Doing what the brain does best — connecting the dots. Image Credit: Getty.

Despite the continued progress that the state of the art in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have been able to achieve, one thing that still sets the human brain apart — and those of some other animals — is its ability to connect the dots and infer information that…


Professor Terry Sejnowski at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences and the University of California San Diego. Image credit: Terrance J. Sejnowski.

The ‘Thinkers and Innovators’ series explores the science and philosophy of the brain and mind with some of the world’s foremost forward thinking experts. It also explores technologies used for studying and interfacing with the brain, as well as technologies motivated by the brain, such as machine learning and artificial…


Enhanced quantum dot labeled astrocyte neural glial cells. Gabriel A. Silva and Smita Pathak.

There exists a technology that lets scientists selectively target and color code cells. Quantum dots are tiny nanometer-sized particles that display unique physical properties that allow them to fluoresce across a rainbow of bright colors. They can also be molecularly functionalized, meaning that you can chemically attach other molecules and…


Despite their names, artificial intelligence and their component systems, such as machine learning and artificial neural networks, don’t have much to do with real brain science. At least not historically.

In recent decades, brain researchers have learned a huge amount about the physical connections in the brain and about how…


Where is the ‘information’ in what you see? Credit: Getty Images

We take in information from the world around us through our five senses. All the information the brain has access to and bases decisions on are the result of each sensory system taking in some form of energy from the environment and converting it — transducing it — into a…


Will quantum computer simulations crack open our understanding of the biological brain? Credit: Getty

Looking back at the history of computers, it’s hard to overestimate the rate at which computing power has scaled in the course of just a single human lifetime. But yet, existing classical computers have fundamental limits. If quantum computers are successfully built and eventually fully come online, they will be…


The power of small in big ideas. Credit: Getty Images.

Nanotechnology is one of those buzz words that can seem kind of difficult to pin down. So what exactly is it? For example, how does it differ from traditional chemistry and physics? And in particular, what does it offer the study of the brain and neuroscience? …


Rita J. King with a bust of Michelangelo’s Moses. Credit: Rita J. King.

The ‘Thinkers and Innovators’ series explores the science and philosophy of the brain and mind with some of the world’s foremost forward thinking experts. …


One handed morning coffee with an extra thumb. Credit: Dani Clode Design.

How many times have you said to yourself ‘if I only had an extra hand’? Well, it’s increasingly looking like that wish might come true. Scientists and engineers are exploring how extra fingers and arms might augment our biological design and abilities. …


Astrocyte neuroglial cells in the brain. Source: Getty Images.

When most people think about the brain they think about a huge interconnected network of neurons. Neurons are often called ‘brain cells’, and the two are used interchangeably. Neurons are, of course, critical cells in the makeup of the brain and play key roles in everything the brain is able…

Gabriel A. Silva

Professor of Bioengineering and Neurosciences, University of California San Diego

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