Category Archives: Neuroscience

February 22

Conscious in Dreamland: The Neuroscience of Lucid Dreaming

I do a lot of weird things while sleeping. I talk, walk, and experience vivid dreams, all without conscious awareness. Despite the fact that my dreams are often absurd, I don’t question their content while I’m in them. (Oh, I’ve been hired to make a documentary about Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and his […]

February 15

Botox: The good, the bad and the beautiful

Awards season is upon us. From the Golden Globes to the Grammys to the Oscars, we’ve seen celebrities posing on the red carpet, chatting with TV hosts, and accepting awards on stage. All the while I’ve found myself wondering, “Is he happy?” “Is she disappointed?” “Are emotions just out this season?” The star behind that […]

January 25

Instant Gratification: Weighing the Psychological Benefits and Costs of MDMA Use

Can a pill exist that brings instant happiness without any negative side effects? Probably not.

January 11

A Tribute to Ben Barres

I was thoroughly star-struck. Ben did not exactly look like a celebrity in his usual cargo shorts (in October in Chicago!) and sneakers, but the impact of his science and his tireless fight for gender equality in academia had made him a hero to me and thousands of others.

December 28

Machines Comparing Circuitry (or, Understanding Our Uniquely Human Brain)

I became fascinated by the brain because I was – and continue to be – fascinated by humans. Why are we so obsessed with other people’s lives, including (sometimes especially) those whom we’ve never met? How are we able to communicate such complex emotions with a raise of an eyebrow or even just a glance? […]

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 […]

September 28

Dopamine is NOT your brain’s reward chemical

Dopamine is NOT your brain’s reward chemical.  Or rather, dopamine is not JUST your brain’s reward chemical, nor is it your brain’s ONLY reward chemical.

September 14

What’s the Deal with Migraines??!!

You’re sitting at your desk, hard at work, and suddenly you see a strange spot of bright light, outlined by a brilliant spectrum of reds and blues, hover over your computer screen. You blink and look around, trying to figure out whether the image is coming from the screen or from outside the window. You […]

August 03

The Ring to Rule Them All – Tinnitus

Baby Driver, the most recent theatrical offering from director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), not only makes the first generation iPod (which now passes as a body double for a paperweight) look cool again, but also brings to light an interesting auditory condition that affects nearly 10% of the population – […]

July 20

Genomes, Circuits, and the Roundworm: C. Elegans as a Model Organism

A nematode can do much to help our understanding of human biology.