Suzana Herculano-Houzel

Actions are motor, visceral, or mental

The behavior of an animal with a nervous system is the result of the activity patterns of its effector neurons, as they are translated into observable actions If the nervous system generates integrated behaviors in large multicellular creatures called animals, then defining behavior as any observable action means that understanding animal behavior requires understanding how […]

Let’s talk about sex… in rats

Everyone knows that sex (voluntary and desired) is good. The question, according to some, is why. Given that the natural consequence of sexual contact is the next generation, some think it would be “unnecessary” for sex to be pleasurable: its “prize”, in evolutionary terms, would be procreation which, by definition, perpetuates the behavior. To resolve […]

It’s never too late for new music

There’s an urban legend going around that it’s normal and expected for our musical taste to “freeze” in time, so that once we’re adults, our brains would be stuck on the playlist of the songs we discovered as teenagers. Supposedly, because of a “loss of plasticity” in the reward system, we would be fated to […]

Brazilian discovers direct connection between gut and brain

You know that story that the role of the nerves in the stomach during a meal is just to inform the brain of the arrival of food and satisfy hunger? It’s just been buried by a Brazilian neuroscientist, one who was featured in this column recently with a beautiful piece of work, very difficult to […]

Chimpanzees also have Alzheimer’s disease – now what?

Alzheimer’s disease is not my thing, but we live so much now that it’s inevitable that the subject will end up being mentioned in other contexts. In circles that study the diversity of the nervous system and how the human brain compares to (or differs from) others, one statement was particularly common in lectures: “only […]

Is it Alzheimer’s or isn’t it?

Scientific meetings are often opportunities for researchers to exchange ideas and present to each other what they have just discovered or have begun to study but have not yet made public. That’s why a recent meeting on Alzheimer’s disease was so extraordinary. Two private institutions, the international Alzheimer’s Association and Hong Kong’s Croucher Foundation, brought […]

I don’t know when to stop

Another transatlantic flight, another six hours of non-stop work. Tied to a chair, with no options but to go to the toilet or grab something gluten-free from the tray served as a meal, with no emails, internet, messages, students or dogs and cats around my desk wanting attention, I write very well. What else is […]

Open up the mind

The ways of the human mind are a delightful, if occasionally thorny, subject. Several times, in the question period after lectures, on radio shows or in emails prompted by something I’ve written, I receive the criticism that science, and neuroscience in particular, by reducing the mind to a handful of matter removes the divine from […]

Help yourself

Every time a new drug is tested, it has to be determined whether the substance is inherently active, capable of acting on the body in the desired way – as an anti-inflammatory, antidepressant or antihistamine, for example. As a rule, the effects of the substance are first tested on cells grown in the laboratory, and […]

Sleeping in the clouds

Here I am once again on a plane heading for the USA, to do my work on how many neurons it takes to build a monkey brain. An old monkey when it comes to long journeys, after seven years living abroad, I took advantage of the ease of buying tickets online to secure the place […]

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