Decoding the Brain’s Cacophony

"Social constructs like good judgment and free will are even further removed, and trying to define them in terms of biological processes is, in the end, a fool’s game. "

Internet 'may be changing brains'

"Brain scans show a direct link between the number of Facebook friends a person has and the size of certain parts of their brain."

The End of Evil?

"Neuroscientists suggest there is no such thing. Are they right?"

What can neuroscience teach us about evil?

"The view that free will and determinism are incompatible with moral responsibility is called, sensibly enough, incompatibilism. Many folks — and I think some of them are neuroscientists — simply assume that our intuitive, everyday conception of free will is incompatibilist.”

Why It’s Smart to Be Bilingual

"The brain’s real super-food may be learning new languages."

The quest to build the perfect lie detector

"Since 9/11, researchers have been racing to replace the polygraph. Now they’re getting close — and it’s scary"

Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Junk Food, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity and Gambling Feel so Good

"There’s more to enjoyment than electrical impulses - Steven Rose feels better distinction should be made"

Why Money Makes You Unhappy

"Money is surprisingly bad at making us happy. Once we escape the trap of poverty, levels of wealth have an extremely modest impact on levels of happiness, especially in developed countries. Even worse, it appears that the richest nation in history – 21st century America – is slowly getting less pleased with life. (Or as the economists behind this recent analysis concluded: “In the United States, the [psychological] well-being of successive birth-cohorts has gradually fallen through time.”)”

Moral judgments can be altered by magnets



MIT scientists applied magnetic fields to the right temporo-parietal junction, which has been shown with fMRI imaging to be involved in thinking about “judgements involving other people’s intentions,” and how those intentions alter the morality of their actions. In their experiments…

…the researchers found that when the right TPJ was disrupted, subjects were more likely to judge failed attempts to harm as morally permissible. Therefore, the researchers believe that [magnetic stimulation] interfered with subjects’ ability to interpret others’ intentions, forcing them to rely more on outcome information to make their judgments.”

While fascinating, it’s worth noting that the magnetic stimulation affects just this single aspect of morality, the weighing of intention, a limitation the scientists admit. Indeed, the extremely narrow scope of the experiment problematizes any conclusions one might wish to draw about morality, its sources or bases, and how it functions.

It’s hardly novel that physical interference with the brain can produce exceptional mental phenomena, as discussed by Julian Jaynes and Oliver Sacks and scores of others. It remains to be seen what -if anything- such experiments say about the nature of mind or its reducibility.