Field of Science

Zimmer on the brain

Eminent science writer Carl Zimmer has written a series of essays about the often surprising and embarrassingly revealing features of our minds. Whether they are bugs or features is debatable, though in evolutionary theory we prefer not to make such subjective distinctions.

Here are links to the ones published in Discover Magazine so far. I especially recommend the first one from September:
We like to see ourselves as being completely conscious of our thought processes, of how we feel, of the decisions we make and our reasons for making them. When we act, it is our conscious selves doing the acting. But starting in the late 1960s, psychologists and neurologists began to find evidence that our self-aware part is not always in charge. Researchers discovered that we are deeply influenced by perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and desires about which we have no awareness. Their research raised the disturbing possibility that much of what we think and do is thought and done by an unconscious part of the brain—an inner zombie.
Could a Dose of Ether Contain the Secret to Consciousness? - March 16, 2009
Researchers may soon be able to measure consciousness as well as we can measure a person's temperature.

Is Patriotism a Subconscious Way for Humans to Avoid Disease? - February 18, 2009
We're not very aware of the “behavioral immune system,” but it may push us toward life-saving behaviors.

How Google Is Making Us Smarter - January 15, 2009
Humans are "natural-born cyborgs," and the Internet is our giant "extended mind."

Mom and Dad Are Fighting in Your Genes—and in Your Brain - November 10, 2008
Our brains may contain a battle of the sexes that can cause schizophrenia and autism.

Why Darwin Would Have Loved Botox - October 15, 2008
All those wrinkle-causing winces, smirks, and sneers may have been the product of evolution.

Could an Inner Zombie Be Controlling Your Brain? - September 08, 2008
Scientists have found evidence that the self-aware part of our brains isn't always in charge.

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