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NEUROSCIENCE

A Light Revolution in Neuroscience

Optogenetics opens the door to understanding how specific types of neurons contribute to brain function, but the ethics of using it in humans needs serious consideration.

NEUROSCIENCE

The Sunny Side of an Underwater Mortgage

From a biological standpoint, socially cooperative behaviors could be an end in themselves, as far as your unconscious brain is concerned. But financial systems and policies ignoring the often-unconscious human social instincts do so at their peril. The authors offer a few practical steps for reinforcing the “social contract” that might alleviate the growing rift between the financial markets and society.

BIOETHICS

Neuroscience Goes to War

With more attention to the empirical applications of modern neuroscience, we can better understand the connections between predictors of success and individual variability in training and learning. Equivalence may not be the key to preparing the modern soldier.

NEUROSCIENCE

Intelligent Solutions

A raft of scientific evidence in recent years, along with a recent book, demonstrates that environment has a very strong impact on an individual’s brain development. The work effectively rebuts most of the lingering arguments over the controversial Bell Curve hypothesis.

NEUROSCIENCE

Reading the Mindreading Studies

Increasingly complicated fMRI research demands increasingly sophisticated evaluations of its validity. We should neither ignore the serious problems with fMRI, nor dismiss its potential to make important scientific discoveries.

Brain Drain

The Senate Intelligence Committee has announced that it will investigate CIA detention and interrogation practices during the Bush administration. Though some observers will surely find fault with officials’ behavior, the goal is to find the facts rather than place blame. [...]

Neuroscience Everywhere

cutaway iamge of the human brainThe past few days have yielded stories on how poverty affects childhood cognitive development, societal acceptance of brain enhancing drugs, the first meeting of the Neuroethics Society, and the most famous patient in neuroscience research.

NEUROSCIENCE

Deciphering Today’s Signature War Injury

Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are major clinical challenges for doctors treating soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Although very different in nature, the symptoms of the two conditions overlap, making diagnosis and treatment difficult.

Neuroethics Comes of Age

MRI image of a brainOriginally, the Neuroethics Society expected 50—maybe 80—people to show up for its First Annual Meeting. But over 200 neuroethics devotees assembled last week at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. This is just the beginning, as neuroscience experts are moving to educate more policymakers on the implications of advances in the field.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Intelligence on the Brain

A large set of questions for 21st century neural and behavioral science has come into focus, and they will play a significant role in both national intelligence operations and in relations within a globalized scientific community.

Bluegrass Brain Surgery

Banjo during brain surgeryDeep brain stimulation is an experimental technique in which electrodes are implanted into the thalamus to correct the effects of neurodegenration or brain injury. Scientists have used the process to treat essential tremor since 1997 and Parkinson’s disease since 2002. The Neurophilosophy blog reports that doctors have recently used the technique to monitor brain surgery in real time—and in tempo. Neurosurgeons had their patient, the legendary bluegrass musician Eddie Adcock, play his banjo while he was undergoing deep brain stimulation.

This Is Your Sarcastic Brain. Yeah, Right.

Anyone who has ever parented a 13-year-old human female knows this already: There is a sarcasm neural system, and its appearance must be associated with early adolescence. So far only the first assertion has been confirmed by neuroscience.

NEUROETHICS

Neuroethics 101

New technologies enable scientists to understand, alter, and enhance our brains. These raise a host of policy-relevant questions about privacy, social and political coercion, access to technology and therapy.

The Ethics of Enhancing Brain Power

In a briefing yesterday for Capitol Hill staffers, neuroscientist Martha Farah explained that new technologies that enhance the power of the brain also raise questions about safety, economic fairness, privacy, and personal freedom.

A Computer Program That Sees What You See

fmriScientists at the University of California-Berkeley have developed a “visual decoder” which employes a computational algorithm to identify what someone saw just by examining their brain activity. The success of the study represents an advance in the scientific understanding of how the brain processes images, but could also have potential ramifications for mind-reading technology.

Politics on the Brain

Human brainA recent New York Times Op-Ed on brain response to political keywords has drawn criticism from the neuroscience community for its incomplete findings and its false air of scientific certainty.

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