. How much each language is used, and in which academic contexts, varies by program.
January 9, 2014 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
E.L. Doctorow has long operated in the shadow of the Transcendentalists: Emerson, who inspired his 2003 collection of essays, "Reporting the Universe"; Hawthorne, whose story "Wakefield," he updated in 2008. Like them, his great subject is consciousness, what he has called "a mind in the appalled contemplation of itself. " Like them, he is a romantic, a true believer - in the myth of America as a shining city, despite its various and ongoing failures to live up to its better self. His finest efforts embody this tension, between who we are and who we wish we were, between promise and despair.
November 12, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Let's get a couple of things straight first about estrogen, the so-called "female hormone. " First, it influences a lot more than just what's going on "down there": it's produced by the brain, of course, and brain scientists are increasingly studying estrogen as a "neuromodulator," a chemical with powerful effects on the brain as well as the reproductive system. Second, it's not just females who have estrogen, need it and suffer with its loss. Males do too, as a recent study involving the humble songbird makes clear.
September 26, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Eating when you're not hungry--especially high-calorie, high-fat foods--may not always rise to the newly broadened clinical definition of an eating disorder. But the behavior that for many Americans is a routine pastime certainly contributes to excess weight gain, with its implications for health. And it is considered "disordered eating" by most mental health professionals. A study published Thursday in the journal Science adds to evidence that binge eating--and overeating generally--may have a biological basis.
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