What Caffeine Does to Your Brain: A Cellular Chronicle of the Most Common Psychoactive Drug

Some mornings my mind gets trapped in a fog of pain. I can’t concentrate, my body aches, I’m nauseated, I’m irritable, and I can feel my pulse pound-pound-pounding in my head. I haven’t done anything extreme to warrant this internal pestilence. Rather, not doing something is the source of my problem. I’m in withdrawal—I’m craving […]


Marketers Read Minds Thanks To 22-Year-Old’s Invention

Jake Stauch was always somewhat of a wunderkind; in high school he earned local recognition for scoring a perfect 2400 on his SAT while fighting a mean case of bronchitis. When college came around Staunch chose to study neuroscience at Duke, and a particular experiment caught his attention. When test subjects were put through a […]


Lab Rats Learn Teamwork Through Linked Brains

You know what rats have always been missing? The ability to communicate and coordinate their actions through brain waves transmitted across hundreds of miles. Finally researchers at Duke University have remedied this longstanding problem by implanting electrodes into the brains of two isolated lab rats and training them to solve puzzles by feeding off of […]


Glia: The Unsung Heroes of the Brain

Did you know that neurons aren’t the only kind of brain cell? In fact, these celebrated biological information processors only comprise 10% of the cell population of the brain. The other 90% of brain cells, called glial cells or glia, don’t have as many “intelligent” characteristics as their complex neuronal cousins, but the nervous system wouldn’t be able to function without them. Up until recently, glia, whose name derives from the Greek word for glue, were written off by the scientific community as a simple, gelatinous substance whose sole purpose was to act as packing peanuts to cushion our precious neurons. With more advanced modern research methods, however, we are starting to recognize the subtle yet essential contributions that glia make to our cerebral performance.


Just So You “Neuro”…

What if the key to enhanced mental functioning could be stored in your refrigerator? Neuro, a progressive company taking a new spin at the energy drink, is striving to make such a phenomenon a reality. Neuro has transcended the traditional energy drink and specialized it: Whatever your energizing needs may be—from academically productive energy to sexual energy, athletic energy to inducing a soporific lack of energy—Neuro probably has a drink for you. By harnessing the powers of neurochemistry, these futuristic beverages have the potential to get your brain and body to do what you want them to do—no prescription needed.


EyeWire: Play a Video Game, Advance Neuroscience

Sebastian Seung, a professor of computational neuroscience at MIT, developed EyeWire: an addicting computer game with an ambitious scientific agenda. The objective of EyeWire is to build a “connectome”—a generalized visual map of connections between neurons that govern vision, memory, and disease in the brain. The completion of such a connectome will establish a normative model of these connections. From this normative model, theoretically a neuroscientist will be able to compare a connectome of a normally functioning individual and an individual with a mental disorder, such as Alzheimer’s disease, thus offering insight into the role neural structure plays in mental abnormalities.


The Brain’s Artistry: A Conversation with Neuroscientist and Artist Greg Dunn

Everyone knows that nature is beautiful. So much of nature’s beauty, however, is too small to see without a microscope. Greg Dunn, an artist with a neuroscience doctorate from University of Pennsylvania, has managed to make the microscopic splendor of the brain accessible to anyone, not just scientists, through his paintings. His vivid, organic brushstrokes capture both the essences of neural structures and the interests of scientists, artists, and pedestrians alike. Have you noticed the fundamental similarities between neurons, trees, veins, and even lightning? Have you found yourself wondering why these similarities exist? Dr. Dunn just might have an answer for you, and artistic evidence to boot.

Though art and neuroscience may initially seem like severely different disciplines, artists and neuroscientists have more in common than one might think. For example, as Dunn himself proclaimed, “Part of being an artist or a scientist is living your life with the intent to solve a problem: wanting to know more about something that you’re interested in, and allowing yourself to become utterly obsessed and consumed by the problem.” It appears that Dunn has done exactly that, and in the process has produced some captivating pieces of art and compelling scientific theories. We had a fascinating opportunity to have a conversation with Dr. Dunn about the science behind his art, and the art behind his science.


The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Amygdala

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to recreate the memory-eradicating science behind “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” by manipulating protein synthesis in the amygdala, the part of the brain that associates emotions with past experiences.


Despair and Creativity: Neuroscience and Bob Dylan

Every creative moment is preceded by a problem. The problem leads to frustration, an impasse, where it seem no solution will ever be reached. The problem makes us want to quit—it’s too vast, too impossible to solve. Only when we are saturated in disappointment, and have nearly given up on looking does the answer reveal […]


Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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