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Neuroscience


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

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....

This Year’s 4 Most Mind-Boggling Stories About the Brain

2019 was nuts for neuroscience. I said this last year too, but that’s the nature of accelerating technologies: the advances just keep coming. There’re the theoretical showdowns: a mano a mano battle of where consciousness...

First-Ever Artificial Neuron Could Let Us Repair Brain Injuries with Silicon

The merging of man and machine is a staple of sci-fi and at the heart of the philosophy of transhumanism. But interfacing our brains with computers has proven incredibly hard, despite the fact that...

The Origin of Consciousness in the Brain Is About to Be Tested

Here’s something you don’t hear every day: two theories of consciousness are about to face off in the scientific fight of the century. Backed by top neuroscientist theorists of today, including Christof Koch, head of...

This Strange Rule Is What Makes the Human Brain So Powerful

Run a supercomputer every second of every day, and eventually its storage will fill up, its speed decrease, and its components burn out. Yet our brains run with astonishing efficacy nearly every moment of our...

How Old Is Your Brain? This AI Can Tell You

Delaying “brain age” may sound like the latest quick-fix gimmick on a late-night infomercial, but the science underlying the concept is very real. Rather than reflecting the average functional state of your chronological age, brain...

Deep Learning Networks Can’t Generalize—But They’re Learning From the Brain

“Bias” in AI is often treated as a dirty word. But to Dr. Andreas Tolias at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, bias may also be the solution to smarter, more human-like...

This Light-based Nervous System Helps Robots ‘Feel’

Last night, way past midnight, I stumbled onto my porch blindly grasping for my keys after a hellish day of international travel. Lights were low, I was half-asleep, yet my hand grabbed the keychain,...

New Hybrid Brain Map Reveals How Neurons Connect

Projects that map the billions of connections within entire brains have always had a tinge of grandiosity. Yet to connectomists, these projects aren’t just the key to cracking the brain’s ultimate mysteries. Understanding how...

Lab-Grown Minibrains Show Activity Similar to Babies’ Brains

Neurons are a collective bunch. Although each neuron receives, processes, and passes on information individually, the electrical spikes only make sense when melded together in waves of oscillating activity. Like an orchestra, the notes...

A Brief Tour Through the Wild West of Neural Interfaces

To most of us, zapping neurons with electricity to artificially “incept” memories, sensation, and movement still sounds crazy. But in some brain labs, that technology is beginning to feel old school. As a new...

Three Invaluable Ways AI and Neuroscience Are Driving Each Other Forward

DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis once pointed to the human brain as a paramount inspiration for building AI with human-like intelligence. He’s not the only one. The meteoric success of deep learning showcases how insights from...

Moving Beyond Mind-Controlled Limbs to Prosthetics That Can Actually ‘Feel’

Brain-machine interface enthusiasts often gush about “closing the loop.” It’s for good reason. On the implant level, it means engineering smarter probes that only activate when they detect faulty electrical signals in brain circuits....

Exploring the Great Mysteries of Consciousness and Free Will With Annaka Harris

For thousands of years, humankind has been plagued by to two essential questions: Why do I have this unique voice inside my head? And am I in control of it or am I simply...

How Scientists Used Light to Incept Sensations and Memories in Mice

Last week, Elon Musk’s mysterious Neuralink finally revealed their master plan after two years of silence: to build high bandwidth, immune resistant, thread-like brain-machine interfaces that can be robotically implanted into the brain. In theory,...

The First Complete Brain Wiring Diagram of Any Species Is Here

For a humble, microscopic worm with only 302 neurons, C. elegans has had a lot of firsts. It was the first multicellular animal to have its whole genome sequenced. It was also the spark...

Could Lab-Grown Brains Develop Consciousness?

There’s a very un-sexy view of consciousness: our rich, meaningful inner experience of self and other is nothing but electrical and chemical chattering inside our brains. If you, like many scientists, subscribe to this theory,...

Scientists Can Now Clone Brain Organoids. Here’s Why That Matters

An army of free-floating minibrain clones are heading your way! No, that’s not the premise of a classic sci-fi brain-in-jars blockbuster. Rather, a team at Harvard has figured out a way to “clone” brain organoids,...

How Deep Learning Is Transforming Brain Mapping

Thanks to deep learning, the tricky business of making brain atlases just got a lot easier. Brain maps are all the rage these days. From rainbow-colored dots that highlight neurons or gene expression across the...

DARPA’s New Project Is Investing Millions in Brain-Machine Interface Tech

When Elon Musk and DARPA both hop aboard the cyborg hypetrain, you know brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are about to achieve the impossible. BMIs, already the stuff of science fiction, facilitate crosstalk between biological wetware with...

The Crucial Role of Brain Simulation in Future Neuroscience

“Do we have a chance of ever understanding brain function without brain simulations?” So asked the Human Brain Project (HBP), the brainchild of Henry Markram, in a new paper in the prestigious journal Neuron. The...

How Two Paralyzed Patients Walked Again Without Surgery

Just a decade ago, the Walk Again Project was a blue sky, Hail Mary moonshot at total neural rehab for those paralyzed. The project, a collaboration among fearless neuroengineers, has the lofty goal of giving...

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