Patients suffering from locked-in syndrome can speak with their pupils

Locked-in syndrome (LIS) is the harrowing condition that leaves fully conscious patients unable to communicate due to complete paralysis. Now, researchers have uncovered a new way to help victims of LIS communicate with the outside world — by measuring changes in the diameter of their pupils. » 8/06/13 9:00am 8/06/13 9:00am

Man's Parkinson's disease symptoms vanish with the push of a button

In 2009, Andrew Johnson, 35, was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease. Last November, and again in February, he underwent a procedure, during which surgeons implanted a device in his brain that controls his tremors. Today, you'd never guess he suffers from Parkinson's – but watch what happens when he turns… » 6/27/13 7:40am 6/27/13 7:40am

How could we engineer humans to have more empathy?

People are capable of amazing kindness, but also of unbelievable callousness. We go out of our way to help strangers, but we also turn a blind eye to misery. But what if you could make human beings kind all the time? What does science teach us about empathy, and how to create it in people? We decided to ask the… » 6/19/13 5:14pm 6/19/13 5:14pm

We've Found the Molecule That Causes Itchiness

Researchers have discovered the molecular link between the cells in skin that sense itching and the nerve cells that relay the perception of that itch to the brain. Take that molecule away, and the itchy sensation vanishes. So far, the molecules, cells and circuitry in question have been identified in mice, but this… » 5/23/13 11:03am 5/23/13 11:03am

This optical illusion discovered by Aristotle is still a brain-twister

It's time for another bracing reminder that your brain is a screw-up and your eyes are liars. This particular illusion is known as the Motion Aftereffect Illusion. It's pretty simple. Look at enough motion steadily and your brain will get tired and punk you for fun. You can even do it with a real waterfall. Find out… » 11/20/12 1:27pm 11/20/12 1:27pm

Why do paper cuts hurt so much, and what do they have to do with…

As SciAm's Ferris Jabr explains in the video up top, the short answer is: nociceptors. Many animals have these sensory neurons. Some animals have weird ones. Take naked mole rats, for example — NMRs have mutated sodium channels that limit physiologically "normal" nociceptor firing, thereby blunting sensations of pain. » 11/08/12 12:20pm 11/08/12 12:20pm