Category Archives: Brain

Ed Yong’s TED Talk: Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales

“Are there any parasites that are influencing our behaviour without us knowing it?”

When I started this blog back in 2007, Ed Yong was a fledgling science writer gaining an audience with his Not Exactly Rocket Science wordpress blog; clear and engaging online articles that opened up primary research to a wider audience. You’ll find many links to his writing throughout this site, connecting the concepts of the IB Biology course to current science and ‘the wow beat’. He has since had a book and is resident at NatGeo’s Phenomena Salon, after moving through Science Blogs and Discover.

He continues to inspire me as a writer and this week he gave his TED Talk, a funny and fact-packed tour of the sinister side of parasites. Enjoy! You will even be able to find some links out to further reading and references.

If you don’t already, you should subscribe to the Phenomena blogs, and if you’re a teacher or student whose schedule are as packed a mine, I highly recommend Ed’s weekly ‘Missing Links‘ roundup of science news and writing – they make for my Sunday morning reading!

Amazing T. rex Illusion

This illusion rocks. See if you can work out how they did it before you see the ‘reveal’.

For more amazing illusions, see the archive of winners and entries in the ‘illusion of the year‘ contest.

Your Brain: By the Numbers [Video]

Here’s a collection of interesting brain facts from PhD Comics’ YouTube Channel. Could be a useful starter for E5 Human Brain – practice with calculators to convert all the imperial values to metric.

Teen Brain Videos and Resources

The teen brain is a funny place to live, with unique challenges and threats. There have been some excellent articles and resources produced recently on the subject – useful for students, teachers and parents.

Teen Brain from PBS

Teen Brain from PBS

Carl Zimmer has a great piece on the teenage brain at Discover Magazine. Alison Gopnik has a similar piece at Wall Street Journal. Both explore the risk behaviour of teens. David Dobbs asks ‘Why do teens act the way they do?‘ at National Geographic. Richard Knox at NPR summarises ‘Teen brains are not fully connected yet,’ whereas John Cloud at Time reports on a PLOS One paper that suggests a link between more mature teen white matter and risky behaviour.

There are a lot of teen brain resources at PBS Frontline, including a full documentary. It is available (for now) on YouTube, but head over to their main site for more information and a ability to view the whole video by chapter.

I don’t normally advertise on the site, but here I’ll make an exception.

Teen brains, with their unique needs, need to be looked after to optimise learning. By paying attention to current brain research, we as educators could get more from our students and help them learn. Derek Pugh, a former BIS colleague, now works with schools, students and parents on brain-based learning workshops. He has also written a series of articles and a book: The Owner’s Guide to the Teenage Brain.

Why not visit his website, ( to read more. There are articles and eBooks on sleep, classrooms, diet, water and more.

Meet Your Brain: Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

Professor Bruce Hood explores the human brain in this series of lectures from the Royal Institution in London. The trailer is below and in time all the lectures should appear on the RI Channel Website here (Vimeo channel here).

If you can access BBC iPlayer, you can keep up with the lectures here.

The theme of the 2010 Lecture series by Mark Miodownik was “Size Matters”, again relevant to the IB Biology course and available to watch in full from the RI Channel website.

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain

I love these video clips. Here they animate Iain McGilchrist‘s RSA lecture on the nature of the divided brain.

The full talk is here:

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