brain

Connecting to our Social Selves

Connecting to our Social Selves

Dear Skin,

I would like to express my upmost gratitude for the vast amount of receptors you possess.  Among my favorites – the practical ones that allow me to find keys at the bottom of my large jet-black bag, the emergency ones that warn me the fajita plate is searing, and those truly special ones that enable me to feel my lover’s caress and help me achieve orgasm…

Such would begin a letter of appreciation to a physical sense of great importance, exquisitely described in the book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

Driven to Draw: Creativity Erupts from Brain Insult

Driven to Draw: Creativity Erupts from Brain Insult

After eating one banana at 10’oclock precisely, she begins furiously drawing on the nearest blank sheet of paper.  Her hand moves as if possessed, compulsively and rapidly sketching the same inane subjects from the day before. The irrepressible urge to create results in a complete neglect of her personal hygiene.  Later, she gathers her pictures in a neat pile and binge eats an entire box of cookies.  This isn’t a starving artist preparing for an opening show. This is Mrs. YCFZ, an 83 yr old patient never notably interested in art, diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

The Consciousness Delusion

The Consciousness Delusion

Wherever you are reading this, take a moment now and notice your body: Are your legs crossed? Is your posture straight or are you slouching? Are you slightly warm or cold? Now notice your surroundings: Is your body in a serene or noxious environment?  Is it being transported in a moving vehicle, rocking slightly from side to side? If you could precisely answer any of those questions, congratulations, you are conscious. How consciousness arises from, as the great neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran mused, "a three-pound mass of jelly that you can hold in your palm" is one of science's deepest enigmas.  

Gender Wars: The Rationale Behind Emotion

Gender Wars: The Rationale Behind Emotion

Men like to understand and fix problems, while women like to feel the problem, and perhaps have a good cry about it. Why such a huge difference? Fortunately, a groundbreaking 2014 study out of Beijing, China uses MRI to shed light on why women would rather just talk/cry/eat about the problem than fix it. 

Blue Brain Red Brain: Science predicts political preference

Blue Brain Red Brain: Science predicts political preference

Which way does your moral compass point? When you read the news and suddenly feel a sense of injustice. Or outrage. Or more rarely, objectivity? When you write a check supporting the party of your choice. When you confidently select a box come election time. Why do you feel so strongly you have made the right choice? Science suggests we don’t have much choice, after all.