I am a 5th year graduate student in Dr. Joshua Brown’s Cognitive Control Lab within the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. My research uses a combination of neuroimaging (MRI) and computational modeling to better understand how people can form goals, execute behavioral sequences, and follow rules. Obviously, being a brain scientist isn’t for everybody. But we all perceive, act, plan, think, and feel, and the brain is the organ largely responsible for all that. In a way, we’ve grown accustomed to that fact, but to me it never ceases to be incredible, almost inconceivable. For this reason, I believe our developing understanding of the brain can touch a nerve of interest in everyone who has one, and that’s why I write.

Entries by Noah Zarr

Chemical Keys to Brain Function

According to both popular science and drug commercials, the brain is a mess of chemicals.  Imbalances in these chemicals are responsible for a variety of ailments from depression to addiction. However, there’s rarely any mention of how these chemicals are related to neural activity. For instance, why is dopamine often rewarding, and why is serotonin… Read more »

Catching Brainwaves

If your family is anything like mine, you have that one crazy uncle with his tin foil hat, purportedly to prevent the aliens from electromagnetically manipulating his brain or to prevent his precious brain waves from being read by the government. While few take such fears seriously, significant confusion persists regarding ‘brain waves.’ What are… Read more »

The Brain Science of Cognitive Control

Ever wonder how your brain knows exactly what to do to achieve the goal of acquiring a cup of coffee, even if you’ve just stumbled out of bed? You need to take a number of steps in the correct order, including putting in the filter, adding the water, adding the coffee and turning on the… Read more »