Comparing human and machine consciousness is a complex problem that involves intimate knowledge of neuroscience, physics, programming, philosophy. So how can we understand and contextualize this problem in our modern world? We try to understand machines as best we can, and the machines try (?) to understand us. They collect and process our data - and we, in turn, wonder: is my phone thinking what I am thinking?
Empiricist League will help us figure out.
MDMA shepherds serotonin
Dr. Boris Heifets commissioned this image for a talk at Psychedelic Science conference. I created characters based on the chemical structures of MDMA and serotonin, highlighting their structural similarities. I used color and texture to point out the differences in cellular effects of the two compounds.
Synaptotagmin Brothers
Neurons release vesicles with dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters (here tomatoes) with precise timing enabled by a family of proteins called Synaptotagmins. Both Synaptotagmin 1 and 7 can trigger vesicle fusion. Synaptotagmin 1 (on the left) is embedded in the vesicle and is thought to reach out to the plasma membrane with its hydrophobic residues. Synaptotagmin 7 (on the right) is likely threaded through the plasma membrane and reaches out to the vesicular membrane. It has been shown that increasing hydrophobicity of a few residues on Synaptotagmin 1 improves vesicle fusion. In my thesis work, I have looked at such effects on Synaptotagmin 7. Increased hydrophobicity here is represented as a glove shaped as an aromatic ring, such as is a part of a hydrophobic amino acid Tryptophan.
It turns out our DNA harbors ancient viral DNA that enables us to do very human things. For example, these old viruses are thought to have given rise to the machinery that enables the human fetus to attach to the mother's uterus. Fiorella Grandi wrote a piece about these viruses for Dish on Science, a Stanford science blog. I illustrated the piece for her! In this piece, I created a sea of DNA. I used green to outline viral DNA amongst the remaining human (pink) DNA. This green viral DNA feeds into the baby human.
Reading between the bars
A graphical summary for a lay summary of a paper by Zacks and Tversky that I wrote for the Stanford Neuroblog.
RIM-BP the Knot Tyer
This is a cover I made for a paper about a role of one protein in control of neurotransmitter release. Here the protein, Boy, ties his tomato-looking, neurotransmitter-filled vesicle to the calcium channel. This prepares the vesicles for release; or ripens it, you could say.
Glove the Scientist in his brief limelight
A study that Amgen did a few years ago showed that only 10% of published results can be reproduced. Glove's work is hard, his fame is short-lived, his results are gold - or not. Yet he carries on, cycles through his research.
We don't always do what we expect. Cerebellum is the part of the brain that helps us analyze just how close we've gotten to what we wanted to do. It receives information about temporal precision from an area called Inferior Olive - and about body coordinates (proprioception) from other brain areas. These two streams of information are integrated by Purkinje cells (they look like beautiful trees under a microscope). This piece is my work in progress, and I am building this pathway all the way up to the motor cortex.
Tobira's place in the competitive NASH landscape
To summarize existing information about current clinical trials in the field of NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis), I created this diagram for a presentation to a team of investment analysts and for an online article we published.