The Frontal Cortex

Archives for July, 2006

Kinsley on Stem Cells

Just read it. Common sense wrapped in lucid prose is a powerful tool.

The Lure of Determinism

Sharon Begley has another wonderful column today in the WSJ. She focuses on the so called “violence gene” as an example of the hopelessly complicated relationship between genetics and real life. In the late 1980s, a number of men in several generations of a large Dutch family were found to carry a mutation in the…

Money Can’t Buy You Love

Money also can’t buy you happiness. It’s been reported before, but it’s always worth repeating: the rich aren’t happier than the rest of us. In the last issue of Science, a team of researchers (including Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman), reported that “The belief that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but mostly…

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg alleges that if global warming were an entirely natural phenomenon – as opposed to a man-made problem caused by greenhouse gases – then “the reluctance on the part of some on the right to fix the problem would evaporate.” This is a grand claim, and it’s worth noting that…

Much ink has been spilled about the recent paper in Science documenting empathy in mice. The experiment was rather simple. The scientists noticed that mice given a painful injection displayed increased writhing behavior (a reflexive response to pain) in the presence of cagemates who had also been injected. Furthermore, the writhing increased the longer the…

Shamu, Marriage and Behaviorism

This charming article, on Shamu, positive reinforcement, and the malleability of men, has been one of the NY Times’ most emailed articles for the last 10 days. (Is that some kind of record?) The basic message is very straightforward: The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I…

Ask A Scienceblogger

This week’s question is “What are some unsung successes that have occurred as a result of using science to guide policy?” That’s a tough question. I’m going to go with mental health. Until relatively recently (i.e., the 1960’s), our mental health institutions were illiberal asylums, mass penatentaries for the psychotic, schizophrenic, depressed, autistic, retarded, etc.…

Memory is a Liar

The NY Times Magazine had an interesting article on deja vu and memory. It’s about a group of cognitive psychologists who are using patients afflicted with a continual sense of deja vu (sounds a little hellish to me) in order to understand the neural mechanisms of remembering. This is a relatively new field. While psychologists…