Category Archives: learning

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? […]

May 10

A Bright Idea: Illuminating the Brain with GCaMP

You might’ve read stories about some brain region “lighting up” in response to some stimulus. But what does “lighting up” actually mean? Oftentimes it refers to scientists using a fMRI machine that applies sophisticated technology to translate changes in blood flow into pixels on a computer screen. Sometimes though the brain can literally light up, […]

May 03

The Neurogenesis Saga: Are new neurons born in the adult human brain?

One of neuroscience’s most heated debates during the past 50 years has been whether or not new neurons are born (a process called neurogenesis) in the adult mammalian brain. Before the late 1990s, we believed that we were born with all the neurons we would have throughout our lives. However, evidence of adult neurogenesis from […]

March 15

Remember Tomorrow?

  We humans have an impressive ability to plan for the future — lapsed New Year’s resolutions and overambitious project planners notwithstanding. We can make decisions in the present (like bringing an umbrella) that make our lives easier in the future (we stay dry). Among the animal kingdom, this capacity is distinctly rare. Even animals […]

December 07

Ancient Aliens Among Us

  First contact. The prospect of intelligent extraterrestrial life has tantalized us Earthbound humans throughout our history. In relatively recent times, artists such as H.G. Wells, Ursula Le Guin, and Gene Roddenberry have created wide-eyed fantasies full of violent invasions, fraught coexistence, and delicate peace between humanity and the Other. As early as the second […]

October 26

Engaged teaching and learning: Ready, set, action!

[En español] When I first signed up for formal training in best teaching practices from UCSD’s Center for Engaged Teaching, I thought I would learn good techniques for imparting knowledge to students. What I actually learned about was how to help students build their own knowledge, particularly through incorporating active learning in the classroom. Here […]