Table of Contents The Brain Fall 2010


In this special issue of Discover, we explore the big picture. After decades of focusing on individual cells, synapses, and processing regions, researchers are starting to think of the brain instead in terms of the coordinated function of the whole organ. The brain is not like a computer, researchers are coming to believe — it's more like a symphony.

Immerse yourself in that symphony in these pages. We'll answer the question of whether the Internet is rotting our brains, the benefits — and risks — of brain-boosting drugs, what sex does to the brain and the "dark matter" of the human brain. Plus, would we be better off with a zombie brain in some situations? Or do we already have one?

All that and more is in this special issue. It's not part of the subscription package but is available here exclusively for subscribers. 

Digital editions



With the power of neuroimaging, David Ewing Duncan takes a magical mystery tour of his own mind, exploring fear, memory, and faith.

The Internet makes deep thought difficult, if not impossible, says Nicholas Carr.
Already, smart drugs improve alertness, memory, and mood. Will next-generation neuroenhancers boost creativity and cognition, or will they overwhelm our brains?
Sex may be basic, but neuroscience suggests that desire can seduce the whole brain.
The mind is built to reach outside itself and make the world, including our machines, an extension of itself, contends Carl Zimmer.
Looks aren’t everything: We pick partners based on an intricate calculus of who we think will make us happy.
New efforts to trace the neural “connectome” — all the nodes and pathways in the brain — produce vivid images of the maps in our minds.
Lithium—a simple metal and the oldest drug in psychiatry—might protect the brain against mental illness, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. One problem: There’s no profit in it.
The rational part of your brain isn’t always in charge. Often, the automatic, unconscious side takes control—and you don’t even know it.
Sian Beilock has a formula for performing in the clutch: Don’t pay too much attention to what you are doing.
Beneath the waves, ocean animals with bizarre and exotic ways of seeing create new points of view.
Mysterious cells in your brain, known as glia, outnumber your neurons 10 to 1, and nobody knows what they do.
Why letting your attention wander may be the best way to set goals, make discoveries, and live a balanced life.
Every time we call up a memory, we also rewrite it. Can we trust what we think we remember?
Could anesthesia explain the mystery of consciousness?
Brain researchers are finding the sources of our nastiest temptations.
Photographer Timothy Archibald and his son create a portrait of autism.


Believe it or not, says psychologist Stephanie Ortigue, lust makes heavy intellectual demands involving complex thought.
An interview with futurist Vernor Vinge as he envisions the cyborgs of tomorrow.
The urge to scratch doesn’t always start with the skin. Sometimes, neurologist Anne Louise Oaklander has found, an itch comes straight out of your brain.

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