Science in Action

BBC World Service

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Speed Cells in the Brain

July 16th, 2015

Episode 46 of 158 episodes

Nobel laureates Edvard and May-Britt Moser and their team have found yet another piece of the puzzle on how our brains create maps of our environment. Place cells in our brains only fire when we are in certain locations, grid cells act as our positioning system and add directions to our mental maps. But as soon as we start moving, our location and directions change instantaneously, challenging our brains to update our mental maps within milliseconds. And now the researchers have discovered a new class of neurons in the brain that act as speedometers. Pluto Nasa’s New Horizons unmanned space probe sends back images and data of the Solar System’s most furthest planet (now demoted to dwarf planet). Pluto was only discovered in 1930, it appeared as a slow-moving speck in a series of telescope photographs. Over the years, instruments have grown in power and scientists have learned more. But even when viewed through the Hubble Space Telescope, which has resolved distant galaxies, details of this icy outcast have been scant. But all that is changing, as images of icy mountains and surprisingly few impact craters are being revealed. Science of Screams A baby’s cries, or a blood-curdling screech, grab our attention so well - but why? Apparently, according to new research, it is the roughness of the sound that cuts through all other noise. Could this be something that could be added to alarms and sirens to give better directionality and make them grab our attention better? (Photo: Image of a rat provided by Raymond Skjerpeng, NTNU)

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