Perception, illusion, prediction, magic, autism

There is an enjoyable article in the current issue of Wired in which the magician Teller (the silent, smaller and more sneaky chap on the Penn and Teller team) engages in a conversation with the science writer Jonah Lehrer about the neurological bases of magic. Reading this article led me to a review on this…

Brain Plasticity and Culture

In a recent book “Brain and Culture” (MIT Press), Dr. Bruce Wexler, a Yale psychiatrist, considers some of the many implications of brain plasticity research for cultural progressions. One special point of his book is the way that our brains specialize, through our plasticity mechanisms, to create a model of the culture (our world) into…

Moderate drinking and longevity

I have earlier described evidence from a large British study that identified a positive impact of the moderate consumption of alcohol on longevity — in their case, apparently adding about 1.5 years to a lifespan. Now, from my own university comes another large, careful study that supports this conclusion, while doing a little better job…

The IMPACT study; a gold-standard trial that shows that Posit Science’s ‘Brain Fitness Program’ works as advertised.

A controlled scientific study (Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training; the IMPACT Study) conducted in 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 has recorded substantial improvements in cognitive abilities resulting from training with Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program. The study, now published online and appearing in print in the April issue of…

Living longer (if you’re a rat). Part 2

In a yesterday’s blog, we discussed a study that provided powerful evidence that losing your driver’s license shortens your life. For individuals that were roughly matched for their physical health and brain health going into that study, an astounding 4-6X as many individuals who had given up driving had departed from this mortal coil, in…

Brain health and driving

In a January 30th article in the Journal of Gerontology, a very distinguished University of South Florida team led by Dr. Jerri Edwards reported rather astonishing findings on the value of retaining your driving license at an older age. Their approach was to match a large population of individuals using a variety of general health…

Keeping those troops on alert

I usually don’t read Time , but my wife has a subscription and I happened to notice and read a cover story in a recent issue discussing the profligate prescription of drugs (especially, anti-depressants) to active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was not surprised by the story, for two reasons. First, as you probably…

Drugs for children with bipolar disorder

Joseph Biederman is probably THE leading advocate for more aggressive diagnoses and more aggressive medical treatments of children with severe neuro-behavioral problems. If you track the research history of this prominent Harvard scientist and his Massachusetts General Hospital colleagues, it documents the development of a new diagnosis of the misbehaving, out-of-control child as “bipolar”, and…

Gory neuroscience

I was surprised to read about neuroscience and the brain considered from a particularly intelligent general perspective in the politician Al Gore’s recently published The Assault on Reason (now a Penguin soft-cover). I recommend this book for its perspective about the relationship between “reason” and “marketing” — as “truth” hangs in the balance — in…