Whoopi Goldberg, David Eagleman, and the Brain

Karma is the Sanskrit word for action and is a fundamental concept in Buddhism that refers to our actions as having a direct effect on our future conditions. But what is it about our brains that sucker us into making decisions we know are not grounded in reality? “We’re not fixed. From cradle to grave, we are works in progress,” says neuroscientist David Eagleman. Last week at New York City’s Rubin Museum, Eagleman was joined by actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg for an entertaining discussion on whether “fate and destiny should be deciding factors in human behavior.”

Photo credit: Lyn Hughes/Courtesy of the Rubin Museum

Photo credit: Lyn Hughes/Courtesy of the Rubin Museum

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The Changing Teenage Brain

“The teen brain is not a broken or defective adult brain,” Dr. Jay Giedd told an auditorium full of teachers at last week’s Learning and the Brain Symposium.

But it is in a period of great change and opportunities.

“The long development period gives the brain more time to become specialized.” Giedd, chief of the Unit on Brain Imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch at the National Institute for Mental Health, thinks this can be “empowering for teens” as they try new things and build the skills that could shape the rest of their lives. “Plasticity has vulnerabilities, but has many, many upsides.”

Just what is happening inside an adolescent’s brain?

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