Neuroscience

The Frontal Cortex

Category archives for Neuroscience

The Neuroscience of Market Bubbles

Given the recent bursting of the housing bubble (let’s hope, at least, that we’ve hit rock bottom), Kevin Drum raises an interesting issue: Bubbles come along with some frequency these days, always with some shiny new reason for bankers to become irrationally exhuberant. Just in the last couple of decades we’ve seen bubbles in S&Ls…

The Neuroscience of Gambling

This is just sad: Harrah’s New Orleans, the largest casino in the city, is on pace for its best year ever: gambling revenue is up 13.6 percent through the first five months of 2007 compared with the same period in 2005, pre-Katrina. The casinos in this region are generating more revenue — from significantly fewer…

Williams Syndrome

David Dobbs has a wonderful article in the most recent Times Magazine on Williams syndrome, a development disorder that results in a bizarre mixture of cognitive strengths and deficits: Williams syndrome rises from a genetic accident during meiosis, when DNA’s double helix is divided into two separate strands, each strand then becoming the genetic material…

Sources of Inequality

Here’s your depressing determinist paper for the day: Is lifetime inequality mainly due to differences across people established early in life or to differences in luck experienced over the working lifetime? We answer this question within a model that features idiosyncratic shocks to human capital, estimated directly from data, as well as heterogeneity in ability…

Yesterday, Chris had an interesting post describing an experimental situation in which selective brain damage leads to improved performance. It’s an cool paradigm, since it helps to illuminate the innate constraints of the (intact) brain. Look, for example, at this experiment, led by Baba Shiv, Antonio Damasio and George Loewenstein. The scientists invented a simple…

Finding Altruism

Given recent inane comments about the immateriality of altruism by a certain neurosurgeon, I thought this recent article on the neural underpinnings of “pure altruism” might be of interest: You don’t need to donate to charity to feel all warm inside. Researchers have found that even when money is taken from some people involuntarily, they…

The Virtue of Forgetting

The headline says it all: “Forgetting May Be Part of the Process of Remembering”: The more efficiently that study participants were tuning out irrelevant words during a word-memorization test, the sharper the drop in activity in areas of their brains involved in recollection. Accurate remembering became easier, in terms of the energy required. This is…

The Political Brain

Matt Yglesias makes an important psychological point about political debates: My read of what I see in these debates is so heavily colored by ex ante beliefs and information that it’s hard for the debate to change anything. During the first 100 days question, for example, John Edwards gave his spiel about “restoring American leadership”…

David Brooks uses neuroscience to criticize Al Gore’s latest book: [Gore's argument] grows out of a bizarre view of human nature. Gore seems to have come up with a theory that the upper, logical mind sits on top of, and should master, the primitive and more emotional mind below. He thinks this can be done…

Fearmongering

It works. Dick Cheney shows how to do it: These are events [9/11] we can never forget. And they are scenes the enemy would like to see played out in this country over and over again, on a larger and larger scale. Al Qaeda’s leadership has said they have the right to “kill four million…