Author Archives: José Ramón Alonso

<span property="name">José Ramón Alonso</span>
José R. Alonso has a PhD in Neurobiology and is professor of Cell Biology at the University of Salamanca. He has been researcher and visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt/Main and the University of Kiel, in Germany, and the University of California, Davis and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in the United States. He has authored more than 145 articles in peer-reviewed journals and written 20 books including university textbooks and popular science for both adults and children.

Ant nests are complex three-dimensional spaces with particular places allocated for specific functions: egg-laying, care of the brood, food storage… In the chambers and tunnels, many insects live in very confined spaces and are thus especially vulnerable for infectious […]

Laziness, sloth or indolence is, depending on who you ask, a sin, a psychological characteristic, or a basic human right. It is usually used as a pejorative and is considered a disinclination, a personal choice where one the lazy […]

There are two main groups of mammalian brains. Lissencephalic brains have a smooth surface and can be found, for example, in mice, rats or manatees. Gyrencephalic brains, by contrast, have deeply folded brains with gyri (ridges) and sulci (depressions or […]


Fernando Nottebohm was born in Buenos Aires in 1940, a second generation Argentine. Animals fascinated him since he was a child and he always wanted to understand how birds sing. After moving to the United States, he began to […]

Mayans considered chocolate to be the food of gods, something that is remembered in the scientific name of the cacao plant (Theobroma cacao). Although these presumably consumers are not any longer considered, chocolate is an important dietary […]

The lymphatic system performs important immune functions, and runs parallel to the blood circulatory system to provide a secondary circulation that transports excess interstitial fluid, proteins and metabolic waste products from the systemic tissues back into the blood. For centuries, […]

Altruism is a basic principle in many cultures and religions: do good deeds to other persons without expecting a reward or even if it is detrimental for you. However, it is not exclusive to human beings: ant workers abandon their […]

The human brain continues its development postnatally. It is a long process that extends throughout, at least, the first two decades of life. Along these years, environmental factors influence brain functions and, not surprisingly because of its high plasticity, brain […]

True empathy is considered by most researchers to be an exclusive ability of primates, particularly humans and apes, the result of complex reasoning and abstract thought. However, empathy may be a phylogenetically continuous ability with particular types such as «emotional […]

The term epigenetics refers to heritable changes in gene expression (active vs. inactive genes) that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. It results in change in phenotype without a change in genotype. An easily comprehensible example […]