The Frontal Cortex

Archives for October, 2007

America and Science

Our eighth graders might not understand basic scientific concepts, but America is still a beacon for the “stars” of science, at least according to a new analysis by two social scientists at UCLA: America has 62 percent of the world’s stars as residents, primarily because of its research universities which produce them. Of course, there…

Mind Hacks

Over at Mind Hacks, Vaughan has generously allowed me to answer a few of his excellent questions. Check it out. Q: You seem to mostly focus on past artists but jokingly mentioned in a recent interview that maybe your next book will be called ‘Kanye West was a neuroscientist’. Are there contemporary artists that you…

Roasting in Salt

It really is one of the great culinary techniques, and yet it’s almost never used. I’m talking about salt roasting, and Russ Parsons has put together a lovely introduction to the subject. Basically, you bury a piece of protein in a mound of kosher salt. Put the dish in a hot oven and bake for…

Neocortical Columns

Ever wanted to fly through a neocortical column? Yeah, me too. The bad news is that, until I manage to shrink myself to the micron level, such a flight is probably impossible. This computer simulated video is probably the closest I’ll get.

Manual Transmissions

I’ve always wondered about why manual transmissions generally get better mileage than automatics. The answer is surprisingly simple: humans are better shifters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy ratings, cars with manual transmissions typically beat their automatic peers by a mile or two per gallon. This is largely because manuals give you more…

Cancer and the Mind

The Cartesian wall separating the mind and body has been so thoroughly deconstructed that it’s newsworthy when a bodily condition is not affected by our mental state. After all, recent studies have shown that everything from chronic back pain to many auto-immune diseases are all modulated by various psychological factors, such as stress levels. But…

Frontiers in Neuroscience

I linked to an interesting new paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience last week, but I thought it was worth talking a bit more about the journal itself. It’s a brand new publication, which attempts to completely transform the peer review process. The journal grew out of frustration with the traditional scientific publication crapshoot, which the…

Los Angeles Times

A note to readers: For the next few weeks, this blog is going on a book tour. So if you’re averse to self-promotion and blatant shows of immodesty (I promise to also link to the negative reviews!), or just aren’t interested in Proust Was A Neuroscientist, then I kindly suggest you check back in December,…

The Intense World Syndrome (Autism)

An intriguing new hypothesis that seeks to explain all of the diverse psychological symptoms associated with autism. Here’s the abstract: While significant advances have been made in identifying the neuronal structures and cells affected, a unifying theory that could explain the manifold autistic symptoms has still not emerged. Based on recent synaptic, cellular, molecular, microcircuit,…

American Infrastructure

Forgive the light posting. I’ve been traveling. I’m now in Switzerland, reporting a story that I’m sure we’ll be talking about later. But for now, I’d like to share a few thoughts on being an American abroad. The first thought is sobering. One can’t help but be impressed by the infrastructure of Europe. To get…