What's up in

brains

Animation of a neuron that periodically alters its responses to stimuli when it is reset into a new state by another input.
neural networks

Artificial Neural Nets Finally Yield Clues to How Brains Learn

February 18, 2021

The learning algorithm that enables the runaway success of deep neural networks doesn’t work in biological brains, but researchers are finding alternatives that could.

An illustration of a human brain against “pink noise” static.
neuroscience

Brain’s ‘Background Noise’ May Hold Clues to Persistent Mysteries

February 8, 2021

By digging out signals hidden within the brain’s electrical chatter, scientists are getting new insights into sleep, aging and more.

2020 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2020

While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.

Yarn models of a deep learning network and a brain.
neuroscience

Deep Neural Networks Help to Explain Living Brains

October 28, 2020

Deep neural networks, often criticized as “black boxes,” are helping neuroscientists understand the organization of living brains.

Illustration of red spools with strands of DNA as the thread, with a blue brain in the background.
Quantized Columns

The Epigenetic Secrets Behind Dopamine, Drug Addiction and Depression

October 27, 2020

New research links serotonin and dopamine not just to addiction and depression, but to the ability to control genes.

Illustration of anxious woman surrounded by mitochondria.
physiology

Mitochondria May Hold Keys to Anxiety and Mental Health

August 10, 2020

Research hints that the energy-generating organelles of cells may play a surprisingly pivotal role in mediating anxiety and depression.

Illustration of a flying albatross, a swimming basking shark and the Lévy walk paths they take.
behavior

Random Search Wired Into Animals May Help Them Hunt

June 11, 2020

The nervous systems of foraging and predatory animals may prompt them to move along a special kind of random path called a Lévy walk to find food efficiently when no clues are available.

Animated illustration of flashing, moving wavelengths and strobing lights surrounding a pair of eyes.
Quantized Columns

Spreading the Word on a Possible Alzheimer’s Treatment

May 27, 2020

Neuroscientists could use brain waves to spur immune cells into action against the disease — but the process is almost too fantastic to believe.

An artist’s conception of how sensory signals from the eye are map onto the brain in a slightly distorted way.
Quantized Columns

The Brain Reshapes Our Malleable Senses to Fit the World

March 24, 2020

How does experience alter our perceptions? This adapted book excerpt from We Know It When We See It describes how the brain’s visual system rewires itself to make the best use of its neural resources.