Neurologists working with monkeys at Washington University in St. Louis to decode brain activity have stumbled upon a rather surprising result. While working to demonstrate that multiple parameters can be seen in the firing rate of a single neuron (and that certain parameters are embedded in neurons only if they are needed to solve the immediate task), they also found that they could read their monkeys’ minds.
Scientists are getting another chance to get inside Phineas Gage’s head. The 25-year-old Gage was a railroad supervisor back in 1848, using a 13-pound, 3-foot-7 iron rod to pack blasting powder into a rock just moments before becoming history’s most interesting neuroscience case. Gage somehow triggered an explosion that drove the rod straight through his left cheek and out the top of his head, taking a chunk of his left frontal lobe with it.
Paul Allen's commitment to tackling big questions in neuroscience grows larger still. The Microsoft co-founder has already contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to brain science, much of it to the establishment of the Allen Brain Institute, a nonprofit charged with building a massive database of information about the brain. Now, seemingly from a frustration with the slow pace of discovery elsewhere in the field, Allen has committed another $300 million over the next decade to expanding his institute to include it's own lab for neuroscience investigation.