2 The Exploratorium science museum presents a discussion of art, emotion and the mindfgbk—the third in a series of five Saturday afternoon mind-themed lectures. Also, visit an exclusive exhibit of renowned psychologist Paul Ekman’s photographs, featuring a study of the facial expressions of the isolated South Fore people in New Guinea. The exhibition marks the 40th anniversary of his influential work, which led to a new understanding of the universal nature of facial expressions and emotions.
7–9 What makes us who we are? Find out from researchers who study emotion, judgment, relationships and self-identity at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
14 This Valentine’s Day cuddle up with that special someone and contemplate the odors on which your love is based. No, really. For decades scientists suspected that the sense of smell (that is, airborne chemical detection) probably plays an important role in human sexual attraction, just as it does in other mammals. But despite the claims displayed on the countless bottled “pheromones” on the market, scientists had no luck proving the existence of a chemical that could influence desire. Finally, a year ago this month, researchers found evidence that androstadienone, a component of male armpit sweat, increases arousal in women who smell it. And you thought romance was dead....
26 Neuroscientist Donald W. Pfaff of the Rockefeller University discusses his new book, The Neuroscience of Fair Play (Dana/University of Chicago Press, 2007), in which he draws on decades of his research to formulate a theory about what exactly happens in the brain when we follow the Golden Rule. Learn more about Pfaff’s book in “Do unto Others,” by Kurt Kleiner [Reviews], in Scientific American Mind, December 2007/January 2008.
New York City
3 On this day in 1947 Life magazine ran an enthusiastic article about the promise of a medical breakthrough, the lobotomy. The article hailed prefrontal lobotomies as the cure for society’s ills only a few years before the advent of antipsychotic drugs rendered the procedure obsolete. For a review of a new PBS documentary about the maverick doctor who started the American lobotomy craze, flip over to page 83.
8–23 Neuroscience meets performance art in “Waves of Mu,” a blend of visual art, installations and performances by artist Amy Caron. Inspired by mu waves, the electromagnetic oscillations that arise from mirror-neuron activity in the brain, the piece is designed to inform audiences about the brain while triggering their own mirror-neuron systems. Caron worked for years with researchers, including Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, to refine her understanding of the science. The show will tour the U.S. after its Vermont premiere.
28 Six students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology fly to Las Vegas for a weekend of blackjack and return to college hundreds of thousands of dollars richer. Is this a tale of genius gone bad? Or a well-earned revenge of the nerds? Find out in 21, a new movie based on the true story of an M.I.T. professor (Kevin Spacey) and his team of card-counting whiz kids who used their unusual mathematical intelligence to take the gambling world by storm.