Features

Conceptual image of numbers
Is Your Brain Wired for Numbers?
Catherine Offord | Oct 1, 2021
Our perception of quantity, separate from counting or estimation of magnitude more generally, is foundational to human cognition, according to some neuroscientists.
Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the unicellular yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, known as Baker's or Brewer's yeast.
Yeast Models Provide New Insights into Neurodegenerative Diseases
Mahlon Collins | Oct 1, 2021
The single-celled fungus allows researchers to study Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and other brain diseases with unparalleled speed and scale.

Contributors

Photographs of the October 2021 issue's contributors
Contributors
Contributors
Meet some of the people featured in the October 2021 issue of The Scientist.

Editorial

Watercolour illustration of a figure
Our Aching Brains
Our Aching Brains
COVID-19 has killed more than 4 million people around the globe and has sickened many millions more. The neurological toll on those of us continuing to live through the pandemic may stretch years or decades into the uncertain future.

Speaking of Science

Crossword image for October's puzzle
Ten Minute Sabbatical
Ten Minute Sabbatical
Take a break from the bench to puzzle and peruse.

Critic at Large

Notebook

Power of thinking, abstract imagination, world, universe inside your mind, watercolor painting
The Link Between Wandering and Sleeping Minds
The Link Between Wandering and Sleeping Minds
Researchers discover that when the mind wanders or goes blank, some parts of the brain behave as they do during sleep.
Photograph of a brown laboratory mouse
Experiment Gone Awry Suggests Novel Way to Combat Hypoxia
Experiment Gone Awry Suggests Novel Way to Combat Hypoxia
While exploring suspended animation in mice, scientists discover how an enzyme can protect the brain from dangerously low levels of oxygen.

The Literature

Photograph of a mouse covering his face with his paw.
Bless You: Mouse Model Reveals Molecular Pathway Behind Sneezing
Bless You: Mouse Model Reveals Molecular Pathway Behind Sneezing
Researchers have identified specific cells and neuropeptides involved in mediating the sneeze response in mice exposed to allergens or chemical irritants such as capsaicin.
Illustration of a brain on a clock with a figure of a man moving the clock arms
Human “Time Cells” Encode, Process Flow of Time
Human “Time Cells” Encode, Process Flow of Time
Neurons in the hippocampus store information on the timing of experiences in addition to their content, helping to mediate sequential memory recall, a new study shows.
Image of nerve fibers shown in green and red
Neurons Simplify Visual Signals by Responding to Only One Retina
Neurons Simplify Visual Signals by Responding to Only One Retina
Mice have neurons that connect to both eyes but only propagate the signal from one or the other, simplifying the information sent to the cerebral cortex.

Scientist to Watch

A Black woman stands in profile with her head turned towards the camera, smiling
Bianca Jones Marlin Traces How Sensory Inputs Shape the Brain
Bianca Jones Marlin Traces How Sensory Inputs Shape the Brain
The Columbia University neuroscientist researches the biology behind some of our most human experiences, including building family relationships. 

Bio Business

Brain cells with electrical firing. 3D rendering.
Microglia as Therapeutic Targets in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Microglia as Therapeutic Targets in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Pharmaceutical companies ramp up efforts to get the brain’s immune cells to help treat Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions, but not everyone agrees the approach will be effective.

Reading Frames

Problem plastic bottles and microplastics floating in the open ocean
Opinion: Plastic Pollution May Endanger Brains
Opinion: Plastic Pollution May Endanger Brains
Plastic waste pervades every ecosystem on Earth and is likely affecting neurobiology as well.

Foundations

Photograph of a waterfall
Falling Water, Rising Rocks, 1834
Falling Water, Rising Rocks, 1834
Intrigued by an optical illusion he experienced while traveling in Scotland, Robert Addams wrote what is now considered one of the definitive observational accounts of so-called motion aftereffects.

Infographics

Illustration showing how a mouse study identifies the brain regions and specific signaling factors that regulate the sneeze response.
Infographic: The Neural Pathway of Sneezing
Infographic: The Neural Pathway of Sneezing
A mouse study identifies the brain regions and specific signaling factors that regulate the sneeze response.
Photographs of animals
Numerosity Around the Animal Kingdom
Numerosity Around the Animal Kingdom
Research in recent decades has explored how animals other than humans perceive different numbers of objects
Illustration of a Macaque viewing patterns of dots on a screen
Infographic: Single-Cell Recordings Identify “Number Neurons”
Infographic: Single-Cell Recordings Identify “Number Neurons”
Some nerve cells in the brains of macaques respond selectively to particular numbers, hinting at a specialized pathway for extracting information about numerical quantity.
An illustration of a yeast cell (right) and a human neuron (left) showing the processes/features that are similar in the two
Infographic: Modeling Neurodegenerative Diseases with Yeast
Infographic: Modeling Neurodegenerative Diseases with Yeast
Conservation of structures and functions between single-celled fungi and human cells allow researchers to probe the brain.