The Frontal Cortex

Archives for June, 2010

The Shallows

I’ve got a review of The Shallows, a new book by Nicholas Carr on the internet and the brain, in the NY Times: Socrates started what may have been the first technology scare. In the “Phaedrus,” he lamented the invention of books, which “create forgetfulness” in the soul. Instead of remembering for themselves, Socrates warned,…

Memory is Fiction

Over at Slate, William Saletan has finished a wonderful series on the distortions and dishonesties of memory. Although our memories always feel true, they’re extremely vulnerable to errant suggestions, clever manipulations and the old fashioned needs of storytelling. (The mind, it turns out, cares more about crafting a good narrative than staying close to the…

Jet Lag

Jet lag is an annoyance of modern life for which our pleistocene brain is completely unprepared. This ability to zip around the globe, to trapeze from time zone to time zone, is an invention of the late 20th century. Unfortunately, the brain is an organ of routine, equipped with a stubborn circadian clock. We are…

High Stakes Innovation

This oil spill sure is getting depressing. We’ve become extremely talented at hiding away the ill effects of our consumption decisions. We don’t see the inhumane chicken farms behind our chicken McNuggets, or the Chinese factories that produce our shoes, or the offshore oil rigs that extract our oil from the center of the earth.…