Thank you for “choosing” to read Encephalon #44 here at Cognitive Daily. Every two weeks, Encephalon “selects” the best psychology and neuroscience blog posts from around the blogosphere, giving readers the chance to “decide” which ones they’d like to investigate further.
Unfortunately for all those involved, those “decisions” very likely weren’t carried out through the “deciders'” own volition, but instead were precipitated through the confluence of genetic inheritance and circumstance.
Consider this post from Neuroanthropology, for example, which dissects a forthcoming publication in Nature Neuroscience indicating that brain activity predicting a decision occurs prior to the actual decision. Do we decide, or do our brains decide for us? If your predetermined fate moves you to read this post, you will find out.
Suppose we don’t have free will and in fact are controlled by our brains. Then if the Department of Defense designs brain-controlled weapons, then who’s really going to war — us or our brains? Those so fated can entertain this question at Mind Hacks.
But once we start to believe that we have no free will, won’t that, too, affect our actions? If coincidence leads you to Cognitive Daily, you can find the answer.
I wasn’t predestined to understand this post, but since it includes the word “determinism,” I think it might also have something to do with the free-will/determinism issue. Perhaps your nature/nurture combo made you better-equipped to understand Jonathan Pratt’s point. If so, I suggest you read the post.
Except to the extent that everything you do is a manifestation of your free will (or predetermined behavior), the remaining posts in this edition of Encephalon have nothing to do with the free will / determinism debate. Undaunted, I have collected them below:
If you “want” to know about how to sex a chick or ship your brain, visit Of Two Minds.
But there are other things we crave besides sex. For example, money, chocolate, and justice. If you find your self irresistably drawn to Neuroanthroplogy, don’t let me stop you.
Maybe you just need to get some work done. If the chocolate doesn’t do it for you, how about some brain-enhancing drugs? Not Exactly Rocket Science tells you how they work.
If the drugs aren’t helping you meet “your” goals, perhaps what you need is a few extra neurons. Sharpbrains shows you how to put them to work. Meanwhile, Neuroscientifically Challenged discusses the role of neurogenesis in treating depression. So does The Mouse Trap.
If this isn’t enough expert information for you, you might check out Alvaro’s interviews with more than 15 neuroscientists about how to improve brain fitness.
How did human brains get smart enough to think about how to make themselves smarter? This post explores the evolution of basic math in monkeys.
But brains aren’t always so on top of things. Sometimes things get downright depressing. Despite the fact that it’s such a downer, several bloggers “chose” to cover PTSD this week: Channel N has a video about PTSD, and another one about PTSD with TBI. Lindsey Kay, meanwhile, uses her words to discuss Genetic Susceptibility to PTSD.
Sometimes, however, words may not be the best way to communicate. Brains on Purpose explains.
Finally, some arguments free-will and determinism rely on “God” as the determiner or granter of free will. But what if God him/her/itself is merely an artifact of the brain’s social biases? Sandy G makes the case that God is just a type I error.
That’s it for this edition of Encephalon. If you’re “inclined,” you can submit suggestions for the next edition to encephalon.host — @ — gmail — . — com (remove dashes). Encephalon has been predestined to appear next at PodBlack Blog, on May 12.
P.S.: If you liked my use of scare quotes in this post, you’ll “love” The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.