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Neuroscience

WNYC News

Niche Market | Strategy Games

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New York is a city of specialists from foodies to academics, laborers to shopkeepers. Every Wednesday, Niche Market will take a peek inside a different specialty store and showcase the city's purists who have made an art out of selling one commodity.

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Radiolab

The Perfect Yellow

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jad and Robert wonder if maybe they could add to their color palette. Jay Neitz wondered the same thing, sort of. Take a monkey that can't see red, for example. Couldn't you just give them the red cones they were missing? So he took the human gene for red cones, ...

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The Takeaway

How Neuroscience is Changing Teaching

Monday, April 30, 2012

Everyone had a favorite teacher growing up, but did you ever wonder how that person got you excited about learning? According to new neurological research, it might be because that teacher unknowingly tapped into your brain. John Gabrieli, neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks about these and other new results from neuroscience that are shaping the way educators teach.

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Radiolab

The Great Brain Mapping Debate

Monday, April 02, 2012

Robert and Carl Zimmer teamed up tonight to moderate a brain mapping brouhaha live at Columbia University. The subject: does the brain's wiring make us who we are? The event has ended, but thanks to everyone who tuned in for the live webcast (and the lively web chat archived below).

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The Takeaway

Jonah Lehrer on How to Expand Your Imagination

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where do most artists and inventors get their creative impulse? Author and journalist Jonah Lehrer explores the science behind imagination in his new book "Imagine: How Creativity Works."

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Here's to the Quiet Ones

Monday, March 12, 2012

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain looks at why introverts are often overlooked, despite their many accomplishments, including major works of art to the early personal computer. She also examines what neuroscience reveals about the differences between extroverts and introverts.

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Radiolab

A Brain Thinking about Itself Thinking

Friday, March 09, 2012

Inspired by Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, Ellen Horne puts her mind to the task of explaining the two (sometimes in sync, sometimes at odds) operating systems that our brains use to solve problems. Try out your own systems here.

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Schoolbook

Now These Are Some Brainy Students

Monday, February 06, 2012

Fifty-five high school students from the five boroughs and Westchester County were quizzed on Saturday about their knowledge of the brain. When the New York City Brain Bee at Columbia University was done, Danling Chen, a junior at Staten Island Technical High School, pulled off a win by correctly naming the chemical energy source of cells. The answer: ATP.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Free Will and the Science of the Brain

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga argues against the common belief that physical laws govern our behavior and that there’s no such thing as free will. In Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain shows how determinism weakens human responsibility, and he shows that the latest insights into the mind reveal that we are responsible for our actions, not our brains.

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The Takeaway

Norwegian Mass Murderer Anders Breivik Declared Insane

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Andres Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian man who killed 77 people and injured 151 others in July, was declared insane by state psychiatrists in Oslo on Tuesday. After planting a car bomb near government buildings in Oslo that killed eight people on July 22, Breivik drove to a political youth camp on Utoeya island and gunned down 69 people, many of whom were teens. In an online manifesto that was found later, Breivik claimed to be defending Europe from an Islamic invasion enabled by Norway's Labour Party and the European Union. Alexander Levi, a lawyer in Oslo, discusses the likelihood of Breivik facing a prison sentence after being declared insane.

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Radiolab

Slow

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kohn Ashmore’s voice is arresting. It stopped his friend Andy Mills in his tracks the first time they met. But in this short about the power of friendship and familiarity, Andy explains that Kohn’s voice isn't the most striking thing about him at all.

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The Takeaway

Doctor Bridges Gap Between Mind and Machine

Monday, September 19, 2011

For Dr. Anthony Ritaccio, the idea of being a human-cyborg isn't just something of science fiction books, but a real world possibility. Ritaccio was born without his right hand, and through his work, as the director of the Epilepsy and Human Brain Mapping Program at the Albany Medical Center and J. Spencer Standish Professor of Neurology at the Albany Medical College, he has learned to map intentions of the human brain. In his lab, Ritaccio is mapping out the electrical layout of the brain, in hopes of building interactions that will one day change the lives of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities.

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WQXR Blog

How Brain Chemistry May Explain The Appeal of Sweet Harmonies

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A new scientific model on humans' response to consonance and dissonance provides insights into why atonal music continues to be challenging for so many listeners.

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Radiolab

Damn It, Basal Ganglia

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The basal ganglia is a core part of the brain, deep inside your skull, that helps control movement. Unless something upsets the chain of command. In this short, Jad and Robert meet a young researcher who was studying what happens when the basal ganglia gets short-circuited in mice...until one fateful day, when things got really, really weird.

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Radiolab

A 4-Track Mind

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In this short, a neurologist issues a dare to a ragtime piano player and a famous conductor. When the two men face off in an fMRI machine, the challenge is so unimaginably difficult that one man instantly gives up. But the other achieves a musical feat that ought to be impossible.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explores the relationship between pleasure and addiction. The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good combines an evolutionary perspective with cutting-edge research in neuroscience and explores how the two connect. 

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The Leonard Lopate Show

A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot looks at the human brain’s tendency toward optimism. Psychologists have long been aware that most people maintain an often irrationally positive outlook on life. In fact, optimism may be crucial to our existence. The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain looks at experiments, research, and findings in cognitive science that help explain the biological basis of optimism. Sharot examines how the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails.

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Radiolab

Desperately Seeking Symmetry

Monday, April 18, 2011

From hair parts to the origin of the universe, how symmetry shapes our existence.

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Radiolab

Are You My Brain Double?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Robert kicks things off with a beautiful re-telling of a 2400-year-old love story from Plato, by way of Aristophanes, about the longing many of us feel for another half to make us whole. This ancient yearning gets us wondering whether the world around us is deeply and fundamentally symmetric, or...not. ...

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Phineas Gage and Please Explain: Anger

Monday, April 04, 2011

During Friday’s Please Explain about anger, Dr. Philip Muskin brought up a man named Phineas Gage, who, he said, “was a very responsible manager on the railroad. One day a tamping rod went through his eye, through his brain, and basically gave him a frontal lobotomy. And Phineas Gage then became basically a ne’er do well. He was not responsible, he drank, he caroused, he lost his temper all the time. That is, the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain is really important.”

Phineas Gage was 25 in 1848, and the foreman of a crew building a new railroad track in Vermont. He was packing explosives with a tamping iron that was “43 inches long, 1.25 inches in diameter and weighing 13.25 pounds,” according Steve Twomey, writing in Smithsonian magazine, when an explosion shot the tamping iron through his head—it entered through his cheek and exited through the top of his skull. He survived, but his doctor and friends noticed a remarkable change in his personality in the months following the accident. He became the most famous patient in neuroscience because his injury demonstrated a connection between brain trauma and personality change and showed that specific parts of the brain were responsible for our moods. Read more about Phineas Gage—and see a photograph of him with the tamping iron that injured him—in Smithsonian Magazine.

In February, Dr. V. S. Ramachandran spoke with Leonard about his work in neuroscience, and he described how strokes cause brain trauma that can alter senses and change personalities. One patient started drawing with incredible detail after he suffered a stroke, although he was never particularly interested in or skilled at making art before. In Dr. Ramachandran's book The Tell-Tale Brain,  he gives a number of examples of how brain injuries reveal the ways the brain works. You can listen to that interview here.

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