Written by Zachary Jordan '21
In the 13th century, merchant Marco Polo became famous for popularizing the Silk Road, consequently helping to vitalize a rich trading route that would connect and forever change Eastern and Western cultures. Less well known is his 7 year stop-over in Afghanistan. He had contracted debilitating tuberculosis, and hoped that the clean, fresh air of the Middle East would help him to heal. Marco got more than he bargained for when he began using opiates to help manage the pain, and his short recovery stay turned into a full blown battle with addiction.
Written by Neha Mukherjee
Edited by Felix Green, PhD
by Casey Chan '23
Edited by Francesca Di Cristofano ‘23
We hear about natural disasters in the news every so often without giving them too much thought. But what many don’t realize is that as environmental justice is becoming a buzzword in politics, the relevance of these devastating events is on the rise too.
by Ziwen Zhou '23
Edited by Ishaani Khatri '21
The general public has long had a complex relationship with artificial intelligence, or AI. Through iconic cinematic franchises such as The Matrix and The Terminator, we’ve recoiled in fear at the fantastically malevolent machines in all their visceral detail. We’ve marveled at how far robots have come to imitating human mannerisms and patterns. And in more modern times, we’ve worried about the effect automation will have on future employment prospects.
But what if the continued evolution and advancement of AI takes a completely divergent path? Recent breakthroughs in deep learning and neural networking have led to a monumental redefinition of the conventional limits and possibilities of AI, particularly with the unprecedented and wholly unexpected successes of Carnegie Mellon’s poker-playing bots Libratus and Pluribus.
by Ethan Thio '22
Edited by Elana Balch '21.5
Climate deniers have weaponized the unknown in an effort to discredit climate change. Opponents of climate legislation sow doubt and “manufacture uncertainty” to create the perception that the science is unclear and the potential effects of climate change are uncertain (Dryzek 146). This uncertainty is a shield, because deniers can argue that the unknown realities of climate change make climate change more benign than scientists and advocates believe. In truth, this line of reasoning is flawed because in many cases, the once-unknown only bolsters the scientific consensus. In an article published in Nature Communications, researchers analyzed the Mekong Delta, an area of land made of river sediment deposit in Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is heavily populated, and a chief concern is the effect of climate change on the lives and livelihoods of those living there. The Mekong Delta, along with other low elevation areas near bodies of water, are especially vulnerable to sea level rises associated with climate change, and assessing and mitigating these risks are critical to protect the inhabitants of these regions.
by Adin Richards '23
Edited by Maximilian Bonnici - MS '20
Equatorial Africa is one of the world’s fastest growing regions, but it is also among the most vulnerable to climate change. Vital information for its farmers, consumers, and policy makers, and indeed for the global community, may lie in … lake sediments and computer models? The connection seems far from direct, but to a community researchers in the field of paleoclimatology, knowledge of how our world is responding to environmental change can be found in subtle clues to our past, chronicled in ancient deposits and mapped through new climate simulations.
By Malika Ramani ’21
Edited by Tiffany Lin ‘21
Optimism often prevails as the supposedly superior approach to life; indeed, nearly everyone has heard the phrase “Be positive!” Studies correlating optimism with definitive health outcomes, however, considerably raise the stakes when it comes to determining how beneficial it is to adopt and maintain a positive mentality, as demonstrated by a recent study that links optimism with significantly lower cardiovascular risks.
Written by Erin Walden
Edited by Jinshi Zheng
By: Melinda Li
Edited by: Sophia Collis
When hearing about hippotherapy for the first time, most are confused as the image of a semiaquatic, large-tusked animal pops into mind. In actuality, the term stems from the Greek word “hippos” meaning “horse,” and falls under a broader category of horse-assisted therapy. Through this unconventional treatment method, patients interact with horses to promote physical and mental health.
Five-year-old George Palmer is one of the many patients who has benefited from hippotherapy. Diagnosed with autism at age three, George is working on improving his balance, motor, and communication skills through horseback riding sessions. His father David says that George has become more vocal over the past six months of training, and remarks that: “It’s pretty wonderful just to see him enjoying himself, developing and growing” (1).
In a typical hippotherapy session, the patient rides horseback alongside a team of instructors, a therapist, and a horse trainer. When walking, the horse’s pelvis has a 3-axial movement pattern just as humans do, and this rhythmic pattern provides sensory feedback to the patient’s brain (2). During a typical 15-20 minute session, this translates to 1,500-2,000 neuromotor inputs to the patient (3). Research has shown that this neural activation encourages posture and fine motor control, balance, core body connection, as well as improving speech, cognition, and language (2).
The applications of hippotherapy extend far beyond autism to a broad range of physical and mental disabilities. A study conducted by Vermöhlen et al. in 2017 saw significant improvements in balance, fatigue, spasticity, and quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients (4), while a 2016 study by Hsieh et al. showed major enhancements in mobility of joint functions and muscle tone functions in child patients with cerebral palsy (5). Other applications of hippotherapy include the treatment of patients with, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and those who have suffered from a stroke.
There is still a lot to learn about the effectiveness and mechanisms of hippotherapy. Even so, the treatment has gained significant attention and validation by members of the healthcare community, who are excited by its promise for the future of physical and occupational therapy.
5-year-old George Palmer receives hippotherapy horseback riding sessions at Myrtle Beach Therapeutic Riding and Vaulting Club in Loris, South Carolina. (Image by Jason Lee for Myrtle Beach Sun News)
 Strong, Hannah. “'It's Pretty Wonderful': How Riding Horses Is Helping Kids with Special Needs in Loris.” Myrtle Beach Online. Myrtle Beach Sun News, September 25, 2019. http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article235182512.html.
 Koca, Tuba Tulay. “What Is Hippotherapy? The Indications and Effectiveness of Hippotherapy.” Northern Clinics of Istanbul, January 15, 2016. https://doi.org/10.14744/nci.2016.71601.
 “What Is Hippotherapy?: American Hippotherapy Association.” American Hippotherapy Association Rebuild. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://americanhippotherapyassociation.org/what-is-hippotherapy/.
 Vermöhlen, Vanessa, Petra Schiller, Sabine Schickendantz, Marion Drache, Sabine Hussack, Andreas Gerber-Grote, and Dieter Pöhlau. “Hippotherapy for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial (MS-HIPPO).” Multiple Sclerosis Journal 24, no. 10 (March 2017): 1375–82. https://doi.org/10.1177/1352458517721354.
 Hsieh, Yueh-Ling, Chen-Chia Yang, Shih-Heng Sun, Shu-Ya Chan, Tze-Hsuan Wang, and Hong-Ji Luo. “Effects of Hippotherapy on Body Functions, Activities and Participation in Children with Cerebral Palsy Based on ICF-CY Assessments.” Disability and Rehabilitation 39, no. 17 (2016): 1703–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2016.1207108.
By: Maya Mazumder
Edited by: Priya Gajjar
Lucid dreaming is an aspect of sleeping that continues to puzzle neuroscientists. Lucid dreaming, or gaining consciousness of the fact that one is dreaming, is an area of research with exciting potential applications. While lucid dreaming has been recognized in the public consciousness since antiquity, researchers have only recently begun to understand the complex processes that trigger and differentiate lucid dreams from normal dreams. In the past several decades, new technology, such as the electrooculogram (EOG) and fMRI, has allowed neuroscientists to identify a biological basis for lucid dreams and explore their characteristics further. A recent compilation of studies on the neuroscience of lucid dreaming, published in the Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience, provides an excellent overview of contemporary understanding and future directions for research into the phenomena. 
In particular, lucid dreaming offers a unique opportunity to understand higher orders of consciousness (consciousness beyond the present that allows for unique self reflection, regulation, and planning). This is an aspect of processing that is normally lost during dreams, but appears to be retained during lucid dreams. For most people, dreams consist of the “remembered present,” or a consciousness that only extends to the moment they are in, whereas during lucid dreams people appear to be able to think beyond the present moment and engage in metacognition. Due to this apparent shift in thought, researchers are able to document significant differences in brain activity during normal and lucid dreaming in order to find cortical areas associated with higher consciousness.
In particular, by using a combination of EEG, PET, and fMRIs to track brain activity during sleep and wake, studies indicate that areas in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex are more active during lucid dreams than normal REM sleep, and additionally that people who report more frequent lucid dreams possess more grey matter, or neuronal cells, in these same areas.  Both of these pieces of evidence support the idea that cognitive processes associated with the prefrontal cortex are at work during lucid dreaming. Interestingly, these areas of the cortex have been implicated in processes like appraising one’s thoughts or feelings, and other functions that are generally lost in dreams. Further exploration of brain activity in these cortical areas has the potential for greater understanding of the complicated functions of these areas.
Additionally, physiological data on lucid dreaming could potentially be used to investigate pharmacological approaches to trigger lucid dreams, possibly for treatment of various psychological disorders, especially PTSD and chronic nightmares.  Several recent studies have found that by administering a drug that increases access to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, people have an increased likelihood of experiencing a lucid dream. For someone suffering from PTSD who consistently experiences intense flashbacks during dreams, being able to gain conscious control and change the narrative of a dream has the potential to reduce emotional distress. Similarly, with further research into activating the metacognitive processes associated with lucid dreaming, some neuroscientists see the potential to understand and treat psychosis, as those same functions are often lost during a psychotic experience. The applications for research into lucid dreaming is incredibly broad, and many ideas have yet to even be explored in depth.
 Benjamin Baird, Daniel Erlacher, Michael Czisch, Victor I. Spoormaker, Martin Dresler,
Chapter 19 - Consciousness and Meta-Consciousness During Sleep,
Editor(s): Hans C. Dringenberg, Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience, Elsevier, Volume 30, 2019, Pages 283-295, ISSN 1569-7339, ISBN 9780128137437, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-813743-7.00019-0.
Image from: Filevich et. al, 2015