Tag Archives: evolution

September 29

How model organisms are chosen

Intro Mice, fruit flies, worms, and monkeys. These are just some of the many animal species that are commonly used by scientists to learn about the nervous system, often with the goal of uncovering something about the human nervous system. If that’s the case, then the species being used is said to be a model […]

June 03

Axolotls: First Ones to the Fountain of Youth

Introduction If you look at today’s $50 Mexican peso (left), you won’t see the image of a past president or monument. Instead, you’ll see a lone salamander with outstretched arms and gills in the middle of a lake. For centuries, this small creature, known as the axolotl (ax-oh-lot-al), was well known to the people that […]

January 27

Genetics of Sasquatch: making cryptozoology scientific?

Growing up in Oregon meant I spent lots of time hearing about Sasquatch. Now working in a lab studying monkeys, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how different primates are related. While it is undeniable that little evidence has been found to prove Bigfoot roams the wild forests of the Pacific Northwest, perhaps […]

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 […]

September 19

How long have we been sleeping?

“J’ai peur du sommeil comme on a peur d’un grand trou, Tout plein de vague horreur…” In his phenomenal ‘Les fleurs du mal’ (‘Flowers of Evil’), Baudelaire promenades through the darkness of the night and with his characteristic gloomy brush, paints sleep as ‘a great hole’ that he fears. This myth surrounding sleep as a […]

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 […]