The Frontal Cortex

Archives for November, 2008

Beer

Speaking of decisions, I’ve got to make a rather difficult one today: beer for the Thanksgiving table. I was inspired by a totally wonderful Burkhard Bilger article in the New Yorker on the rise of “extreme beer” and the sheer difficulty of being able to afford a wine that fits the varied foodstuffs of the…

My New Book

The next few months are going to be full of news and riffs on my next book, How We Decide, which comes out in February. As a result, I’m trying to pace myself and limit the shameless self-promotion, at least for now. But sometimes one just can’t resist! So here are some nice early reviews.…

The Waves

Lincoln Center recently featured a stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. Here’s what Ben Brantley had to say in the Times: Life unfolds in a series of exquisite contradictions in “Waves,” a remarkable, genre-defying work from the National Theater of Great Britain that raises the bar for literary adaptations. The world that is so…

Expensive Wine

I have a feeling that this holiday season there will be even more drinking than usual, as people self-medicate with booze. Worried about your 401(k)? Have some egg nog. The good news is that there’s a new studyshowing, once again, that expensive wine doesn’t necessarily taste better, at least for people who aren’t wine experts.…

Dance and Science

I know I’ve written about the virtues of art-science interactions, but I never imagined that the AAAS would sponsor a “dance your dissertation” competition, and that one of the winners would feature an interpretative dance inspired by the “cerebral activation patterns induced by the inflection of regular and irregular verbs”:

Studs Terkel

This American Life recently featured an astonishing series of recordings from Hard Times, the radio series created by Studs Terkel. It featured a variety of American voices, from the short order cook in Arkansas to the migrant worker in Texas to the wealthy elite of Manhattan, talking about what it was like to live through…

Metacognition in the Rat

I’m a contributor to Very Short List: Science, the latest offshoot of the VSL brand. (David Dobbs is another contributor.) For those who don’t know, VSL is a very short email on something interesting sent daily to your inbox. We recently featured this paper in the Science channel: We’ve always known that rats were capable…

Light Drinking and Pregnancy

It’s one of those modern taboos: pregnant women must abstain from alcohol. Even a sip of wine in a restaurant can lead to menacing glances from passerby, as they imagine a fetus drunk on Chardonnay. According to a new study, however, the taboo has it backwards: women who drink lightly while pregnant are less likely…

Humaniqueness and the PFC

A nice summary of “humaniquness,” or the cognitive talents that make homo sapiens such an unprecedented species: [Marc] Hauser describes animals as having “laser-beam” intelligence, in which each cognitive capacity is locked into a specific function. Humans, by contrast, have “floodlight” intelligence, he says: they can use a single system of thought in multiple ways…

Patterns and the Stock Market

It’s one of the more annoying side-effects of the financial collapse: instant updates of the Dow Jones Industrial Average are suddenly everywhere, popping up in the corner of cable news shows, in between weather reports on the radio, highlighted on websites, etc. It’s a bizarre form of financial melodrama, as the moods of the market…