Category Archives: Neuroscience

The English professor who foresaw modern neuroscience

Christopher Comer and Ashley Taggart write: In the 21st century, neuroscience has been able to extend our understanding of the brain beyond brain anatomy to an increasingly functional view of cognition. Every year brings new insights on memory and imagination, and reveals often surprising areas of convergence with fields such as anthropology and philosophy. Yet… Read More »

Do we have free will? Maybe it doesn’t matter

Jim Davies writes: Belief is a special kind of human power. Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame, eloquently claims as much in his recent book Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being. It’s the “most prominent, promising, and dangerous capacity humanity has evolved,” he writes, the power to… Read More »

That is not how your brain works

Lisa Feldman Barrett writes: As a neuroscientist, I see scientific myths about the brain repeated regularly in the media and corners of academic research. Three of them, in particular, stand out for correction. After all, each of us has a brain, so it’s critical to understand how that three-pound blob between your ears works. Myth… Read More »

Martin Luther rewired your brain

Joseph Henrich writes: Your brain has been altered, neurologically re-wired as you acquired a particular skill. This renovation has left you with a specialized area in your left ventral occipital temporal region, shifted facial recognition into your right hemisphere, reduced your inclination toward holistic visual processing, increased your verbal memory, and thickened your corpus callosum,… Read More »

How the brain responds to beauty

Jason Castro writes: Pursued by poets and artists alike, beauty is ever elusive. We seek it in nature, art and philosophy but also in our phones and furniture. We value it beyond reason, look to surround ourselves with it and will even lose ourselves in pursuit of it. Our world is defined by it, and… Read More »

The dangers of seeing human minds as predictive machines

Joseph Fridman writes: The machine they built is hungry. As far back as 2016, Facebook’s engineers could brag that their creation ‘ingests trillions of data points every day’ and produces ‘more than 6 million predictions per second’. Undoubtedly Facebook’s prediction engines are even more potent now, making relentless conjectures about your brand loyalties, your cravings,… Read More »

Reading, that strange and uniquely human thing

Lydia Wilson writes: The Chinese artist Xu Bing has long experimented to stunning effect with the limits of the written form. Last year I visited the Centre del Carme in Valencia, Spain, to see a retrospective of his work. One installation, Book from the Sky, featured scrolls of paper looping down from the ceiling and… Read More »

Where is the dividing line between you and the world

Frédérique de Vignemont and Colin Klein write: Heini Hediger, a noted 20th-century Swiss biologist and zoo director, knew that animals ran away when they felt unsafe. But when he set about designing and building zoos himself, he realised he needed a more precise understanding of how animals behaved when put in proximity to one another.… Read More »

How the gut protects the brain

Deborah Devis writes: The gut is well known for being the first line of defence against infection, but it seems it also protects our most important organ – the brain. According to surprising new research, antibodies that defend the perimeter of the brain are normally found in, and trained by, our gut. “This finding opens… Read More »

‘Time cells’ enable cinematic memory

NPR reports: If you fall off a bike, you’ll probably end up with a cinematic memory of the experience: the wind in your hair, the pebble on the road, then the pain. That’s known as an episodic memory. And now researchers have identified cells in the human brain that make this sort of memory possible,… Read More »

Your livewired brain makes you a different person every day

Steve Paulson writes: Brain “plasticity” is one of the great discoveries in modern science, but neuroscientist David Eagleman thinks the word is misleading. Unlike plastic, which molds and then retains a particular shape, the brain’s physical structure is continually in flux. But Eagleman can’t avoid the word. “The whole literature uses that term plasticity, so… Read More »