Food for thought

30 November 2019 - By: SEB
Food for thought 

This issue looks at the brain and how researchers are trying to find the black and white answers of the grey matter. 

The brain is arguably the most important organ in the body, responsible for numerous aspects of both physiology and behaviour. Indeed, every time we learn something new, we are making new neural pathways, strengthened by repetition. Research has suggested we only use 5% of our conscious capacity at a time (maybe 7% if you practice a lot of mindfulness) but these neural pathways stretch far beyond this, demonstrating how complex an organ the brain really is.

We hope that this issue of the magazine proves interesting—and helps to create some new links between your neurons!

Here is a glimpse of what we have in store for this issue of the SEB Magazine.


Our features for this issue draw on the neurological science on show at the 2019 SEB Annual Meeting in Seville. Alex Evans explored the session “How Brains and Bodies Interact to Generate Behaviour”, which brought together biomechanics and neurophysiology researchers and investigated how movement in animals originates (page 20). Jonathan Smith spoke to experts from the session ‘’Brain Building: Plasticity in Form and Function of the Central Nervous System” (page 26) about the phenomenon of adult brains producing new neurons and its importance in human healthcare and animal conservation. And Caroline Wood investigated how plant researchers are uncovering the molecular mechanisms that allow plants to activate suites of genes and defences against stressful events (page 32).


The ability of scientists to communicate their research has never been more important. Make sure you read the article ‘Educate to Communicate’ (page 51) for tips on how both new and established scientists can improve their own communication and that of the students they teach. Also in this section, Sarah Dolman, the SEB’s Education, Outreach and Diversity Manager, goes deep into the brain to look at unconscious bias (page 54) and how training on this topic can help us get the best out of our organisations and research groups.


This issue’s spotlight section gives readers a chance to learn more about the SEB’s newly elected Trustees. Vice-President Professor Jim Murray (Cardiff University, UK) spoke to Caroline Wood about his broad portfolio of research and the future for the SEB (page 44) and Alex Evans caught up with Early Career Trustee Tommy Norin (Technical University of Denmark, Denmark) to learn about the advantages SEB membership can give to students and postdocs (page 42).


The winners of the SEB’s Company of Biologists grant scheme talk about their research and travel experiences. In this issue we feature Andrés Romanowski (University of Edinburgh, UK), Bruna Marques dos Santos (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Danielle Ingle (Florida Atlantic University, USA), and Ana Lopes (University of Porto, Portugal) (page 56).

Find out how you can take advantage of SEB grants and funding at