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While doctors still use their senses for diagnoses, they have technologies to back them up. Alex Proimos/Flickr

From the sweet taste of urine to MRI: how doctors lost their senses

“Diabetic urine”, the surgeon Herbert Mayo wrote in 1832, “is almost always of a pale straw or greenish colour. Its smell is commonly faint and peculiar, sometimes resembling sweet whey or milk.” The use…
Like humans, ‘man’s best friend’ can sense our emotions through voice alone. Flickr/TheGiantVermin

Dogs hear human happiness – it’s in his (or her) master’s voice

Dogs really are our best friends. A study published today in Current Biology shows not only do dogs and humans read emotions in each other’s “voices”, but both are more attuned to “happy” sounds. And the…
Magnetic resonance imaging uses the body’s most abundant molecule – water. Berkeley Lab

The science of medical imaging: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Our short series, the Science of Medical Imaging, examines the technology behind non-invasive methods of creating images of the human body. In this third and final instalment, we look at the basics of…
Many of us love helium balloons but we need to find and conserve more for use in MRI scanners. PA/Matthew Fearn

We’ll all be worse off when the helium balloon pops

Helium is God’s gift to humankind. It’s particularly fantastic for science and medicine and has allowed us to make an enormous number of fundamental advances. We use it for a whole vast array of things…
Each dream has its own brain scan ‘signature’. mondi

An open book: the next chapter of ‘reading’ dreams

You may have read last week that a team of researchers has developed, for the first time, a way to detect the contents of people’s dreams. But what can we glean from this research? During the same week…
Building an accurate brain model is computationally demanding. JamesJam

Computing on the brain: where MRI meets epilepsy treatment

It’s been referred to, somewhat disparagingly, as blobology, but MRI technology has the potential to improve treatment for epilepsy – in part thanks to developments in computing. Identifying where seizures…
Different parts of the brain do different things, but there’s more overlap than you might think. Brain image from

Explainer: the brain

If I had been asked 15 years ago to write a short piece about what the different parts of the brain did, it would have been a fairly straightforward task. Not any more. Over the last 15 years, the methods…
Brain scan technology is finding that some parts of the brain respond more strongly to colour than others. Flickr/dpi

Perceiving colour involves more than meets the eye

For more than 200 years, scientists have known the range of colours we can see means there must be three different types of light-responsive cells in our eyes. These three types of cell, along with the…

An algorithm to speed up MRI scans

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan time could be cut to just 15 minutes (from about 45 minutes currently), thanks to an…
The emerging field of neuromarketing exploits the gap between what we say and what we think. Flickr/DierkSchaefer

Our brains, our wallets - the field of neuromarketing

How do we choose? Consumers imagine themselves as rational decision-makers, able to weigh up the relative costs and benefits of decisions to arrive at reasoned choices. Yet, a growing body of research…

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