Category Archives: Cognition

November 15

From symptoms to biology: shifting definitions of Alzheimer’s disease

As a neuroscientist studying Alzheimer’s, I’m reminded of its far-reaching impact each time a barista, cashier, or Lyft driver makes small talk by asking what I do for a living. Unfortunately, this devastating disease needs no introduction. Considering its ubiquity, it’s surprising that a debate broke out recently among leaders in the field over the […]

September 13

Your Virtual Self: Psychology in the Age of Virtual Reality

“Look!” My nephew kept eating from a box of infinite donuts in his new cubicle office. He had just been promoted by a floating computer monitor, his boss. A concerned look slowly printed onto his boss’ flat face as it saw him continuously push donuts down his gullet. The game was “Job Simulator”, and while […]

August 02

Snake Eyes: The Fear That Built Your Brain

Indiana Jones is a quintessential American hero, his fedora, satchel, and whip instantly recognizable around the world. He lives a double life, a scholarly professor of anthropology in public and a globetrotting treasure hunter in private. He defeats the Nazis and always gets the girl, displaying daring and fearlessness, with one notable exception. He has […]

July 26

A Neuroscience Perspective on the Lifelong Consequences of Detaining Kids at the Border

[En español] If you’ve been even partially tuned in to the news over the last few months, you’ve heard about the gut-wrenching separation of children from their parents at the United States border and the detainment centers where these children have been held. You may have seen pictures of young kids in cages, been watching when […]

July 05

Where does Alzheimer’s disease begin?

Sometimes I forget what day of the week it is, where I put my keys, or when a friend’s birthday is- but I never stop to wonder if these brief moments of forgetfulness are normal or a sign of something more serious. For many, occasional short-term memory loss is a normal part of getting older, […]

May 31

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Genetic Memory

We are all products of our past, for better or for worse. At first glance, such a statement seems so obvious it hardly bears mentioning; our earlier experiences, both our successes and our failures, shape our current behavior.  But dig just a bit deeper, and it becomes far murkier. What can you call your past? […]

March 22

“Find My Friends”, Brain edition

Have you ever felt hyper-aware of where another person is, almost like you’ve got some internal GPS that’s automatically tracking their location? Perhaps you’ve felt this way (however creepily) when you’ve had a major crush on someone, to the point that you’re exceptionally tuned in to where that person is in a room at any […]

February 08

Did you do that?

Limited only perhaps by my emotional fortitude and physical abilities, I am unquestionably in control of myself. This sense is perhaps drawn most into question first thing in the morning when I play both sides of an internal civil war: on one side, my bed, on the other, the cold cruel world. Both sides battle […]

November 02

Fact or Fiction: False Memories from Replicants to Rituals

Mild spoilers for the film Blade Runner 2049 follow.   In Blade Runner’s world, it is the year 2049, and Earth looks substantially different than in 2017. Our fair city of San Diego is a literal garbage dump, crops are unable to grow outdoors, a single corporation dominates all agriculture and industry. The skies of […]

September 07

It’s Like Uber, but for Neurologists

Automation is one of the engines of modernity, and what it should or could be is one of our society’s central discussions. However, when we discuss automation, it is never as a change that affects everyone in our community, but instead as one targeted at certain groups. Manufacturing workers on the assembly line have been […]