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ENTERTAINMENT
September 12, 2013 | By Robert Lloyd, Times Television Critic
"Brains on Trial," Thursday and Sept. 19 on PBS, offers a two-part look at "how brains work when they become entangled with the law. " That is not the John Agar 1950s sci-fi flick it might first sound like, but a look at how recent research into neuroscience and brain mapping changes our understanding of basic questions of human reliability, memory and bias among witnesses, juries and judges. These epistemological problems, pondered by philosophers since time immemorial, are no less difficult today; if anything, they are complicated by new knowledge.
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OPINION
July 20, 2012
Re "Head case puzzle," Opinion, July 15 Robert M. Sapolsky highlights the paradox between biological causes of abnormal behavior and the issue of assessing moral and legal responsibility. After 40-plus years in psychiatry, I have found that the most useful pathway is to accept the paradox, following John Stuart Mill's advice: While ultimately our will is not free, for the sake of an orderly society, it is necessary to act as if it were. Pragmatically, I interpret this to mean that when the biological causation is extraordinary (major brain damage or an acute cerebral infection)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 10, 2013 | By Larry Gordon and Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
In a major case of academic poaching involving crosstown rivals, USC has lured away two prominent neuroscientists from UCLA with a promise to expand their internationally renowned lab that uses brain imaging techniques to study Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, autism and other disorders. Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson will move to the USC Keck School of Medicine campus next fall, along with scores of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staffers who now work at UCLA's Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, known as LONI.
SCIENCE
September 10, 2007 | By Denise Gellene, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work. In a simple experiment reported todayin the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at New York University and UCLA show that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information. Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences.
SCIENCE
October 16, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Scientists have discovered the fossilized brain of an animal that lived 520 million years ago. It is the oldest mostly intact nervous system to have ever been found. The incredible ancient brain and nervous system, described in the journal Nature, belongs to an Alacomenaeus , a member of the mega-claw family. These animals earned the name "mega-claw" ( megacheiran ), because they have two large scissor-like appendages that protrude from the top of their heads. Megacheirans lived in the early Cambrian-era ocean, swimming and scuttling around with nearly one dozen little legs, or swimmerettes.
NEWS
July 22, 2010 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Irritable bowel syndrome has been a tough disorder to understand. Studies have failed to show any structural problems in the gut that would account for the symptoms of pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. However, the disorder is real, affecting as many as 15% of Americans. A new study has found a possible connection between IBS and the brain. Researchers at McGill University and UCLA used MRI scans to reveal changes in the brains of women with the disorder. The researchers took MRI scans of 55 IBS patients and 48 healthy women for comparison.
SCIENCE
May 16, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom.
The tamping rod that blew through Phineas Gage's brain 163 years ago damaged only a small portion of his brain, but it disrupted a much larger proportion of his neural connections, UCLA researchers reported Wednesday. The finding, based on imaging of Gage's skull, may help explain the behavioral changes he endured following the accident. Phineas P. Gage was a construction supervisor for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad. On Sept. 13, 1848, he was working at a site near Cavendish, Vt. He had drilled a hole in a rock that was to be removed then filled the hole with blasting powder.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 9, 2014 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
E.L. Doctorow has long operated in the shadow of the Transcendentalists: Emerson, who inspired his 2003 collection of essays, "Reporting the Universe"; Hawthorne, whose story "Wakefield," he updated in 2008. Like them, his great subject is consciousness, what he has called "a mind in the appalled contemplation of itself. " Like them, he is a romantic, a true believer - in the myth of America as a shining city, despite its various and ongoing failures to live up to its better self. His finest efforts embody this tension, between who we are and who we wish we were, between promise and despair.
SCIENCE
September 12, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
It's a question that has long fascinated and flummoxed those who study human behavior: From whence comes the impulse to dream? Are dreams generated from the brain's "top" -- the high-flying cortical structures that allow us to reason, perceive, act and remember? Or do they come from the brain's "bottom" -- the unheralded brainstem, which quietly oversees such basic bodily functions as respiration, heart rate, salivation and temperature control? At stake is what to make of the funny, sexual, scary and just plain bizarre mental scenarios that play themselves out in our heads while we sleep.
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