How different are male and female brains really?
The Danish Magazine "Alt for Damerne" asks among others Bente Pakkenberg if the Danish politician, Joachim B. Olsen, is right when he says that women are gentically dispositioned to take care of children. A link to the full article (in Danish) can be found in the link list to the right.
The long-finned pilot whale has more neurons than any other mammal - including human
Read more in Scientific American Mind (links to the right).
Ph.D.-project by Nina Eriksen
The formation of new brain cells after electroshock
Read more (in Danish) at DR.dk/viden, Politiken and Viden+ (links to the right) and watch the video
(in Danish) where Mikkel Vestergaard Olesen explains stereology and how he has used it in his study of electroconvulsive treatment and depression.
Post doc project by Mikkel V. Olesen
Why are some birds better at imitating sounds than other birds?
Until now this has been a mystery. A group of researchers from Duke University in the United States have in collaboration with Danish scientists among others shown that parrot brains differ from other birds' brains in a way that might explain why parrots are so amazing to mimic speech and song. Where it was previously thought that brain size was crucial for these abilities, a recently published study demonstrates that the parrot brain simply is structured differently from other good sound imitators, such as songbirds and hummingbirds.
Both parrots, songbirds and hummingbirds has seven areas of the brain involved in learning and production of the song. However, in some of these regions an outer shell or accumulation of brain cells around the song core was found. The better the parrot species were at mimicking the sound, the larger the "outer shell"was. They studied a total of 9 parrot species which all had this special collection of brain cells. Even the Kea, (Nestor notabilis), which is the oldest parrot species separated 29 million years ago, has a rudimentary outer shell which indicates that this particular brain region is at least 29 million years old.
Besides being entertaining "party tricks" the parrot imitation abilities is used in nature for communicating with other birds for pairing, alarm call, territorial protection and - perhaps most importantly for individual recognition. The results of this study opens up a lot of exciting research in parrots, including the understanding of how parrots processes the necessary information to copy and mimic new sounds, including human speech. The researchers believe that these results can provide better understanding of the brain structures that are based on human speech skills.
Solveig Walløe, Ph.D.
Collaboration project with BRIC University of Copenhagen
Videnskab.dk spørger Professor Bente Pakkenberg