Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

Yes, it is time to restart, reboot, rehash and get onwards. After some time doing science and teaching, we are most motivated (read: not only using incentive salience) to continue with the BrainEthics blog.

So, why not scale it up a bit, too?

Why not make more fun?

Why not add more (kinds of) content?

We are now moving to a new site, http://brainethics.org, and we invite you to come along. We believe that the move gives us some further benefits:

  • getting slight income – oh yes we need just something to have the site running, so please check our links and buy books through us
  • more services – hosting our own site makes us less restrained with regard to content, media types, copyright issues
  • more fun – yes we are considering adding more kinds of contents than before, such as video or audio interviews with some of the prominent researchers we have, and include recordings of our talks and lectures

So, please come with us to our new site: brainethics.org

-Martin and Thomas


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Yes, we just got an Awarding the Web Award, for getting the Top Ethics Blog award in the Medical category!

And, I should add, thanks a lot for all the good emails we receive from time to time about our blog. It’s been a year since we blogged last time. We’re still alive and kicking. Indeed, doing so well that Martin and I are now having our own research group, the Decision Neuroscience Research Group (DNRG), a collaboration between the Copenhagen Business School and the Copenhagen University Hospital. This has not only provied us with many new things to do, but an increasing number of such, too.

But with the many nice emails, and now awards, ticking in it may be time for us to get back up on the blogging horse. Instead of promising gold and all from now on, let us just hope that we may add spice again to this blog. It deserves it…

Cheers, Thomas

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picture-1Emergence of emergence abound, we are coming to life again. After a long a chilly winter here in Denmark, we have not been on the lazy side in our neuro-caves. At present, our newly founded (1-year old) Decision Neuroscience Research Group has grown rapidly from 2 persons to 9, and with an abundance of contacts all across the globe. Needless to say, we have been busy with this project, including setting up behavioural and scanning paradigms, applying for funding, giving talks, writing papers and so on.

But now, we hope to be back with more news from the quirky side of cognitive neuroscience, the problems associated by the science, and not the least the mind-blowing implications of research…

Currently, I am having the great pleasure of teaching a course in neuroeconomics together with Prof Elke Weber from Columbia University, and Prof. Eric Johnson from Columbia Business School. Obviously, we are teaching from our own outsets, and taking it as we go along. The best way to do teaching…

More is to come soon now, so stay tuned


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Yes, we are closing in on 200.000 visitors on this site. With a daily visit rate of more than 500 unique visitors, I think that the BrainEthics idea and neuroethics itself is a success.

Congrats to both of us lol 😀


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I have not been very good at blogging the conferences I’m attending. But I will try rectify this grave mistake in the future. Next weekend I am flying to Australia to attend the annual Human Brain Mapping conference, and I promise to write about it extensively. This year, the organizers have scheduled a session on “The relevance of Functional Neuroimaging to Psychology” so that, at least, promises to be engaging!

In the meantime check out this newspaper article about the neuroeconomics conference held in Copenhagen two weeks ago. (Sorry, the article is in Danish only!) I found the conference, with its unusual mix of marketing experts and neuroscientists, rather interesting. Among the highlights were a number of presentations of new fMRI studies from labs around the world, and a presentation by Graham Page, the director of Millward Brown’s innovation centre, who gave a highly informative talk about how much neuroscience techniques is actually employed by marketing agencies pendling their dark arts. The answer is: both more and less than you would imagine!

The picture shows Thomas lecturing at the conference on imaging genetics as a possible new methodological avenue for neuroeconomics research. Yes, he really looks that way!


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stresssmall.jpgYes, we’ve been! It’s therefore strange — and wonderful — to see that we are still receiving several hundreds of visitors every day. You are all welcome.

A brief update on our “missing in action”: Martin has been most busy analysing several paradigms, writing chapters and editing books. I’m sure Martin will send an update on these topics asap.

As for myself, things are changing dramatically this March: being assigned as a Senior Researcher at the Copenhagen Business School, and in charge of the newly established Decision Neuroscience Project, which is a collaboration between the CBS and the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance. More to come about this, and relevant topics. In addition, as with Martin, several studies to analyse, chapters to write and an upcoming book on “neuroeconomics” (in English), if I may use that mongrel concept.

We’re hopefully getting back on track pretty soon.

Best wishes,


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fogk1.jpgWe are back in business after a two months hiatus. I apologize for the lack of posting, but both Thomas and I have been working on a number of projects that haven’t left us much time for thinking about Brainethics stuff. But we are back now, although we are probably not going to be able to post more than once or twice per week. In the meantime we have reached the 100.000 hit mark. Naturally, such a puny number is not going to impress John Hawks and his ilk, but we are pretty happy!

One of the things I myself have been working on is a book called Følelser og kognition, or Emotion and Cognition. It is in Danish, so if you are one of the more than 5 billion human beings that cannot understand this curious Germanic language you can skip the following paragraphs. Together with my co-editor Thomas Wiben Jensen I have been working on this book for more than 2 years but now it is finally being published. The official publication date is October 1, but you can already order it from the publisher’s homepage.

Our main goal in putting out this book has been to introduce a non-neuroscience audience to our rapidly advancing understanding of how emotion and cognition interact to produce many forms of human behavior. Examples include decision-making, social cognition, economics, moral cognition, and aesthetic behavior, all topics we have written about often here at the blog. The initial surprise was the realization that input from brain structures thought to subserve emotion was necessary for decision-making to proceed in a normal fashion. But recently it has become clear that cognition also modulates emotional processing in important regards. For instance the perception of emotional faces appear to be influenced by top-down modulation, as described in this review paper by Lisa Feldman Barret et al. in the recent issue of Trends in Cognitive Sciences. In fact, emotion-cognition interaction is such a hot topic that TICS has started a special series of papers on it.

Since Følelser og kognition is intended to introduce readers to the area of emotion-cognition research it deals more in elementary topics than in cutting edge research. It is composed of two parts, the first containing 5 chapters written by leading Danish neuroscientists providing a basic introduction to the neurobiology of emotion. The second part, then, contains chapters demonstrating how emotion interacts with cognition to produce social cognition – including Theory of Mind – consciousness, and art and film experience. We would have liked to include chapters specifically on neuroeconomics and moral cognition, but when we first started putting the book together we couldn’t find any Danish authors working in these areas. Since then this has changed.

When the book hits the bookstores, and we start getting any feedback I will post more about the reactions to the book. Also, Thomas Wiben and I will appear at this year’s Bogforum – an annual Danish book faire – on November 17, where we will be interviewed by journalist Jan Skøt. Stay tuned for more information about that.


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New feature — read more

We’re adding a new feature on the blog. Very simple, yet helpful for those who are going through our blog’s archive etc. We are adding the “Read more” function which will give you only the introductory paragraphs on the BrainEthics screen. If you press the “Read more” link, you will go to the full story.


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brainy.jpgToday, a post is up at Meme Therapy on the ethical aspects of techological and scientific advances. It is an interview with a lot of different people with diverse backgrounds. Jose Garcia asks:

We seem to be awash in technological/scientific issues that raise serious ethical questions nowadays. Of these which concern/interest you the most?

You can find my answer down the line, probably the most lengthy of the replies (duh?). Basically, I’m pointing to two major points: 1) the technical advancements that have already occur and will continue to happen, will challenge our current views of humanism, law and morale, volition and other aspects of human affairs. However, 2) how this knowledge is communicated, understood and misunderstood due to everything from bad explanation to religious beliefs, is just as important an issue.

I’d say that today we have a vast majority of academics that accept the Modern Synthesis of the theory of evolution, while a large part of the population as such a) do not believe in evolution; b) think evolution may be correct, but that humans are still “spiritual beings”; c) think that all is right and do not acknowledge that there are any inconsistencies between religion and science; d) think science is “bad” and that it should be discarded altogether.

So where does that put us today? Indeed, if I claimed that I really believed that Santa Claus existed, I’d be able to make use of all the same arguments that those proposing an intelligent design theory rathern than evolutionary theory  of human (and anima) evolution. Yes, I believe that Santa exists, living at the North Pole (or was it Greenland, Norway or Finland, or what?). Just because we can’t see him, doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, does it? He’s giving you the presents at X-mas, not your parents (just a cover-up). You want me to prove it? No, I don’t believe in science, you can’t measure everything, right? There is more between heaven and earth than that!


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icon_psychoanalysis.jpgToday we received this nice email from Paul Watson at Psychology Press. They are launching a new site for cognitive neuroscience news. I’ll let the email speak for itself:

Hi Martin & Thomas

Just a quick note to say we’ve recently launched a new Cognitive Neuroscience Arena which I think might be of interest to you two.

(We = Psychology Press, publishers of the journal Social Neuroscience, which you commented on in your blog post on July 4th)

We’ve included a link to the Brain Ethics blog on our blogs page.

As well as all our relevant books and journals, we’ve included a few other features that may be of interest to you and your readers:

1. The whole of the first chapter of our textbook “The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience” is available to read free online (we think it’s a great introduction to the subject)

2. In a similar vein, we’ve also got the introductory article from our journal Social Neuroscience, also available to read free online (this is the same one which is on the Social Neuroscience journal website which you posted about).

3. There’s also a page of links to the latest Cognitive Neuroscience blog posts (courtesy of Technorati)

4. An a nifty GoogleMap showing forthcoming Cogntitive Neuroscience conferences (only 3 we know of at time of writing) at http://www.cognitiveneurosciencearena.com/resources/conferences.asp

And numerous other features including an RSS feed of our latest Cogntive Neuroscience books.

I’ve sent the link to your blog to Rose Allet who runs the marketing for the Social Neuroscience journal here at Psychology Press, so she may also email you and will probably send the URL of your blog to the editors of Social Neuroscience so they can see your comments).

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to drop me a line.


Paul Watson

Paul Watson, Senior E-Marketing Executive
Psychology Press



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