Author Archives: Matt Boisvert

December 18

No cerebellum? No problem!

What happens when you are born missing 80% of your neurons? Well, pretty much nothing, as it turns out, at least when it comes to those missing a cerebellum. Comprising 70 billion of the brain’s 85 billion neurons (Herculano-Houzel 2009), this hindbrain structure is “the primary center of motor coordination in the central nervous system” […]

May 22

Consciousness in your dreams?

“A dream is a short-lasting psychosis, and a psychosis is a long-lasting dream.” -Arthur Schopenhauer Dreaming has entranced thinkers from the beginning of recorded history, and it’s easy to see why. Both Socrates and Plato agreed that dreaming is a total abandonment of reason. More contemporaneously, no less than Kant and Schopenhauer identified dreaming as […]

March 06

Hallucinating without drugs, the profundity of silence, and the thalamocortical circuit

I’m lying on my bed, with waves of pulsating light coming in and out, changing color, with shapes occasionally manifesting themselves, turning sometimes into people, sometimes into objects, and, more often than not, strange bunnymen, a la Donny Darko (albeit significantly less creepy). After ten minutes of this, I’ve had enough; taking the halved Ping-Pong […]

December 04

Controlling the brain with lasers!

Two male mice are hanging out in a cage, both with strange looking cables coming out of their head, and both minding their own business, when all of a sudden, a researcher flips a switch, sending a green light down the cable and into one of the mice’s brain. The mouse immediately proceeds to attack […]

October 26

How germs in the gut control our brain

Bacteria are controlling our minds? Not quite, but recent evidence suggests that bacteria residing in the gut (gut flora) may play a much more prominent role in brain function than anyone ever thought. At first glance, this seems strange, as these are microorganisms are doing their thing pretty far away from the brain, and the […]

How mice decide: Stimulation of striatal D1 and D2 neurons bias choice in opposite ways

“It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  –Dumbledore “We are our choices.” –Jean-Paul Sartre  The question of how animals make decisions based upon prior experiences has plagued neuroscience since the field’s inception. An animal wants to make a decision in such a manner that it […]