Sheldon Cooper, a beloved character in a television series, knocks on a door exactly three times before his roommate opens it — and if the door is opened earlier, he still persists his triad of door knocks. He fixates on occupying the exact same spot on the sofa every single time calling it “his” spot. As an audience, we watch his actions and surmise, “He has a little bit of OCD.”
The reality is: there is no such thing as a “little bit” when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorders.Continue reading
The pursuit of science is challenging. It is where new knowledge is born. In their path towards the unknown, scientists, too, face their fair share of insecurity. When experiments fail, grants evade, confidence dwindles and the clock strikes midnight, many researchers find themselves immersed in questions to which Google may not have an answer. What should I do after I graduate? Is there a glass ceiling for women? Is academia right for me? What other options are out there? Can I really get my act together for a work-life balance, like, ever? Sigh, these investment bankers make so much more money. What am I doing with my life? Maybe I should sleep now?Continue reading
You’re on your way to the traditional Thanksgiving family get-together. You drive down a familiar street, locate your familiar house, and park in a familiar spot.Continue reading
In a recent presidential town hall, President Obama looked directly into the camera and made a powerful statement about mental health. “If something inside you feels like it’s wounded, it’s just like a physical injury. You’ve got to go get help,” said the leader of the free world.
Buried under the weight of a massive social stigma, seeking help or even acknowledging a mental illness can be an excruciating task. How, then, can we help ourselves and our loved ones achieve emotional and mental well-being?Continue reading
Consider three scenarios. A kid joins a new high school and eats lunch by herself. A recently separated man is alone for the New Year’s Eve countdown. A prisoner becomes aggravated in a solitary confinement cell. The common thread that runs through these disparate experiences is the universal feeling of loneliness.Continue reading
Stem cells have two characteristic and essential properties:
- Self-renewal. They can divide to give rise to another stem cell.
- Potency. They are capable of differentiating into specialized cells.
It is easy to assume that if a car has a gas pedal, it needs to have brakes, and similarly, if our brain has excitatory neurons, it needs inhibition too. For a long time, the field of neuroscience had thought of inhibitory interneurons as the “brakes” of the brain, providing suppression to neuronal activity. However, in my conversation with Dr. Gordon J. Fishell, I learned that interneurons are far more fascinating cell types than merely being inhibitory! Their multifarious morphology can be attributed to a palette of functions in brain developmental and regulation.Continue reading
It is an exciting time for neuroscience. The BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) is in the spotlight as a part of the new Presidential focus and recently received $46 million in funding grants towards its early efforts.Continue reading
We often find ourselves in decision-making dilemmas along the day. For instance, to reach work on time, would you rather take the shorter, faster route or the longer, scenic route? In deciding these actions, the brain promptly fits in a reward versus risk equation, but sometimes the outcome isn’t quite favorable! What if there was an accident along the shorter route, and the traffic delays you even more than the longer route would have?Continue reading
The human body is an efficient model to explore the popular theory of supply and demand. When you physically exert yourself, your bioenergetic “supply” is down, so you feel hungrier as your system “demands” more food. In much the same way, the neurons in your brain are busy firing action potentials, and their bioenergetic fuel quickly gets used up. So, how do these neurons signal that they need more energy?Continue reading
The beloved classic cartoon “Tom and Jerry” brings amusement and laughter to the young and old alike. As the house cat Tom attempts to capture the mouse Jerry, we also learned our first lesson on predator-prey behavior: mice fear cats.Continue reading
Genes are no different from individuals. Sometimes they behave in a simple, logical way. Other times, they are unpredictable and influenced by their surroundings. The central dogma (DNA to RNA to protein) describes a sequential two-step process that is very similar to the linear progression from school to college and then to work. But sometimes, things get in the way that might delay our journey from school to work or might take us off course altogether! Similarly, genes can also be influenced by intangible “external” factors. The science of epigenetics studies how the expression of genes can be influenced by factors other than changes in the DNA sequence itself.Continue reading