What color is that dress after all? Answer: no color

A few days ago, the world was taken by storm by the is-it-a-gold-and-white-or-a-blue-and-black-dress controversy. There have been several explanations of this phenomenon from several different experts (see for example Wired and NYTimes). As far as I can tell these explanations center on two points: The close cropping of the image prevents a person from globally contextualizing the dress. Is the dress drenched in light […]

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Can you read this?

I am hoping that you play my game and try to read the text above. Go ahead and try before you read the answer below. How’d you do? I am betting that you did just fine. Maybe you had some problems with neocortex, or maybe not. Here is the un-substituted text: How did you read the scramble? Are you aware of how you […]

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We help because it feels good

A friend sent me a link to this video in which one tortoise rights another tortoise that is on its back. Watching this video, I sensed that the helping tortoise really wanted to help the upside down tortoise. I was rooting for the helping tortoise to succeed and wholly relieved when s/he successfully rolled the other tortoise onto its feet. I say “s/he” […]

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Depressed? Try sky-diving!!

I just started my annual teaching of Medical Neurobiology to University of Chicago Pritzker medical students. In the first day-overview, I wanted to drive home the point that body and brain work together to produce emotion and affect. Pointing to the picture above, I said, “Clearly, my nephew cannot be depressed in this moment; nor is he likely to solve […]

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A laboratory introduction to the human brain

It was quite striking to me how many students in the 2014 NeuroMOOC class of Understanding the Brain appeared to really enjoy the laboratory videos that were included in the class. So I will post versions of those videos here on my blog. I will add more from time to time. But let’s start with those that that were part of NeuroMOOC 2014. I want to emphasize the respect and gratitude that I feel every time I look at tissue from a dead person. The decision to offer up one’s body for scientific study or training is the epitome of generosity and selflessness. I am in awe of those individuals who did so. Please take a moment to be grateful to tissue donors: To start with, we are going to look at the central nervous system which is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord. Now let’s look at the meninges that surround the central nervous system. Now that we know about the meninges, we can talk about “brain tumors” and “brain cancer”. The important point is that none of these are tumors where neurons multiply out of control. Intracranial tumors arise from either glial cells (mostly astrocytomas from astrocytes or Schwannomas from Schwann cells) or from glandular cells (pinealomas in the case of the pineal gland or pituitary adenomas in the case of the pituitary gland). Importantly, neurons are NOT the source of tumors. I should mention that there are […]

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Farewell to a Perl of wisdom

I am sad to report that Ed Perl, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor Emeritus at University of North Carolina, has died. Ed was a luminary in the field of neuroscience, a pioneer in the study of nociception, and an inspiration to many including me. Ed had Chicago roots including graduating from the University of Illinois – Chicago with an MD. Often […]

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