Humans Re-Assess Animal Thinking

May 5, 2016
W.W. Norton Books

Does the cat actually judge you when you trip on your bathrobe belt?  We can't rule it out. 

Science knows a lot more about animal thinking these days, enough to know that we may not rank above animals so much as next to them--think evolutionary bush, not ladder. 

Biologist Frans de Waal studies primates and other creatures in his work, and he wrote the book Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?  He provides many examples of animals using their brains well. 

Inside OHSU's Vollum Institute

Apr 29, 2016

  Science is working hard to understand the causes of mental illness, but we're not far removed--if at all--from dismissals like "he's just acting crazy."  

 The language is elevated a bit above that at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.  Researchers there work to decode the way the brain works, in physical as well as mental health.  

Knowing More + Understanding Less = Internet

Apr 27, 2016
W.W. Norton Books

  Can you even remember the last time you opened a physical dictionary or encyclopedia? 

You don't have to anymore, with the ability to type any term into Google and get results in less than a second--and no paper cuts. 

So the facts are there for us... now there's the issue of CONTEXT.  In The Internet of Us, author Michael Lynch points to evidence that shows we may know more, but we don't understand more. 

In fact, we seem to understand less. 

Thinking About The Thinking Of Others

Mar 25, 2016
Penguin Books

"The mind is what the brain does," it's been said.  And oh boy, it does a LOT. 

And even though we cannot claim telepathy, we are certainly aware of other minds and what they are doing, without offering a penny for anyone's thoughts. 

Think of our thinking of other minds as belonging to The Mind Club

That's the name of the book by psychologists Daniel Wegner and Kurt Gray examining our attitudes towards each other, other thinking animals, and even some inanimate objects. 

This Is Your Brain On Teen

Feb 26, 2016

We have so many questions, just about the place where Dr. Abigail Baird works.  Really, the Laboratory for Adolescent Science?  It is INDEED a study of adolescents, not immature science.   

Dr. Baird focuses on reasoning and decision-making, and how these skills develop as we age (we hope). 

Jokes aside, Abigail has worked to abolish the death penalty for juvenile lawbreakers. 

Another (Good) Day At The Office

Feb 23, 2016
Crown Business Books

We learn more about the brain all the time; don't you wish you had a dollar for every time you heard the term "neuroscience" in the last year? 

That field is only one of several that are brought to bear in Caroline Webb's approach to improving your day--ANY day. 

Her book is How To Have A Good Day

Seeing Our Blind Spots

Feb 12, 2016
Christian LInder/Wikimedia

  We try and try to be as fair as possible to our fellow humans, but darn it, our primitive brains continue to hold onto some biases. 

Law professor Erik Girvan at the University of Oregon says implicit biases are nothing to be ashamed of, but certainly to be aware of. 

He plans a pair of workshops this week on the role of implicit bias in decision making. 

Tech And The Senses

Jan 18, 2016
Basic Books

Finding your way to the bathroom in the dark is a sure sign that you don't need a lot of sensory input to make your way in your usual pathways. 

In fact, scientists now tell us that a majority of what we experience is not necessarily "real," but the world as filtered through our perceptions. 

And we can take advantage of that fact, manipulating the brain for our well-being and gain. 

Think virtual reality, artificial limbs, and more... these are among the gadgets and approaches in Kara Platoni's book We Have The Technology

Creativity On The Brain

Jan 11, 2016
Penguin Books

The next time somebody criticizes your messy desk, just point out that it could be a sign of creativity.  It's worth a try. 

And there's some evidence to support the claim, explored in the book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

Authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire incorporate both brain science and great examples--from Thomas Edison to John Lennon--to illustrate the proclivities of the creative mind. 

Organizing Your Mind (And Life)

Nov 27, 2015
Penguin Books

What's in YOUR kitchen junk drawer?  Or is it a whole closet? 

Humans can be messy creatures, but the tendency to lose track of things can seem amplified in this age of "information overload." 

Fret not: neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin says it's still possible to keep track of appointments, car keys, the works. 

He explains in his book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Diverting People From Destructive Behaviors

Nov 20, 2015

People who behave badly are not necessarily bad people.  They might have simply missed opportunities for someone to recognize and deal with their behavior before it got out of hand. 

The new Center for Translational Neuroscience at the University of Oregon is designed to find and maximize those opportunities. 

CTN aims to train students to recognize and work with people who may be headed for addictions, anxiety, aggressive behavior and overeating. 

Rowman & Littlefield

Dr. Marjorie Woollacott at the University of Oregon knows at thing or two about the human brain. 

You know... nerve tissue, chemicals, electricity. 

But once she started meditating, her own conception of human consciousness changed in a big way. 

The collision of neuroscientist and meditator produced a book, Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind.

"Thirty Million Words" For A Child's Brain

Sep 1, 2015
Penguin Books

Any parent waiting for a great teacher to come forward for their child is waiting too long. 

Parents are the first teachers, educators point out. 

And the Thirty Million Words initiative is meant to give parents the tools to help build good brains in their kids, through the frequent and judicious use of language. 

The approach is detailed in a new book. 

Understanding Autism Through "Neurotribes"

Aug 21, 2015
Penguin Books

  We use the term "autism" more and more all the time... especially since the numbers of people with the condition continue to grow.  But could you define it? 

Steve Silberman, a reporter for "WIRED," aims to answer that question and more in his book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.

He delves into history, diagnosis, and even a portrait of Hans Asperger, for whom the syndrome is named.

Figuring Out Just What The SELF Is

Aug 5, 2015
Penguin Books

"I think, therefore I am."  Rene Descartes said it succinctly, but nearly 400 years later, we still struggle to fully comprehend the idea of SELF. 

If we change physically, does that mean we change ourselves? 

Before you attempt to answer, listen as we talk to Anil Ananthaswamy about his brand-new book The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations Into the Strange New Science of Self

How To Make And Use "The Well-Tuned Brain"

Jun 11, 2015
W.W. Norton

Our brains are capable of amazing things, but they are just a little behind the times. 

Psychiatrist and author Peter Whybrow reminds us that the brain's construction is about survival in the wild, not about navigating a land of plenty in food and consumer goods. 

So we need a tune-up, he says, in The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience & The Life Well Lived.

Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

Jan 6, 2014

Do you know your own IQ? 

Better question: do you think your IQ number indicates a ceiling of sorts, a boundary beyond which your brain cannot go?