Scientific American and Secrets of the Senses

We are big fans of Scientific American, especially their Scientific American Mind publication.

They also publish special collections of updated articles around specific topics-over the weekend I have been enjoying one of their best ones, “Secrets of the Senses”, with a great blend of good content and fun brain teasers.


Specific articles in that issue are:

Vision: A Window into Consciousness by Nikos K. Logothetis

In their search for the mind, scientists are focusing on visual perception–how we interpret what we see

Dying to See by Ralf Dahm

Studies of the lens of the eye not only could reveal ways to prevent cataracts but also might illuminate the biology of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases in which cells commit suicide

Neuromorphic Microchips by Kwabena Boahen Compact, efficient electronics based on the brain’s neural system could yield implantable silicon retinas to restore vision, as well as robotic eyes and other smart sensors

Listening with Two Ears by Masakazu Konishi

Studies of barn owls offer insight into just how the brain combines acoustic signals from two sides of the head into a single spatial perception.

Music and the Brain by Norman M. Weinberger

What is the secret of music’s strange power? Seeking an answer, scientists are piecing together a picture of what happens in the brains of listeners and musicians

How the Blind Draw by John M. Kennedy

Blind and sighted people use many of the same devices in sketching their surroundings, suggesting that vision and touch are closely linked

Phantom Limbs by Ronald Melzack

People who have lost an arm or a leg often perceive the limb as though it were still there. Treating the pain of these ghostly appendages remains difficult

Are You Ready for a New Sensation? by Kathryn S. Brown

As biology meets engineering, scientists are designing the sensory experiences of a new tomorrow

The Molecular Logic of Smell by Richard Axel

Mammals can recognize thousands of odors, some of which prompt powerful responses. Recent experiments illuminate how the nose and brain may perceive scents

Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Edward M. Hubbard

People with synesthesia–whose senses blend together–are providing valuable clues to understanding the organization and functions of the brain

Making Sense of Taste by David V. Smith and Robert F. Margolskee

How do cells on the tongue register the sensations of sweet, salty, sour and bitter? Scientists are finding out–and discovering how the brain interprets these signals as various tastes


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