Author Archives: megkirch

japanpic February 09

What I learned as a ‘brain tourist’ in Japan

This article was simultaneously posted on Neurographic: https://medium.com/neurographic/what-i-learned-as-a-brain-tourist-in-japan I never would have guessed that studying the brain would take me to such interesting places. When I signed up for graduate school, I assumed that I was resigning myself to staying in the same place and doing more or less the same thing for five to six […]

Naked Mole-rat December 22

Naked and Unafraid

En español Ugliest animal in the world. 2013’s “Vertebrate of the Year”. Co-star of Disney Channel’s Kim Possible. These are just a few of the naked mole rat’s most notable distinctions. However, the extent of their peculiarity and alienness is, if you would believe it, enormously under-appreciated. The more they learn, scientists across the fields […]

5081826831_b8f7dec174_o September 30

To See, but not to See

In 2008, a man shocked researchers when he successfully walked through a hallway cluttered with boxes, trash cans, and other junk without stumbling into anything. That may not seem terribly impressive (particularly if you’re used to navigating through a messy bedroom every night), but here’s the catch: that man was blind. That man, known as […]

screen-shot-2014-02-24-at-4-22-05-pm July 07

Just Keep Remembering (and Forgetting)

[En español] “I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family… At least I think it does… hm. Where are they?” Thirteen years ago, a little blue fish with a memory problem became one of the most lovable animated characters of all time. In Finding Nemo, Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) constantly forgets […]

5299266366_0b6c8ae172_o April 07

The Changing Face of Autism

[En español] Spectrum. This word could refer to electromagnetism, the colors of the rainbow, or any number of things that fall on a scale between two points. However, when I see or hear the word “spectrum”, the first things that come to my mind are the faces of people I know who struggle with social […]

optogenetics December 10

A Toast to Optogenetics

[En español] “This seems rather far-fetched but it is conceivable that molecular biologists could engineer a particular cell type to be sensitive to light.” These words, published in 1999 by Francis Crick [1] (co-discoverer of the DNA double helix structure and a neuroscientist later in life) were incredibly prophetic. It did seem far-fetched, and yet, a […]

brainmusic September 17

Singing in the [B]rain

Music has always wielded a disconcerting power over me. In times of overwhelming emotions, listening to a sad song or playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat on the piano has propelled me into cathartic fits of sobbing. Songs with escalating intensity and complexity (such as San Fermin’s Parasites) have made me feel as if a wave […]

insideoutposter July 02

Turning the Brain ‘Inside Out’

[En español] Who would’ve thought that a film that takes place inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley and uses her personified emotions as the main protagonists would break the box office record for original movies and be such a worldwide sensation? From the moment I first heard about Inside Out, my own […]

barrespic May 28

Ben Barres: On Science and Sexism

Every May, the UCSD Neurosciences Graduate Program gathers students and faculty at a conference center on beautiful Lake Arrowhead for a weekend retreat of science and socialization. This spring, our keynote research speaker was Dr. Ben Barres of Stanford University. After a successful first day, a roomful of neuroscientists eagerly awaited Dr. Ben Barres’ keynote […]

eternal-sunshine-pic2 February 13

The Neuroscience of the Spotless Mind

Although there are undoubtedly even more Valentine’s Day-themed films than there are Shades of Grey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stands a cut above the rest. I say this not only as a movie-enthusiast but also as a neuroscience-enthusiast. This film may not be overtly about neuroscience, but it touches on questions and themes that are […]