Even though it is one of the most studied objects in human history, the human brain is still by and large one of the most mysterious things we’ve ever encountered. Neuroscientists, regardless of how much research they do, continue to be puzzled by its power, and how it is capable of producing the one thing that separates us from most other species on Earth: human consciousness.

Luckily, they have technology on their side. A new tool, that digitally reconstructs and maps the brain and its neurons, has been developed to help researchers study and further understand how consciousness manifests in mankind.

Before this new method was available, researchers had to use a dye that was injected into certain cells and then traced along neuronal pathways. However, it is almost impossible to completely trace an entire neuron’s pathway. This new tool takes less time, less effort, is less invasive and can be scaled either up or down.

Christof Koch, president of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, explained at a Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN) meeting that his team’s new 3D mapping tool has revealed new details about the claustrum, or the part of the brain that Koch believes plays a large role in both the consciousness of mice and men.

The findings they presented were 3D brain models and neuronal pathways produced by tracing them through the brains of mice. By using mice that were designed to react a certain way to a specific type of drug, certain neurons in the claustrum could be triggered at will. The triggering of these neurons would then cause a reaction--the spreading of a fluorescent protein throughout an entire neuron.

Then, after they had successfully traced three entire neurons, they used 10,000 cross-sectional images of the mice’s brains to create a 3D reconstruction of the neurons themselves.

What they found
The three neurons they mapped were found to stretch across both brain hemispheres, with one of them being so large that it went entirely around the circumference of the brain “like a crown of thorns,” explains Koch. These three neurons were also believed to be connected to almost all of the outer portions of the brain that receive and process sensory information.

These findings support Koch’s theory that the claustrum is largely involved in producing consciousness by coordinating different inputs and outputs.

The arrival of such a helpful tool is a welcome sight, but it’s also an incredibly expensive one. For example, researchers would need a lot more money in order to map all of the brain’s neurons on a grand scale. However, Koch is set on the claustrum and its importance, as he plans to continue mapping neurons that stem from this piece of the brain.

Perhaps in the near future we will have some idea of how consciousness is produced and whether or not the claustrum is as important as Koch believes it to be.

What do you think about the mapping of neurons and the manifestation of human consciousness?

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It’s not easy being a stray animal. Your meals come as often as they go, your trips to the vet are few and far in between (if any), and you have to deal with diseases like mange.

This is Cotton, a stray cat who was thought to be blind because the skin disease he was suffering from had literally swollen his eyes shut. Cotton was discovered in the streets of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, after the hungry cat “came out of nowhere” in hopes of snagging some of the food a man had put out for his own cat.

The man said Cotton appeared to be “very hungry, like if he had not eaten in days.” The man took to social media to see if anyone would be willing to help Cotton out and give him some much needed TLC. Luckily, Carmen Weinberg, founder of Animal Friends Project, saw the post and decided to take him in, at least until he was healthy enough to find a permanent home.

“Early the next morning, I drove to pick him up. I took him immediately to my vet… and they confirmed that he was suffering from mange.”

It was only after Cotton was eating normally again and his mange started to clear up that Cotton’s stunning eyes were revealed. One blue one and one yellow one, staring lovingly out at the world around him.

“Little by little he started to gain weight. It was a nice surprise to see that he had one blue eye and one yellow eye. His hair started to grow again…”

Now, all that’s left on Carmen’s mind is finding Cotton a home deserving of such a loving cat who ‘likes to be wherever you are.’

Who else wants to take Cotton home?

Please share with friends and loved ones who would love to hear Cotton’s tale!

http://www.boredpanda.com/blind-rescue-cat-mange-different-color-eyes-cotton/

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This Giant Canada Lynx Makes An Adorable Noise When Given Head Rubs

It’s often said that a cat is a cat regardless of how big it is, and that seems to certainly be true when it comes to Max the Canada Lynx!

Cats are known for making a subtle rumbling noise when they’re happy and content, known as purring, and it turns out that the big ones do so as well. Give them a nice head rub, scratch their ears and cheeks, and you’ll have a purring machine in no time.

Except Max’s purr sounds a little different than the purring you’re used to. Because he’s a much larger cat, his purr sounds more like an small engine running than any type of cat. Watch as Max receives some TLC and starts purring like you’ve never heard before.

Bernadette Hoffman is Max’s caretaker, and while he isn’t fully tame, he also isn’t exactly wild. Max was born in captivity at a zoo, but was eventually rescued by Bernadette and taken to her home in upstate New York where she houses him in both indoor and outdoor enclosures.

In fact, Max helps Bernadette run her wildlife education program as an education animal ambassador. Her program visits school children and public events to help educate people on the protection of the Earth and all of the endangered species that also call our planet home.

Source: Max Canada Lynx - I'm a Big Baby by socialsupplies on Rumble

In March of 2002, the Canada Lynx made the endangered species list after a combination of hunters and loss of habitat caused their population numbers to dwindle.

Check out this big cuddly cat and then share with friends and loved ones who would also love to see what a big cat purrs like!

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THIS Is What Happens When a Rabbi, a Priest and an Atheist Smoke Cannabis Together

Marijuana is, and probably has been, one of the most controversial drugs to ever be consumed by man, especially in the modern era. The substance has been illegal for decades, even though people have always used it recreationally, regardless of any type of authoritative entity telling them not to.

If you’ve smoked weed before, you know that it’s not a dangerous, life-altering substance that will have you out on the streets overnight without a job. If you’ve never smoked weed before, you might think that it’s fairly dangerous.

Either way, this footage of a priest, a rabbi and an atheist smoking weed together says more about the substance than anyone ever could.

Watch as these three men, who all come from different backgrounds, light up a joint and take a few bong rips before discussing major topics such as life, God and religion--managing to do so in a peaceful, tolerant, open and accepting way.

Even if you take nothing away from the conversations being had, you can at least tell people that you’ve seen a priest, a rabbi and an atheist smoke weed together!

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“I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Ken Findlay, lead researcher out of Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa.

In the years of 2011, 2014 and 2015, at least 22 sightings of humpback whale ‘super-groups’ were reported by research vessels. That’s not including the numerous other sightings by public entities traveling the region.

"[W]e propose that the 'super-group' feeding phenomenon (as tightly spaced large groups of whales) is a relatively recent behaviour exhibited by these whales," says Findlay and his team.

"[N]o such dense feeding aggregations have been reported elsewhere in low or mid latitudes during Southern Hemisphere humpback whale migrations. Indeed, aggregations of whales of this size have seldom been reported in the literature, with 'large' groups often numbering in the range of 10 to 20 or less."

Oddly enough, it’s not just the large packs of whales that is mysterious--it’s also the fact that they’re near South Africa at a time when they’re typically feeding in the polar regions of Antarctica.

Researchers aren’t 100 percent sure what the true reason behind this strange behavior is, but they have a few theories floating around. The first one being that it could be due to changes in ocean conditions that are subsequently altering the amount of food that is available. The other one being that the population of humpback whales is rising.

Humpback whales were seen to gather around the coasts of South Africa back in 1914 when their population numbers were incredibly high, leading researchers to ponder whether or not they are simply reverting back to an old feeding pattern that was seen before the whaling industry killed off a majority of the creatures.

Whatever the reason may be, scientists say these new patterns are likely here to stay--because what’re you going to do about the gatherings of a creature that weighs 66,000 pounds? If the coasts of South Africa are to be the next big humpback whale feeding ground, it’s important for us to make sure that they are safe.

"Despite the unknown cause of this recent behaviour, we postulate that the area has developed or is developing into an important seasonal humpback whale feeding ground that attracts significant immigration into the region in the late austral spring/early summer," concludes Findlay’s team.

You can read more about the study here!

h/t Science Alert

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