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October 5, 2016 — Zuckerman Institute Principal Investigator Daphna Shohamy, PhD, and her team have uncovered a unique feature of the adolescent brain that enriches teens’ ability to learn and form memories: the coordinated activity of two distinct brain regions. This observation, which stands in contrast to the adult brain, may be related to teens’ oft-derided affinity for reward-seeking behavior. These findings suggest that such behavior is not necessarily detrimental, but instead may be a critical feature of adolescence and the maturing brain.

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October 4, 2016 — Schizophrenia affects millions of people worldwide, and yet we understand so little about the disease. Joseph Gogos, MD, PhD, a neuroscientist at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and a professor at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) studies schizophrenia’s biological origins. Dr. Gogos has co-authored a new paper, published today in Cell Reports, that sheds light on how a genetic change alters healthy brain function in a mouse model of schizophrenia.

We spoke with Dr. Gogos about what his latest research has revealed, what it could mean for the many people suffering from the disease, and whether it could point to new pharmacological treatments.

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October 3, 2016 — Columbia scientists have developed a new mathematical model that helps to explain how the human brain’s biological complexity allows it to lay down new memories without wiping out old ones — illustrating how the brain maintains the fidelity of memories for years, decades or even a lifetime. This model, developed in the laboratory of Zuckerman Institute Principal Investigator Stefano Fusi, PhD, could help neuroscientists design more targeted studies of memory, and also spur advances in neuromorphic hardware — powerful computing systems inspired by the human brain.

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September 22, 2016 — When Stavros Lomvardas, PhD, was a graduate student, he did not set out to study the brain. He was fascinated by an even more fundamental aspect of biology: what makes one cell different from the next. This fascination led him to study the class of brain cells that give us our sense of smell, olfactory neurons. He investigates the genes that generate different types of olfactory neurons and give us the power to parse billions of different scents. In just a few years, Dr. Lomvardas’ research has already provided new insights into the organization and structure of our olfactory system. His work has also caught the attention of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), which today announced that Dr. Lomvardas is among the newest members of their Faculty Scholars Program.

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September 19, 2016 — To say that evolution is complex would be an understatement. But every once in a while, it can also be elegant in its simplicity. In a study published this June in Neuron, Zuckerman Institute Principal Investigator Franck Polleux, PhD, and colleagues described a stunning example of human evolution — one that may have guided the development of the human brain.

We spoke with Dr. Polleux, the paper’s co-senior author, about his discovery.

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