When anyone wants to support science, I’m in. These are trying times, when the scientific enterprise is facing severe cuts as budget sequestration looms, creating even more uncertainty and angst among research institutions – not to mention young scientists who might be questioning whether they want to enter a career with such a high level of risk. Continue reading
Is the feeling of fear instantiated in some brain area or is fear just a word we use to describe a series events distributed across the brain which make us avoid things that are bad? Do other animal experience the same subjective state that we experience when we are afraid? Those are some of the questions that are asked in a recent review paper published by Ralph Adolphs in Current Biology. Continue reading
We are suckers for Horatio Alger stories. We love it when the underdog defies the odds, pulls out the last minute jumper, or makes the save. It’s a surrogate for those times when we do the same thing. We know — on a lesser scale — what it’s like to be behind and losing, and to sometimes squeak one out when nobody expected it. Even when we can’t, we appreciate it when others do it. That’s one reason why the Lance Armstrong revelations hurt. They ram a stake in the heart of our childlike sense of what’s possible. Even with growing doubts, up until he confessed I wanted to believe Lance — didn’t you? Continue reading
Sometimes, ethologists find behaviors in animals that evoke similarities with behaviors that were previously thought unique to humans. Those cases are interesting in two ways; they can show us that we underestimate what animals can do, and sometimes they also suggest that we might be overestimating the complexity of what we do as humans. Frans de Waal is one of the researchers who has pioneered the study of cooperation and aggressive behaviors in non-human animals. Continue reading
Political arguments, moral judgment and social conflicts are among the most complex social behaviors that humans engage in, yet we perform these things with a brain that is not so much different from that of a chimpanzee. There is definitely an interest in understanding what happens in the brain when people argue, fight, judge, stereotype or segregate, but scientific advancement on this controversial issue is rather slow1,2,3,4. Continue reading
According to news sources, on Friday morning, December 14th 2012, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and slaughtered 26 people – 20 precious children (6 and 7 year olds) and 6 heroic adults who worked at the school. Continue reading
A reader called me to say how much he enjoyed my book, The Other Brain, and then confided the true reason for his call: he wanted to share with me an extraordinary change in his brain and ask for my neurobiological insight. “After having a stroke I found that I could read other people’s minds,” he said.