Category Archives: Memory

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 […]

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 […]