Quickies: Satanic holiday display, girls love bugs too, and bat brains


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. I’ve been paying attention to the fruit bat “compass system” research for a few years. The researchers are doing really beautiful work. One thing that the article didn’t mention is that the “map system,” the grid cells and place cells mentioned as complementary to the head-orientation cells that the researchers are studying, was the work that won this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine; it’s a nice demonstration of how active research on the neurobiological mechanisms that help us navigate and understand the space around us continues and builds on earlier work.

    A minor correction to the article, which was otherwise quite good: the pallium isn’t just the fish version of the hippocampus. Pallium is a general term for a type of tissue within the brain, which in mammals includes the hippocampus, but also the cerebral cortex and parts of the amygdala. You might have heard that only mammals have a cerebral cortex, and this is true, but all vertebrates have a pallium, and parts of the pallium in non-mammals seem to have the same function and connections as the cerebral cortex does in mammals. The basic architecture of the vertebrate brain is really evolutionarily ancient, and shared among mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

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