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The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health is one of the world’s top six brain research centres. We employ 600 research and support staff and educate 90 post-graduate students each year. Our scientists comprise the largest neuroscience research team in Australia.

Our teams work across a variety of disease states such as stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, motor neuron disease, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, mental illnesses including schizophrenia, depression and addiction. We are world leaders in imaging technology, stroke rehabilitation and epidemiological studies.

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The amount of sun exposure and associated vitamin D production is believed to underlie the geographical gradient in multiple sclerosis prevalance. Thomas Abbs/Flickr

Explainer: multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease affecting almost 25,000 Australians and more than 2.4 million people worldwide. It’s one of the leading causes of disability in young adults. Typically, the…
Brains exist in a dynamic bidirectional interplay with our bodies, and this has major implications for the health of both. Petri Damstén/Flickr

Mind over matter: cynics, it seems, triple their risk of dementia

I don’t want to sound too cynical, but recent research findings in dementia seem hard to believe. A study of over 1,000 people has found people who scored higher on a measure of cynicism during late life…
Once people reach a certain threshold of material comfort, extra money makes very little difference. Lotus Carroll/Flickr

Can money buy happiness?

If survey data are to be trusted, there’s a surprisingly weak relationship between money and happiness. As national incomes rise, happiness does not increase. Consider this: happiness in the United States…
As the queue grows, small increases in waiting times soon turn into dramatic spikes. Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

GP co-payment would increase emergency department wait times

The introduction of a GP co-payment could see average emergency department visits increase by between six minutes and almost three hours, new modelling shows, as more patients opt for free hospital care…
Philosophers argue that people are not over and above the systems involved in information processing –we are our brains, plus some other, equally physical stuff. Tom Blackwell/Flickr (reszied)

Irresponsible brains? The role of consciousness in guilt

In the second instalment of Biology and Blame, Neil Levy considers how neuroscience can affect legal judgements. Can human beings still be held responsible in the age of neuroscience? Some people say no…
Viruses like this one may yet become a benevolent force in modern medicine. Microbe World/Flickr

From scourge to saviour: using viruses to treat serious disease

Viruses have traditionally been mankind’s enemies, causing disease and often mutating out of the reach of our medicines. But now a new technology is conscripting them into doing good. Viral vectors show…
In the face of pressures that turn us against each other, it pays to be aware of the potential costs of reducing sympathy. mrhayata/Flickr

Bad Samaritans: why people don’t step in to stop violence

Every now and then, and rarely far apart in time, the media features a story about an assault in public where bystanders failed to come to the victim’s aid. Of course, there are many possible reasons why…
The process of being born may affect how our brain develops and whether we’re susceptible to brain disorders. JoséMa Orsini

Giving birth to new insights into brain development and disease

Each one of us is the complex product of nature and nurture, genes and environment. They combine in a myriad of complex ways during embryonic and postnatal development to sculpt our brains and bodies…
Over the show’s three episodes, Todd Sampson tests whether it’s possible to enhance his mind, using exercises designed by scientists. ABC

Preview: ABC’s Redesign my Brain with Todd Sampson

We live in an age of great public fascination with minds and brains; books about brain plasticity, for instance, regularly make the bestseller lists. This fascination is not merely the product of our thirst…
There are reasons to be sceptical that sex addiction will turn out to be anything as powerful as drug addiction. id iom/Flickr

Can people really be addicted to sex?

Is sex addiction real? That is, is it really a disorder, involving diminished control over behaviour? Questions such as these are difficult to answer because it’s always difficult to distinguish diminished…
An American neuroscientist claims that the key to free will lies in how neurons can rewire each other. blackham

Is free will a scientific problem?

An American neuroscientist claims to have solved the problem of free will. Peter Tse, who works at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, says that the key to free will lies in how neurons can rewire each…
The benefits of the human papillomavirus vaccine far outweigh risks. VCU CNS/Flickr

Four things you should know about HPV vaccinations

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has attracted attention in the past week for two contradictory reasons: the Japanese government has withdrawn its recommendation for the shot, while public health…
There needs to be a fundamental shift in how a scientist is viewed and measured. Søren Rajczyk

Breed scientists better for a better breed of science

MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: We’ve asked our authors about the state of maths and science education in Australia and its future direction. In this instalment, Jee Hyun Kim examines how the culture of academia…
Neuroplasticity refers to the way in which the cells in the brain change in response to experience. Hey Paul Studios

Explainer: nature, nurture and neuroplasticity

The human brain is the most complex and extraordinary structure in the known universe. And while there are many awe-inspiring facets of the brain, I will focus here on “neuroplasticity”, a term that has…
Are there things you’d rather not remember? Megyarsh

Going, going, gone: the where and why of memory erasure

If you could erase your memories, which ones would you choose? As a neuroscientist, one of my raisons d’etre is to achieve, in a way, some form of memory erasure, especially for individuals that suffer…
Researchers decoded the whole mitochondrial DNA of five Neanderthal men, one of whom belonged to the El Sidron site (pictured) in Asturias, northern Spain, in 2009. EPA/CSIC

Caveman ethics? The rights and wrongs of cloning Neanderthals

It now appears that the scientist who seemed to be advocating that we clone Neanderthals was suggesting only that “we need to start talking about it.” Ethics is an essential part of such a conversation…
Our implicit associations reveal more about our true attitudes than what we explicitly state. Image from shutterstock.com

Are you racist? You may be without even knowing it

The infamous Youtube video capturing a young man abusing women on a Melbourne bus for the crime of singing in French, and being supported in his violent tirade by fellow passengers, raises the uncomfortable…
That’s me: Scientists agree animals are conscious, but public attitudes still lag behind. flickmor/Flickr

About time: science and a declaration of animal consciousness

Are animals conscious? Notoriously, the famous 17th century philosopher René Descartes thought they were not. He believed that possession of a soul was necessary for rational thought and for consciousness…
We all know the past disappears. FotoRita [Allstar maniac]

Explainer: what is forgetting?

If memory can be defined as “a past that becomes a part of me”, can forgetting be defined as “a past that is no longer a part of me”? Smokers who have abstained for years may not consciously be able to…
Did you forget to lock the door, or just forget to pay proper attention? jef safi \ 'pictosophizing

Explainer: what is memory?

Memory is difficult to define without being circular. People often define memory as “something you can remember”. But we cannot deny the existence of a memory when there is no recollection. Sigmund Freud…

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