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Brainwashed

The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld

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10:47am, July 26, 2013

By reducing human thought and behavior to colorful images of excited neurons, neuroscientists have turned brain scans into brain scams, write psychiatrist Satel and psychologist Lilienfeld. The argument that thinking involves more than brain activity is not new, but the authors give it an up-to-date, provocative treatment.

Satel and Lilienfeld take aim at functional MRI scans that have been used by researchers and media to claim that specific brain areas represent the seats of love, hate and other human experiences. At best, the authors say, these scans detect a fraction of brain activity that occurs when people perform mental tasks. Such brain measures can neither fully predict nor explain people’s thoughts and feelings, they assert.

That hasn’t dimmed the cultural appeal of research that explains desires and actions as products of the brain that

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