As a new member to the team at Allen Institute for Brain Science, I am pretty elated to dive headfirst (hehe) into a realm of science that is pretty new to me. I studied animal behavior and behavioral ecology in undergrad and absolutely loved understanding how, on a larger scale, personality types and behaviors among birds could have direct impacts on the successes of their offspring (given the environmental conditions for that year) as well as impacting the environment around them. Now, I am tickled to be studying the brain at the cellular level in the hopes of learning more about neuroscience, behavior and to fall in love with the questions “why” and “how” over and over again.
This is a compilation of science articles, TED talks, free online courses, or anything else I think is exciting and fun to learn.
02/01/2018: The Human Connectome: A Structural Description of the Human Brain
—> This is an awesome paper from 2007 which proposed approaches for the best initial draft of a human connectome (or comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain.) While there are certainly a multitude of technological and bioengineering challenges in creating a connectome at the neuronal level, it seems lazy and unimaginative to suggest this will never be possible even beyond our lifetime. Sporns et al suggest methodology for mapping populations of neuronal activity or coactivity rather than focusing on single neurons or synapses. Of course, we can already see how the Human Connectome Project (HCP) is successfully carrying out this type of functional and structural mapping approach! Really inspiring read.
04/14/2017: “Letters to a Young Scientists” by E.O. Wilson
—> Okay, this isn’t specifically neuroscience, but I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a passion for science. I often feel out of my place in science; although it occupies so much of my weeks at work and my mental space, it can be easy to feel like you’re not “good enough” or smart enough if you aren’t a mathematical genius or statistics wizard, or if you just don’t grasp concepts as quickly as your peers.
This book has been such a gift. E.O. Wilson is an extraordinary writer with sound advice when it comes to putting “passion before training” and not having to be more than mathematically semiliterate for most fields. It basically gives me a lot of confidence knowing that the passion to do science is one of the most critical and important steps, and all else follows.
02/23/2017: [PDF:] “Plasticity of the aging brain: New directions in cognitive neuroscience.
—–> So cool! This review illustrates how noninvasive imaging techniques (fMRI) see and measure the activity of the brain and its plasticity over one’s life span. Although some neural regions may become less active with age, older adults can “recruit regions of the brain to support cognitive functions in ways unlike young adults.”
10/07/2017: “Tales From Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience” by Michael Gazzaniga
—–> I LOVE THIS BOOK. Gazzaniga is known as a major founder in the field of cognitive neuroscience. His writing in this book is part autobiographical, part insight into his patients and their earlier forms of testing on split brain studies, and part……dang. The work lights just turned off. to be continued!! 😛
08/09/2016: Allen Institute Observatory: http://observatory.brain-map.org/visualcoding/stimulus/natural_scenes
—–Data lovers, rejoice. This is a compilation of cellular responses to natural black & white images in the brain of a mouse.
08/05/2016: Allen Institute Brain Map: http://brain-map.org/
—–This is an insanely cool collection of data available to the public from AI.
07/14/2016 – ED X Course in Fundamentals of Neuroscience: https://www.mcb80x.org/
—–This is an amazing resource for whatever your interest or field of study is. EdX offers tons of course that can be paid for (if looking for a certificate or credits) or can be audited for free and at your own pace! There are lots of videos, texts and quizzes for each portion that can make it as casual or intense of an experience as you want to make it. Check it out!