What Will It Take to Solve the Brain?

In my last post I wrote about attending a workshop where we debated whether it will ever be possible to “solve the brain”. I suggest you read that post before diving into this one. In this post I’ll summarize our discussions about what tools are needed in order to solve the brain and whether collecting more data is all it will take. To recap, our … Continue reading

Will We Ever Solve the Brain?

As I wrote in my last post, the Janelia workshop I recently attended included a series of debates designed to stimulate discussion of broad topics in neuroscience. These debates were thought-provoking and super fun, especially the part where my side crushed the opposition (kidding). So I wanted to write up a couple of posts about some of the issues we discussed that I found the … Continue reading

Brain Bits, 1/10/16

Welcome to Brain Bits, where I highlight important or interesting recent news in the world of neuroscience. In store for today: recording the activity of an entire moving brain, sensing different types of touch, optogenetics trials in humans, and more!   Neuroscientists have long dreamed of recording the activity of every neuron in the brain at the same time: since everything the brain does is … Continue reading

How Our Brains Learn

Today I’m going to address one of the most fundamental questions in neuroscience: how do our brains learn? People often compare the brain to a computer: both are able to process and store tons of information. But computers (generally) don’t learn. Your computer doesn’t mature over time or change its programming based on what worked and what didn’t. That’s why its same annoying habits or bugs will … Continue reading

Brain Bits, 5/17/15

Welcome to Brain Bits, where I highlight important or interesting recent news in the world of neuroscience. This week: why you get hangry, how flies fly without getting lost, kicking old professors out of the lab, and more!   Deep in the brain, within a region called the hypothalamus, there are neurons that control eating. These cells, called AGRP neurons, fire when mice are hungry and … Continue reading

Brain Bits, 3/7/15

Welcome to the second installment of Brain Bits, where I highlight important or interesting recent news in the world of neuroscience. This week: how to build a human brain, what female fruit flies do after sex, DIY brain stimulation, and celebrating crappy results.   A hallmark of the human brain is the dramatic enlargement of the neocortex, which is believed to mediate higher-level thought and cognition. Last week a new study in Science … Continue reading

How Hubel and Wiesel Revolutionized Neuroscience and Made Me a Neuroscientist

As a kid, I thought biology was stupid. Biology seemed to be taught mainly in the form of lists and diagrams. Here’s a list of the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. There’s a diagram of the circulatory system. Here’s a list of traits specific to mammals. Then there’d be a page on the test where you’d have to label the organelles of a cell … Continue reading

Circadian Rhythms: The Day Within

You’ve probably heard that our bodies have an internal clock. That’s why you get tired or hungry at about the same time each day and feel jetlagged when you’ve crossed too many time zones. Our clocks are set by external cues, such as daylight, alarm clocks, or your roommate grinding coffee beans at an ungodly hour each morning. But our clocks can also function completely … Continue reading

SFN: The Good, the Bad, and the Nerdy

This past week was the big conference in the field of neuroscience, creatively named “Neuroscience” but referred to as “SFN” by the rest of us because it’s organized the by Society for Neuroscience. Over 30,000 neuroscientists attended this year’s event in Washington D.C. I bet the rest of you didn’t think there were even that many of us in the whole world! (At least that’s … Continue reading