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Why is it so difficult to adopt a more sustainable way of life, even when convinced of the urgency of the environmental crisis? If adopting new behaviors beneficial for the environment is so challenging at the individual level, no wonder it is even harder at the community or governmental levels. Seeing individual and collective behaviors not changi…
 
A taken-for-granted miracle occurs in doctors’ offices across the world every single day. With only a stethoscope and an inflatable cuff, a physician can check your blood pressure to predict your risk of future heart problems. These tools give you the chance to take proactive steps to reduce this risk if needed. Why don’t we have similar tools for …
 
Curious about something? Google it. Look at it. Ask a question. But is curiosity simply information seeking? According to this exhilarating, genre-bending book, what's left out of the conventional understanding of curiosity are the wandering tracks, the weaving concepts, the knitting of ideas, and the thatching of knowledge systems--the networks, t…
 
Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big gray blob between your ears. In Seven and a Half Lessons about the Brain (Mariner Books, 2020), Feldman reveals mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research. You’ll learn where brains came from, how they’re struct…
 
On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done (Princeton UP, 2020) is a look at the extraordinary ways the brain turns thoughts into actions—and how this shapes our everyday lives. Why is it hard to text and drive at the same time? How do you resist eating that extra piece of cake? Why does staring at a tax form feel mentally exhausting? Why can your chi…
 
Psychologists and neuroscientists struggle with how best to interpret human motivation and decision making. The assumption is that below a mental “surface” of conscious awareness lies a deep and complex set of inner beliefs, values, and desires that govern our thoughts, ideas, and actions, and that to know this depth is to know ourselves. In the Th…
 
Entering the world of psychedelic drugs can be challenging, and many aren't sure where to start. As research continues to expand and legalization looms on the horizon for psychedelics like psilocybin, you may need a guide to navigate what psychedelics are, how they work, and their potential benefits and risks. The Psychedelic Handbook: A Practical …
 
Biomedical research using various animal species and in vitro cellular systems has resulted in both major successes and translational failure. In Model Systems in Biology: History, Philosophy, and Practical Concerns (MIT Press, 2022), comparative neurobiologist Georg Striedter examines how biomedical researchers have used animal species and in vitr…
 
Listen to this interview of John Measey, Researcher at the Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. We talk about the needs of early-career researchers and also about our need for early-career researchers. John Measey : "What we really need to know is what a scientific journal is for and what we want it to be for. So, we …
 
If you have ever been skeptical about whether neuroscience has anything to teach psychoanalysis, or vice-versa, you will be stimulated by this book which engages the two disciplines in a fascinating dialogue with each other. How does the mind connect to the body? Why does it feel like something to be us? For one of the boldest thinkers in neuroscie…
 
In The Mind and the Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches (Ecco, 3033), Daniel Bergner examines these and other by describing three riveting case studies in the context of the history of psychiatry and psychopharmacology. Alongside the story of his brother Bob’s struggle with bipolar disorder, we learn …
 
Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind was that rare publishing phenomenon--a mind-changer. Widely read by the general public as well as by educators, this influential book laid out Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. It debunked the primacy of the IQ test and inspired new approaches to education; entire curricula, schools, museums, and parents' g…
 
Plan S: the open access initiative that changed the face of global research. Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells's book Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed. (Ubiquity Press, 2022) tells the story of open access publishing - why it matters now, and for the future. In a world where information has never been so accessible, and answers ar…
 
As a trainee doctor, A. J. Lees was enthralled by his mentors: esteemed neurologists who combined the precision of mathematicians, the scrupulosity of entomologists, and the solemnity of undertakers in their diagnoses and treatments. For them, there was no such thing as an unexplained symptom or psychosomatic problem--no difficult cases, just inter…
 
When we think of electricity, we likely imagine the energy humming inside our home appliances or lighting up our electronic devices--or perhaps we envision the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But electricity is more than an external source of power, heat, or illumination. Life at its essence is nothing if not electrical. The story of how…
 
When people describe the brain they often compare it to a computer. In fact, the metaphor of the brain as a computer has defined the field for decades now. And in many ways, it works – the are many respects in which the brain is like a computer. But there are other aspects of the brain which are not captured by the computer metaphor which is why th…
 
Few substances have been researched as extensively, and debated as fiercely, as cannabis. In Marijuana on My Mind: The Science and Mystique of Cannabis (Cambridge University Press, 2022), psychiatrist Timmen Cermak offers a balanced, science-based analysis of how marijuana affects people physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually. Cermak dra…
 
In Neuromatic: Or, a Particular History of Religion and the Brain (U Chicago Press, 2021), religious studies scholar John Lardas Modern offers a sprawling examination of the history of the cognitive revolution and current attempts to locate all that is human in the brain, including spirituality itself. Neuromatic is a wildly original take on the en…
 
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to renowned cognitive psychologist Stephen Kosslyn about how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced, or didn't influence, our understanding of the learning process. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a d…
 
Are humans the only dreamers on Earth? What goes on in the minds of animals when they sleep? When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness (Princeton UP, 2022) brings together behavioral and neuroscientific research on animal sleep with philosophical theories of dreaming. It shows that dreams provide an invaluable window into the cog…
 
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to renowned UC San Diego neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland about the importance of communicating science, the wonders of the biological world and the dangers of wishful thinking. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, re…
 
How to Do Things with Emotions: The Morality of Anger and Shame across Cultures (Princeton UP, 2021) is an expansive look at how culture shapes our emotions—and how we can benefit, as individuals and a society, from less anger and more shame The world today is full of anger. Everywhere we look, we see values clashing and tempers rising, in ways tha…
 
Listen to this interview of Dashun Wang, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, and also with Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. We talk about their new book The Science of Sci…
 
The human brain undergoes massive changes during its development, from early childhood and the teenage years to adulthood and old age. Across a wide range of species, from C. elegans and fruit flies to mice, monkeys, and humans, information about brain connectivity (connectomes) at different stages is now becoming available. New approaches in netwo…
 
The accusation “you’re deluded” is often used as something of a cheap shot intended to silence an opponent in debate. But what is the nature of a delusion and how can we assess rationality and irrationality? In this podcast, Owen Bennett-Jones talks to Professor Lisa Bortolotti who studies the philosophy of psychology and psychiatry at Birmingham U…
 
For half a century we have been trained to believe that our right brain hemisphere is our emotional brain, while our left brain houses our rational thinking. Now neuroscience shows that it's not that simple: in fact, our emotional limbic tissue is evenly divided between our two hemispheres. Consequently, each hemisphere has both an emotional brain …
 
Listen to this interview of Stephen Heard, Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick. We talk about his book The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed. (Princeton UP, 2022), we talk about writing when it's a verb, we talk about writing when it's a choice, and w…
 
Today’s episode of How To Be Wrong welcomes Glenn Sauer, who is Donald J. Ross Sr. Chair in Biology and Biochemistry and Professor of Biology at Fairfield University, where he also serves as Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. Our conversation covers a range of topics related to the issue of intellectual humility, including the confli…
 
What makes a living body conscious? What is consciousness and are there different types of it? These questions have been studied by Professor Eva Jablonka from the Cohn Institute for the History of Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. Much of her early work was on epigenetic inheritance which poses questions such as whether learn…
 
If you're like most people, you probably believe that your identity is stable. But in fact, your identity is constantly changing—often outside your conscious awareness and sometimes even against your wishes—to reflect the interests of the groups you belong to. In The Power of Us (Little Brown, Spark, 2021), psychologists Dominic Packer and Jay Van …
 
The Expectation Effect: How your Mindset Can Change Your World (Henry Holt, 2022) is a journey through the cutting-edge science of how our mindset shapes every facet of our lives, revealing how your brain holds the keys to unlocking a better you. What you believe can make it so. You’ve heard of the placebo effect and how sugar pills can accelerate …
 
Many people, at some stage of their life, worry about sleep: are they getting enough of it? Or even, too much? Derk-Jan Dijk is Professor of Sleep and Physiology at University of Surrey. His current research interests include the contribution of sleep to brain function in healthy ageing and dementia; the role of circadian rhythms in sleep regulatio…
 
Neurodisability and the Criminal Justice System: Comparative and Therapeutic Responses (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021) delves into an under-researched and little understood but extremely pertinent issue in law; the prevalence of neurodisability within criminal justice systems. Considering the challenges faced by both juveniles and adults with neuor…
 
Our brains are the most complex machines known to humankind, but they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. Here are gripping accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake. A college student cannot remember if she has eaten breakfast. By dinner, she is strapped to a hos…
 
Listen to this interview of Christophe Bernard, Director of Research at INSERM and Editor-in-Chief of eNeuro. We talk about the review process, about education in the sciences, and again a little bit more about education in the sciences. Christophe Bernard : "Science is everything that a scientist does. But for many people, science is only the benc…
 
Listen to this interview of Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, cofounders of Retraction Watch. We talk about lots of things, retracting very few. Ivan Oransky : "Accountability in science certainly does not come down to only retracting papers, because there are just lots of issues. And by the way, just to remind everyone, science is very much a human en…
 
Today I talked to Leonard Mdlodinow about his new book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking (Pantheon, 2022). "On or around December 1910, human character changed,” Virginia Woolf memorably wrote, citing the rise of Modernism. Take things ahead a century, and Leonard Mdlodinow is making a similarly striking statement that advances in how neur…
 
Elaborately conceived, grandly constructed insane asylums—ranging in appearance from classical temples to Gothic castles—were once a common sight looming on the outskirts of American towns and cities. Many of these buildings were razed long ago, and those that remain stand as grim reminders of an often cruel system. For much of the nineteenth centu…
 
Inside our heads we carry around an infinite and endlessly unfolding map of the world. Navigation is one of the most ancient neural abilities we have―older than language. In Dark and Magical Places: The Neuroscience of Navigation (Norton, 2022), Christopher Kemp embarks on a journey to discover the remarkable extent of what our minds can do. Fueled…
 
How did humans come to be who we are? In his marvelous, eccentric, and widely lauded book Being a Beast, legal scholar, veterinary surgeon, and naturalist extraordinaire Charles Foster set out to understand the consciousness of animal species by living as a badger, otter, fox, deer, and swift. Now, he inhabits three crucial periods of human develop…
 
In 1948, the World Health Organization began to prepare its social psychiatry project, which aimed to discover the epidemiology and arrive at a classification of mental disorders. In Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization (MIT Press, 2021), Harry Y-Jui Wu examines the WHO's ambitious project, argu…
 
It is one of the most extraordinary cases in the history of science: the mating calls of insects were mistaken for a “sonic weapon” that led to a major diplomatic row. Since August 2017, the world media has been absorbed in the “attack” on diplomats from the American and Canadian Embassies in Cuba. While physicians treating victims have described i…
 
For decades, some of our best and brightest medical scientists have dedicated themselves to finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. What happened? Where is the cure? The biggest breakthroughs occurred twenty-five years ago, with little progress since. In How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer's (MIT Press, 2021), neurobiologist Karl Her…
 
Listen to this interview of Ayelet Baram-Tsabari. We talk about the accessibility of science using Google to scholars and students in languages beyond English and how scholars can de-jargonize their research to ensure increase their reach. Avi Staiman is the founder and CEO of Academic Language Experts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaph…
 
Why does a clarinet play at lower pitches than a flute? What does it mean for sounds to be in or out of tune? How are emotions carried by music? Do other animals perceive sound like we do? How might a musician use math to come up with new ideas? This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music …
 
Free Will: An Investigation is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Alfred Mele, the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. This wide-ranging conversation examines free will and the different notions of free will that exist, the connections of free will with developmen…
 
From adrenaline to dopamine, most of us are familiar with the chemicals that control us. They are the hormones and neurotransmitters that our brains run on, and Overloaded: How Every Aspect of Your Life is Influenced by Your Brain Chemicals (Bloomsbury, 2021) looks at the role they play in every aspect of our lives, from what we remember, how we ma…
 
Vision and Perception is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Kalanit Grill-Spector, Professor in Psychology and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University. Kalanit Grill-Spector’s is a vision specialist with a background in computational neuroscience. Her research examines how the brain processes visu…
 
Sleep Insights is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley. This extensive conversation gives a clear and compelling picture of our recent understanding of sleep’s essential role in our dai…
 
Exposing ethical dilemmas of neuroscientific research on violence, this book warns against a dystopian future in which behavior is narrowly defined in relation to our biological makeup. Biological explanations for violence have existed for centuries, as has criticism of this kind of deterministic science, haunted by a long history of horrific abuse…
 
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