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Dec 24, 2019

This Year’s 4 Most Mind-Boggling Stories About the Brain

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

2019 was nuts for neuroscience. I said this last year too, but that’s the nature of accelerating technologies: the advances just keep coming.

There’re the theoretical showdowns: a mano a mano battle of where consciousness arises in the brain, wildly creative theories of why our brains are so powerful, and the first complete brain wiring diagram of any species. This year also saw the birth of “hybrid” brain atlases that seek to interrogate brain function from multiple levels—genetic, molecular, and wiring, synthesizing individual maps into multiple comprehensive layers.

Brain organoids also had a wild year. These lab-grown nuggets of brain tissue, not much larger than a lentil, sparked with activity similar to preterm babies, made isolated muscles twitch, and can now be cloned into armies of near-identical “siblings” for experimentation—prompting a new round of debate on whether they’ll ever gain consciousness.

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