Category Archives: Neuroscience

Revisiting the dress: Lessons for the study of qualia and science

When #thedress first came out in February 2015, vision scientists had plenty of ideas why some people might be seeing it differently than others, but no one knew for sure. Now we have some evidence as to what might be going on. … Continue reading

Posted in Journal club, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 5 Comments

Autism and the microbiome

The incidence of autism has been on the rise for 40 years. We don’t know why, but the terrible burden of suffering has spurred people to urgently look for a cause. As there are all kinds of secular trends over … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Nutrition, Psychology, Science | 1 Comment

A primer on the science of sleep

I’ve written about sleep and the need to sleep and how sleep is measured before, but in order to foster our #citizenscience efforts at NYU, I want to bring accessible and actionable pieces on the science of sleep together in one place, here. 1. How … Continue reading

Posted in Life, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | Leave a comment

Beyond free will

Some say that every time philosophy and neuroscience cross, philosophy wins. The usual reason cited for this? Naive and unsophisticated use of concepts and the language to express them within neuroscience. Prime exhibit is the mereological fallacy – the confusion … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Pet peeve, Philosophy | 1 Comment

Explaining color constancy

The brain is using spectral information of light waves (their wavelength mix) to aid in the identification of objects. This works because any given object will absorb some wavelengths of the light source (the illuminant) and reflect others. For instance, plants … Continue reading

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The neuroscience of violent rage

Violent rage results from the activation of dedicated neural circuitry that is on the lookout for existential threats to prehistoric lifestyles. Life in civilization is largely devoid of these threats, but this system is still in place, triggering what largely … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 1 Comment

Pascal’s Pensees, 5 years on

Before October 25th, 2010, I had no social media presence whatsoever – I wasn’t on Twitter, didn’t have a blog and G+ wasn’t around yet. Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to me before, but it was one of the requirements to … Continue reading

Posted in Conference, In eigener Sache, Neuroscience | 3 Comments

Why “dressgate”* matters

At this point, we have probably all reached “peak dress”, been oversaturated by all matters dress and are ready to move on. But there is more. There is no question that “the dress” is the most viral image relevant to … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Social commentary | 9 Comments

Lessons from the dress: The fundamental ambiguity of visual perception

The brain lives in a bony shell. The completely light-tight nature of the skull renders this home a place of complete darkness. So the brain relies on the eyes to supply an image of the outside world, but there are … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 4 Comments

The relative scale of early visual areas

The visual system of primates comprises a large number of distinct cortical areas containing neurons that modulate their activity in response to a visual stimulus and are believed to represent different aspects of the visual scene. It has been recognized … Continue reading

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The social mission of perceptual research

Our perception corresponds to an idiosyncratic model of reality, not reality itself. This is easy to forget, as we all share a common outside environment in the form of external reality and process it with a cognitive apparatus that has … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Social commentary | 3 Comments

A primer on the neuroscience of happiness

The age old question of what makes for a happy life is of great interest to almost anyone who is in fact alive. A classic answer, building on Aristotelian notions of happiness, is provided by Charles Murray who points out … Continue reading

Posted in In eigener Sache, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Social commentary, Technology | 1 Comment

SfN 2013 in San Diego

This post will document my annual pilgrimage to SfN. This year (as in 2004, 2007 and 2010), it will take place in San Diego. See here how I prepare for the event and what I recommend how to go about … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Science | Leave a comment

You really do need to sleep right

Two years ago, I wrote extensively why getting sufficient sleep is crucial to a good life and how to go about getting establishing sufficient levels of quality and quantity. Since then,  the situation has – if anything – gotten even … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Optimization, Science, Social commentary | 2 Comments

Data were analyzed using Matlab…

It is important to use the right tools for a given job. Science is no exception. In particular, given the vast amounts of data that are now routinely encountered in the field, one will want to use the best available … Continue reading

Posted in Matlab, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 8 Comments

The need for sleep

Western culture – the US in particular – is pervaded by the notion of achievement through hard work. This has many benefits, but like everything, it comes at a steep cost. One of the things that is typically shortchanged in … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Science | 14 Comments

Charlemagne was a Neuroscientist

The exploits of Charlemagne are fairly well documented and widely known. He was both the King of the Franks and the founding emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (technically, the Carolingian Empire). In this capacity, he is renowned for a wide … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Pet peeve, Science, Social commentary | 2 Comments

Circadian synesthesia: Light therapy seen (heard?) in new light

Therapy with extremely bright light (10,000+ lux) has been known for a long time to bring about remarkably strong and – if done right – remarkably positive effects. It can “cure” Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly named SAD), as well as … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Optimization, Psychology, Technology | 1 Comment