6–10 What is creativity? How does it arise? Philosophers and neuroscientists alike are searching for answers to these intriguing questions. Neuroscientists are using functional MRI to discover whether we have brain circuits specifically associated with creative thinking. And philosophers may seek to understand both what motivates aha! moments in everyday life and how these instances determine who we are. During the five days of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers will come together to discuss themes of common interest, including the nature of honesty and the neuroethics of using brain scans for lie detection.
15 Although mind reading is not possible for mere mortals, it still represents an intriguing possibility in the science-fiction and fantasy realms. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final film installment of the popular book series written by J. K. Rowling, Harry finds he shares a strong mental connection with his arch nemesis, Voldemort. Harry and Voldemort possess an ability called legilimency, a magical skill where they can extract feelings and memories from each other’s mind. The ability also allows them to convey visions or memories or even to plant false visions.
4–7 Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the love hormone, enhances feelings of lust and trust between people. A recent report, however, suggests that the effects of this brain-altering chemical are not all so rosy; oxytocin may amplify negative as well as positive feelings. In other words, an influx of oxytocin may make a suspicious person even more hostile. At the four-day 119th American Psychological Association Convention, scientists will discuss how different hormones alter brain function and how neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, stress the brain.
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Some research suggests that solving puzzles can boost general brain function. Enter the Mindbender Mansion, a traveling exhibit filled with brainteasers and interactive challenges designed to enhance children’s problem-solving skills. The show, which makes an appearance at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery this summer, invites visitors to uncover hidden clues and secret passwords as they solve up to 40 brainteasers. The aim is to help children think creatively as they arrange puzzle pieces to form new shapes and solve Sudoku-like problems.
Roundup: Podcasting about the Brain
Wish you could chat sometime with a neuroscientist? The Brain Science Podcast might be the next best thing. Host Ginger Campbell interviews leading brain scientists, physicians and psychologists about their work, delving into subjects such as intelligence and memory. In one episode, Campbell asks Emory University psychologist and Scientific American Mind contributor Scott O. Lilienfeld to dissect how psychological issues are portrayed in movies and television. Campbell also explores controversial topics, such as whether hypnosis is an effective treatment for insomnia and other disorders.