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]
posted by Eideteker
on Jul 15, 2011 -
"In the Bible, God appeared to Ezekiel as a “wheel within a wheel”. Spirals and concentric circles are commonly found in petrogylphs carved by cultures long dead. Similar visual effects are reported during extreme psychological stress, fever delirium, psychotic episodes, sensory deprivation, and are reliably induced by psychedelic drugs." Form Constants and the Visual Cortex
, or Where Psychedelic Visuals Come From.
posted by Taft
on Mar 15, 2011 -
Rise of the Neuronovel.
Marco Roth at N+1 argues that the recent interest of contemporary novels (Motherless Brooklyn
, Atmospheric Disturbances
) in the disordered wetware of their characters represents a defeat for fiction. "...the new genre of the neuronovel, which looks on the face of it to expand the writ of literature, appears as another sign of the novel’s diminishing purview." Jonah Lehrer responds to Roth and Roth responds back.
posted by escabeche
on Jan 2, 2011 -
A Real Science of Mind Neurobabble piques interest in science, but obscures how science works. Individuals see, know, and want to make love. Brains don’t. Those things are psychological — not, in any evident way, neural.
posted by shivohum
on Dec 27, 2010 -
An idle brain may be the self's workshop.
'Recent research suggests that mind-wandering may be important and that knowledge of how it works might help treat such conditions as Alzheimer's disease, autism, depression and schizophrenia.' Once upon a time, scientists didn't regard idle musings of the wandering mind as very important. 'But in the span of a few short years, they have instead come to view mental leisure as important, purposeful work — work that relies on a powerful and far-flung network of brain cells firing in unison. Neuroscientists call it the "default mode network."''Understanding that setting may do more than lend respectability to the universal practice of zoning out: It may one day help diagnose and treat psychiatric conditions as diverse as Alzheimer's
— all of which disrupt operations in the default mode network. Beyond that lies an even loftier promise. As neuroscientists study the idle brain, some believe they are exploring a central mystery in human psychology: where and how our concept of "self" is created, maintained, altered and renewed.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword
on Sep 2, 2010 -
Oliver Sacks is surviving cancer of the eye
, ocular melanoma. In his latest book, The Mind’s Eye
, he "tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities." In the interview, Sacks talks about his diagnosis, the after-effects of his radiation treatment (which include hallucinations that resolve themselves into words if he "smokes a little pot"), his apprenticeships with poets W.H. Auden and Thom Gunn, and the importance of science writing in an age when the authority of science is being undermined by religious zealots. Via MeFi's own, Steve Silberman, digaman. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye
on Sep 1, 2010 -
The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system
As de Duve has written, “If … neuronal events in the brain determine behavior, irrespective of whether they are conscious or unconscious, it is hard to find room for free will. But if free will does not exist, there can be no responsibility, and the structure of human societies must be revised”.
Ben Libet & free will, previously on metafilter. (And more on: Lucretius, Dualism, Philosophy of mind, and Free Will 1, 2.)
posted by scalespace
on Jul 6, 2010 -
Optimizing Your Brain at Work
is a pretty fascinating talk at Google by David Rock about managing your brain's internal states and attention, as well as threat responses with the goal of optimizing information processing. It is a Youtube link, and fairly long (~55min). He also mentions The Neuroscience of Mindfulness
during the talk, so here is a convenient link to that.
posted by Vulpyne
on Dec 3, 2009 -
was the subject of many landmark studies in neuroscience. After his hippocampus was removed to control epileptic seizures, he was unable to form long-term memories.
University of California - San Diego's Brain Observatory
is shaving his brain now, sliver after sliver, and posting the live camera feed
on the web. [more inside]
posted by Vhanudux
on Dec 2, 2009 -
A gene variant associated with serotonin transport (STG) ,
and normally associated with depression is strangely more prevalent, but also less likely to induce depression in collectivistic East Asian cultures. The study took data from 29 countries, and found a consistent trend towards this same genetic variant being strongly associated with episodes of major depression in Western cultures.
posted by mdpatrick
on Oct 29, 2009 -
Cyborg Spy Beetles
are no longer a thing of the future. UC Berkeley (funded by DARPA) has created cyborg beetles guided wirelessly via laptop. These spy beetles were created with the intent of bugging actual conversations, literally acting as the "fly on the wall". [more inside]
posted by scrutiny
on Oct 27, 2009 -
What can we learn from quadrapeds about our own bipedal gait? Recently
, a group of researchers has taught rhesus macaques how to walk, and then used neural recordings to develop a model of a functioning brain-machine interface (BMI) designed to take the signals from your brain and use them to interface with a prosthetic leg, which would allow previously paralyzed patients to literally walk again. [more inside]
posted by scrutiny
on Oct 1, 2009 -
(fMRI) is a widely used technique of brain imaging in the cognitive sciences, allowing researchers to visualize what part of the brain is responding to certain stimuli, resulting in striking images
of live brains
. These days, fMRI is seeing more non-research use, such as forming the basis of controversial new lie detectors
. Craig Bennett, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB, submitted a whole Atlantic salmon to fMRI analysis
, and found that this fish could apparently detect, and respond to, the the emotional state of human beings (poster
). Remarkable science, especially considering the salmon was dead at the time. [more inside]
posted by Rumple
on Sep 24, 2009 -