What's up in

neuroscience

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.

A Tsimané man plays an instrument resembling a violin.
Abstractions blog

Perceptions of Musical Octaves Are Learned, Not Wired in the Brain

October 30, 2019

Singing experiments with residents of the Bolivian rainforest demonstrate how biology and experience shape the way we hear music.

Animation of one icon tracing a wave pattern over a brain, followed by another icon that erases the pattern.
neuroscience

Dueling Brain Waves Anchor or Erase Learning During Sleep

October 24, 2019

While we sleep, one kind of slow brain wave helps to reinforce memories, but a competing wave weakens them.