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Issue 7—Spring 2024


Dear Reader,

I am so excited that you have picked up, clicked on, or stumbled across this issue of Grey Matters. The publication of this issue, our seventh, signifies a major stepping-stone in the trajectory of Grey Matters CU. The staff graduating this year, in May 2024, consists of the last students who were at Columbia when Grey Matters took its baby steps in Spring 2021. I can’t help but experience an overwhelming sense of awe when I look around at the passionate community of neuroscience lovers that was born and realize that we have now published seven issues.

When I speak with the team here, there is a pervasive feeling of pride in our growth. Every member of the Grey Matters community over the past four years has not only contributed to the material on these pages but has dedicated their time to investing in the production of accessible and interdisciplinary science communication. While there will inevitably be growing pains, I urge future members to often return to this common goal. In the spirit of continual growth, we have designed this issue to mirror human development.

This issue illustrates the process of growing up by beginning with an article about nurturing your inner child through play and ending with an article about age-old folklore potentially rooted in neuropathology. Between these bookends are articles on the science of storytelling and the reason we have a visceral connection to the smell of mom’s banana bread. We also touch on the not-so-whimsical parts of growing up — the pressure of perfection and the potential for overstimulation in our digital world. In the middle of the issue, we hope to remind readers of the sheer beauty of the neurological systems that allow organisms to communicate. By understanding the innate ability to connect, we can strive to use our own unique capabilities as humans to create and identify with our communities.

As scientists, writers, editors, and thinkers who are passionate about academic accessibility, we have an obligation to foster an environment that values diverse perspectives. In fact, science would be grossly incomplete without the contributions of people from all over the world who think differently from each other. As we print issue after issue about the neuroscience of humanity, it is of the utmost importance that we acknowledge that being able to produce and publish these articles is a privilege in itself. We publish this issue against the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis resulting in the mobilization of many of our staff and peers as they advocate for academic freedom and the rights of people across the globe. At a time when empathy is needed the most, I sincerely hope that reading this issue will remind you of some common threads that we all share: listening to grandma’s stories, playing tag, and remembering past lovers by a whiff of their perfume. With mutual understanding, we will be able to continue to grow together. Working with GMCU has been the pleasure of my lifetime. Thank you.


Isabella Cannava

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