Tag Archives: Emotion

The origins of empathy?

Neuroscience is uniquely suited to investigate the biological underpinnings of the features and traits that make us human. These include morality, complex emotions and higher-order cognition. However, as we continually learn more about our behaviour and its origins, one unavoidable and startling possibility is frequently made clear; many quintessentially ‘human’ characteristics may not be unique to ourselves.

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The root of human progress

(or, “Where your iPod really came from”)

There’s this odd thought I get on a semi-regular basis; let’s say a few times per month. Here’s the gist: I’m walking down a busy street, such as Montreal’s Ste. Catherine Street, on a busy afternoon. I abruptly become aware that there are roughly a hundred thousand or so visible objects in my immediate surroundings; gold watches, sweater zippers, cell phones, noserings, Toyotas, handbags, bricks, iPods, and the like. That’s not the weird part, though. Immediately following this otherwise mundane bit of cognition is always the idea that all of these objects, and in fact every human-made object or bit of technology, would not exist but for a small lump of tissue at approximately the level of the passing bike courier’s bridge piercing.

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New neurons and a new therapeutic target

The recent discovery that the human brain produces new neurons throughout life has led us to re-evaluate how we think about our brains and their plasticity, as well as examine potential new targets for psychiatric treatment.

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