Does our understanding of neuroscience threaten the concept of moral responsibility? What is morality, empathy and how do progresses in brain research impact society? We discuss with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at Duke University. 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
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
I awoke this morning to a ferocious lightning storm. The house shook from thunderous booms. The predawn darkness blanched in blazing white flashes. Lightning is impressive; especially in contrast to the feeble bioelectricity generated by the body’s nerve cells. Or is that just an illusion? Neuroscientist Michael Persinger has done some back-of-the-envelope calculations that may surprise you.
Beginning on October 1, researchers seeking NIH grants must balance male and female cells and animals in their NIH funded research. Under the banner of ending sex bias, this new mandate appears to be a significant advance in the way research is done, but many scientists fear the well-intentioned directive is misguided. 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