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August 7th, 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

Jeff Johnston, a newer graduate student in David Freedman’s lab at The University of Chicago, became interested in how our brains maintain reliable perception and behavior despite the obvious variability in individual neurons. If all processing were linear—a superhighway from one specific neuron to another—then wouldn’t one neuron misfiring cause the whole system to fall apart?

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thought tree

June 26th, 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

Understanding how decisions are made—and where they are happening in the brain—can tell us a lot about how to maximize development, learning, and eventual success as thinking beings. David Freedman, PhD, and his team are working to figure out how what we are looking for—our internal models of the world—colors what we look at, to help us make moment-to-moment decision.

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wei lab

June 5th, 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

Among the areas of neuroscience in which Grossman Institute scientists aim to make the greatest contribution is figuring out how the brain’s neural circuits process sensory data into perceptions and behavior. How does one parse out the roles of millions of neurons, connected in unseen ways within our most vital organ? According to Wei Wei, PhD, one of the best places to study neural circuits is the retina.

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unsplash

June 2nd, 2020 | Helen Robertson, PhD

What does the term microdosing mean to you? Harriet de Wit, PhD, head of the Human Behavioral Pharmacology lab at UChicago, is one of the scientists at the forefront of understanding the possible benefits and implications of microdosing psychedelic drugs.

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colors

May 28th, 2020 | Jack Wang

A new study co-authored by a University of Chicago neuroscientist identifies , particularly the areas of the brain that encode the colors we actually see. "We've been able to show where it happens in the , which is relatively early," said Prof. Steven Shevell, a leading scholar of color and brightness perception. "It's like a road map that shows where to look for the neural circuits that cause the transition from the earliest neural representations of the physical world to our mental world."

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Sliman

May 8th, 2020 | Polsky Center

The Bionic Breast Project is an interdisciplinary research program applying bionic technologies to restore post-mastectomy breast function. Using some of the concepts developed for the bionic hand, the researchers, including Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, James and Karen Frank Family Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, plan to embed a flexible sensor array under the skin of mastectomy patients.

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signal detection

May 8th, 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

“Pay attention!”

We’ve heard that demand—maybe not in so many words—from everyone from parents, teachers, and bosses to the ad hucksters that permeate every environment.

But just what exactly does “attention” mean?

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migrain

April 24th 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

All of us age, and as we do, myelin, the protective covering around the nerve cells in our brain, starts to deteriorate. This is like losing the insulation around an electrical wire. It causes nerve impulses to slow or even stop, and affects a range of bodily functions from thinking, memory, and behavior to balance and coordination. But this does not have to be the case.

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isolation

April 14th, 2020 | By Kelly-Leigh Cooper

There is plenty of research to suggest our social relationships can be as important to our physical health as our mental one. Research links pervasive loneliness to higher mortality rates and other health complications. Professor Stephanie Cacioppo, an expert in behavioural neuroscience and psychiatry at the University of Chicago, is full of practical tips for those living alone. 

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empty lab

April 10th 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

Established faculty may have mountains of data to analyze and papers they can write up while working remotely, but younger investigators are suffering. To jump-start productivity and their new careers, many launch multiple big projects at once. COVID-19 forced them to decide which among their intellectual “children” they can save.

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lakefront runner

April 6th, 2020 | By Jack Wang

As state and local officials pleaded for residents to stay at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many included a caveat: You can still enjoy the outdoors, as long as you can maintain a safe social distance. But the recent closures did not disperse crowds so much as move them outside. And when people flocked instead to beaches, parks and hiking trails, officials began to shut those places down too.

For one University of Chicago psychologist, those measures underscore a widespread urban problem.

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finch

March 13th, 2020 | By Helen Robertson, PhD

We don’t know exactly why stuttering happens. In fact, there’s a lot we still don’t know about the biology of normal speech, a complex behavior that requires precise coordination between the brain and the organs necessary for making sound. At UChicago, neuroscientists are using the birdsong of the zebra finch to understand the underlying mechanisms of speech.

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Neurons

March 5th, 2020 | By Sarah Richards

How the brain functions like a car with a manual transmission, and why this finding one day could lead to a treatment for Parkinson's disease.

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ALS

February 28th, 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

Last summer, the media was abuzz with apparent progress in developing a reliable blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. With this potential breakthrough—after decades of research to find a biomarker that could clearly diagnosis Alzheimer’s—researchers now may finally have a tool for measuring the effectiveness of drugs and other treatment interventions.  

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attention

February 20th, 2020 | By Jack Wang

How much of this page will you read? How much will you remember? And does it make a difference when you’re reading, or where? Those are the sorts of questions that a University of Chicago neuroscientist asks in an innovative new study—one that examines brain scans to uncover how attention is sustained over time, and when it might fluctuate.

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Old Photos

February 11th, 2020 | By Elise Wachspress

How, exactly, do the massive numbers of neurons in our brains and the connections between them allow us to recognize our own living rooms or remember the conversations that happened there last year? We know this involves cells, molecules, ions, and electrical pulses—but just exactly how does that work?

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Neonatology Cells

January 28th, 2020 | By Matt Wood

As neonatologist and basic scientist, Tim Sanders both provides care for vulnerable infants and studies some of the most fundamental elements of life.

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C. Elegans

January 13th, 2020 | By Matt Wood

The DNA of an animal contains the instructions for creating every type of cell in its body. During development, the generation of different cell types (e.g., neurons, blood cells, muscle cells) depends on different sets of genes for each cell type to be expressed at the right time. But what determines which genes are switched on and which genes are turned off or ignored?

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