The Frontal Cortex

Archives for November, 2009

Smell and Memory

A new paper by scientists at the Weizmann Institute documents the primal connection between whiffs of smell and episodic memory. This nasal nostalgia is mediated by the hippocampus, the manufacturer of long-term memory in the brain. Here’s the abstract: Authors, poets, and scientists have been fascinated by the strength of childhood olfactory memories. Indeed, in…

Crying Babies

This is absolutely fascinating, yet another reminder that the structure of language infects everything. Here’s Nell Greenfieldboyce, at NPR: The distinctive sounds of a newborn’s first cries may be influenced by the mother tongue of its parents. A new study of over a thousand recorded cries from 30 French newborns and 30 German newborns found…

Sleep

As a chronic insomniac, I’m always a little disturbed when I learn about the lingering cognitive effects of a bad night sleep: In a study at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 2003, for example, scientists examined the cognitive effects of a week of poor sleep, followed by three days of sleeping at…

The Gay Animal Kingdom, Part 2

This is excellent news. Dan Delong will be back in the classroom today. I’m so relieved.

Temptation

Why are we so dishonest? Why do we bad things, even when we know we’re doing something bad? Ever since Adam and Eve ate that apple, we’ve assumed that there is something inherently tempting about sin. If left to our own devices, we’d all turn into men at a Vegas bachelor party, indulging in sex,…

Arts Education

Michael Posner and Brenda Patoine make a neuroscientific case for arts education. They argue that teaching kids to make art has lasting cognitive benefits: If there were a surefire way to improve your brain, would you try it? Judging by the abundance of products, programs and pills that claim to offer “cognitive enhancement,” many people…