The Frontal Cortex

Archives for October, 2008

Changing Delusions

Over at Mind Hacks, Vaughan discusses a fascinating new paper on how psychotic delusions take on different manifestations over time: A Slovenian research team, led by psychiatrist Borut Skodlar, discovered that the Ljubljana psychiatric hospital had patient records going as far back as 1881. They randomly selected 10 records from every 10 year period to…

Dangerous Models

You know what I think about when I hear about the epic failure of all these fancy financial models that were designed to calculate risk? I think about the Atlantic Cod. These fish used to be everywhere. (Once upon a time, they were considered the cash crop of the ocean. Spanish fishing vessels would trek…

The Sentence of the Day

Comes courtesy of David Brooks: This [financial[ meltdown is not just a financial event, but also a cultural one. It’s a big, whopping reminder that the human mind is continually trying to perceive things that aren’t true, and not perceiving them takes enormous effort. For more, see here.

Obesity and Pleasure

There’s something poignant about the possibility that one of the reasons obese people eat too much is because they are unable to take pleasure in the taste of their food. But according to a new study published in Science, that’s exactly what happens: The dorsal striatum plays a role in consummatory food reward, and striatal…

Neuromarketing

Last week, I reviewed Buyology, a new book on neuromarketing, in the Washington Post. Although the book is based on a large, privately funded neuromarketing experiment, I wasn’t so wowed by the science: If “Buy-ology” itself is any indication, these companies got ripped off. It’s not that the book doesn’t have interesting moments: I enjoyed…

The Voice of Woolf

Click here to hear the only known recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice. A few thoughts: 1) What an Oxbridge accent! So posh and crisp. This is the voice I always imagined for Mrs. Dalloway, but then I guess Woolf had a few servants as well. 2) Isn’t it amazing that we only have a single…

Mortality Salience

Over at Mind Matters, I’ve got an interview with Sheldon Solomon. We talk about fear, death, the fear of death, and politics. In this excerpt, Solomon describes an extremely clever experiment, in which he primed judges to think about death and then observed how this affected their judicial decisions: LEHRER: How does this theory relate…

There’s a new scientific appreciation for the importance of self-control. This trend began with Walter Mischel’s astonishing marshmallow experiments, in which the ability of a four-year old to resist the temptation of a second marshmallow turned out to be a better predictor of future academic success than his or her IQ score. In other words,…

Disconnected

Apologies for the radio silence – I’ve been on vacation. This time, I actually tried to stay away from the internet while away. My online withdrawal period actually went though several distinct psychological stages. (And yes, I know such stages don’t actually exist.) At first, I experienced a weird, existential anxiety – what if the…

Powers on the Genome

Richard Powers, one of my favorite novelists, just got his entire genome sequenced and wrote about the results for GQ: I come from a long line of folks, on my mother’s side, with congenital difficulty making choices. My father’s family, on the other hand, are born snap deciders. This time the paternal genes won out,…