The Frontal Cortex

Archives for May, 2008

GPS Sucks

From the new Atlantic: Four researchers compared the effectiveness of a cell phone equipped with a GPS receiver to traditional paper maps and to “direct experience” (first walking through a route with a guide, then trying it alone). They asked 66 participants to each walk six different routes, finding their way each time using one…

Plane Reading

Sorry about the light posting – I’ve been traveling. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about air-travel (besides the safety aspect) is that I get to read novels. For some reason, I’ve decided that I can’t work or sleep on planes, so I always make sure that my carry-on bag is stuffed full…

Mind Control by Cell Phone

Over at Mind Matters, my other site, we just posted a rather interesting article on the ways in which ordinary cell phones can alter your patterns of brain activity, and even interfere with sleep. Here’s Doug Fields: Hospitals and airplanes ban the use of cell phones, because their electromagnetic transmissions can interfere with sensitive electrical…

Hippy-Crites

British papers are fun. The Daily Mail recently ran a deliciously nasty article on hippy-crites, those pious celebrities (like John Travolta, Chris Martin and Brangelina) who talk endlessly about global warming and yet still fly in lots of private jets. Travolta, for instance, recently few by himself from Europe to the United States in a…

DNA Evidence

In recent years, there has been lots of speculation on the potential intersection of neuroscience and the legal system. Will brain imaging became a fool-proof lie detector? Are some violent offenders suffering from a defective emotional brain that’s beyond their control? Should we replace the insanity defense with a less rationalist account of human morality?…

Brain Fitness Programs

The Times recently had an article on the booming business of brain fitness: Decaying brains, or the fear thereof, have inspired a mini-industry of brain health products — not just supplements like coenzyme Q10, ginseng and bacopa, but computer-based fitter-brain products as well. Nintendo’s $19.99 Brain Age 2, a popular video game of simple math…

Locked-In Syndrome

It is, perhaps, the most nightmarish of neurological conditions: when the brain stem is selectively injured, a person can be perfectly self-aware and yet completely paralyzed, so that they lose control of virtually all voluntary muscles. The technical name of the syndrome captures the horror: “Locked-In Syndrome“. This weekend, I watched The Diving Bell and…

Horse Racing

I completely agree with the sentiments voiced in this column, by William Rhoden: Why do we keep giving thoroughbred horse racing a pass? Is it the tradition? The millions upon millions invested in the betting? Why isn’t there more pressure to put the sport of kings under the umbrella of animal cruelty? The sport is…

Razib has some thought-provoking, if incorrect, speculations on literature, literary audiences and modernity: Here’s the argument: contemporary mainstream fiction is very different from the storytelling of the deep past because of a demand side shift. Women consume most fiction today, and their tastes differ, on average, from those of men. How do they differ? To…

The Aged Brain

Now that the boomers are entering their sixties, the problem of age-related cognitive decline is going to become a serious mental health issue. The aged brain often suffers from a bevy of symptoms, from memory loss to problems with concentration. The question, of course, is what causes these symptoms? Over at Mind Matters, we recently…