The human brain is constantly abuzz with electrical activity as brain cells, called neurons, respond to sensory input and give rise to the world we perceive. Six particular regions of the brain, called face patches, contain neurons that respond more to faces than to any other type of object. New research from Caltech shows how perturbations in these face cells alter perception, answering a longstanding question in cognitive science. [Caltech Press Release] 03.29.17

Lamprey are slimy, parasitic eel-like fish, one of only two existing species of vertebrates that have no jaw. While many would be repulsed by these creatures, lamprey are exciting to biologists because they are so primitive, retaining many characteristics similar to their ancient ancestors and thus offering answers to some of life's biggest evolutionary questions. Now, by studying the lamprey, Caltech researchers have discovered an unexpected mechanism for the evolution of the neurons of the peripheral nervous system—nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. [Caltech Press Release] 03.20.17

Fruit flies are capable of impressive aerial maneuvers, as is grudgingly acknowledged by anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to swat away one of the familiar kitchen pests. Interestingly, the flies perform these nimble evasive movements using only 12 flight muscles, each controlled by one brain cell, or neuron. In comparison, hummingbirds can produce almost identical aerial patterns but use 100 times more neurons per muscle. [Caltech Press Release] 01.26.17

Eyes, fragile but crucial for human and almost all other animal life, pose difficult challenges, both for basic research and for effective solutions to the medical problems that such research investigates. Caltech professors Yu-Chong Tai and Hyuck Choo work with students and postdocs along with distinguished University of Southern California (USC) faculty and medical professionals on a range of these challenges, using multidisciplinary approaches spanning nanotechnology, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, physics, optics, photonics, and optomechanical engineering. [Caltech Press Release] 01.03.17