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Executive Functions in Health and Disease: New book to help integrate Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

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Neu­ro­science used to be the monop­oly of a few elite uni­ver­si­ties locat­ed in a hand­ful of coun­tries. Neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy used to be a quaint niche dis­ci­pline rel­a­tive­ly uncon­nect­ed to the larg­er world of neu­ro­science and con­tent in its meth­ods with paper-and-pen­cil tests. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I Wrote The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

We have always thought that “our brain shapes us.” I wrote my new book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain (May 2012; Free Press, Fore­word by Nor­man Doidge), to prove that the reverse is equal­ly true. I want­ed to demon­strate how “we can shape our brains.”

Imag­ine hav­ing a brain that is capa­ble and inca­pable at the same time. Grow­ing up, I had severe learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties. I lived in a world that was con­fus­ing and incom­pre­hen­si­ble. As I was to lat­er dis­cov­er, a crit­i­cal part of my brain was not work­ing prop­er­ly, the end result being that all lan­guage was expe­ri­enced as for­eign and my trans­la­tor was Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Research Interview Series

We are work­ing on improv­ing sev­er­al sec­tions of our web­site, espe­cial­ly our Resources sec­tion. It will look much bet­ter in a few days. Our first step has been to re-orga­nize our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series, and below you have how it looks today.

Dur­ing the last 18 months I have had the for­tune to inter­view over 15 cut­ting-edge neu­ro­sci­en­tists and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists on their research and thoughts. Here are some of our favorite quotes (you can read the full inter­view notes by click­ing on the links):

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental Training for Gratitude and Altruism

Bran­don Keim writes a nice post on The Future Sci­ence of Altru­ism at Wired Sci­ence Blog, based on an inter­view with Jor­dan Graf­man, chief of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science at the Nation­al Insti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders and Stroke.

Bran­don pro­vides good con­text say­ing that “Sci­en­tists, said Graf­man, are under­stand­ing how our brains are shaped by cul­ture and envi­ron­ment, and a mech­a­nism of these changes may involve fluc­tu­a­tion in our genes them­selves, which we’re only begin­ning to under­stand”. (more on this in our post Richard Dawkins and Alfred Nobel: beyond nature and nur­ture).

And gives us some very nice quotes from Dr. Graf­man, includ­ing

  • One of the ways we dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves from oth­er species is that we have a sense of future. We don’t have to have imme­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion.… But how far can we go into the future? How much of our brain is aimed at doing that? […]”
  • Oth­er great apes have a frontal lobe, fair­ly well devel­oped, but not near­ly as well devel­oped as our own. If you believe in Dar­win and evo­lu­tion, you argue that the area grew, and the neur­al archi­tec­ture had to change in some way to accom­mo­date the abil­i­ties asso­ci­at­ed with that behav­ior. There’s no doubt that did­n’t occur overnight; prob­a­bly a slow change, and it was one of the last areas of the brain to devel­op as well. It’s very recent evo­lu­tion­ary devel­op­ment that humans took full advan­tage of. What in the future? What in the brains can change?”
  • The issue becomes — do we teach this? Train peo­ple to do this? Chil­dren tend to be self­ish, and have to be taught to share.”

The UC Berke­ley mag­a­zine Greater Good tries to answer that ques­tion with a series of arti­cles on Grat­i­tude. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed A Les­son in Thanks, described as Read the rest of this entry »

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