What is optogenetics and how is it used to determine the contribution of brain areas to normal and dysfunctional behaviors? We discuss with Kay Tye, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at MIT. Continue reading
Neil Hall from the University of Liverpool has published a very interesting mini-study on scientists and Twitter. He developed a metric that compares the popularity of scientists on Twitter to the impact of their publications within peer-reviewed journals. The metric is called the Kardashian Index, a reference to the fact that Kim Kardashian became wildly popular for no apparent reason, and a wink at those scientists who get Twitter popularity without having accomplished as much as others in their scientific career. Neil Hall is not necessarily critiquing the individuals who use Twitter to their advantage – he simply creates a metric that finds discrepancies between Twitter popularity and scientific popularity. The idea is brilliant, but in my view the short article is based on an incorrect premise. The premise is that science and social media contributions are two fundamentally separate things that can be compared to each other. Continue reading
Today is the second and last day of “mini-season” here in South Florida. That is, the last Wednesday and Thursday of July where Florida lobsters are available for the taking by non-commercial lobster hunters. I grew up in New England and I love me some huge (i.e. 2-3 lb) Maine lobsters, but since establishing some roots down here in sunny Florida, I’ve grown to like the smaller, but still sweet tasting cockroaches of the sea. Continue reading
Somewhere between single-celled organisms and human beings, brains evolved. Just why and how is still shrouded in mystery. Continue reading
What were the biggest neuroscience stories of 2013? It may be years before we gain the perspective to know for sure. But here’s a list of top contenders, and one of dubious value.
My thesis adviser, a colorful spirit and one whose wisdom will be missed, used to say that undergraduate or professional students differed from graduate students in that they were asked to learn what was known about a subject, while graduate students were asked to tackle the unknown.
We, in higher education, are essentially seeking to find out what is not known and start to come up with new answers. How does one find out what is not known? In fact, is it possible to do that? Don’t most graduate students or post doctoral fellows add onto a lab’s existing body of knowledge? Adding to the unknown by building on the known? If this is how we work then does this create a very skewed version of the brain? How would we even know what is really unknown?
As the government shutdown nears the two week mark, it’s worth examining the effect of this latest political showdown on American science, and what this says about our collective values. This value conversation is relevant on the heels of Nobel prize winning scientists being placed on furlough while the congressional gym remains open. Continue reading