Category Archives: neuroscience

Matthew on The Infinite Monkey Cage

Matthew was too reticent to tell me that he appeared on yesterday’s Radio 4 episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage with Robin Ince and Brian Cox. The 30-minute episode is “The Teenage Brain”, and you can download it by going to the site below (click on the screenshot). Besides Matthew Cobb (professor of Zoology at […]

E. O. Wilson: confused about free will

An article in the September 14 Harper’s, “On Free Will (and How the Brain is like a Colony of Ants”), gives an excerpt from Wilson’s book released that year, The Meaning of Human Existence.  In the piece and the passage below, Wilson appears to be a sort of compatibilist, but I find his discussion so […]

Canadian conjoined twins share brain connection—and experience

These 11-year-old conjoined twins, Krista and Tatiana Hogan, are joined at the head, and, not only that, share part of their brains. As The Walrus reports (in a somewhat hyperventilating article), they each have a brain, but there’s a neural bridge between the thalamus of each brain (the part of the brain that relays sensory […]

A philosophical catfight in the TLS: Dennett vs Papineau

Matthew called my attention to a series of pieces in the Times Literary Supplement (free online) in which materialist philosophers Dan Dennett (Tufts) and David Papineau (King’s College London) battle it out over a number of philosophical issues. It began with a fairly negative review by Papineau of Dan’s newest book, From Bacteria to Bach […]

Neurologist: “Neuroscience is totally wrong”; touts dualism, spirituality, God

There’s a new book out called The Mind of God: Neuroscience, Faith, and a Search for the Soul. It’s by a neuroscientist: Jay Lombard, who appears to have started out respectably but now is going the Chopra route (i.e., off the rails), as you’ll see below. In fact, the book has been endorsed by Deepakity himself: “The […]

A remarkable study: decoding how human faces are identified in the primate brain

I really dislike posting about a paper that I don’t fully understand, but I guess I’ll have to, as this one seems pretty important. The best I can do is summarize it briefly and give a link so that those of you above my pay grade can look at the messy details. The paper, with […]

The Lost Mariner: a short video inspired by Oliver Sacks

Well, I confess that I’ve taken something from Brainpickings, but only because it was tweeted approvingly by Jennifer Ouellette. “The Lost Mariner” is a 6-minute film centered on a patient described in Oliver Sacks’s popular book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. You can find more information about the personnel involved, and all the prizes […]

Richard Gunderman at The Conversation: our ability to lie shows that the mind is physically independent of the brain (!)

UPDATE: As the first comment in the thread (by Coel) shows, I was correct in assuming there’s a religiosity to Gunderman’s argument: he’s a trustee of the Christian Theological Seminary. Further, someone who once knew him emailed me and described him as “ultra religious.” ________________________ The motto of the site The Conversation is “academic rigor, […]

Patricia Churchland on the effects of neurobiology on criminal law

Scientific American has a new article, “20 big questions about the future of humanity“, in which twenty well known scientists prognosticate about our collective fate. It’s not clear whether the questions were generated by the scientists themselves or by the magazine, but most of them, and the answers, don’t inspire me much. It’s not that I […]

Has the evolution of consciousness been explained?

Michael Graziano is a neuroscientist, a professor of psychology at Princeton University, and, on the side, writes novels for both children and adults. His speciality is the neurology and evolutionary basis of consciousness, about which he’s written several pieces at The Atlantic. His June 6 piece, “A new theory explains how consciousness evolved“, attempts to […]