Neurontic

Archives for January, 2006

I recently started reading Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker, an MIT psychologist, much lauded for his poetic approach to science writing. There can be no doubt, the man’s a great writer. But he’s also far smarter than the average bear (i.e., me) and I occasionally get lost in the dense thicket of his ideas. Still,…

Are rats laughing at us?

The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating article by Charles Siebert, The Animal Self, last weekend about a newly minted field of psychology called Animal Personality. The burgeoning psychological school subscribes to the theory that animals, like humans, are born with innate character traits, which are either magnified or diminished by their formative experiences.…

Okay, so let’s do a quick recap. How exactly do mirror neurons work? And why do they suggest that normally functioning human beings are hard wired for empathy? Here’s my working definition. (Those with a firmer grasp on the specifics will be sure to correct any faulty assumptions.)

Psychic Cells

The New York Times (Cells That Read Minds) and The Wall Street Journal (How Mirror Neurons Help Us to Empathize) published a couple of articles at the beginning of this month about mirror neurons. Now, I don’t generally scour the paper for breaking news on neurons, but I started scanning the Times article and found…