January 09

Can we inherit family trauma?

The epigenetics behind “generational trauma” [En español] The 23 and Me craze has officially reached my family. Both of my parents were born in Poland so the results weren’t a complete surprise, but as we watched the site track generations of family history from a single spit sample, new questions came up. When my sisters […]

January 02

The Blob

Beware! The Blob   Imagine you are on a trip to Paris. There is so much to see and do, but you decide to go to the local zoo. You are walking around, admiring all the interesting animals. There are beautiful big cats lounging about. There are enormous giraffes feeding on plants. You feast your […]

December 26

Open Borders: Remapping the Brain

While reading articles online, you may occasionally stumble across headlines like “Scientists find fear center of the brain,” or “Could this really be where the mind resides?” You might have also heard a TED talk where the speaker discusses how they discovered a part of the brain that makes decisions. Such expressions can take more […]

December 19

Genomic Imprinting: A Genetic Custody Dispute for Your Brain

During this holiday season, we would do well to reflect on what we’ve inherited from our parents. You might have your mother’s sense of humor but your father’s sense of direction. You and your Ma might share the same tastes in music, but you prefer your Pa’s tastes for ice cream. Although heavily influenced by […]

December 12

A Switch in the Brain for Compulsive Drinking

Most of us have drunk some form of alcohol in our lives. Many of us drink alcohol often. But we might know of only a few people who are pathologically addicted to alcohol. Are we, individually, differently prone to compulsive alcohol use? A recent paper, published in Science, attempts to answer this question using rodents. […]

December 05

When it gets dark, people get SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

Here in San Diego, we get a minimum of 9 hours and 59 minutes of sunlight, even in the dead of winter. Boston and Chicago get closer to 9 hours and Anchorage gets as low as 5.5 hours compared to Miami’s 10.5 hours. Does this dramatic difference in sunlight have any health effects? 1% of […]

November 29

Children on your mind… and in your brain

There is something uniquely strong about the bond between mother and child ­– you might say that a mother always has her children on her mind and in her heart. ­But did you know that a mother might quite literally have a bit of her children in her brain and heart? (And also her lungs, […]

November 22

The Brain on Gratitude

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to stop and think about the concept of “gratitude.” The general consensus seems to be that gratitude is good for you, being consistently correlated with better physical, psychological, and social health. But for all its supposed benefits, there is still plenty […]

November 14

A Brain that Denies Climate Change

I recall walking with my uncle, on my way back home from school, on the streets of a mofussil cantonment town in Bengal, India. I remember enormous trees on the sides of the street that kissed each other above us. While we walked, he would tell me stories about these banyan trees. He would tell […]

November 07

Knowing when to hold and fold ’em: the explore/exploit dilemma

I’ve been staring at the menu for over 10 minutes. I can feel the server’s eyes boring holes into the back of my head, urging me to hurry up and pick something. Still I sit and ponder; should I get my old favorite, the California burrito? Or maybe I should try something new like a […]