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June 27, 207 — Rui Costa, PhD, a principal investigator at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, was honored today by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences with the Ariëns Kappers Award for outstanding contributions to the field of neuroscience. We spoke with Dr. Costa about how the brain guides the body to master new movements, how his work has yielded insights into a broad range of brain disorders.

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June 16 2017 — In a packed auditorium recently at New York University, some of the world’s most innovative neuroscientists and engineers were asked if they could predict the future.

“How are we going to unlock the mysteries of the brain and take that next step of discovery? What are we going to be talking about in the next decade?”

That was the question posed by Guy McKhann, MD, a neurosurgeon at Columbia University Medical Center and the moderator of an event organized as part of the 2017 World Science Festival. The event, a salon entitled “Engineering the Brain: Deploying A New Neural Toolkit,” brought together four researchers including Zuckerman Institute Principal Investigator Elizabeth Hillman, PhD, who shared their thoughts and their vision for how technology is transforming neuroscience.

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May 22, 2017 — Every minute of every day, your body makes noise. You inhale and exhale. Your joints creak. Many of your own actions, generate sound, but thanks to your brain, you likely hear little of it. The brain’s ability to recognize and tune out sensory stimuli produced by the body’s own actions — to distinguish ‘self’ from ‘other’ — is a long recognized, yet poorly understood, biological phenomenon. In a study published today in Nature Neuroscience, Nathanial Sawtell, PhD, a principal investigator at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, has shed new light on how it works.

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April 27, 2017 — Columbia scientists have identified a gene that allows neurons that release serotonin — a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and emotions — to evenly spread their branches throughout the brain. Without this gene, these neuronal branches become entangled, leading to haphazard distribution of serotonin, and signs of depression in mice. These observations shed light on how precise neuronal wiring is critical to overall brain health, while also revealing a promising new area of focus for studying psychiatric disorders associated with serotonin imbalance — such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism. This research, which was led by Zuckerman Institute Principal Investigator Tom Maniatis, PhD, was published today in Science.

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April 4, 2017 — While there has been significant progress in the science of decision making, less is known about how the brain gathers the evidence it needs — and ignores what it doesn’t — to arrive at a decision. Jacqueline Gottlieb, PhD, a neuroscientist at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and associate professor of neuroscience at Columbia University Medical Center, studies attention and information seeking. Dr. Gottlieb has co-authored a new paper, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that for the first time identifies cells that control attention and encode the value of information; in other words, how relevant a piece of information is when making a decision. 

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