Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

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The Search for a Nobel Prize-Winning Synapse Machine

In this article for Scientific American, I talk with all three winners of 2013’s Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, about the paths that led them to victory. Where did their scientific careers start? Did they have any idea they’d be working in this area of research, let alone discover something as profound as they […]

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The Neuroscience Revolution Will Be Crowdsourced

In this article for Scientific American, I dig into one of my very favorite scientific projects: The Human Connectome Project at MIT. What’s the deal with all this excitement? What exactly are these researchers trying to accomplish? And how close are they to accomplishing it? The answers to all these questions may surprise you. Once humans […]

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A Secret Society of Cells Runs Your Brain

In this article for Scientific American, I talk about a new study that discovered some surprising things about a class of brain cells that’ve long been assumed to sit silently. Oligodendrocytes aren’t neurons – they’re support cells; and for a long time, their exact behavior was a mystery. Now, researchers are discovering that they take a much […]

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What’s Individuality, and Where Does It Come From?

In this article for Scientific American, I dig into one of mankind’s oldest and deepest questions: What’s that special something that makes you different from me? Where does it come from, an how early can we find it? A new German study may have found some surprising answers to these age-old mysteries. Three months later, the researchers […]

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Tomorrow’s Anti-Anxiety Drug Is… Tylenol?

In this article for Scientific American, I talk about a new study that may have found an unusual use for a popular pain drug. Could Tylenol – also known by the drug name acetaminophen – really be the anti-anxiety drug of the future? If so, how would that work? Why would it work? And are […]

Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks Speaks At Columbia University

Oliver Sacks’ Tales of Musical Hallucinations

In this article for Scientific American, I present my personal interview with renowned neuroscientist and author Oliver Sacks. Dr. Sacks’ latest book, Hallucinations, deals with his patients’ strange experiences with all sorts of visual and auditory phenomena – but he’s also here to discuss a recent paper in which he focuses on hallucinations of the musical […]

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Three Big Doubts About Brain-Mapping Efforts

Neuroscience research has come a hell of a long way since the days of scalpels and electrodes. While some research teams are exploring the molecular machinery that churns at the hearts of nerve cells, others are working to assemble wiring diagrams for whole regions of the human brain. Just as biological science never looked the […]

The largest scale effort is the Human Connectome Project, involving a consortium of institutions here and abroad

Why Brain-Mapping Efforts Matter

In this article for Scientific American, I tackle some common criticisms of big brain-mapping projects like the Human Connectome Project and the Brain Activity Map. Are they too complex to be feasible in our lifetimes? Maybe so. Do we even know exactly what we’re trying to achieve? It isn’t always precisely clear. But I argue […]

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The Top 5 Neuroscience Breakthroughs of 2012

More than any year before, 2012 was the year neuroscience exploded into pop culture. From mind-controlled robot hands to cyborg animals to TV specials to triumphant books, brain breakthroughs were tearing up the airwaves and the internets. From all the thrilling neurological adventures we covered over the past year, we’ve collected five stories we want […]

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Deciphering Sleep: Our Interview with David Rye

Why do we need to sleep? In all of human biology, few questions are more persistent – or more mythologized – than this one. Almost as puzzling as sleep itself are sleep disorders like narcolepsy and insomnia, which make us wonder why some of us need so much more sleep than others do. David Rye, […]

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