brain

Neurophilosophy

Tag archives for brain

Neurosurgical patients get closer to God

REMOVAL of specific parts of the brain can induce increases in a personality trait which predisposes people to spirituality, according to a new clinical study by Italian researchers. The new research, published earlier this month in the journal Neuron, provides evidence that some brain structures are associated with spiritual thinking and feelings, and hints at…

Your eyes betray the timing of your decisions

WHEN it comes to making decisions, timing can be everything, but it is often beneficial to conceal the decision that has been made. Take a game of poker, for instance: during each round, the player has to decide whether to bet, raise the stakes, or fold, depending on the hand they have been dealt. A…

“WHEN a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour,” said Albert Einstein, “it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute, and it’s longer than any hour.” Einstein was describing one of the most profound implications of his Theory of General Relativity – that the perception…

OUR ability to use and manipulate numbers is integral to everyday life – we use them to label, rank, count and measure almost everything we encounter. It was long thought that numerical competence is dependent on language and, therefore, that numerosity is restricted to our species. Although the symbolic representation of numbers, using numerals and…

Feeling the pain of others

HOW do you react when you see somebody else in pain? Most of us can empathize with someone who has been injured or is sick – we can quite easily put ourselves “in their shoes” and understand, to some extent, what they are feeling. We can share their emotional experience, because observing their pain activates…

The cognitive benefits of time-space synaesthesia

SYNAESTHESIA is a neurological condition in which there is a merging of the senses, so that activity in one sensory modality elicits sensations in another. Although first described by Francis Galton in the 1880s, little was known about this condition until recently. A rennaissance in synaesthesia research began about a decade ago; since then, three…

Dyslexia and the Cocktail Party effect

IMAGINE sitting in a noisy restaurant, across the table from a friend, having a conversation as you eat your meal. To communicate effectively in this situation, you have to extract the relevant information from the noise in the background, as well as from other voices. To do so, your brain somehow “tags” the predictable, repeating…

A novel temporal illusion, in which the cause of an event is perceived to occur after the event itself, provides some insight into the brain mechanisms underlying conscious perception. The illusion, described in the journal Current Biology by a team of researchers from France, suggests that the unconscious representation of a visual object is processed…

FOLLOWING the surgical removal of a body part, amputees often report sensations which seem to originate from the missing limb. This is thought to occur because the brain’s model of the body (referred to as the body image) still contains a representation of the limb, and this leads to the experience that the missing limb…

A pictorial history of neurotechniques

THE latest issue of Technology Review contains a photo essay by yours truly, called Time Travel Through the Brain, in which I look at how techniques used to investigate the brain have evolved during the 100 year history of modern neuroscience. The essay begins with a drawing by the great Spanish neuroanatomist Santiago Ramón y…