The Frontal Cortex

Archives for August, 2006

War and the Brain

A fascinating study on the psychological effects of war just came out in JAMA. Researchers measured the cognitive abilities of soldiers after serving in Iraq. What they found is consistent with our current models of stress, which predict that chronic stress (of the sort found in Baghdad) will damage the hippocampus, a part of the…

Bruce Reed observes in Slate today that hot states tend to vote Republican. Does this mean that global warming will inevitably increase the spread of red states? Do sweltering summers cause conservative politics? 21 of the 27 states with an average temperature over the last half century of more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit voted for…

Real Science Fiction

The wonder of a good novel is the way it uncovers universals through particulars. Having just read Allegra Goodman’s Intuition, I was struck by the way her descriptions of a fictional molecular biology lab seemed to describe every molecular biology lab. Or is it just that every lab really looks the same? “Two to a…

After reading articles like this (or this or this or this), I can’t help but wonder what’s happening to the brains of Iraqis, Palestinians, Israelis and Lebanese. After all, neuroscience now knows that chronic stress is toxic. When your brain is constantly suffused with stress hormones (usually glucocorticoids), neurons die and aren’t replaced. Dendritic growth…