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The Brain on Trial - Magazine

The Brain on Trial - Magazine
Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order. On the steamy first day of August 1966, Charles Whitman took an elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower in Austin. The 25-year-old climbed the stairs to the observation deck, lugging with him a footlocker full of guns and ammunition. At the top, he killed a receptionist with the butt of his rifle. Two families of tourists came up the stairwell; he shot at them at point-blank range. The evening before, Whitman had sat at his typewriter and composed a suicide note: I don’t really understand myself these days. By the time the police shot him dead, Whitman had killed 13 people and wounded 32 more. For that matter, so did Whitman. At the same time, Alex was complaining of worsening headaches.

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Free Will Is as Real as Baseball A handful of musings about free will have been popping up in my blog reader of late. Jerry Coyne has been discussing the issue with Eric MacDonald in a series of posts (further links therein). Russell Blackford writes a long post that he promises isn’t the post he will eventually write, David Eagleman has an article in the Atlantic, and Zach Weiner also chimes in. So we have a biologist studying theology, an ex-Anglican priest turned agnostic, a philosopher and neuroscientist both of whom write science fiction, and a webcartoonist studying physics. That constitutes a reasonable spectrum of opinion. Scientists Discover the Fascinating Psychological Reason Why Conservatives Are…Conservative Scientists are using eye-tracking devices to detect automatic response differences between liberals and conservatives. Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln July 16, 2014 | Like this article? Join our email list:

10 Horrifying Premature Burials Creepy Being buried prematurely is one of the most terrifying of all fears. Edgar Allan Poe wrote about it and it has been the subject matter of many horror movies. Extraverts, Free Will Go Hand in Hand Philosophers’ views on freedom and moral responsibility are influenced by inherited personality traits. If they can’t be objective, can anyone? Philosophers are trained to think things through logically and reach conclusions based solely on reason. But as science provides increasing evidence for the interconnectivity of mind, body and emotions, is that sort of intellectual objectivity truly possible? A newly published study suggests the answer is no — at least when it comes to addressing one fundamental issue. It finds deep thinkers with a specific type of personality — warm and extraverted — are more likely to believe that free will remains a viable concept, even in the light of research suggesting our behavior is largely determined by unconscious impulses.

Aymara people's "reversed" concept of time The Aymara, an indigenous group in the Andes highlands, have a concept of time that's opposite our own spatial metaphor. A new study by cognitive scientists explains how the Aymara consider the past to be ahead and the future behind them. According to the study, this is the first documented culture that seems not to have mapped time with the properties of space "as if (the future) were in front of ego and the past in back." A Course in Consciousness (With last update date) Cover Foreword (August 13, 2009) Part 1. Quantum theory and consciousness Here’s The Real Secret to Detecting Lies (And It’s Not Body Language) Until now studies have found that people do no better than chance at detecting lies. Despite all the advice about lie detection going around, study after study has found that it is very difficult to spot when someone is lying. Previous tests involving watching videos of suspects typically find that both experts and non-experts come in at around 50/50: in other words you might as well flip a coin. Now, though, a new study published in Human Communication Research, has found that a process of active questioning yielded almost perfect results, with 97.8% of liars successfully detected (Levine et al., 2014). The process of lie detection has nothing to do with supposed ‘tells’ like avoiding eye-contact or sweating, and everything to do with the way the suspect is questioned.

Fate of Ark of the Covenant Revealed in Hebrew Text A newly translated Hebrew text claims to reveal where treasures from King Solomon's temple were hidden and discusses the fate of the Ark of the Covenant itself. But unlike the Indiana Jones movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the text leaves the exact location of the Ark unclear and states that it, and the other treasures, "shall not be revealed until the day of the coming of the Messiah son of David …" putting it out of reach of any would-be treasure seeker. King Solomon's Temple, also called the First Temple, was plundered and torched by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C., according to the Hebrew Bible. The Ark of the Covenant is a chest that, when originally built, was said to have held tablets containing the 10 commandments.

A Fact More Indigestible than Evolution Ever wonder how people can believe Elvis and Hitler are still alive? Sad fact is, we are bunglers when it comes to believing things we can’t immediately see. We are prone to over-simplify. We are prone to feel certain about dubious things. Do Musicians Have Different Brains? In the last twenty years, brain imaging studies have revealed that musical training has dramatic effects on the brain. Increases in gray matter (size and number of nerve cells) are seen, for example, in the auditory, motor, and visual spatial areas of the cerebral cortex of musicians. As Dr. Oliver Sacks writes in his book , "Anatomists would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer, or a mathematician - but they could recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment's hesitation."

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