The Frontal Cortex

Archives for May, 2010

Anchoring

In the last few months, the globalized world has endured two very different crises. First, there was the ash cloud over Europe, which paralyzed air travel for millions of passengers. Then, there is the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, which continues to spew somewhere between 5000 and 60,000 barrels of crude into…

Mapping the Human Brain

The Allen Brain Atlas just launched their first set of gene expression maps in the adult human brain, based on microarray data from over 700 different anatomical locations. It promises to be an invaluable resource for scientists trying to figure out how a text of base pairs constructs the most complicated machine in the known…

Pixar

I’ve got a short feature on the Pixar creative process in the latest issue of Wired. This is one of those magazine spreads that really benefits from a glossy paper layout, so I’d recommend not following this hyperlink, and instead picking up the dead paper edition. (It’s a really great issue.) As a huge fan…

Family Life

Benedict Carey summarizes a new UCLA study that documented the life of middle-class families, videotaping their dinners, conversations and leisure activities: The U.C.L.A. project was an effort to capture a relatively new sociological species: the dual-earner, multiple-child, middle-class American household. The investigators have just finished working through the 1,540 hours of videotape, coding and categorizing…

The Near Miss

Mo over at Neurophilosophy has an excellent summary of a new paper on near misses and addictive gambling: Henry Chase and Luke Clark of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute in Cambridge have previously found that the brain responds to near miss gambling outcomes in much the same way it does to as winning. In…

Travel

Since I’ve been traveling in a foreign country for the last week – I was sipping sugary tea all over Turkey – I thought this article, published last year in McSweeney’s Panorama newspaper, was slightly relevant. If nothing else, it’s my personal attempt to justify both the annoying burdens of travel (especially foreign travel) and…

Arts Education

Reposted from last year: 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…

The Endowment Effect

Here’s a post from last summer*: I went jean shopping this weekend. Actually, I went to the mall to return a t-shirt but ended buying a pair of expensive denim pants. What happened? I made the mistake of entering the fitting room. And then the endowment effect hijacked my brain. Let me explain. The endowment…

Lotteries

Here’s an old post from July 08: The devious slogan for the New York State lottery is “All you need is a dollar and a dream.” Such state lotteries are a regressive form of taxation, since the vast majority of lottery consumers are low-income. The statistics are bleak: Twenty percent of Americans are frequent players,…

Vacation

I’m going to be away on vacation for the next week or so. I’ll be putting up some old posts in the meantime. Here’s one from 2009 on “Boredom”: The great poet Joseph Brodsky, praising boredom: A substantial part of what lies ahead of you is going to be claimed by boredom. The reason I’d…