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Issue 3—Spring 2022


Leading the Grey Matters Journal at Columbia University (GMCU) has been the cardinal privilege of my college experience. It is difficult to believe that my final semester is ending.


In October of 2020, the journal was only an idea, inspired by a love for neuroscience and a passion for science communication. By January 2021, the organization had amassed a team of over 100 people, all united in their drive to democratize science. Together, we brought the notion of an undergraduate-run, mentorship-based, accessible, and interdisciplinary neuroscience publication to fruition with our first issue in April of 2021.


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Spring and Fall 2021 publications were produced remotely, with members joining editing sessions from Los Angeles to Dublin. The Spring 2022 publication is the first to be constructed via face-to-face collaboration. We hope this added sense of camaraderie within the team is palpable in the pages that follow.


As we have built an audience and carved out a space for ourselves on campus, we have also expanded the breadth of our work. We established a podcast to facilitate dialogue between undergraduates and researchers across disciplines at Columbia. In this issue, we contribute to discussions of significant gravity, including the ethical implications of incorporating neuroscience into the courtroom in “The Brain Takes the Stand,” as well as the possible long-term effects of COVID-19 infection on the nervous system in “More Than a Respiratory Infection.” GMCU has served the Columbia and New York City communities by engaging individuals in this meaningful scientific discourse.


The truest testament to the value of a student organization is whether it outlives its founders’ graduation. I do not doubt that, equipped with the collective brainpower, creativity, and zeal of our members, GMCU will continue to thrive. I look forward to seeing authors, editors, and illustrators step into leadership positions and innovate the publication in ways that we, as its founders, could never have imagined. The future of GMCU is in excellent hands.


I owe my thanks to Barnard’s Department of Neuroscience & Behavior, which has been extraordinarily supportive of this endeavor from the beginning. I am grateful to all our members, past and present, for not only joining us in our vision for an accessible neuroscience journal but also for inspiring us and shaping GMCU into what it is today. Most importantly, I want to thank you—the reader—for giving our beloved publication a purpose. I could not be prouder to present Issue 3 of the Grey Matters Journal at Columbia University. 


With gratitude,



Rochelle Vayntrub 


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Dear Reader,


Thank you for picking up this copy of Grey Matters Journal at Columbia University! Whether you happened upon this in a science department office or you are a supporter of someone on the team, I hope you’ll appreciate the tremendous amount of work put into this issue.


This journal truly would not be a success without the help of its contributors. From first year undergraduates to seasoned doctoral students, countless people have come together to ensure the highest standards of scientific accuracy, creativity, and interdisciplinary collaboration. While our goal was simple — to reframe complex neuroscientific information into a more accessible medium — the effort these writers, editors, and illustrators have invested has been titanic. With this effort has also come a tremendous diversity of interests which has made this issue particularly compelling. From “Why Does the Word Shoulder Taste Like Marmalade?” to “You Are Finding This Article Very Interesting . . . ” our articles delve into the depths of sensory processing and resurface with newfound curiosity, vying to understand the many distortions of consciousness and the emergent brain. Paired with such articles are a series of illustrations that boggle the mind and animate the words on the page, transplanting neuroscience into an artistic dimension, both insightful and enchanting.


Catalan Artist, Joan Miró says that, “more important than a work of art itself is what it will sow. Art can die, a painting can disappear. What counts is the seed.” It is in this way that we can begin to see our journal not only as a work of art but as an investment in the future – a community of students who are captivated by the brain and eager to transform how neuroscience is communicated.


And to my team: I would like to end by saying that it has been the honor of my life to have helped envision and lead the Grey Matters Journal at Columbia University. Although the time has come for me to begin a new journey, I am confident in the legacy of this organization and its truly unlimited potential. I can not wait to see where Grey Matters CU goes from here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. 


Yours truly,

Rebeccah Yeh


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