Category Archives: Memory

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 […]

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 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 24

Baby I Swear it’s Déjà Vu

It’s one of the most bizarre sensations in the world: feeling like you’ve entered some sort of time loop and are re-experiencing something that’s already happened before. The rational part of you knows that this is a new experience, and yet, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re somehow reliving a brief moment of your […]

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 […]

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 […]