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Humans have long had a morbid curiosity about death and dying. There is, after all, a billion-dollar biotech industry focused on curing aging. A lot of research seeks to understand why cognitive decline and neurodegeneration occur. While we are far off from achieving eternal youth, we might stop cognitive decline in its track if we crack this problem.
However, studying the brain is very hard in humans. After all, it is inaccessible. Unlike blood, brain cells do not replenish themselves. As you can imagine, it isn’t easy to find fresh or live brain samples.
A macaque monkey named Pager stands in front of a screen. His paw holds a joystick while he sucks on a shiny metallic straw. On the screen, we see a dot and an orange square. Pager expertly manoeuvres the dot towards the orange square. Pager receives banana smoothies as a reward, which is delivered via a straw.
The narrator explains that a Neuralink implant collects signals from individual neurons. Using these signals, the implant predicts the direction that Pager wants to move the dot. After a while, Pager can play without a joystick. …
Walking through a forest it’s easy to miss the microcosmos. The microscopic life teeming all over the ground and under rocks. We would see single-celled predators hunt their prey. Bacteria and fungi would multiply before us. In a small little area of space, there are likely millions, maybe billions of these creatures.
Seeking the brilliance of our microcosmos, we will spot the slime mold. It may be brightly colored but still looks a bit gross. There are no eyes, no mouth, or limbs on its body. Looking inside, you don’t find any nerves, organs, or even a brain. Rather this…
I remember the first time I heard about neuroplasticity. Wide-eyed and amazed, I learned how the brain can reorganize itself. If one part of the brain is damaged, other regions often compensate and perform this function. The brain adapts allowing a person to regain some function from the damaged area.
On a structural level, the neurons reorganize and redirect their signals to another brain region. A stroke might injure a region of the brain involved in moving the left arm. Shortly after the stroke, moving the arm would be challenging. With physiotherapy and training, the brain would adapt, creating a…
The visual system in humans and primates evolved to allow for 3-D depth perception. Each eye is intricately wired by nerves that relay information to the brain. Our wiring allows both sides of the brain to see both parts of our visual field.
Some of these nerves carry information from our eyes to the opposite side of the brain. Visual information from the left eye relays to the right side of the brain (and vice versa). This crossing-over is called contralateral. The rest of these nerves relay information to the same side of the brain. We call the pathways of…
Blockchain technology is at the core of recent financial and technological innovations. It refers to a decentralized ledger of transactions. Basically, if some exchange occurs on the blockchain, anyone can hop onto the ledger and find it. While this seems mundane, it prevents counterfeiting of assets and allows the creation of secure contracts without a third party. It is the core technology behind cryptocurrencies.
As the blockchain gained steam, more and more companies began developing blockchain-based services. But I was surprised when I saw that Atari was getting a Blockchain Division. I dug in to the history and saw that…
I am sick and tired of books and articles proselytizing the secret habits of successful entrepreneurs and CEOs. Outlets like CNBC and Business Insider often write about these habits. I mean if there was a straightforward formula for success, wouldn’t more of us reach this peak? Instead of a sure path to success, these articles serve up quotes and free PR on a silver platter.
The long, complicated stories of founders are often distilled into habits and nuggets of wisdom. While it makes for an appealing read, it ignores the context, nuance, and luck that goes into success. It’s only…
When I was a kid, there was nothing like the feeling of opening up a pack of trading cards. Once I had a shiny, foil pack in my grubby hands, I’d start imagining the possibilities. I envisioned pulling an Ultra-Rare Yu-Gi-Oh card this time. I loved the art and names for every pack. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and opened up the small, stylized pack. With excitement, I pulled out the new cards, carefully inspecting the names and descriptions of each card. I was giddy with excitement for the new additions to my collection.
I don’t know…
How many times have we heard someone say that TV or screen-time rots the brain? Is there something especially pernicious for young developing minds? On the surface, it’s a very appealing idea that we’ve heard before. It combines a lot of facts to conclude something that sounds rational. These facts often snowball to moral conclusions like below.
First, young brains are malleable and developing very early in life. Second, watching a video doesn’t provide the same intellectual stimulation as other types of play. Finally, parents should pay more attention to their kids and play with them more. As parents, it’s…