Brain Science Is Our Modern Bible
At least in the sense that it is overturning old doctrines, like folk psychology, and attracting legions of people seeking answers to contemporary philosophical and spiritual questions.
What's the Latest Development?
The force with which brain science has come to frame the debate around many age-old questions—queries about ethics, free will, the mind-body problem, etc.—is partly the result of how two of its most passionate advocates explain their point of view. Paul and Patricia Churchland, who are husband and wife as well as professors at UC Berkeley, often speak "on the importance to ethics of the neurochemicals associated with mammalian emotions, such as oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin, serotonin and adrenalin."
What's the Big Idea?
The idea that brain chemistry determines many of the thoughts and actions we typically consider to be made freely, after a mixture of reason and emotion points us in a particular directions, has wide ranging consequences for society. Our justice system, for example, is premised on the idea that individuals are free to choose between right and wrong behavior. And we hardly think of love as the emergent property of the brain chemical oxytocin. Still, when it comes to human motivation, Churchland says: "There is only the brain."
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It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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