Category Archives: Cognition

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 […]

July 13

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

What’s one part beach, four parts science, and too much fun? If you answered “Brain Camp,” you nailed it.

June 29

Feelin’ the Beat (Frequency)

What do you think when you read the word interference? If you’re like most people, you probably think it’s negative. Colloquially, interference tends to be obstructive or destructive, like interference keeping your radio or TV from picking up a station, or pass interference in football. I’m NeuWriting to inform you of a recent study in […]

June 15

Your Brain, the Liar

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Thinking machines, like those portrayed in HBO’s Westworld, use new information from their environment to update their beliefs about the world and take action to further their goals. For all such machines, the success of that process of integrating new input is limited by their hardware, […]

March 31

Golden Retrievers, Terriers, and Artificial Neural Networks

Usually when someone tells you that they are studying something, it’d be safe to assume that they interact with whatever it is that they study. So you might be surprised to hear that there are neuroscientists who don’t spend much time manipulating and observing the dynamics within the physical brain of an organism or collecting […]

March 16

Mind the Gap: Spaced Learning and Dendritic Spines

[En español] A lifetime ago, in another country, I had a middle school English teacher nicknamed “Mrs. Again”. She was plump and wrinkled, with the kind of wide-cheeked, broad-nosed face one could find on folksy condiment bottle labels, but nobody ever made fun of her. She was terror incarnate, being the only teacher who gave […]

December 29

The Language of Arrival

Lots of sci-fi movies might begin with funny-shaped vessels landing on earth, but very few of them end with a (female!) linguist helping to save humanity by learning to speak the language of their inhabitants. As an only occasional viewer of science fiction movies, I was pleasantly surprised by the limited number of explosions and […]