Neuroscience

The Frontal Cortex

Category archives for Neuroscience

The Intense World Syndrome (Autism)

An intriguing new hypothesis that seeks to explain all of the diverse psychological symptoms associated with autism. Here’s the abstract: While significant advances have been made in identifying the neuronal structures and cells affected, a unifying theory that could explain the manifold autistic symptoms has still not emerged. Based on recent synaptic, cellular, molecular, microcircuit,…

Teaching the Tongue to See

It’s an audacious idea, and I didn’t believe it was possible until I saw the video. But it really is possible to teach blind people to see using their tongue. By connecting a camera to an array of electrodes that stimulate the sensitive nerves inside the mouth – a pixel of light is translated into…

Solving the Subprime Mess

A few weeks ago, I put up a post on the neuroscience of subprime mortgages. A significant percentage of subprime loans get customers by advertising low introductory teaser rates, which trick the brain into making an irrational decision. In essence, we are duped into using our short-sighted emotional mind to make a long-term financial decision.…

Baseball and Dopamine

Christopher Vrountas, of Andover, sent in a very astute letter to the Boston Globe in response to my recent article on dopamine and gambling: I read Jonah Lehrer’s article “Your brain on gambling” (Ideas, Aug. 19), about how gambling hijacks the brain’s pleasure centers. The gambler’s brain remembers and desperately seeks a repeat of unexpected…

Fixing Ourselves

Ten years ago, neuroscientists were bullish about pharmaceuticals. It sometimes seemed as if every tenured professor was starting his own drug company or consulting for someone else’s drug company. But virtually none of those drugs have come to market, at least not yet. The brain is an exquisitely complicated machine, and every beneficial effect seems…

Cigarettes and Poetry

The Best Cigarette, a poem by Billy Collins: Don’t forget that cigarette addiction seems to be modulated by the insula, a brain area that secretes aversive emotions. Earlier this year, a team of scientists at the University of Iowa found that cigarette addicts with damaged insulas were 136 times more likely to have their addictions…

The Perverse Hippocampus

Our mind has a sick sense of humor. It turns out that as we lose our memory, and sink into the darkness of dementia, the last memories to disappear are the memories we spent our lives trying to repress. So the final thing that you know is what you’ve been trying to forget: For more…

The Self and the Body

Here’s a very cool experiment: Using virtual reality goggles, a camera and a stick, scientists have induced out-of-body experiences — the sensation of drifting outside of one’s own body — in healthy people, according to experiments being published in the journal Science. When people gaze at an illusory image of themselves through the goggles and…

Silas Weir Mitchell

Silas Weir Mitchell was a great American neurologist. Unfortunately, he’s best known now for pioneering “the rest cure,” which became a common treatment for hysteria and other afflictions of the “frail female nervous system”. (See, for example, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.) But Weir Mitchell’s most important contribution to neurology came from his…

Memory and Journalism

There’s an illuminating four part series looking at neuroscientist Gary Lynch in the LA Times. It’s written by Terry McDermott. What makes this series so compelling is that it does two things rarely done by science journalists. First of all, the articles present Gary Lynch as a complex human being, complete with the usual human…