The Resilient Brain

A brain alive with energy

Photo illustration by Mark Riechers. Original images by Alina Grubnyak, Steve Johnson, Robina Weermeijer (CC0).

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October 10, 2020

New experiences actually rewire the brain. So after all we’ve been through this year, you have to wonder — are we different? We consider the "COVID brain" from the perspective of both neuroscience and the arts. Also, we go to Cavendish, Vermont to hear the remarkable story of Phineas Gage, the railroad worker whose traumatic brain injury changed the history of neuroscience.

Phineas Gage
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In 1848 Phineas Gage suffered a gruesome accident. BIasting through rock to build a new railroad in Vermont, an explosion sent a 3-foot, 13-pound iron rod straight through his skull. Remarkably, Gage lived, but brain science changed forever.

Brain activity

After months of isolation, the COVID-19 lockdown is rewiring your brain. Neuroscientist David Eagleman says our brains are continually in flux, responding to the surrounding world. And the silver lining of coronavirus? It's probably boosting your creativity.

neon brain

Writers are used to working in isolation. So how are they responding to the COVID-19 lockdown? Ilan Stavans has edited an anthology of international writing to consider the question. Stavans himself says the pandemic has liberated him as a writer.

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October 10, 2020
Writer and literary scholar
Last modified: 
October 26, 2020