1. "Perception is never purely in the present—it has to draw on experience of the past; this is why Gerald M. Edelman speaks of “the remembered present.” We all have detailed memories of how things have previously looked and sounded, and these memories are recalled and admixed with every new perception. Such perceptions must be especially powerful in a strongly musical person, a habitual concertgoer like Dr. Jorgensen, and imagery is surely recruited to complement one’s perceptions, especially if perceptual input is limited. “Every act of perception,” Edelman writes, “is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.” In this way the brain’s experience and knowledge are called upon, as well as its adaptability and resilience."
    Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia (via neuroexplorations)
  2. "The brain is a complex system, but that doesn’t mean it’s incomprehensible. Our neural circuits were carved by natural selection to solve problems that our ancestors faced during our species’ evolutionary history. Your brain has been molded by evolutionary pressures just as your spleen and eyes have been. And so has your consciousness. Consciousness developed because it was advantageous, but advantageous only in limited amounts."
    David Eagleman, Incognito (via neuroexplorations)
  3. biocanvas:

Human cortical neural stem cells
Cortical neurons are located in the cerebral cortex of the brain, a region responsible for memory, thought, language, and consciousness. Neural stem cells are “immature” cells committed to become neurons and helper cells of the brain. Neurons are the liaison between our brain and the world. When we eat a lemon, neurons connected to our taste buds tell the brain that it’s sour. Messages from the brain can also be sent elsewhere, as when neurons command muscles to contract while lifting a heavy object.
Image by Kimmy Lorrain, BrainCells, Inc.

    biocanvas:

    Human cortical neural stem cells

    Cortical neurons are located in the cerebral cortex of the brain, a region responsible for memory, thought, language, and consciousness. Neural stem cells are “immature” cells committed to become neurons and helper cells of the brain. Neurons are the liaison between our brain and the world. When we eat a lemon, neurons connected to our taste buds tell the brain that it’s sour. Messages from the brain can also be sent elsewhere, as when neurons command muscles to contract while lifting a heavy object.

    Image by Kimmy Lorrain, BrainCells, Inc.

  4. How Far Should Brain Researchers Go?

    "Recent advances in neuroscience enable us to manipulate the workings of the brain and intervene to treat some neurological disorders. How far should researchers go in their quest to understand this complex organ and improve people’s quality of life, and to what extent should they be responsible for making sure that others do not misuse their findings?"


    An interesting piece written by Moheb Constandi about neuroimaging research, stressing the importance of not just taking all the findings at face value. Scientists (usually) don’t, but the media can sometimes portray findings in a way that makes them seem much more exciting and reliable than they really are.


    "We are no longer in control of what stories the general public hear about our data," he added. "They can decide which papers are worth listening to before any scientific consensus has been reached, so we have a duty to be much more measured in the claims we make."


    Read the rest here.

  5. neuromorphogenesis:

    Fly Over the ‘Brainbow’

    Two neural mapping techniques illuminate the delicate architecture of flies’ brains.

    Four years ago, Harvard scientists devised a way to make mouse neurons glow in a breathtaking array of colors, a technique dubbed “Brainbow.” This allowed scientists to trace neurons’ long arms, known as the dendrites and axons, through the brain with incredible ease, revealing a map of neuron connections. 

    Using a clever trick of genetic engineering, in which genes for three or more different fluorescent proteins were combined like paints to generate different hues, researchers created a system to make each neuron glow one of 100 different colors. The result was that the dendrites and axons of individual neurons, previously almost impossible to pick apart from their neighbors, could be traced through the mouse brain according to their color. 

    Now, fruit fly researchers have a similar bonanza on their hands. Last week, two Brainbow-based methods for making fly neurons glow customized colors—called dBrainbow and Flybow—were published in Nature Methods. This is the first time that scientists have converted the technique to work in fruit flies, and because these organisms have a very sophisticated set of existing genetic tools, researchers can exert even greater control over when and where the fluorescent proteins are expressed. 

    Because axons and dendrites are so long and fine, it’s hard to tell which neurons they are from. Researchers have traditionally had to stain just one or two neurons in each sample, painstakingly compiling data from many brains to build a map. In contrast, many neurons are easily discernible in this cross-section of a fly’s brain made using dBrainbow. Using dBrainbow images, Julie H. Simpson and colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm could tell which motor neurons controlled parts of a fly’s proboscis, which it uses to take in food.

    Both techniques have reduced the number of color options from the original brainbow—dBrainbow has six and Flybow, developed by Iris Salecker and colleagues at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, has four. This makes it easier to identify neurons. 

    In dBrainbow, the color indicates which neurons arose from the same progenitor cell during development: each progenitor “decides” what color it will be, and all of its daughter cells will share that color, which is handy for studying how connections between different lineages of neurons are formed. In this shot of a fly’s head, different progenitors gave rise to the blue olfactory neurons on the right and the red olfactory neurons on the left.

    In contrast, Flybow cells can be made to “decide” their color at any point in development, because the enzymatic process that causes them to change colors is activated by applying heat. The cells are engineered so their default color is green. The longer they are heated, the more cells will switch from green to blue, yellow, or red. Heat applied early in development produces an effect similar to dBrainbow, while heat applied later produces individual cells that each glow their own color. Here, the visual system of an adult fruit fly shows individual neurons in four colors.

    Using existing genetic techniques, scientists can restrict the activation of the dBrainbow and Flybow genes to specific subsets of cells, so only the neurons relevant to their research are visible. In this dBrainbow image, a group of about 2,000 highly studied neurons thought to underlie male courtship behavior are colored according to different subpopulations.

    In a typical study, the red, yellow, and blue neurons in this image of a developing fly’s nerve cord would never be seen together, but would instead be spread across many samples, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, leaving scientists to imagine what they might look like in the intact fly. 

    “It is a real revelation to see them actually next to each other, at the same time,” says Salecker. “To see them as they are, with their neighbors—it makes a huge difference.”

  6. jtotheizzoe:

    infinity-imagined:

    MRI scans of a Human brain.

    Slices of life

  7. THE PROGRESSION OF MY EMOTIONS WHEN MY PI LEAVES FOR HOLIDAY

    whatshouldwecallgradschool:

    AT FIRST: 

    The first few weeks...

    AND WHEN I START TO GET CONFUSED:When things inevitably start to go wrong...

    WHEN I ENTER PANIC MODE:

    By the time he comes back...

    credit: Katie J

  8. Someone once asked me why I don’t post more of what I do all day. I didn’t really have a good answer for that, other than I wasn’t sure if people would really be interested in such specific research.

    But this morning, I created my own sound. To me, that is really, really cool so I figure, why not post a bit of what I actually do.

    In short: sometimes I make sounds in matlab, and they look cool when you plot them. 

  9. MY RESPONSE WHEN PEOPLE ASK WHAT I DO ALL DAY

    whatshouldwecallgradschool:

    TBT! Brought to you by March 25, 2013

    image

    credit: Katie

About me

Hi, and welcome to my blog! This is where I collect things that I find interesting about the brain, neuroscience, pyschology and more recently, grad school.

Ok so first, a bit about my background. I did a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology, and now I am a first year neuroscience and neuroimaging Ph.D. student. In my PhD I look at the underlying brain mechanisms of multisensory perception, using functional imaging, psychophysics and computational modelling.

To make things a bit easier, I tag things that are related to my PhD or any of my side projects here.

Questions? I am more than happy to answer any questions you have, and I really enjoy it, so if you have something to you want to know, click the “Ask Me” button above and I will do my best to answer you. If you prefer me to answer privately, please mention it in your ask. You can see some of the previous questions I’ve answered here. :)

Finally, some of my writing can be found here.

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