Our understanding of the organization of the mammalian brain is limited by our inability to identify a functional meaning for its many different cell types. Functional genomics approach is revealing the molecular basis of neuronal identity.


We must remember that all our provisional ideas on psychology will one day be explained on the basis of organic substrates.
(Sigmund Freud, On Narcissism)


J. Douglas Bremner wrote that in spite of how strange it may seem, genetic constitution has been shown to make a substantial contribution to the development of PTSD following exposure to traumatic stress.



Darwin's paradigm consists of five major independent theories. When later authors referred to Darwin's theory they invariably had a combination of some of the five theories in mind. Today, it is sometimes difficult to individuate which combination anti-Darwinists have on their minds.


For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, religion & c., than through natural selection.
(Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man)


Prairie voles form lasting pair bonds with their mating partners after a single experience of sexual activity, and this reward-related learning depends on dopamine. A new research work identified molecular basis of initial pair bonds formation and their maintenance over time.



A familial form of ALS is caused by mutations in the superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene. A new paper shows that mutant SOD1 binds chromogranins in secretory vesicles and that its release promotes microgliosis and motor neuron death.


He who understands baboon would do more toward metaphysics than Locke.
(Charles Darwin, August 1838)


A new study finds that long-term exposure to nociceptin causes internalization of the receptor-channel complex. Is it a new discovered mechanism to control pain?



One hundred years ago, the publication of Sherrington's "Integrative Action of the Nervous System" (1906) marks the beginning of the modern neurophysiology.


I recommend you to question all your beliefs except that two and two make four.
(Voltaire, L'homme aux quarante écus)


Seventy years ago Dale, Feldberg and Vogt demonstrated that acetylcholine is released by motor fibers at the neuromuscular junction (1936).



Sixty years ago Von Euler found that noradrenaline is the transmitter released at most postganglionic sympathetic terminals.


Everything has now changed except for our way of thinking.
(Albert Einstein)


Fifty years ago Eccles and colleagues established that transmission at the motorneuron axon collateral-Renshaw cell synapse is cholinergic.



Neurogenesis persists in the aged human brain, specifically in the dentate gyrus, but its role and regulation in pathological conditions such us Alzheimer's disease, where the Neurotrophic Environment is altered, are poorly understood.


Immagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations have diverse names.
(Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651)


Complex is a system which laws that describe its behaviour are qualitatively different from those that govern its units. Brain is a complex system. Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi, among others, have extensively applied theory of complexity to human brain.



In the Middle Ages doctors were skilled at diagnosing patients by the smell of their breath: George Dodd, a scientist of the Highland Psychiatric Research Group in Inverness, Scotland, has reintroduced the medieval practice of breath analysis: an electronic nose on a computer chip will be making the diagnosis.


Consciousness is not a thing, but a process.
(William James, The Principles of Psychology, 1890)


A man on the lean side, with big spectacles on his nose and humble look did one of the most important neurobiological discovery about consciousness. His name is Benjamin Libet. The neural pathway he discovered -known as Libet's Circuitry- may be considered the first clear evidence of a neural correlate to conscious processes.



The International Association for Near Death Studies reports that 35 to 40 % of people who have had a close brush with death later report a near death experience. They commonly tell of a feeling that the Self has left the body, visions of golden or white light and a sensation of moving through a strange space or tunnel. These projections of the dying brain are universal.


Experience shows the problem of the mind cannot be solved by attacking the citadel itself -the mind is a function of body.
(Charles Darwin, The "N" Notebook)


Charles Babbage designed in 1835 his "Analytical Engine", considered the world's first digital computer, but it was largely forgotten until Babbage's writings were rediscovered in 1937. The machine was able to combine arithmetic processes with decisions based on its own computation; too complicated to built in XIX Century, it was recently realized in the old fashion of the first attempt.



In 1990 the Human Genome Project (international and publicly funded) began to analyse the structure and arrangement of all human genes. In February 2001, the work was completed and published in Nature, simultaneously Celera Genomics of Rockville, Maryland (American, private), published in Science the same result of a work started in 1998 and largely based on Human Genome Project's early acquisitions. The news of the debate over the relative merits of the two teams' different strategies was widely spread by the world's media system, but nobody mentioned the first map (of course, a largely incomplete prototype) realized in France in 1992.


The fateful process of civilization would thus have set in with man's adoption of an erect posture. From that point the chain of events would have proceeded through the devaluation of olfactory stimuli and the isolation of the menstrual period to the time when visual stimulus were paramount and the genitals became visible, and thence to the continuity of sexual excitation, the founding of the family and so to the threshold of human civilization.
(Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its discontent, 1929)


Spalax Ehrenbergi are subterranean moles of the Near East. Spalax's eyes are rudimentary and no neurological reaction measures on electrode implants in the brain when these animals are exposed to intense light stimuli: they are totally blind. Spalax's retina can recognize seasons by detecting changes in periods of light rather than changes in temperature, her pineal gland secrets melatonin in reaction to shifts in amount of light which signals the seasons, the pineal receiving its stimulus from the retina.



Theodor Schwann in 1839 postulated that all living things are made up of cells or substances produced by cells. The first description of a neuron attributed to Dutrochet (1824) was made in absence of a "cellular theory".


Knowledge consists in correctly conceptualising and categorizing things in the world and grasping the objective connections among those things and those categories.
(Lakoff, Women Fire and dangerous things, 1987)


Although most synapses operate under a "all-or-nothing" regimen, some transmit graded signals, as it happens in the vertebrate retina. The reason for this behaviour is that the synapse depresses extremely rapidly.



Indian mathematicians bequeathed humanity the place-value notation in base 10 that is now in use throughout the world. It is improper to call "Arabic Numerals" an invention originally due to the ingenuity of the Indian Civilization. The mistake originated because the Western World discovered what nowadays is our and universal number notation, through the mathematical writings of Persian mathematicians.


The true idea of the human mind is to consider it as a system of different perceptions or different existences, which are linked together by the relation of cause and effect, and mutually produce, destroy, influence, and modify each other...
(David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, 1739)


The sound amplification in the mammalian inner ear depends on the ability of the outer hair cells in the cochlea to change their lengths in response to changes in voltage. It seems that a motor protein, named prestin, is required for both electromotility and normal levels of amplification as Simmonds proposed last year (Neuron, 35, 749-758, 2002).