The Frontal Cortex

Archives for December, 2008

Urban Innovation

I’ll have more to say about cities and the brain in the coming days, but I thought it was worth highlighting this thoughtful post by the economist Edward Glaeser on how NYC is “America’s most resilient city”: When other cities, including Boston, experienced significant population declines from 1950 to 1970, New York City still grew,…

Kandel on Psychotherapy

I’ve written before about the the failure of basic neuroscience research to advance neuropharmacology (at least, it’s been a failure so far), but it’s nice to see Eric Kandel, my old mentor (and one of my scientific heroes), make the same argument. Kandel began his scientific career as a Freudian psychiatrist – he was soon…

The Blue Planet

Oliver Morton has a lyrical and thoughtful op-ed today in the Times, in which he re-interprets the famous images of Planet earth seen from space: They came for the Moon, and for the first three orbits it was to the Moon that the astronauts of Apollo 8 devoted their attention. Only on their fourth time…

Hanukkah and Colonoscopies

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, which is, as Adam Sandler has correctly noted, a rather unsatisfying holiday. It’s typically sold to impressionable Jewish kids as being better than Christmas, since there are eight days of presents, and not just one climactic morning. But as one soon discovers, those eight days are a bit…

Uncertainty and Panic

Brian Knutson, a very clever neuroeconomist at Stanford, sheds light on some of the cognitive biases currently holding back the economy over at Edge.org. From the perspective of the brain, uncertainty is hell: The brain responds to uncertain future outcomes in a specific region, and ambiguity (not knowing the probabilities of uncertain outcomes) provokes even…

Fraud and Justice

Over at the Daily Beast, Alexandra Penney describes what it feels like to lose all of your money to a Wall Street Ponzi scheme: Last Thursday at around 5 p.m., I had just checked on a rising cheese soufflé in my oven when my best friend called. “Heard Madoff’s been arrested,” she said. “I hope…

Brain Performance Drugs

Last week, Nature published an editorial arguing for the mainstream acceptance of “cognitive enhancing drugs”: Today, on university campuses around the world, students are striking deals to buy and sell prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin — not to get high, but to get higher grades, to provide an edge over their fellow students…

Molecular Gastronomy

When people ask for me tangible examples of how art and science can work together to discover new things – that’s a theme of my first book – the first thing I mention is food. In recent years, chefs like Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal and Grant Achatz have demonstrated the possibilities of translating the lab…

Hedge Fund Fraud

I find the epic Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff morbidly fascinating. He managed to lose 50 billion dollars, which can’t be easy: A busy stock-trading operation occupied the 19th floor, and the computers and paperwork of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities filled the 18th floor. But the 17th floor was Bernie Madoff’s sanctum, occupied by…

The NY Times Magazine

Deborah Solomon and the Times Magazine were kind enough to ask me a few questions about my new book, How We Decide. You can read the interview here. And yes, I’m jumping in the photo.