This is my vision of life. A conversation with evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins. (Video and transcript)
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
While working within the Chicago Police Department, Rebecca Campbell (PhD, Professor, Michigan State University) was told by a detective that "most victims lie" about sexual assault. She, on the other hand, was certain that most victims told the truth. Wondering how both she and the detective could be so certain, she began to do the research to find out. Her work examines how the legal and medical and mental health systems respond to the needs of adult, adolescent and pediatric victims of sexual assault. [Warning for graphic descriptions of assaults] [more inside]
Can plants think? Michael Pollan asks the question. (SLNewYorker)
President Obama recently announced a big new effort to map and understand the human brain. [more inside]
Deciphering the Tools of Nature’s Zombies: The ability of parasites to alter the behaviour of their hosts fascinates both scientists and non-scientists alike. One reason that this topic resonates with so many is that it touches on core philosophical issues such as the existence of free will. If the mind is merely a machine, then it can be controlled by any entity that understands the code and has access to the machinery. This special issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology highlights some of the best-understood examples of parasite-induced changes in host brain and behaviour, encompassing both invertebrate and vertebrate hosts and micro- and macro-parasites. Full issue annotated inside: [more inside]
The Brain on Trial. Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order.
"We may someday find that many types of bad behavior have a basic biological explanation—as has happened with schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, and mania."[more inside]
Backyard Brains, the people who showed you how to stimulate neurons in a cockroach leg using your iPhone, now bring you the remote controlled roach. [more inside]
For generations, anglers have performed worm grunting (a.k.a. charming, fiddling, snoring, rubbing, or calling) to entice worms out of the ground. Worm grunting even has its very own annual festival. After accompanying Grunting King Gary Revell Vanderbilt neurobiologist Kenneth Catania has explained why scraping a "stob" or twanging a pitchfork brings the worms a-callin'. [more inside]
Timepieces! Ancient calendars, ancient clocks, beautiful clocks, atomic clocks and the clocks built into your brain that determine how you perceive time and form memories. All the good stuff is inside: [more inside]
The Economist on Drugs -- Scientists in North America, Europe and Israel are studying the use of MDMA, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and other banned psychoactive substances in treating conditions such as anxiety, cluster headaches, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are supported by private funds from a handful of organisations: the Beckley Foundation in Britain; the Heffter Research Institute and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in America. [related]
As the market plummets, it might be interesting to look at the neurological background in the breakdown of trust. The author, Jonah Lehrer, is a young brainiac writer for Seed and the excellent Frontal Cortex. l Scientists immediately discovered a strong neural signal that drove many of the investment decisions. The signal was fictive learning. l One way to think of the financial markets right now is that instead of being populated by rational agents, they're full of people with borderline personality disorder. [more inside]
Tne Science and the Sacred programme features links on fundamentalism and religious violence. The inner apocalypse and schizophrenia. Study of the neurobiology of religious experience is relatively recent.