The media are full of stories about how this or that area of the brain has been shown to be active when people are scanned while doing some task. The images are alluring and it is tempting to use them to support this or that just-so story. However, they are limited in that the majority of the studies simply tell us where in the brain things are happening. But the aim of neuroscience is to discover how the brain works.
Many criminal offenders display psychopathic traits, such as antisocial and impulsive behaviour. And yet some individuals with psychopathic traits do not commit offences for which they are convicted. As with any other form of behaviour, psychopathic behaviour has a neurobiological basis. To find out whether the way a psychopath’s brain is functionally, visibly different from that of non-criminal controls with and without psychopathic traits, we talked to Dirk Geurts and Robbert-Jan Verkes
Like all biological traits, human memory reflects a long evolutionary history, most of it shared with other animals. Yet, with rare exceptions, evolution has either been overlooked in discussions of memory or treated in an outdated way. As a result, a simple idea about the cerebral cortex has reigned for more than a century: that its various areas specialize in functions characterized as memory, perception, the control of movement, or executive control (mainly decision-making).
In just a few days, the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting will be kicking off in San Diego, California. I’ve had a number of homes in my 48 years; the most recent being the New York/New Jersey area for the last ten years as part of Oxford University Press. But the longest home, and the one I keep coming back to, is San Diego. The weather is perfect, the multi-cultural facets are inspiring, the local universities top-notch, and the food scene is divine.
The cerebellum is an intriguing part of our brain. Its name is the diminutive form of cerebrum, so literally means ‘little brain’. It is true that, in humans, it occupies just 10% of the brain volume, yet recent research shows it accounts for approximately 80% of the nerve cells; a complex network of approximately 69 billion neurons! Why does the ‘little brain’ contain such a disproportionate number of neurons?
Mood disorders, including major depressive disorder, appear to be more common in those with developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than in the general population. However, diagnosing depression in ASD represents a challenge that dates back to Leo Kanner’s original description of “infantile autism” in 1943. Kanner described a disturbance of “affective contact” in those with autism.
There is much that we agree about in our understanding of addiction and what can be done about the harm it causes. However, unusually perhaps for collaborators, we disagree about some important implications of suggesting a rethink of the relationship between addiction and choice. First, what do we agree on? We agree that the relationship between addiction and choice needs rethinking.
A manager at a hotel receives an alarming number of complaints from her guests that they have to wait too long for elevators. So she requests quotes for installing an additional elevator. Turned down by the price tag of that solution, the manager seeks an alternative and decides to give her guests something to do while they wait for the elevator, by installing mirrors or televisions or providing magazines.
It is easy to observe that some people are happier than others. But trying to explain why people differ in their happiness is quite a different story. Is our happiness the result of how well things are going for us or does it simply reflect our personality? Of course, the discussion on the exact roles of nature (gene) versus nurture (experience) is not new at all. When it comes to how we feel, however, most of us may think that our happiness
September is National Recovery Month in the US. Recovery Month is a time dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of substance use and mental disorders. It’s also a time to celebrate those who are in recovery and those who do recover. The goal of the observance month is to educate others that addiction treatment and mental health services are effective, and that people can recover. With respect for this time, we compiled some statistics on addiction disorders to support awareness of these issues and show that individuals are not alone.
“O, wonder!/How many goodly creatures are there here!/How beauteous mankind is!/O brave new world,/That has such people in’t!” Shakespeare’s lines in The Tempest famously inspired Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World, first published in 1932. Huxley’s vision of the future has become a byword for the idea that attempts at genetic (and social) engineering are bound to go wrong. With its crude partitioning of society, by stunting human development before birth, and with its use of a drug – soma – to induce a false sense of happiness and suppress dissent, this was the opposite of a ‘beauteous’ world.
As part of Peer Review Week, running from 19-25 September 2016, we are celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. We asked some of our journal’s editorial teams to tell us why peer review is so important to them and their journals.
Functional magnetic brain imaging (fMRI) is a method that allows us to study the workings of the human brain while people perceive, reason and make decisions. The principle on which it is based is that, when nerve cells or neurons in a particular region become active, there is an increase in the blood supply to that brain area. This can be visualized because the scanner can be sensitized to the changes in the blood oxygen level that occur when the nerve cells become active.
How can psychologists and other social scientists interested in making a difference become more fully and effectively engaged in the policy world? To address this question, in-depth interviews were conducted with 79 psychologists who were asked to describe their policy experiences over the course of their careers, with particular focus on a major policy success.
One of the first great philosophical books, Plato’s Republic, concludes with the recounting of a near-death experience. Socrates relates the myth of Er, a soldier who died in battle but came back to tell what he saw in the other world. Like other myths in Plato’s works, this is meant to supplement Socrates’ philosophical arguments and to help instill noble beliefs. It’s a last ditch effort at making the case for living a just life.
Each year over one million people worldwide die by suicide. In the United States, approximately 42,000 people die by suicide each year, with a suicide occurring every 12.3 minutes. It is the 10th leading cause of death overall, and the 2nd leading cause of death for youth under the age of 24. For World Suicide Prevention Day, we’d like to tell you why this matters to us and why it should matter to you.