Suzana Herculano-Houzel

Why did it take me so long to realize I was autistic? Because I am autistic, duh

…and it’s all the more telling that it took me FOUR YEARS after my diagnosis to realize that the reason why I didn’t realize sooner that I was autistic was exactly because I was autistic. Let me explain. Autism is characterized by sensory hyper- OR hyposensitivities. Most commonly, the hypersensitivities are visual/auditory/haptic (fancy for “touch-related”)…...

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On how I found myself on the spectrum

Frankly, what made me discover that I was autistic – or “Aspie”, as I like to put it – was my seemingly ever-growing talent to piss off my then-husband. Unwittingly – without even trying. Actually, it seemed I could piss him off exactly by trying to not piss him off. My son had been reading…...

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If only more scientists were like Harry Jerison

I was nobody. I was this Brazilian woman who trained with nobody to be a quantitative neuroanatomist, who did this outrageous thing of turning brains into soup, and had come out of left field from counting neurons with her brain soup to claim that bigger brains were not necessarily made of more neurons; that larger…...

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Not a little dark: REALLY dark

We always hear that it’s important to sleep in the dark: “It’s so your eyes can really rest”, “it’s so your brain knows it’s night”, “it’s so your body can relax”. Silence is also important, for similar reasons: “to quiet the brain”. Hence the bedroom separated from the rest of the house, the electric lights…...

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I’m good, thanks.

Just heard this proposed Best Answer to the Genie question (make a wish, and it can’t be for infinite wishes): “I want to know the future”. I didn’t have to think twice to protest. I think that would be the SUCKIEST, most disheartening thing EVER. I don’t want to know that my efforts to do…...

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Why Aspies look at mouths

One of the common core traits of autism is atypical gaze direction during social interactions. In some, it is the looking away from the other person’s eyes during conversation. In others, it is quite the opposite: a fixed, sustained stare at the person’s eyes. Personally, I identify as the latter. I am fascinated by people,…...

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Travel Diaries – I’m the tourist attraction!

It wasn’t even seven o’clock when Bruno and I arrived in the village of Mahabalipuram (Bruno, being Bruno, had to be dragged out of bed by phone at 5:25, after confirming to our hostess ten times, at 11 the night before, that yes, he was sure we wanted to be picked up at 5:30 to…...

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Why brain soup?

I’ve been for 20 years now in the business of collecting brains from different species and turning them into soup to find out what they are made of – how many neurons, how many non-neuronal cells, and soon now how many of the latter are vasculature. Why? The short practical question is “because we didn’t…...

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Some have more neurons, others have fewer: Where to draw the line?

I just received an email from somebody who was concerned about how my research on numbers of neurons in cats and dogs (and so many other species…) has been portrayed in the media. Her points: so many reports of “sorry, cats, you’re dumb” might encourage people who mistreat and abuse their pets; along the same…...

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Stream of thought

I catch the subway at Penn Station, NY, to visit a neuroscientist friend before heading back home to Brazil, my hands occupied trying to keep the suitcases upright, my head distracted, floating from one loose thought to the next – when I notice the dark blue tiles on the wall of a station: 59th street…....

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