For the star-studded cast who made up two panels at this year’s Kavli Prize award ceremony (available via webcast) at the World Science Festival in New York City today, special significance was attached to the death in November of the Norwegian-born Fred Kavli, the benefactor of 17 institutes in various parts of the world, including five dedicated solely to neuroscience.
How does the visual system process information from the outside world and what are the rules that constrain the evolution of sensory systems? We discuss these questions with Dale Purves, Geller Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University. Continue reading
Anguish grips the country with news of another horrific mass murder. From local police to the Secret Service, law enforcement worry about the “lone wolf.” These are individuals with no criminal record, feeling alienated and angry, plotting spectacular murder and violence in secret. “Experts” lament that there is no way to track lone wolf killers, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The lone wolf is perhaps the easiest of all potential murderers to identify and stop before they act. Continue reading
Before I started doing research on social interactions, I worked on the control of locomotor movements and respiration in an aquatic animal, the lamprey. One of the questions that always intrigued me is how the nervous system of this animal controls steering movements, how it makes lampreys turn left or right. It may appear like a trivial problem: to go left, they just have to orient the body slightly to the left and continue performing the propulsive movements. But it is not as simple. The problem comes when you realize that the muscles involved in steering are the very muscles involved in straightforward locomotion – and some of them might be busy when the animal decides to turn. Continue reading
(Minor spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen The LEGO Movie)
It is always interesting when an academic debate in philosophy coincides with the release of a blockbuster movie on the same issue. In the last couple of months, a series of texts and comments on free will and moral responsibility were published by some prominent psychologists and philosophers, including Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Paul Bloom, Jerry Coyne, as well as Tamler Sommers and David Pizarro. Meanwhile The LEGO Movie, a clever allegorical metaphor on freedom and creativity, generated 69 million dollars within its first opening weekend in cinemas. Continue reading