Genetics explanations for neurological & psychiatric illness

There is an interesting set of commentaries in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine in which scientists reflect on why genetic screening strategies have had such limited value, for explaining the risks of onset of the great human diseases and disorders. There has been a longstanding presumption (most strongly held by…

Seeing fast-moving things at an older age

Dr. John Andersen recently visited our research group from his laboratory at the University of California at Riverside, to help us understand important studies conducted in his laboratory documenting some aspects of change in the visual perceptual abilities of older individuals. He and his colleagues have conducted a number of important and provocative studies that…

Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 2

This post is a continuation of my previous post, Brain plasticity and criminal behavior part 1 Now, let’s consider the child in which “all does NOT go well”. 1) What if the schedules of interaction between the child and his primary caregiver(s) are sparse? 2) What if interactions are more often negative than positive? 3)…

Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 1

On March 24th, I posted a blog entry in which I made an audacious promise. I promised to review why and how, from a brain plasticity perspective, we Americans are so good at creating criminals, in sharp contrast with most other modern world cultures. I cited the specific comparative example of Japan, where the rates…

Brain plasticity and the law

My wife Diane and I just returned from a working visit to Japan (I was an instructor in a “Spring Symposium” in Kyoto, attended by top Japanese neuroscience doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows). On this trip, we took an extra day to stay overnight in a Buddhist monastery on Mount Koyosan, a sacred site deep…

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…

Brain Awareness Week

Remind yourself this week that you have a brain. It`s officially Brain Awareness Week, which is an acknowledgment that many of our citizens NEED reminding! And as you are pondering your brain’s mysteries, you might also reflect on its health (which equates with the health of YOU). You are, after all, its custodian–the party responsible…

Miscarriage of justice?

I was dismayed by the recent 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals rejection of a California law requiring that violent video games be labelled, with their purchase being limited to individuals over the age of 18. [You can read the court’s Opinion by going to the 9th Circuit website.] What I most strongly objected to…