Help us ‘Ask a Neuroscientist’

When we launched this show, we heard a lot of feedback that you specifically wanted to hear more science on this show.

One way we want to do that is with a segment we’ll call ‘Ask A Neuroscientist.’ Armed with your questions, we plan to ask our expert anything you want related to how the brain works.

What’s happening when we sleep? What part of our brain controls tap dancing, and is it different than piano playing? Why do some of us write left-handed?

The sky’s the limit with your brain-related question. Post your question below or fill out this short form that will be forwarded to us via e-mail.

Tom Weber

  • What neurotransmitters do humans share with other living things? Please describe what neurotransmitters are and our best guesses as to how they work.

  • Craig

    Is it true that acquiring a second language is easier at a younger age? Would an MRI reveal any difference between a brain which is open to a new language and one which is less so?

    Are there physical brain differences between good multi-taskers and single-focus individuals?

  • Kent

    Brains of liberals and conservatives “glow” differently in MRIs as well as those of deeply religious and non-religous people. Is this brain difference from birth, does it develop throughout life, can it be changed?

  • Stephanie Curtis

    These are great. Thanks. Keep adding more.

    Chris Dall says the segment will start the segment will start in about two weeks.

  • Tim Strasser

    In becoming a teacher I was taught people are either “Right Brain” dominant or “Left Brain” dominant. This theory says people who are analytical and logical are Left Brain Dominat — and therefore use the left hemisphere more, and people who are emotional and creative are Right Brain Domaint — using the right hemisphere of their brain more. Is there any sceintific proof for the “Right Brain” or “Left Brain” Dominance theory?

  • Carol

    I have an aquired DAVF at the base of my skull c1/c2 area. My understanding is, the blood flow bypasses the capillaries. So does that mean I am getting inadequate blood flow to certain parts of my brain? If so what all can this effect?

  • Tammy Hoganson

    In 2010, technology reporter Matt Richtel published an intriguing series in the New York Times called “Your Brain On Computers” – about the negative cognitive and behavioral repercussions of being deluged by data and not having adequate downtime from our digital gadgets. I’d appreciate any additional insight you could provide on this under-reported, under-appreciated issue.

  • Craig

    I recently listened to a recording of a speech given by Aldous Huxley in the sixties on mass manipulation, in which he described television as psychological iontophoresis. Now, fifty years later there are frequent stories about new fields (Marketing, Politics, Finance….) using neuroscience consultants and MRI scans to fine-tune their messages or products. Is there an ethical discussion within neuroscience on this type of application of the science? Is it wrong to use neuroscience this way?

    When programming various types of learning algorithms—including neural networks—random numbers are often introduced in small amounts to make a system non-deterministic, meaning the training set yields a slightly different trained state in the network each time. Are biological neurons and synapses deterministic or non-deterministic? Meaning, if you could return them to the initial state, would they react to the same stimuli the same way each time?

    When studying the brain as electro-chemical machinery with inputs and outputs, do you ponder free will?

    In college, conventional wisdom suggested “if you study caffeinated you should take the test caffeinated.” Or, more tendentiously, “if you study drunk, you should take the test drunk.” How state-dependent is learning?

  • Stephanie Curtis

    Here’s that series that Tammy mentioned, Your Brain on Computers.

  • Very interesting question above, Craig.

    My question is related to a design that I am designing for my experimental design course at University of Minnesota – Duluth. What is the relationship between increased physical exercise and cognitive processes, such as higher executive functions, learning or working memory?

  • Pam

    Shaq had a terrible time with free throws and outside shooting even though he was great under the basket. He also appears to be slightly cross-eyed. My question is whether or not he may have a depth perception disability? If this is true, it makes his accomplishments even more astounding. (My interest in this is equally astounding, as I’m a die-hard hockey fan –– hence clueless about basketball. I guess it’s the irresistible lure of neuroscience. But along those lines, here’s another question –– in hockey, is it better to shoot off your dominant eye, or dominant hand?)

  • Madeleine age 5

    How does a brain think?

  • Judy B

    I heard something recently about insomnia/reduced sleep influencing the brain in some way, possibly a dementia risk. What is known about this, and how does sleep with sleeping pills (different sleep architecture) affect this risk. I know they say insomnia decreases longevity.

  • stephanie Curtis


    Tom Weber and I love your question.

  • Gail

    I absolutely love Madeleine’s question, too.

  • Jenny Kortuem

    I am a speech pathologist who works with individuals who often have a cognitive impairment. Is there any research/information looking at ways to improve poor executive functioning skills?

  • stephanie

    We had our first segment in Ask a Neuroscientist. David Eagleman answered the question “Can we stop brain pruning in childhood?”

    Thanks to Julie from Ramsey for submitting her question!