Skip to content

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 […]

Read More →

From Brian Williams to Vincent Van Gogh to Hellen Keller to you and me

Here are my two cents on Brian Williams and the malleability of memory. Let’s start by fully acknowledging the limitations of perception. Perception of the world outside is very different from the record produced by a camera or audio record. Perception of our innards is even farther from accurate: is that a knife in my stomach or gas? So the information coming in to the brain, information […]

Read More →

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 […]

Read More →

Hey, reader, can you spare a photo and a story?

I am working in earnest on the 2nd edition of my textbook entitled Medical Neurobiology (Oxford University Press, 2011). I have taught from this book to Pritzker medical students four times (2011-14). While teaching medical students is most directly relevant to a textbook that specifically targets medical students, I also learned so much from teaching undergraduates in University of Chicago’s Study Abroad […]

Read More →

Flatworms, champions at regeneration, can even remake their brain!

The idea of regeneration and de novo cell production captures the interest of many in the public. I am not entirely clear on the reasons that people find regeneration so alluring. But I venture to say that regeneration may be an attractive idea because it offers 1) the hope of reversing ill health and 2) a biological approach to immortality, typically the exclusive domain of […]

Read More →

Make war on complacency not on people – Paris, January 2015

I have been a visitor in the incomparable city of Paris in the great country of France for almost three weeks now. Less than two weeks ago, Paris and France suffered a great injury, an egregious insult. Nearly twenty people were killed. Their lives ended brutally, undeservedly, and un-naturally. I am a foreigner here and likely not attune to the subtleties of Parisian emotional […]

Read More →

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” […]

Read More →