A Fresh Take on Depression

The Rubin Museum of Art’s Brainwave talk on depression last Friday night left the audience upbeat and, more than anything, captivated by the courageous and hilarious discussion of depression between author and comedian Jacqueline Novak and psychologist Douglas Mennin, Ph.D.


Jacqueline Novak (left), Douglas Mennin, Ph.D. (right). Photo courtesy of the Rubin Museum.

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Sondheim and Pinker on Music and Emotion

When it comes to explanations for human behavior, preeminent experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, Ph.D., adamantly believes that genes matter. When others question this position, claiming that attributing emotion and behavior to genetics is merely a way of evading responsibility, Pinker will often offer a cultural rather than a scientific response:

Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,

You gotta understand

It’s just our bringing up-ke,

That gets us out of hand.

Our mothers are all junkies,

Our fathers all are drunks.

Golly Moses naturally we’re punks

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Spirituality vs. Science at the Rubin

Zachary Quinto, an actor best known for roles in theater, film, and TV shows such as 24, Heroes, and American Horror Story, spoke about his lifelong spiritual journey at the “The Brain on Spirituality,” a Brainwave 2016 program at the Rubin Museum in Manhattan.

quinto rubin

Photo credit: Filip Wolak

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New Brainwave Series: Emotion

Can consciousness continue after the brain stops working? Why do we seem to let emotions outshine reason during the decision-making process? Which neural impulses trigger laughter?

Rubin Museum Brainwave 2016

Detail from White Tara with Long Life Deities; eastern Tibet; 19th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art, gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; F1996.32.5 (HAR 542) | Copyright Taylor Walken/Corbis

Beginning in February, New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art will host its ninth annual Brainwave series, which aims to answer these questions and more. Continue reading

Brainwave: The Face Transplant Surgeon

This past Wednesday, as part of the Rubin Museum’s Brainwave series, face transplant surgeon Eduardo Rodriguez talked about the mental and physical aspects of his profession with Princeton neuroscientist Timothy Buschman. The first face transplants took place in 2005, Rodriguez said; roughly 30 have taken place since then. One of the few people capable of doing this surgery, Rodriguez gave great detail about what it takes to transplant a face, what it means for people involved, and what the future holds for this type of surgery.

Successful face transplantation requires teamwork. In the case of his patient Richard, Rodriguez said, 150 professionals tended to various aspects of the case, including psychiatrists, neuroethicists, sociologists, pathologists, radiologists, and dozens of surgeons. [Read more about Richard’s experience in this ABC News story]

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