Literary Minds

What can neuroscience tell us about novels, poems, and plays? Can fiction help us develop real-world cognitive skills? And can writers exploit our mental weaknesses—for our own good? These are some of the questions we'll be asking on this week’s episode.

Hacking Our Sense Perceptions

Are humans limited to the senses we’re born with? Or is it possible to hack the brain and create new senses? Even if we could, would we want more senses than we already have? This week we’re thinking about hacking the brain: perception beyond the five senses.

Subway Spreading and Personal Space (Part II)

Last month, I provided a story of (man)spreading on the subway. It's is a simple story about two people on a crowded train with different ‘preferences’ for personal space. But it leads us to a new understanding of the ways that even everyday gestures can trigger structural and systematic inequities.

How does Consciousness Happen?

How exactly does consciousness occur? Neuroscientist Anil Seth argues that it is a controlled hallucination. Having less to do with intelligence than we often think, consciousness depends on how the brain predicts its world to operate.

Dennett vs. Papineau on Consciousness

Both David Papineau and Dan Dennett are famed materialists (the doctrine that consciousness can be fully explained by material and neuronal functions), so why did Papineau give Dennett's book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back, a critical review?