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Neuron Culture

David Dobbs on science, nature, and culture.



dobbspic I write articles on science, medicine, nature, culture and other matters for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Slate, National Geographic, Scientific American Mind, and other publications, and am working on my fourth book, The Orchid and the Dandelion, which expands on my recent December 2009 Atlantic article. My previous books include Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral, which traces the strangest but most forgotten controversy in Darwin's career — an elemental dispute running some 75 years.

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    Back from a vegetative state

    Category: Brains and minds

    FromMind Hacks:

    We've reported before on brain imaging research that shows brain activity in those in a 'persistent vegetative state'. What I didn't know until today was that one subject in this research, Kate, has since woken up. This YouTube video tells Kate's story:

    Read on »

    Survey the Slippery Slope of Cognitive Enhancement

    Category: Brains and minds

    There's been a lot of buzz on the Net* about the Nature commentary on cognitive enhancement I blogged about...

    Read on »

    Some heavyweights vote Yes on cognitive-enhancing drugs for the healthy

    Category: Brains and minds

    My own powers of memory and focus, for instance, probably fall within the normal range ; yet they're not as good as those possessed by some of my peers who can therefore perhaps outwork me. Taking some modafinil can close some of that gap -- and, more to the point, help me work at my own best capacity. And it's not hard to rationalize or justify: I already drink (too much) coffee to boost my energy and cognitive performance, and modafinil essentially provides a more complete coffee-achiever boost without producing jittery hands or irritability; in fact, many people find it has a nice antidepressive effect rather than producing the anxiety that too much coffee can. And virtually no one, of course, suggests it's unfair to drink coffee -- even though I clearly drink it not to cure an ill but to enhance my already existing powers and attentiveness (such as they aren't). So let's say I switch from coffee to modafinil. Have I done wrong?

    Read on »


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