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neuroscience

Two arrows that are intertwined for most of their length but then point in different directions.
Abstractions blog

In Brain Waves, Scientists See Neurons Juggle Possible Futures

February 24, 2020

Faced with a decision, the brain weighs its options by bundling them into rapidly alternating cycles of brain waves.

Spindly green star-shaped cells against a black background.
Abstractions blog

Glial Brain Cells, Long in Neurons’ Shadow, Reveal Hidden Powers

January 27, 2020

The glial cells of the nervous system have been eclipsed in importance by neurons for decades. But glia are turning out to be central to many neurological functions, including pain perception.

Micrograph of a section of brain organoid tissue.
neuroscience

An Ethical Future for Brain Organoids Takes Shape

January 23, 2020

Collaborations in progress between ethicists and biologists seek to head off challenges raised by lab-grown “organoids” as they become increasingly similar to human brain tissue.

Micrograph of a cortical neuron, showing its many dendrites.
neuroscience

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.

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Biology (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2019

Researchers explored the zone between life and death, charted the mind’s system for arranging ideas and memories and learned how life’s complexity emerged.

Illustration of brain formed by bubbles.
Abstractions blog

Sleeping Brain Waves Draw a Healthy Bath for Neurons

December 16, 2019

An organized tide of brain waves, blood and spinal fluid pulsing through a sleeping brain may flush away neural toxins that cause Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

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

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
neuroscience

How Microbiomes Affect Fear

December 4, 2019

New studies help to explain how microbes in the gut can shape a host’s fear responses.

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.
neuroscience

‘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.