News and Commentary Archive

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The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

WATCH – “The Creative Mind: A Conversation with Adam Gopnik”

Creative expression, whether in music, visual arts or great literature, may shed light on the most important and elusive neuroscience question of them all – how does the brain enable the mind? In turn, neuroscience may be able to probe the components of creative genius, characterizing what makes certain artistic works evocative, transfixing, or even transcendent.

150601_Gopnik_CLBB_finalOn Monday, June 1, the MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior hosted “The Creative Mind: A Conversation with Adam Gopnik” event at the Harvard Club of New York City, moderated by Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD. The evening began with a reception and artistic performance, followed by a conversation between The New Yorker writer and the psychiatric geneticist.

Adam Gopnik has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1986. During his tenure at the magazine, he has written fiction, humor, book reviews, profiles, and reported pieces from abroad. He was the magazine’s art critic from 1987-1995, and the Paris correspondent from 1995-2000. From 2000 to 2005, he wrote a journal about New York life. His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include “Paris to the Moon,” “The King in the Window,” “Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York,” “Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life,” “The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food,” and “Winter: Five Windows on the Season.” Gopnik has three National Magazine awards, for essays and for criticism, and also the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March of 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. He lectures widely, and, in 2011, delivered the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Massey Lectures.

Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD is a CLBB faculty member and Director of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Associate Chief for Research in Psychiatry, and Director of Psychiatric Genetics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. Additionally, Smoller is the author of the popular science book, The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior.

This event was sponsored by founding CLBB board member Judi Sorenson Flom, Esq.

To watch video of the entire Gopnik event, or explore past events on mind, brain, and creativity, see CLBB’s Vimeo channel.

Adam Gopnik on the New Neuro-Skeptics

By Adam Gopnik | Sept 9, 2013 | The New Yorker

“Writers on the brain and the mind tend to divide into Spocks and Kirks, either embracing the idea that consciousness can be located in a web of brain tissue or debunking it. For the past decade, at least, the Spocks have been running the Enterprise: there are books on your brain and music, books on your brain and storytelling, books that tell you why your brain makes you want to join the Army, and books that explain why you wish that Bar Refaeli were in the barracks with you. The neurological turn has become what the “cultural” turn was a few decades ago: the all-purpose non-explanation explanation of everything. Thirty years ago, you could feel loftily significant by attaching the word “culture” to anything you wanted to inspect: we didn’t live in a violent country, we lived in a “culture of violence”; we didn’t have sharp political differences, we lived in a “culture of complaint”; and so on. In those days, Time, taking up the American pursuit of pleasure, praised Christopher Lasch’s “The Culture of Narcissism”; now Time has a cover story on happiness and asks whether we are “hardwired” to pursue it.

Myths depend on balance, on preserving their eternal twoness, and so we have on our hands a sudden and severe Kirkist backlash. A series of new books all present watch-and-ward arguments designed to show that brain science promises much and delivers little. They include “A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind” (St. Martin’s), by Robert A. Burton; “Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuro-Science” (Basic), by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld; and “Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind” (Princeton), by a pair of cognitive scientists, Nikolas Rose and Joelle M. Abi-Rached.”

Read the Full Piece at NEWYORKER.COM.