April 15, 2014

Getting in Touch with Emotions: Yelena Kulik

This CTOR Short by our producer Yelena Kulik examines how well (or not) people can convey emotions such as anger, love, and sympathy via touch. We eavesdrop on participants in the Berkeley Science Review's “Touch Me!” Event, which took place at the 2013 Bay Area Science Festival. We try to identify "best practices" for communicating emotions and we explore what happens when communication goes awry.

April 01, 2014

Run! for your brain: Gary Westbrook

Gary Westbrook
At one point in your middle school or high school biology class, you may have learned that the number of neurons in your brain is set at birth. For examples your skin cells are constantly dying and being renewed. Your brain cells, on the other hand, cannot be renewed once they die.

In the last decade, however, scientists have discovered that this is not entirely true. A part of the brain called the hippocampus is one of the few sites for adult neurogenesis (the production of neurons after birth). Here, neurons are constantly being produced throughout life and incorporated into the current network of neurons. Interestingly, this part of the brain is important for the formation of episodic memories. Our guest this week, Gary Westbrook, Senior Scientist and Co-Director at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, is working to understand this important process. His lab is interested in what causes the production of new neurons and the incorporation of these neurons into existing neuronal networks. They have found that simple exercise is enough to increase the production of new neurons in rodents. Tune in to hear more about this vital and fascinating process.

More on the Westbrook Lab's research