Category: A Neuroscientist Explains: Guardian Columns

‘Animals regulate their activities on an annual cycle, becoming frisky in spring.’ Photograph: Richard Peters/Alamy

How rhythms become a vital part of us

Whether it’s the physiological monthly cycle of a woman or a plant’s seasonal cycle, the external world influences biology This column has run weekly for more than two…

Leaf lesson: as with Autumn leaves, our skin and bone cells renew. Photograph: Image Broker/Rex

Brain tree: why we replenish only some of our cells

Many of the body’s cells regenerate – but not the brain’s, explains Daniel Glaser We are being treated to a spectacular display of autumn colour this year, but…

Old timers: penny farthing racers at Herne Hill, London, August 1937. Photograph: Keystone France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Cycling: why it’s as easy as riding a bike

Learn how to cycle as a child and you’ll never forget how, as Daniel Glaser explains Summer is often the time we decide to get back on our…

Live action: a butterfly collector who captured and killed the UK’s rarest butterfly reminds us that it’s better to appreciate something in the wild. Photograph: Butterfly Conservation/PA

Why dissecting the brain only gives us half its story

Studying the brain in action is better than slicing it up if you want to understand how it works News that a man captured and killed the UK’s…

Programming challenge: morality should be built into the core of a robot. Photograph: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images

Why we must teach morality to robots

As with children, ethical input with robots needs to come before, not after, developing other skills, says Daniel Glaser Every week comes a new warning that robots are…

Hamming it up: when we see animals move we anthropomorphise. Photograph: PA

‘Tis the season of dancing animals – but why do humans love them?

We identify with panto pigs because the wiring that connects our limbs to our spines is so similar Forget Strictly, this is the season of dancing animals. All things…

How do your hands know where to reach?: Tracey Emin’s recreated My Bed. Photograph: Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images

How the brain knows where we are in bed

How do you find what you want in the dark if your bed is as messy as Tracey Emin’s? Tracey Emin has recreated her notorious 1998 artwork My Bed for a…

Cold comfort: why does a chill on the tongue lead to a pain in the head. Illustration: Lauren Mortimer

Why does ice cream give you brain freeze?

A cold sensation in the mouth can lead to pain in the head. Here’s why… A British bank holiday usually calls for a trip to the ice cream…

Storm Barney approaching London at sundown last week with more than 40mph winds. Photograph: Guy Corbishley/Corbis

Do we notice changes in global temperature?

Because we adapt to long-term weather fluctuations, we might not be noticing climate change. Time to feel the heat… Does global warming keep you up at night, or…