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Neuroscience


Latest significant advancements in neuroscience research. Reporting on the far-reaching impacts of neuroscience on society and humanity.

New Study Finds a Single Neuron Is a Surprisingly Complex Little Computer

Comparing brains to computers is a long and dearly held analogy in both neuroscience and computer science. It’s not hard to see why. Our brains can perform many of the tasks we want computers to handle...

New Research Shows How Dopamine Plays a Key Role in Consciousness

Consciousness is arguably the most important scientific topic there is. Without consciousness, there would after all be no science. But while we all know what it is like to be conscious—meaning that we have...

Can Consciousness Be Explained by Quantum Physics? New Research

One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist...

Treating the Brain Through the Stomach: Tweaking the Gut Microbiome Slowed ALS in Mice

Ask any neuroscientist 20 years ago if gut bug excrement could slow down an untreatable brain disease, and they’d brush off the idea without a second thought. Yet the gut-brain connection has emerged as one...

A Neuron’s Sense of Timing Encodes Information in the Human Brain

We like to think of brains as computers: A physical system that processes inputs and spits out outputs. But, obviously, what’s between your ears bears little resemblance to your laptop. Computer scientists know the intimate...

How Virtual Reality Unveiled a Unique Brain Wave That Could Boost Learning

As the rats ran down a short balance beam, stopping occasionally to poke their noses at a water fountain, their brains knew something was off. Inside the hippocampus, a brain region that documents the stories...

A New Brain Implant Automatically Detects and Kills Pain in Real Time

Chronic pain is like a horror movie monster that sneaks up on you. It’s unpredictable, lingers silently, and when it strikes it’s often too late to tame. More diabolically, our best weapon against it—pain...

Is It Time to Give Up on Consciousness as ‘the Ghost in the Machine’?

As individuals, we feel that we know what consciousness is because we experience it daily. It’s that intimate sense of personal awareness we carry around with us, and the accompanying feeling of ownership and...

Google and Harvard Unveil the Largest High-Resolution Map of the Brain Yet

Last Tuesday, teams from Google and Harvard published an intricate map of every cell and connection in a cubic millimeter of the human brain. The mapped region encompasses the various layers and cell types of...

What’s the Origin of Consciousness? Global Effort Puts Two Top Theories to the Test

How does consciousness work? A frenemy collaboration is duking it out. Six different teams from across the globe are uniting in a challenge to test our fundamental theories of consciousness. They don’t agree on where...

To What Extent Are We Ruled by Unconscious Forces?

Sometimes when I ask myself why I’ve made a certain choice, I realize I don’t actually know. To what extent we are ruled by things we aren’t conscious of? – Paul, 43, London Why did...

How Gene Therapy and Algae Proteins Partially Restored a Blind Man’s Sight

Thanks to gene therapy and optogenetics—a neuroscience game-changer that relies on light to control neurons—a previously blind man can now partially see the world. And he’s doing it with the help of light-sensing algae...

A New Brain Implant Turns Thoughts Into Text With 90 Percent Accuracy

Texting might not be faster than speech, but for many of us it’s a natural way to communicate. Thanks to a new brain-computer interface (BCI), people with paralysis can now do the same—with a twist....

How Scientists Used Ultrasound to Read Monkeys’ Minds

Thanks to neural implants, mind reading is no longer science fiction. As I’m writing this sentence, a tiny chip with arrays of electrodes could sit on my brain, listening in on the crackling of my...

Evolution: Lab-Grown ‘Mini Brains’ Suggest One Mutation Might Have Rewired the Human Mind

How we humans became what we are today is a question that scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. How did we evolve such advanced cognitive abilities, giving rise to complex...

Scientists Communicated With People While They Were Lucid Dreaming

We’ve probed the depths of Earth’s deepest trench, sent rovers to Mars, and observed other worlds billions of light years away. Yet we’ve never been able to decipher the mysterious, bizarre, and disjointed world...

This Is Where Empathy Lives in the Brain, and How It Works

Mind reading comes easily to most of us. For all our divisions, humans are uncannily efficient at simulating another person’s thoughts and beliefs. It’s how you can “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” know...

Meet Assembloids, Mini Human Brains With Muscles Attached

It’s not often that a twitching, snowman-shaped blob of 3D human tissue makes someone’s day. But when Dr. Sergiu Pasca at Stanford University witnessed the tiny movement, he knew his lab had achieved something special....

2020 in Neuroscience, Longevity, and AI—and What’s to Come

Covid-19 sucked most of the oxygen out of science this year. But we still had brilliant wins. The pandemic couldn’t bring rockets or humans down: multiple missions blasted off to the red planet in the...

How Does Social Interaction Change Our Brains? Hyperscans Can Show Us

Brain scans, like social distancing, are inherently very lonely. Regardless of the equipment, brain scans often rely on a single person performing a single task, often completely still, outside of their normal environment. It’s powerful,...

Scientists Beamed Shapes and Motion Directly Into Monkeys’ Brains Using Light

Being able to beam images directly into someone's brain could help restore sight to the blind and open up a host of new possibilities in everything from communication to entertainment. And now researchers have...

This Is How We’ll Engineer Artificial Touch

Take a Jeopardy! guess: this body part was once referred to as the “consummation of all perfection as an instrument.” Answer: “What is the human hand?” Our hands are insanely complex feats of evolutionary engineering. Densely-packed...

How Do We Remember Places? This Study Used Lasers and VR to Point the Way

The curious contraption at University College London bordered between scientific wizardry and a terrifying Black Mirror episode. It might have just proved a decades-long theory of how the brain’s GPS system works. Let me paint...

Media Multitasking Is Ruining Our Memory. Can We Fix It?

I picked up a bad habit during lockdown: binge Netflix at double speed, while scrolling through the Twitter cesspool on my phone. I think I feel mentally stimulated, and trick myself into believing that...

Scientists Found a New Way to Control the Brain With Light—No Surgery Required

If I had to place money on a neurotech that will win the Nobel Prize, it’s optogenetics. The technology uses light of different frequencies to control the brain. It’s a brilliant mind-meld of basic neurobiology...

How a Memory Quirk of the Human Brain Can Galvanize AI

Even as toddlers we’re good at inferences. Take a two-year-old that first learns to recognize a dog and a cat at home, then a horse and a sheep in a petting zoo. The kid...

Want to Decode the Human Brain? There’s a New System for That, and It’s Pretty Wild

Even for high-tech California, the man strolling around UCLA was a curious sight. His motion capture suit, sensor-embedded gloves, and virtual reality eyewear were already enough to turn heads. But what stopped people in their...

Neuralink’s Wildly Anticipated New Brain Implant: the Hype vs. the Science

Neuralink’s wildly anticipated demo last Friday left me with more questions than answers. With a presentation teeming with promises and vision but scant on data, the event nevertheless lived up to its main goal...

This Is How Your Brain Responds to Social Influence

I’m a doormat when it comes to peer pressure. Jump off a 32-foot (10 meter) diving board without any experience? Sure! Propel off a cliff my first time outdoor climbing? I’ll try! Those were obviously...

We Need New, Safer Ways to Treat Pain. Could Electroacupuncture Be One?

In college, I volunteered to have a needle jabbed into the fleshy part between my thumb and forefinger in the name of acupuncture. I had bruised the area earlier in a lab experiment. I...

These Scientists Just Completed a 3D ‘Google Earth’ for the Brain

Human brain maps are a dime a dozen these days. Maps that detail neurons in a certain region. Maps that draw out functional connections between those cells. Maps that dive deeper into gene expression....

Towards ‘Eternal Sunshine’? New Links Found Between Memory and Emotion

Nearly a decade ago, I almost drowned. As an amateur scuba diver, I recklessly joined a group of experts for a deep—much deeper than I was qualified for—dive at night. Already exhausted from swimming my...

How the Brain Builds a Sense of Self From the People Around Us

We are highly sensitive to people around us. As infants, we observe our parents and teachers, and from them we learn how to walk, talk, read—and use smartphones. There seems to be no limit...

Couch Potato No More: How the Benefits of Exercise Transfer to the Brain

Brain aging is reversible. How? Why? And how much can we rejuvenate an already aged brain? Those were the one conviction and three questions that guided me throughout my post-doctoral work at the University of...

A Highway to Smell: How Scientists Used Light to Incept Smell in Mice

I was on a panel a few weeks ago and realized I forgot to turn off the oven. Utterly mortified, I told my Zoom attendees that I had to save my lasagna that was...

Scientists Used Dopamine to Seamlessly Merge Artificial and Biological Neurons

In just half a decade, neuromorphic devices—or brain-inspired computing—already seem quaint. The current darling? Artificial-biological hybrid computing, uniting both man-made computer chips and biological neurons seamlessly into semi-living circuits. It sounds crazy, but a new...

Amazingly Detailed Map Reveals How the Brain Changes With Aging

If a brain is our Earth, then we, as inhabitants, are individual brain cells. Just as our human relationships and connections can nudge, push, or dramatically shift societal values and consequences, the connections between neurons...

Animals That Can Do Math Understand More Language Than We Think

It is often thought that humans are different from other animals in some fundamental way that makes us unique, or even more advanced than other species. These claims of human superiority are sometimes used...

How a Crowdsourcing Challenge Turbocharged Brain Research During Lockdown

“I had a dream my paintbrush split while I was picking up brain slices. Nightmare scenario, right? Then I woke up and thought: I really miss the lab,” a neuroscientist friend of mine recently...

How Scientists Influenced Monkeys’ Decisions Using Ultrasound in Their Brains

A few years ago, in a pitch black room at Stanford University, a monkey sat silently in his custom-made chair, utterly bewildered. It wasn’t because of the head brace, which held his head completely still....

Biological to Artificial and Back: How a Core AI Algorithm May Work in the Brain

Blame is the main game when it comes to learning. I know that sounds bizarre, but hear me out. Neural circuits of thousands, if not more, neurons control every single one of your thoughts, reasonings,...

Scientists Just Proved These Two Brain Networks Are Key to Consciousness

Consciousness is one of the greatest mysteries of the human species. Where and how does it originate? Why do we have it? Is it even real, or just an illusion? These questions aren’t just hard...

Scientists Linked Artificial and Biological Neurons in a Network—and Amazingly, It Worked

Scientists have linked up two silicon-based artificial neurons with a biological one across multiple countries into a fully-functional network. Using standard internet protocols, they established a chain of communication whereby an artificial neuron controls...

Scientists Jump-Started Consciousness in Monkeys by Pinpointing This Brain Region

In 1991, a devastating car crash left 32-year-old Munira Abdulla with severe brain injuries and in a deep coma. Doctors thought she had no chance of recovery. Yet her story blew up when, miraculously,...

Neuromodulation Is the Secret Sauce for This Adaptive, Fast-Learning AI

As obstinate and frustrating as we are sometimes, humans in general are pretty flexible when it comes to learning—especially compared to AI. Our ability to adapt is deeply rooted within our brain’s chemical base code....

Blind Woman Sees With New Implant, Plays Video Game Sent Straight to Her Brain

It’s been over a decade since artificial retinas first began helping the blind see. But for many people, whose blindness originates beyond the retina, the technology falls short. Which is why new research out...

Decoding the Brain Goes Global With the International Brain Initiative

Few times in history has mankind ever united to solve a single goal. Even the ultimate moonshot in history—putting a man on the moon—was driven by international competition rather than unification. So it’s perhaps fitting...

The Brain Predicts Reward Like an AI, Says New DeepMind Research

The idea of reinforcement learning—or learning based on reward—has been around for so long it’s easy to forget we don’t really know how it works. If DeepMind’s new bombshell paper in Nature is any indication,...

Scientists Discovered ‘Mini-Computers’ in Human Neurons—and That’s Great News for AI

With just their input cables, human neurons can perform difficult logic calculations previously only seen in entire neural networks. To restate: human neurons are far more powerful devices than originally thought. And if deep...

These Breakthroughs Made the 2010s the Decade of the Brain

I rarely use the words transformative or breakthrough for neuroscience findings. The brain is complex, noisy, chaotic, and often unpredictable. One intriguing result under one condition may soon fail for a majority of others....

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