Neural networks of neural networks

Credit: brentsview under CC BY-NC 2.0

Brains receive input from the outside world, their neurons do something to that input, and create an output. That output may be a thought (I want curry for dinner); it may be an action (make curry); it may be a change in mood (yay curry!). Whatever the output, that “something”…


The worm turns against genetic determinism

Not this kind of worm. (A Dune sandworm plushy. Credit: Reddit/Slime-Boss).

There’s a strangely persistent idea that your genes are the blueprint for your brain. Robert Plomin even called his book about the genetic influence on the mind “Blueprint”. But a blueprint is a detailed one-to-one schematic of what will be constructed. Genes are not that. Self-evidently not. For example, people…


What the pandemic revealed about scientific publishing

Image: athree23/Pixabay

I was reading my umpteenth news story about Covid-19 science, a story about the latest research into how to make indoor spaces safe from infection, about whether cleaning surfaces or changing the air was more important. And it was bothering me. Not because it was dull (which, of course, it…


Why we can’t put your mind in the machine

Credit: Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Immortality awaits. As you draw your dying breath, we will inject a preservative into your brain that will fix in place every one of the trillion or so connections between your 86 billion neurons. We will then trace those wires, building the complete map of your brain’s connections, your “connectome”…


It’s how your brain works, after all

Credit: Princeton University Press

Neurons. Over the deep time of Earth’s history, these tiny bags of chemicals have joined forces, swarming together in gargantuan numbers, all to make a brain. In cahoots, these neurons do everything you do: sense, think, move; sleep, dream, and cogitate. Eat cake. Watch telly. …


Hi everyone,

as it’s our first newsletter, I just wanted to say a big thank you to you all for following us at The Spike on Medium.

I’m so excited! Today sees the launch of my new book “The Spike: An Epic Journey Through the Brain in 2.1 Seconds” from…


A Dialogue

Credit: Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Have you heard? Scientists at Rockefeller University have just announced they can record one million individual neurons in the cortex of a mouse — at the same time!

Wow, one million. Is that a lot?

We got very excited about being able to record 10,000 neurons in the mouse brain


My new book about your life in spikes

Credit: Princeton University Press

Your life is lived in spikes. Your brain uses electricity to communicate, its neurons talking to each other by sending tiny pulses of voltage down a gossamer thin cable. We neuroscientists call those pulses “spikes”. …


That Was The Year That Was

Credit: Pixabay

It seems we are cursed to live in interesting times. A year starting with the threat of conflict, Donald Trump authorising the assassination of the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, Iran retaliating with rocket attacks on US military bases, and then tragically shooting down an airplane of its own citizens by…


The world of scientific publishing is unravelling fast

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Psst, keep it to yourself, but I’ve got a one-time, never-to-be-repeated deal to offer you: give me several thousand dollars and I will write an illogical, error-strewn rant about the deep flaws of your life’s work, in prose that was either written at midnight under the influence of a triple…

Mark Humphries

Theorist & neuroscientist. Writing at the intersection of neurons, data science, and AI. Author of “The Spike: An Epic Journey Through the Brain in 2.1 Seconds”

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