The Frontal Cortex

Archives for June, 2006

Was Freud a Prophet?

Mixing Memory posted an interesting reply to my “Gladwell is the New Freud” post. He argued that my “Freud bashing was just wrong”: For one, while Jonah attempts to criticize Gladwell for being too Freud-like in his discussion of the “adaptive unconscious” (another term for the “cognitive unconscious”), the very fact that contemporary psychologists have…

Plasticity and the Visual Cortex

It’s in every neuroscience textbook: the kitten that never saw with stereoscopic vision, because Hubel and Weisel sutured one of its eyes shut during the “critical period” of brain development. The moral, at least as I was taught it, was that plasticity has limits. After infancy, our brain begins to harden into shape. If you…

The Smart Car

According to the Wall Street Journal, DaimlerChrysler is going to announce this week that it is introducing the Smart car into the U.S. market. For those who don’t know, the Smart car is an incredibly tiny line of cars that get excellent gas mileage and are targeted at urban dwellers. In Paris, for example, Smart…

Gladwell and Freud Again

My post comparing Gladwell and Freud seemed to provoke a few defenses. Dave Munger over at Cognitive Daily offered a guarded defense of Gladwell, while Mixing Memory offered a defense of Freud. I’ll respond to Cognitive Daily first. Here is Dave on me on Gladwell: Jonah’s problem with Gladwell’s method is that Gladwell doesn’t parse…

Religion and Reason

Today’s rumination on faith and fundamentalism by Edward Rothstein in the NY Times left me cold. In the process of reviewing Bill Moyer’s new program on “religion and reason,” Rothstein rejects the idea that fundamentalism, violence and religious faith are especially intertwined. He goes on to suggest that Colin McGinn’s “proselytizing for wind-surfing” is somehow…

Comment of the Day

This comment was in response to my earlier post which argued that researchers should try to discover the genetic causes of mental illness instead of trying to decipher intelligence. The commenter makes some excellent points, although I still believe that untangling the (incredibly) complicated genetic underpinnings of mental illness has far more social value than…

Toyota

My next article for Seed will talk briefly about Toyota and some of the reasons for its astonishing success in one of the most competitive industries in the world. But I thought it was worth highlighting a quote from the former chairman of Toyota, Hiroshi Okuda, who stepped down yesterday. “I do not view efforts…

String Theory Backlash

Sharon Begley has an interesting column today in the WSJ on the growing chorus of voices aiming to discredit string theory. String theory isn’t any more wrong than preons, twistor theory, dynamical triangulations, or other physics fads. But in those cases, physicists saw the writing on the wall and moved on. Not so in string…

A Science-Savvy Candidate?

The murmurs are growing louder…Will Al Gore be the first presidential candidate to launch a campaign based on a scientific issue? Here is Marty Peretz: The issues Gore has tended to are issues on which he is truly expert…He is not afraid of science and technology because he knows science and technology. It seems to…

Prions and Future Epidemics

Considering that I’ve eaten my fair share of British beef (I lived in England for a few years, and had a soft spot for the hamburgers at my local gastropub), this study was not welcome news. Here is the NY Times nut graf: The long lives that some former cannibals enjoy before succumbing to a…