Category Archives: Methods

April 01

How do we use magnets to take pictures of the brain?

Magnets are everywhere – they exist in our electronics, cars, refrigerators, and so on. The Earth itself is one giant magnet, which is why we can use compasses to navigate! They also have many incredible biomedical applications, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which allows us to take pictures of biological tissues and organs in a […]

December 31

Life After Death(?): From Strokes to Sci-Fi

Death is not a singular event, as implied when we refer to the “time of death” or “moment of death”. It is a relatively long, drawn out, active process: these terms merely simplify and provide a hard boundary. Not everything in the brain (or the rest of the body) dies at the same time, at […]

August 13

Diffusion MRI: Mapping the structural highways of the brain

Some of my favorite scientific images to look at come from scanning the human brain with a tool called diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (or diffusion MRI). These images depict the long fibers that connect one part of the brain to another in a color-coded fashion, with a beautiful result: a colorful map of the brain’s […]

April 23

I Can See it in Your Face: Facial Expressions in Mice

How do you know what an animal is feeling? Unfortunately, you can’t ask a dog, mouse, or fly how they are feeling or what they are thinking. This is one of the chief problems in animal research – we just don’t have ready access to their internal thoughts and feelings. This inability to access the […]

June 13

BrainEx: Restoring Brain Circulation After Death

[En español] In May of 2018, headlines across the internet warned of a creepy new “brain in a bucket” experiment, in which scientists had “reanimated” the disembodied brains of pigs from slaughterhouses, and surely promised a “living hell” for humans. Very little was known about this study at the time, as the lead scientist, Nenad […]

March 14

Me, my cells and I: a love poem

  matte black curtains are taped tightly to the windows the only light allowed here is the gentle yellow glow that illuminates the stage   gracefully getting into position I delicately balance between thumb and forefinger a thin disk carried with a careful reverence placed gently on the altar humble sighs aside my hands rise […]

December 27

The Trouble with Drug Development

Open a new tab, load up a science media site you know. What do you first see across the front page? You will almost certainly find a headline blaring “NEW FINDINGS SHOW AUTISM’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED” or “UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER CURES PARKINSON’S DISEASE”. Open the page up next week, and you will almost certainly see some […]

October 04

The ethics of human brain surrogacy

“Creepy ‘brain in a bucket’ study spurs medical, ethical debates” … “Yale experiment to reanimate dead brains promises ‘living hell’ for humans” … “Scientists have managed to reanimate disembodied pigs’ brains – but for a human mind, it could be a living hell” … These are just a few of the sensational headlines that came […]

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? […]

March 03

Battling A Brain Tumor The Loki Way

Recently a friend of mine took on the duty of bringing me up to speed on the Marvel cinematic universe. When we got around to watching the first installment in the Thor series, I was expecting more levelheadedness on the part of Thor, the soon-to-be crowned king of Asgard. Shortly after the opening sequence however, […]