Category Archives: History

October 01

The Final Scientific Endeavor of Mary Putnam Jacobi

On June 10th, 1906, American physician Mary Putnam Jacobi died of a brain tumor. Her death, similar to her life, was not without careful contemplation. Dr. Jacobi detailed her own demise in an account, titled “Descriptions of the Early Symptoms of the Meningeal Tumor Compressing the Cerebellum. From Which the Writer Died. Written by Herself.” […]

April 30

Birds, Brains, and Boats: The Harvey Karten Story

“So, what can I do for you?” To be honest, it wasn’t how I expected to find Dr. Harvey J. Karten, neuroscience Professor Emeritus and recent inductee to the National Academy of the Sciences. But when I open the door his office on a bright San Diego afternoon, he is sitting in front of three monitors, hard at […]

December 12

A (Not So) Brief History of Psychedelic Science

Psychedelics* (i.e. chemicals that reliably produce altered states of consciousness characterized by sensory distortion and changes in cognition) have been subject to human ritualistic, therapeutic, and recreational use for millennia.  Their profound perceptual effects have the potential to elucidate countless mysteries of human neurobiology, illuminating the sensitivity of our conscious experience to stereotyped, chemically-induced changes. […]

November 26

More Breast, Please

Golden, browned skin… tender, succulent flesh… an enticing, irresistible aroma—there’s not much else that people require of their Thanksgiving turkeys!  In fact, that beautifully roasted bird on your table is the culmination of a centuries-old undertaking, starting with the first domestication of turkeys by Mesoamerican civilizations in 800 BC.1,2  Since then, generations of selective breeding […]

October 30

True Blood: Sucking the Magic Out of Vampires

Blessed with charismatic looks, viciously sharp fangs, and an immortal existence, vampires have simultaneously delighted and horrified for centuries—now, with the recent folkloric addition of skin that sparkles like diamonds, mere mortals don’t stand a chance!  And yet, while the modern-day vampire embodies all that is dangerous but sinfully irresistible, the science behind vampire mythology […]

August 29

Ye Olde Neuroimaging

Technology has rocketed neuroscience forward since the middle of the 20th century. From probing single cells to recording from the entire brain at once, longstanding questions from the past can be answered with the turn of a few knobs and the push of a few buttons. None of the tools in neuroscience are more familiar, […]