Category Archives: Memory

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 […]

July 28

To improve your memory, try to get some space.

Imagine you have a big exam or work presentation at the end of the week. You’ll have to do it all from memory, so you have some studying to do. How should you decide how much to prepare? Do you practice everything once? Twice? More? It’s intuitive (and true) that more repetition results in stronger, […]

July 14

#TriggerWarning: Life After Trauma

At 2:09 am on June 12, 2016, Pulse had a message for its patrons: It’s only eight words, but it gives me chills whenever I read it. Have you ever been anywhere and found yourself with that imperative? Run. Keep running. Or you may die. The shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando claimed the […]

July 07

Just Keep Remembering (and Forgetting)

[En español] “I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family… At least I think it does… hm. Where are they?” Thirteen years ago, a little blue fish with a memory problem became one of the most lovable animated characters of all time. In Finding Nemo, Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) constantly forgets […]

June 09

Forget About It

[En español] In the midst of studying for finals, forgetting is the enemy. You can easily remember the lyrics to your favorite 90s hit, but the names of the 12 cranial nerves elude you. We often think about forgetting as something pathological. We become frustrated by that all too familiar tip-of-your-tongue feeling and in extreme […]

April 21

Heavy on my Mind: Lead Poisoning (Part II)

When I first heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, I didn’t have the slightest idea how serious the problem was. Sure, I’d heard that lead was no good for you. I thought back to the day I moved into my first apartment in New York City and the superintendent handed me a pamphlet […]

April 01

The plastic brain

[En español] We are born with roughly 100 billion neurons, more neurons than we’ll ever have again. It’s still a ton of neurons; they could wrap around the earth 3-4 times. Plus, each of these 100 billion neurons has a couple hundred to thousand connections with other neurons. But as we age, our brains also change. Regions of the brain key for memory […]

February 11

Through the Nostril Gates to the Past

[En Español] My very first childhood memory, as much as I can tell, is one of sour feet. It happened during one of the mandatory nap sessions in kindergarten, where everyone slept on little mats barely above the floor. Being inexplicably awake on my side, unaware of the caretaker’s silent patrol behind me, I made […]

February 13

The Neuroscience of the Spotless Mind

Although there are undoubtedly even more Valentine’s Day-themed films than there are Shades of Grey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stands a cut above the rest. I say this not only as a movie-enthusiast but also as a neuroscience-enthusiast. This film may not be overtly about neuroscience, but it touches on questions and themes that are […]