Press play on your earliest happy memory. Your presence is transported to the past, where you feel temperature change, see younger versions of family members interact and even smell the succulent aromas around you. A vivid experience drenches the senses and embosses an indelible memory on the brain's surface. Why do some remember (and even dream) in exquisite sensory detail, while others watch only monochromatic versions of their past? The answer lies in their genes.
First hit. Body tingles, soul shivers. Colors bleed vibrant. Time stands still. Everything suggests divine presence. Second hit. Worries fade away, replaced by euphoria. Obsession begins, craving more. Third hit. Calm, happiness, contentment. Need a bigger dose to feel. Need a bigger dose to think. Need a bigger dose to function. Fourth hit. Can’t live without it. Too much time between hits. Getting fidgety. Moral compass points only to the next hit. Insanity lingers. Fifth hit. Fatal.
Is this the cycle of a drug addict? Or a human falling in love? Turns out, it doesn’t matter. The brain can’t distinguish the difference.
In the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Minority Report special police unit uses humans with precognition powers, or precogs, to prevent crimes before they happen. The neuroscience of precognition would be an incredible topic to breach. This isn’t that. Instead, medical and technological advances have brought forth a much more exciting topic: neurocriminology - which has far reaching ethical implication for punishment, prevention and prediction of criminal behavior.
The first story I read in a foreign language was Little Red Riding Hood. Towards the end, when the wolf inched closer and closer to eating the child, I wasn't frightened. In fact, I was slightly bored and closed the book disappointed. As a child learning a second language, I immediately sensed a difference in the weight and impact of the words. The scientific term for this sorcery is "attenuation of emotionality.” Studies show that emotional intensity is fundamentally different in non-native readers. Why are emotions more powerful in a native language?
Those wily women with eyes 'false in rolling', who change their moods and affections like chameleons." Sonnet 20, William Shakespeare
400 years ago when the brilliant Shakespeare first penned this keen observation, commenting on the ever-changing nature of a woman's spirit, the knowledge that a woman's emotions could fluctuate with her hormones was unknown. The first hormone would not be discovered for another 300 years, and shortly after - the components of the menstrual cycle would be elucidated. Given the rapid advancement of science in the twenty first century and the ease with which peering into the brain has become; one would think the influence of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone on cortical and subcortical regions implicated in a woman's emotional and cognitive processes would be fully understood. Not so.