The Frontal Cortex

Archives for March, 2010

The Spread of Goodness

In recent years, it’s become clear that much of our individual behavior depends on the dynamics of our social network. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about obesity or happiness: they all flow through other people, like a virus or a meme. Last year, I profiled James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis in Wired, who have…

Marriage

One of the hazards of writing a book on decision-making is getting questions about decisions that are far beyond the purview of science (or, at the very least, way beyond my pay grade). Here, for instance, is a question that often arrives in my inbox, or gets shouted out during talks: “How should we make…

More on Depression

I thought it’s worth addressing this article one last time. Dr. Ronald Pies (professor of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse) has written three eloquent and extremely critical blog posts about the article and the analytic-rumination hypothesis. Here’s his latest riposte: Writer Jonah Lehrer caused quite a stir with his recent article in…

Inequality Aversion

The ultimatum game is a simple experiment with profound implications. The game goes like this: one person (the proposer) is given ten dollars and told to share it with another person (the responder). The proposer can divide the money however they like, but if the responder rejects the offer then both players end up with…

Mood and Cognition

One of the interesting subplots of this new research on the intellectual benefits of sadness – it seems to bolster our attention and make us more analytical – is that it helps illuminate the intertwined relationship of mood and cognition. For decades, we saw the mind as an information processing machine; the brain was just…

More Questions

I’ve received a few emails along this line: “How does this new theory about depression enhancing problem-solving relate to all the studies that have shown cognitive deficits in people with depression?” That’s a really good question. I tried to address this issue quickly in the article – I referenced the fact that the “cognitive deficits…

Critiques

First of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to write and comment on my recent article on depression. I really appreciated all the insightful emails and I’m trying to respond to every one. In the meantime, I wanted to address some important criticisms of the analytic-rumination hypothesis and of my article, which…