Posts Tagged: neuroscience

Your Brain on History

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For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Larry S. McGrath writes about the growing role of neuroscience in writing new historical narratives. McGrath frames this discussion in a review of historian Lynn Hunt’s Writing History in the Global Era, looking particularly at her claim of a “biochemical revolution” in shaping the modern consciousness.

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Oliver Sacks: Scientist, Seer, Sympathizer

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Oliver Sacks brought neuroscience closer to popular understanding and in turn, brought people closer to each other. At The Toast, Laura Passin’s thoughtful tribute to Sacks by way of memoir:

What he conveys in so many of his great case studies–is not a lurid thrill at the exotic mental experience, but an urgent need to reassess what we know about being human… Maybe it’s my own idiosyncrasies talking, but nothing could have had a greater impact on my ability to connect with my mother than to think of us as living in slightly askew universes.

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Brain Training

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Great news for avid readers! It turns out that intense reading is good exercise for your brain. Over at Open Culture, Josh Jones writes about a study by Michigan State University Professor Natalie Phillips, who compares the brain activity of participants alternating between a close read and a casual perusal of a chapter in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park:

Thus, she theorizes, the practice and teaching of close reading “could serve—quite literally—as a kind of cognitive training, teaching us to modulate our concentration and use new brain regions as we move flexibly between modes of focus.”

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From Metaphor to Consciousness

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Neuroscientists are examining metaphors and finding that they’re essential to language. Modern brain scanning has allowed scientists to look at brain activity as the brain employs metaphors from language. What has been found is that the brain interprets metaphors literally. For instance,  metaphors based on actions involving the body activate areas of the brain that normally activate when the body is in motion.

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Is Neuroscience the Future of the Humanities?

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As science and technology dominate our lives more and more each day, those of us in the humanities find ourselves increasingly on the defensive.

One way to demonstrate the humanities’ relevance is with neuroscience. Brain scans not only show us concrete evidence of the ways novels affect our thoughts and emotions, but also give us exciting new insights into how we process literature.

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What About the Sky?

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According to scholars, Homer never mentioned the color blue in any of his works; neither did the Bible, nor an abundance of ancient texts. Also, linguists have found a near-universal pattern in which languages developed color in stages, and blue was always the last to be named.

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Memory Excavation

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Guernica examines the intersections of science, emotion, and memory by way of an exchange between novelist Rivka Galchen and neuroscience professor David Linden, featured in the Rubin Museum’s Brainwave series.

“As Linden explains in his book, ‘memory retrieval is an active and dynamic process.’ Thus recollecting past experiences—reliving them again and again or retelling them to others—subtly modifies the memories we keep.

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