In the study of the plant kingdom, a slow revolution is underway. Scientists are beginning to understand that plants have abilities, previously unnoticed and unimagined, that we’ve only ever associated with animals. In their own ways, plants can see, smell, feel, hear, and know where they are in the world. One recent study found that clusters of cells in plant embryos act a lot like brain cells and help the embryo to decide when to start growing.

While other brain regions change by altering the connections between brain cells, the face recognition tissue seemed to grow in a different way ... The growth of the brain tissue is not due to the birth of fresh neurons, but instead comes from existing neurons growing into more complex patterns, and developing a thicker coating of material known as myelin. The fatty myelin sheaths around neurons make brain signals pass along them much faster.

Alzheimer’s Family Care Centers, a San Diego nonprofit...has begun to create a very different sort of daytime space for its patients: a faux town of 24 buildings, arranged around a central green and designed to evoke the era when most of today’s dementia patients were young adults. The hope is that visual reminders of their youth will spark memories and conversation ... While the project is novel, the approach it reflects—known as reminiscence therapy—is common in clinical practice.

Not so many years ago, the brightest minds in neuroscience thought that our brains got a set amount of neurons, and that by adulthood, no new neurons would be birthed. But this turned out not to be true ... If you are exercising so that you sweat — about 30 to 40 minutes — new brain cells are being born ... The other fascinating thing here is where these new cells pop up: in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory.

Memory is just one of the subtle but powerful factors that affect eating habits ...But other influences are far less obvious. A recent peer-reviewed study found that something as innocuous-seeming as the size of a table can affect how people perceive the food that's placed in front of them — the larger the table, the harder it is for people to discern that they have been served less food, and the more easily they are satiated.

Experiments have long shown that people who get a good night’s sleep are better able to recall what they learned the day before than those who don’t ... During sleep, the brain rebalances both the immune and endocrine systems; that’s why sleep disorders are associated with ills including depression, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Tinkering with the controls might have nasty consequences.