News and analysis on the implications of brain science

Can a Difficult Childhood Enhance Cognition?

by Olga Khazan

The Atlantic | April 11, 2017

Poverty tends to dampen test scores, but new research suggests people with hard upbringings can sometimes outperform their more-privileged peers. "We’re not arguing that stress is good. We’re arguing that’s real, and that’s half the story," says one researcher.

'Love drugs' will soon be a reality. But should we take them?

by Olivia Goldhill

Quartz | April 8, 2017

"I would imagine a future love drug would be something you take together with your partner, and that causes a slow, long-term experience," says one researcher.

F.D.A. Will Allow 23andMe to Sell Genetic Tests for Disease Risk to Consumers

by Gina Kolata

New York TImes | April 6, 2017

For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration said it would allow a company to sell genetic tests for disease risk directly to consumers, including risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Until now, the only way for people to get such genetic tests was to see a medical professional who would order a test and later deliver the results to patients. Often, patients were required to see a genetic counselor before getting a test.

When is the Brain “Mature”?

by Kayt Sukel

Dana Foundation | April 4, 2017

Though most people in the US consider 18 to be the age maturity is reached, developmental neuroscientists say there isn’t a one size fits all age, nor a one size fits all method to measure it. In our new briefing paper, we explore how new scientific findings regarding the brain, adolescence, and neurodevelopment are informing law and policy across the country.

Are You Creeped Out by the Idea of a “Moral Enhancement” Pill?

by Vanessa Rampton

Slate | March 20, 2017

Today, we are increasingly aware that new developments in science and technology bring with them increased moral responsibility. But by downplaying the relationship between morality and freedom, there is a danger that we could undermine the moral learning that goes on when we think actively about the validity of our own intuitions.

Brain-Altering Science and the Search for a New Normal

by Sarah Scoles

Pacific Standard magazine | March 13, 2017

A team using BRAIN Initiative money is working to determine what the "normal" range of emotion looks like in the brain, hoping to build deep-brain stimulators that could monitor one's mind and "correct" it to normal when it wanders too far down the low-mood or manic paths.

Crime and the Adolescent Brain

by New York Times Editorial Board

New York Times | March 11, 2017

States that channel most under-18 offenders into juvenile courts have seen less recidivism; now some states are considering creating a "young adult" category for 19- and 20-year-olds.

How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners

by Ed Yong

Atlantic magazine | February 27, 2017

Five neuroscientists argue that fancy new technologies have led the field astray.

When Neuroethicists Become Labmates

The Neuroethics Blog | February 21, 2017

A Q&A with Maggie Thompson and Tim Brown, graduate students at the University of Washington. Maggie studies electrical engineering, and Tim studies philosophy (in particular, neuroethics). They are both members of the Biorobotics Laboratory—a multidisciplinary lab investigating the interface between human bodies and machines. Tim serves as the lab’s “embedded ethicist.”

As Presidents Live Longer, Doctors Debate Whether To Test For Dementia

by Bret Stetka

NPR | February 17, 2017

Until Ronald Reagan, septuagenarian presidents at risk for dementia weren't a concern. "Donald Trump at the time of his inauguration was older than half of our deceased former presidents at the age when they died," says Dr. Jacob Appel, a Mt. Sinai School of Medicine psychiatrist who has studied the health of politicians and presidents.

Monkeys taught to pass mirror self-awareness test

by Bob Yirka | February 14, 2017

For many years, cognitive researchers have relied on the mirror self-recognition test as a means for determining if an animal is capable of self-awareness. But a team of researchers at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences has found that rhesus monkeys can pass the mirror self-awareness test if they are first taught how mirrors work.

Why advances in treating those with brain injuries require advances in respecting their rights

by Joseph J. Fins

Montana Standard | January 26, 2017

Many people see the 21st Century Cures Act as a boon for medical research, but researcher Joseph Fins also see it as "legislation that will help realize the civil rights of people with severe brain injury. With new understanding and better neurotechnologies, we can help patients communicate and reengage with their world. The long arc of justice demands nothing less for citizens with severe brain injury."

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