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....more
Posts Tagged: neuroscience
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.
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.”
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....more
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....more
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....more
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....more
Some things automatically disgust us, while others are learned triggered from an emotional experience.
Salon.com is dabbling in some neuroscience, speaking with Daniel Kelly who is an assistant professor at Purdue University and the author of, Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust....more
Artists and certain brain damage patients have overlapping tendencies—lying or “chronic confabulation,” in neuroscience vernacular.
The difference is in that writers fabricate experiences and consciously control their associations whereas people who have incurred frontal lobe damage may be unable to stop the rush of associations and storytelling inclinations....more
There’s an awesome Mother Jones article on how we intake our science like lawyers and how our reasoning is inextricably linked to our emotional centers. We’re used to scientific evidence and opinion-based beliefs competing or being on opposite sides of our reality spectrum, but they do, indeed, inform each other....more
Stop reading this and go outside and take a walk somewhere nature-like. Right now.
Okay, did you go? Good. Now you might actually pay attention to me....more
Reading and Teaching Proust Was a Neuroscientist...more