TST for TBT!

I was recently reminded of The Saddest Trumpeter (TST), and thought, why not have a little Throwback Thursday?
The Saddest Trumpeter started making appearances near the end of my tenure on Monroe Street. While we mere mortals basked in the sun, TST reminded us of the tragedies of modern life. Is TST a brilliant but bitter musician with a perverse sense of humor? Mourning a lost love or rejected dissertation? Trying to recreate the saxophone sequence from Sesame Street and somehow managing to make it worse? Whatever the story, TST made me laugh, and I hope you will also enjoy this overdue Eugene Update.

Note: the video is horrible, but you get the idea.

Diet and Memory: Cocoa-derived flavonoids improve hippocampal function in older adults

1) eat more chocolate & berries
2) I feel sorry for the group that had to go without for weeks

Brain States

The hippocampus is an hugely important structure.  Small in size and buried in the medial temporal lobe, it packs an oversize punch. When it starts to decline as we age, certain facts may become difficult to recall. When inputs to the structure are strangled, Alzheimer’s Disease is a likely outcome. And if it is totally removed, as it was for Henry Molaison in a 1950’s attempt to cure his epilepsy, the brain is no longer able to form new memories.


Just as a country can be divided into states, the hippocampus can be divided into regions. One of these, the dentate gyrus (or DG), shows the most consistent  changes as we age.  Inspired by a study done on mice in which ingestion of epicatechin, a molecule derived from cocoa solids, increased the branching of neurons in the DG, Adam Brickman and his colleagues in  Scott Small’s lab at Columbia University decided…

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Russian woods = Eugene jam night!

This is one of the most amazing collections of Hippie Dances I have ever seen. And it’s not even in Eugene! I now have so much fodder for the next time I’m feeling uncomfortable on the dancefloor.

The girl in the blue shirt is blowing my mind. She combines some of my favorite things about hippie dances: the unbridled, ridiculous joy, the confounding flailing (measuring imaginary fabric?), but she threw some sort of 1960s washing machine showcase modeling. The person who filmed this is my new hero. They have brought so much good to my life tonight!

When We’re In Sync, So Are Our Brains

Warm fuzzies?

Brain States

We all know those moments. The electrifying seconds when the home team makes a goal, or bride says her vows, or the presidential favorite wins the election. The moments when an entire room full of people is feeling exactly the same way, at exactly the same time, because they share a common perspective.

The emotion runs high because everyone is riding the same roller coaster of events, each new twist and turn causing fresh reactions.   Our emotions are jerked like rag dolls.  The result looks so synchronized, it could be choreographed.

When we are all cheering for the same goal, both our bodies and our minds become synchronized.  You throw your hands up at the same time as the rest of the stadium, and your brains are also doing the same thing. In each head, the visual cortex is processing the game, the motor cortex is holding up the arms, and…

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UO update!

Halfway back to lab from a yummy greasy feast at Sweet Basil, we noticed a man running down the sidewalk with his arms out, tipping this way and that way, airplane style. When he neared us, he emitted some nonsense, then, as passing, said, “It’s okay to smile!” We smiled, and behind us we heard, “Which way’m I flying?” as he drifted off into the sunset.