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Kay Tye improvises to understand our inner lives

Tweaking neurons in lab animals could help reveal what makes us individuals

By
1:46pm, October 4, 2017
Kay Tye

BRAINTEASER  “How do we actually ground the mind in the brain?” is a key question that drives Kay Tye’s research.

Kay Tye, 36
Neuroscientist
MIT

Here are some of the things Kay Tye relishes: break dancing, rock-climbing, snowboarding, poker, raising her young daughter and son. These adrenaline-fueled activities all require basic skills. But true mastery — and the joy Tye finds in them — comes from improvisation. She boldly steps into a void, a realm where she has to riff, and trusts that a flash of insight will lead the way out.

As a 36-year-old neuroscientist studying how the brain creates experiences, Tye brings this mix of fearlessness and creativity to her lab, where it’s a key ingredient to her success. “Kay always finds this interesting twist,” says Leslie Vosshall, a molecular neurobiologist at Rockefeller

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