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Shelly Fan

Shelly Xuelai Fan is a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, where she studies ways to make old brains young again. In addition to research, she's also an avid science writer with an insatiable obsession with biotech, AI and all things neuro. She spends her spare time kayaking, bike camping and getting lost in the woods.

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From This Author


This Magnetic Wand May Fix Brain Circuits Gone Wrong In Addiction

We often think of addiction as a moral dilemma — a sort of spiritual calamity that one needs to rebuild their entire lives around to conquer. But what if that’s not the case? What if...

How Artificial Immune Systems May Be the Future of Cybersecurity

2015 was a year of jaw-dropping hacks. From CIA director John Brennan’s private email to Sony Inc, from the IRS to CVS, from Target to the notorious Ashley Madison, millions of people suffered from cybersecurity...

Inside OpenAI: Will Transparency Protect Us From Artificial Intelligence Run Amok?

Last Friday at the Neural Information and Processing Systems conference in Montreal, Canada, a team of artificial intelligence luminaries announced OpenAI, a non-profit company set to change the world of machine learning. Backed by Tesla...

Designing Robots That Learn as Effortlessly as Babies

A wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked, babbling human baby hardly looks like the ultimate learning machine. But under the hood, an 18-month-old can outlearn any state-of-the-art artificial intelligence algorithm. Their secret sauce? They watch; they imitate; and they extrapolate. Artificial intelligence...

Longer Life in a Pill May Already Be Available at Your Local Drug Store

To most of the scientific community, “anti-aging” is a dirty word. A medical field historically associated with charlatans and quacks, scientists have strictly restricted the quest for a “longevity pill” to basic research. The paradigm...

Gene Drives Could Wipe Out Insect-Borne Disease — But What’s the Price?

In 2014, a few days after Christmas, Dr. Valentino Gantz walked into his lab at the University of California, San Diego to check on some newly hatched fruit flies. With a single look, he knew...

Bugs as Drugs: Seeking the Microbial Secret to Health

Our body is, in essence, more ecosystem than organism. The human body teems with trillions of microbes — bacteria, viruses and fungi — and at any moment, we may be carrying between one and three...

First Human Tests of Memory Boosting Brain Implant—a Big Leap Forward

“You have to begin to lose your memory, if only bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all.” — Luis Buñuel Portolés,...

Rats Engineered to See Infrared Light, Use It to Seek Out Water

The brain is a great information processor, but one that doesn’t care about where information comes from. Sight, scent, taste, sound, touch — all of our precious senses, once communicated to the brain, are transformed...

Speeding Up Physical Therapy With ‘Matrix’-Like Brain Training? It Isn’t So Far Fetched

Learning to walk again after a traumatic accident is no easy task. One of the hardest things for motor-impaired patients is to generate the correct brain signals to help them recover efficiently. The current best option...

Scientists Connect Brain to a Basic Tablet—Paralyzed Patient Googles With Ease

For patient T6, 2014 was a happy year. That was the year she learned to control a Nexus tablet with her brain waves, and literally took her life quality from 1980s DOS to modern era...

Wireless AI Device Tracks and Zaps the Brain, Takes Aim at Parkinson’s

Zapping the brain with implanted electrodes may sound like a ridiculously dangerous treatment, but for many patients with Parkinson’s disease, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is their only relief. The procedure starts with open-skull surgery. Guided...

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