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Incognito: an overview and critique

Neuroscientist David Eagleman begins his third book, Incognito: the secret lives of the brain, in panoramic Sagan-esque style, immediately striking a resonant harmony between lucidity and enthusiasm for the significance of his topic. The thesis? Human consciousness emerges from the physical attributes and activities of the brain, but is only a small part of the brain’s business; what else the brain is up to is normally inaccessible and mysterious, but our science, Eagleman asserts, is now uncovering its secrets. Continue reading


Summary and Critique of Cope et al.

BACKGROUND In Hemispheric Asymmetries during Processing of Immoral Stimuli 1, Cope et al. report the results of three fMRI studies consistent with the hypothesis that, among humans, the specialized circuitry involved in processing negative morally laden stimuli is lateralized in the left hemisphere. To contextualize their research, Cope et al. describe Broca’s early recognition of … Continue reading

CVS Modulates Moral Judgments

Few things feel more intuitive than our sense of right and wrong. How do agency, valence, and processing levels of moral stimuli influence this sense, and are the circuits involved lateralized in one or the other cerebral hemispheres? To address these questions, I used caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) treatments followed by the Explicit Moral Judgment Test (EMJT) to probe the biological circuitry of moral judgments. Subjects’ moral evaluations were modulated by CVS treatments across agency, valence, and processing variables, providing evidence for the lateralization of newly identified moral modules concerned with positive-subtraction and self-positive processing. Continue reading

Medical Expertise

As an aspiring physician, medical expertise is something I hope to progressively develop during medical school, internship and residency, fellowship training, and eventually, clinical practice. The knowledge base upon which this expertise will be built has already begun to be established, though the process has often seemed disjointed and the information, to varying degrees, sometimes … Continue reading

Attention, Performance, and Memory

Summary of several chapters from Eysenck and Keane’s Cognitive Psychology, sixth edition (2010) Contrary to early interpretations of shadowing task results, it now appears that unattended stimuli receive considerable processing before being blocked by attentional filters. Theorists continue to debate the relative position of the attentional bottleneck, either early in the auditory processing circuit or … Continue reading

The Value of Eyewitness Accounts

To my favorite teenage person, Youth is often accompanied by a sense of infallibility, an overzealous confidence in the quality and quantity of one’s knowledge base, and a gross underestimation of one’s ignorance. Few things are as well positioned to tame such conceit as scientific tests of the accuracy of our everyday memory. But demonstrating … Continue reading

An Overview of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology, simply stated, is the study of the nervous system’s information processing. It includes the circuitry that performs such processing, as well as the behaviors following from it. As Neisser first defined it, “cognition refers to all the processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used” (Neisser, 1967, … Continue reading