The Frontal Cortex

Archives for April, 2009

Gendered Language

Robert Krulwich has a typically brilliant piece on Shakespeare, roses, gendered language and the latest version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Boroditsky proposes that because the word for “bridge” in German — die brucke — is a feminine noun, and the word for “bridge” in Spanish — el puente — is a masculine noun, native speakers…

NYU

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute this coming Monday, at 6 PM, in conversation with Robert Lee Hotz. We’ll be talking about science journalism, blogging, aha moments, the prefrontal cortex, etc. It’s free and open to the public. Note: Thanks to everyone who pointed…

The Neuroscience of Admiration

I know the medium is the message, but does every message have to be about the medium? People on twitter love tweeting about twitter, just as people on facebook love writing about the facebook redesign. Sometimes, this navel gazing can get out of hand, which is what I think happened with a recent (and extremely…

The Hollow Mask Illusion

Wired Science reports on a fascinating finding: schizophrenics have trouble seeing the hollow mask illusion, in which people perceive the concave inside of a mask as an actual face. The reason we’re vulnerable to this illusion is that our expectations of what we’ll see – we’re used to seeing real faces – profoundly influence our…

Business Books

In the Boston Globe Ideas section, Drake Bennett has a typically excellent article on the logical fallacies underlying best-selling business books, such as In Search of Excellence or Good to Great : While the particulars vary, the basic idea underlying the literature is the same: that the secrets of success can be divined by careful…

The Stress Vaccine

Stress has been a hot topic lately. In the past week, we’ve looked at how chronic stress can trigger working memory deficits among the poor and lead, eventually, to severe depression. But there’s hope, at least if you’re a stressed out lab rat. (In theory, these findings should apply to humans, but there’s always that…

Do Parents Matter?

Over at Mind Matters, I’ve got an interview with Judith Rich Harris, author of the influential and infamous The Nurture Assumption, which provocatively argued that parents aren’t particularly important when it comes to determining the behavior of their children, at least outside of the home. Instead, Harris argued that the most important variable was the…

Stress and Sadness

Sometimes, the human brain can seem astonishingly ill-equipped for modern life. Our Pleistocene olfactory cortex craves glucose and lipids, which makes us vulnerable to high-fructose corn syrup and Egg McMuffins. We’ve got an impulsive set of emotions, which makes us think subprime mortgages are a good idea. And so on. If I could only fix…

Investing in the Developing Brain

For the most part, basic neuroscience research has had zero influence on public policy. Knowing about the dopamine reward pathway and the substrate of addiction hasn’t changed the War on Drugs. (Although it certainly should. At the very least, we should decriminalize marijuana.) Knowing about memory reconsolidation and the inherent dishonesty of recollection hasn’t changed…

The “Science” of Romance

There’s a charming article by Hannah Seligson over at The Daily Beast on the “science” of when to get married. (I’ve put scare quotes around “science” only because it’s not a science at all.) On the one hand, it’s rather obvious that making romantic decisions isn’t exactly a rational process. Charles Darwin, for instance, made…