The Frontal Cortex

Archives for October, 2006

Depression Induces Bone Loss

So much for the body-brain duality. Researchers in the new PNAS claim that the sympathetic nervous system in depressed rodents causes a loss of bone mass. Treatment with anti-depressants rescues the situation. These results define a linkage among depression, excessive adrenergic activity, and reduced bone formation, thus demonstrating an interaction among behavioral responses, the brain,…

Marijuana Factoid of the Day

This survey gives me hope: 78 percent of Americans support medical marijuana: When Californians approved one of the first medical marijuana laws, in 1996, drug warriors were so convinced it would lead to a catastrophic spike in illegal use by teenagers that they sponsored a study to document the damage. But there was no catastrophe:…

The Best Science Books (Redux)

Last week, I mentioned that the Royal Institution in London had come up with short list of the best science books of all time. After some excellent feedback from readers, and because I love making lists of my favorite things (just in case I’m ever stranded on a desert island), I’d thought I’d offer up…

The Moral Mind

There’s an odd article in the NY Times today on Marc Hauser’s hypothesis that the human mind contains a “moral grammar,” somewhat akin to a Chomskyan linguistic grammar. The article is odd because, while it acknowledges that Hauser’s idea is supported by almost no direct evidence, it never mentions any alternatives to Hauser’s theory. (If…

Starvation and Longevity

Sometimes, it seems as if science reporters just decide to make something a big story, even if there’s no new news to report. In the last week, the link between calorie reduction and increased lifespan has been everywhere. New York Magazine was first, with an account of a dinner party eaten with people who don’t…

Testosterone and Comedy

Men are getting less manly: our testosterone levels continue to decline. Given the Hobbesian state of the world, that might not be a bad thing. (Unfortunately, falling testosterone levels have negative medical consequences. So world peace might require a reduction in the male life span.) Over at the LA Times, the always hilarious Dan Neil…

Gas Tax Again

I’m like a broken record, but if I could implement one policy change right away it would be to raise the gas tax: See the full image over at Foreign Policy. The latest people to support a phased increase in the gas tax are George Schultz (Reagan’s Secretary of State) and Tony Lake (Clinton’s National…

In Defense of Rick Santorum

If the polls are accurate, Senator Rick Santorum is about to lose his re-election bid. That’s a good thing. Santorum is a bad cliche of the culture wars, a powerful politician who actually believes that the earth is 6,000 years old, that abortion is tantamount to murder and the Catholic church scandal began in Massachusetts…

Dylan and Tharp

What would happen if you combined Bob Dylan’s greatest hits with the choreography of Twyla Tharp? It turns out that you get something truly awful, an alchemical concotion that is both surreal and boring. Here’s Ben Brantley: And now for the latest heart-rending episode in Broadway’s own reality soap opera, “When Bad Shows Happen to…

Atheist Evangelists

Richard Dawkins has been everywhere lately. Dawkins is even keeping an online journal while on his book tour. It’s full of amusing, if slightly mean-spirited, vignettes like this: The large hall at Randolph Macon Woman’s College was packed. I gave a fairly short program of readings from The God Delusion, and then the bulk of…