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19th February
written by Steph
I don't normally use this blog to talk about my work - in fact, I often tend to specifically avoid talking about it, in part because the day-to-day rigors of a grad student don't exactly make for fun reading, but also because I like to keep that part of my life separate.  Sort of a "never the twain shall meet kind of deal"... only now, if you'll forgive me, I shall briefly allow for the twain to meet. For the past, oh, year and half, my advisor and I have been working on a project involving fMRI decoding methods (i.e., putting people in fMRI scanners and then trying to "read out"/categorize the subsequent brain activity as one of two things) and visual working memory (i.e., remembering what something looks like/visual information about an object even when it is no longer right in front of your face).  We've been trying to get this study published since August 2008, and it has finally come out!  This would be reason enough to celebrate, but to make the icing on the cake doubly sweet, not only am I first author on the study, but it wound up being published in the scientific journal, Nature (I say "wound up", as though it weren't a really exhausting and difficult process that involved huge amounts of works, and control experiments run and analyzed at the speed of light (all conducted by yours truly))!  For those of you in the scientific know, I need not elaborate, but for those of you who aren't: it's a big deal!  Nature is just about the best journal one can publish in (the alternative being, Science), so I'm really pleased. So far the article is just available online on Nature's website, but for those of you without institutional subscriptions to that magazine, only the abstract is available.  BUT, if you're interested, stories about the findings from our paper have been picked up by several popular press news sources, two of which you can read here and here (there are others, but I've avoided ones that fail to mention me (because I'm vain...), or ones that erroneously mention me, such as a slew of UK articles that have already conferred me my PhD (this is why you must always take what you read in the media with a grain of salt!)... and I've also not linked to any of the foreign language press).  I'm probably most excited about the second article, simply because I provided the bulk of the interview material for that one (as opposed to letting my advisor field the majority of the other interviews).  Lo and behold, I think I actually come across sounding quite smart.  Oh, and I must of course thank Tony for taking the lovely headshot of me that graces the first article! I will probably post once again when the article is printed in the physical print journal, but for now, I hope you'll excuse this small indulgence.  I suppose from now on, when Tony and I fight, I can no longer fall back on the old standard, "Well, I'm not a mind reader!"  😉 We now return you to your regular scheduled programming.


  1. 02/19/2009

    I am so excited for you! Congratulations! I am adding the link to my blog and Facebook page. I didn’t understand one word of the articles, but I’m so proud. :). Woohoo!

  2. 02/19/2009

    Thanks! I’m not sure that the original source material would be easier to understand, but our original article actually has figures showing our results and the paradigm we used, which might be helpful… then again, maybe not! That was actually my biggest fear when I was talking to any reporters – that I wouldn’t be able to articulate the findings (or what we did) in a way that would make sense to any non-experts. In the end, I tried my best, and I think I did all right!

  3. taryn

    “Tooting my own horn” = DIRTY!!!

    [i felt this need to be put out there, to compensate for your own very vocal remonstrance over the you-know-what for the Alias party…]

    Also: CONGRATS! 🙂

  4. 02/19/2009

    Wow, congratulations, Steph!! That’s really wonderful. I didn’t understand the details but I think just the general idea. It’s very interesting, actually, even being a non-scientific person. It reminded me of this book, The Memory Artists, by Jeffrey Moore. And love the pic, btw. 🙂

  5. 02/19/2009

    Thanks for the kind words. I doubt anyone is interested in clarifications and details, but of course, if you are, ask away and I will try to explain!
    Taryn, I suppose “tooting one’s own horn” is the new “please, trim my wig!” 😉
    Claire, I haven’t heard about The Memory Artists… I will now have to go and look it up post haste! And I’m glad you liked the picture! I was worried it would look like a cheesy mall glamor photo, but of course Tony steered me right!

  6. 02/20/2009

    A huge congratulations to you! It is so very cool for you to be noticed and lauded after all the hard work you have put into this study. Well done! I also think the picture is very becoming.

  7. 02/20/2009

    Thanks, zibilee! Honestly, the influx of emails from people in the media or the scientific community is a little bit overwhelming at times! I now completely understand how certain authors could become recluses… 😉

  8. Simona

    Those articles are soooooooo awesome! Congrats again, Steph!

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