Tag Archives: evolution

August 22

Is evolution the missing link to understanding mental health?

The human brain has been shaped over hundreds of thousands of years, with evolution selecting for traits that helped our species survive and thrive. So why do we still have so many genes that make us struggle? Why did our remarkable cognitive capacity come with such a susceptibility to disorder?

December 06

The Platypus: Sensing the Body Electric

Patti was one of my favorite Beanie Babies. Her bright magenta body and yellow webbed feet exuded a certain sunny optimism, and her strange resemblance to a flattened duck endowed her with an undeniable silliness. I remember feeling a bit confused as to whether she was a real creature or more akin to Mystic the […]

May 17

Stop, You’re Making Me Blush

I want to take you back to the most embarrassing moment of your life. Come on, you know what that was. For some people it was giving a presentation in front of a large audience. For some it involved saying or doing something really stupid, perhaps in front of someone you were attracted to; it […]

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? […]

August 10

It’s a Fine Line Between Utopia and Gattaca

In a previous piece, we talked about why scientists and innovators around the world are so excited about CRISPR, a powerful new gene editing technology. The tool was first published 2012, but it still regularly makes headlines. Less than a month ago researchers in Portland, Oregon announced the first successful use of CRISPR in human […]

June 15

Your Brain, the Liar

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Thinking machines, like those portrayed in HBO’s Westworld, use new information from their environment to update their beliefs about the world and take action to further their goals. For all such machines, the success of that process of integrating new input is limited by their hardware, […]

September 15

I’m not crying; it’s just been raining on my face

Humans and turtles have many things in common: we both possess four limbs, two eyes, a shell around our most vulnerable secrets, and tears that are attractive to butterflies and bees [1,2]. Our salt-rich tears, it seems, are much more palatable (and nutritious) to insects than they are to ourselves. Julia butterflies drinking turtle tears […]

June 23

Brain origami

[En español] Origami (from Japanese words “ori” meaning to fold and “kami” meaning paper) is the art of paper folding. A brain and a sheet of office paper don’t seem to have much in common, but when you crumple up the sheet into a paper ball you are holding the key to one of the mysteries […]

August 27

Two brains in one head?: The story of the split-brain phenomenon

The idea that a person is right-brained or left-brained is a myth […] However, the brain is indeed split into a right and left hemisphere, and the two are connected by a structure called the “corpus callosum”, a bundle of nerves through which information can be shared.

May 21

Your Brain on Sex

What happens in the brain during sex? Are gender stereotypes a cultural construct? Or are there true neurological differences in how men and women experience sex—desire, arousal, orgasm?