Typically we are introduced to the nervous system by analogy to an electrical circuit, like a door bell or a telephone line carrying a signal rapidly over long distances to activate a specific process. Never mind that electrical impulses are not transmitted through nerve axons anything like electrons flowing through a copper wire, this electronic circuit analogy is useful up to a point. If you want to understand how the brain works at a more complex level, you are going to need a new analogy, and if you play an acoustic guitar you’ll find it under your fingertips.
As the water warms in summer, beachgoers flock to the ocean and thoughts of “jaws” inevitably surface. A shark’s ability to home in on the scent of blood is legendary, but many people are surprised to learn that sharks have a stealthy sixth sense to find prey and explore the world around them. Sharks have the ability to sense an electric aura that surrounds all creatures in seawater–including people. Continue reading
Every ten years the scientific study of consciousness passes a milestone. A decade ago the milestone was the publication of Chrisof Koch’s book “Quest for Consciousness” (2004). “Quest” established the groundwork for a scientific approach to the study of consciousness and described progress using techniques of neuroscience and experimental psychology1. Stenislas Dehaene’s book “Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering how the Brain Codes our Thoughts” presents a mass of new data and along with new theory. I believe it is a major consolidation; a milestone marking the trail forward for the next decade. Continue reading
I can’t resist them. Especially on the hot, humid days that are commonplace here in South Florida. The first sips are heaven and the rest are like hell gone wild in my brain as I sweat from the heat outside my body. Continue reading
Somewhere between single-celled organisms and human beings, brains evolved. Just why and how is still shrouded in mystery. Continue reading
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
(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