Jordana Cepelewicz

Staff Writer

Micrograph of a cortical neuron, showing its many dendrites.

Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons

January 14, 2020

The dendritic arms of some human neurons can perform logic operations that once seemed to require whole neural networks.

Abstractions blog

Biodiversity Alters Strategies of Bacterial Evolution

January 6, 2020

In evolution, context is everything: Bacteria with neighbors evolve to rebuff viruses in a different way.

Animated representation of locusts tracked by a computer move across a screen.

To Decode the Brain, Scientists Automate the Study of Behavior

December 10, 2019

Machine learning and deep neural networks can capture and analyze the “language” of animal behavior in ways that go beyond what’s humanly possible.

Illustration of a woman with “hands” behind her eyes and “eyes” in her hands, showing how the brain integrates its sense of the world with the actions to be taken in response.

‘Noise’ in the Brain Encodes Surprisingly Important Signals

November 7, 2019

Activity in the visual cortex and other sensory areas is dominated by signals about body movements, down to little tics and twitches. Scientists are now rethinking how they study and conceive of perception.

A fractal pattern.

A Power Law Keeps the Brain’s Perceptions Balanced

October 22, 2019

Researchers have discovered a surprising mathematical relationship in the brain’s representations of sensory information, with possible applications to AI research.

Photo of lithium batteries
Abstractions blog

Nobel Awarded for Lithium-Ion Batteries and Portable Power

October 9, 2019

John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing lithium-ion batteries, “the hidden workhorses of the mobile era.”

Climbing up the side of a high mountain peak.
Abstractions blog

Nobel Prize Awarded for Discoveries on How Cells Adapt to Oxygen

October 7, 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine honored William Kaelin Jr., Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza for their work on elucidating how cells adjust to low oxygen levels.

An osprey flying low over a river holds a trout in its claws.
Abstractions blog

Your Brain Chooses What to Let You See

September 30, 2019

Beneath our awareness, the brain lets certain kinds of stimuli automatically capture our attention by lowering the priority of the rest.

The illustration shows ghostly hands partially obstructing a person’s sight and hearing.

To Pay Attention, the Brain Uses Filters, Not a Spotlight

September 24, 2019

A brain circuit that suppresses distracting sensory information holds important clues about attention and other cognitive processes.